Our courts operate with a dichotomy. They are responsible to decide what is in a child’s Best Interests and exercise that responsibility by leaving important parenting decisions up to the child.
The age of majority is 18 years old. Criminal law recognizes this belief by treating youth offenders differently from adults. Youth offenders, being under 18 years of age, are considered unable to be held responsible for their actions in the same way as society holds adult offenders accountable for their behaviors. A special hearing must be held if a youth is to be held accountable in adult court.
Family law, on the other hand, has decided that youths as young as 12 years old are so ungovernable that the courts will not impose the court’s decision upon them – court orders to regulate the behaviors of 12 – 18 year old are routinely not issued as the Judges voice a belief that the youth will not abide by them in any case so why bother!
Youths remain children of the marriage and subjects of a Parenting Order, until they are 18 years old. The Family Courts have created a situation where a dependent minor (dependent because society does not consider them capable of making decisions for which they can be held responsible to the same degree as adults) is left free to make adult parenting decisions for them. Another way to look at this is to say that when a court refuses to make an order stating what is ‘In a Child’s Best Interests’ they put the child ‘in the middle’ and having to make adult decisions for the adults who are supposed to protect them from conflict.
This leaves the most important adult functions in a child’s life (parenting decisions) to a child’s mind – a mind that society accepts as not being ready to make Adult decisions. Rather than protecting a child from the parents’ conflict, the Courts abdicate their own responsibilities and thrust the child into the vortex of an emotional trauma – alone to navigate the conflicting demands and needs of each parent whose love and protection has become conditional upon which that child chooses to support in the relationship breakdown conflict.