Tamarovic & Gillard 2014 FamCA 532
A child aged 9 years with severe developmental delay had lived predominantly with the mother since separation and spent alternate weekends with the father. The father requested increased contact after he remarried (re-partnered). The mother then accused the father of physical abuse and sexual abuse of the child, resulting in the child’s behaviour being frequently uncontrollable, and that the father posed an unacceptable risk to the child. The child’s school and a centre the child attended did not report that the child’s behaviour was uncontrollable. The mother asserted that the child behaved in a sexualised manner (sexualised behaviour of child), but the school did not report this. The mother claimed that the child was fearful of the father, and the father counter-claimed that the child’s fear was a product of the mother’s actions, and that the mother posed an unacceptable risk of emotional harm to the child. The child protection Department and Police had determined not to investigate the father.
The father proposed that the child move from living with the mother where the child was an only child to living in the father’s house where the child would at times be one of four children.
A treating psychologist diagnosed the child as having PTSD that was attributed to exposure to domestic violence during the time the parents lived together, until the child was aged 3.5 years. The judge found that the psychologist’s evidence was not adequate as the psychologist declined to provide notes when served with a subpoena, and later provided scant notes that she acknowledged had been written after receiving directions that she provide the records (expert evidence unsatisfactory). The judge criticised the professionalism and judgment of a psychologist who failed to keep contemporaneous notes and who made misleading statements about this.
A second report was submitted by a consumer assessor. While the consumer assessor did not interview the father, the report concluded that the father should not have unsupervised contact with the child until after the allegations had been investigated.
The judge expressed doubts about the veracity and accuracy of information provided by the mother about the child’s behaviour (credibility).
The judge ordered that the child live with the father.