Jasper & Jasper 2014 FamCA 235
Children aged 9 and 5 years spent no time with the father for four years after the parents separated (long absent parent), and the mother applied for sole parental responsibility. The father applied for a therapeutic re-introduction of the children to him that was supervised by an independent treating psychologist who would provide a report, and this was supported by the ICL.
The father had decided to separate from the mother without knowing that the mother was pregnant with a second child, and the father commenced an affair. The mother took an overdose soon after the father told her that he wanted to separate and to move in with his new partner. The mother had been admitted to hospital with a severe major depressive episode and the second child was born while the mother was in hospital.
The mother alleged that the father had drugged her and had attempted to murder her, but the judge did not accept this allegation.
The father’s new partner said that the mother called her so many times that the new partner changed her own mobile number to stop harassment by the mother. The father reported that he lost three jobs because of the mother’s harassing phone calls to his places of employment. The father reported his view that the mother had withheld the children as a weapon to punish him for leaving the relationship.
The father sought reintroduction to him on a graduated approach. The mother was supportive of a therapeutic reintroduction of the two children to their father, facilitated by a psychologist. The judge ordered that the treating psychologist continue to work with the parents and children to achieve a successful reintroduction of the children to their father and the establishment of a regimen of regular, unsupervised time in his care while the children continued to live principally with their mother.