Thursday, 25 March 2010

Family Court: friendly parent provisions cut both ways

The Family and Federal Magistrates Courts are criticised at times for removing children from mothers, because the mothers are not considered to encourage the relationships between children and their fathers.

By contrast, in the recent Family Court case of Binder and Merza, Justice Barry on an interim basis returned the child back to the mother, and made an order for the child not to have contact with the father in the meantime, because of comments emanating from that household:

The legal representative for the mother submits that the court should cease contact between the child and the parents in the father’s household because of the risk of ongoing pressure from the father or members of his household. It is a step that I am most reluctant to take, but the view that I take is nothing good will come out of the father’s household in the short term. ...


The child’s love for the mother is very much in evidence and that relationship is seriously prejudiced if the child is to remain in the father’s household. I will suspend the father’s time until the matter can be reviewed by the court. It is very sad that I have to do that. I’m sure the child loves her father. I don’t need any convincing he loves her greatly. It is just that the attitude towards the mother has to be changed if any positive gains are to be had out of this litigation.
 
The law says a primary consideration I have to take into account is the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents. I’m satisfied that the mother would not sabotage the father’s relationship with the child. I’m far from satisfied that the reverse is the case, because there are indications all through the material that I’ve read of a mean-spirited, bloody-minded, anger-driven attitude on the part of the father. He does it with full love of the child, not realising the destructive nature of what he is doing to this little girl.


I will allow for there to be telephone communication and any other form of communication, such as written communication between the father and the daughter, as may be agreed between the parties. The mother has to demonstrate that she can be gracious. The phone records will speak for themselves. The mother may want to monitor the calls; it is a matter for her.

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