The court regards the children's welfare as its first and paramount consideration and this includes the following factors:
- the physical, mental, emotional and education needs of the children;
- whether the father, mother or other persons are able to suitably take care of the children's needs;
- the relationship between the parents and the children;
- the age and gender of the children;
- keeping siblings together;
- cultural and religious backgrounds and other special circumstances relating to the children;
- the harm or potential harm to the children;
- the consequences that may result from changes in environment;
- the physical or mental disability or illness of the parents;
- the personality and character of the parents
the wishes of the children (taking into consider their age and powers of understanding)
The court will order the Social Welfare Department to submit an investigation report to the court relating to the family background, parenting history, existing conditions of each family member, the views of the parents / children / relevant persons regarding custody and access, etc; at the same time, the court will encourage both sides to undertake Family Mediation Service to facilitate both sides to reach an agreement on arrangements relating to the children.
The Judge may make appropriate court orders regarding the children's custody and access in accordance with the investigative report and other relevant evidence. The ideal situation would be for the parties to first go through Family Mediation Service in order to discuss and agree on appropriate child caring arrangements, the time that children spend with each parent, etc, so as to minimize the negative impact caused by parental conflicts.