Kapicic & Bakal 2014 FamCA 236

The mother of a 7 year old child sought to reduce the time the child spent with the father pending an updated Family Report.  The mother also sought to disqualify the family consultant on the grounds of apprehension of bias.

The mother strongly disagreed with findings of the assessor, considering that the assessor had been unnecessarily dismissive of the mother, and had demonstrated “apparent indifference to the serious topics raised” and had appeared not to believe the mother.  The judge found that the consultant had been agreed between the parties for appointment as a single expert.

The judge found that the mother’s submissions did not attempt to identify with precision any objectionable material.  The judge found that the assessor’s report was comprehensive in that it involved interviews with each of the parties, home visits to each of the parties, observation of interaction between the parties and the child, and separate input from a child therapist and a school support officer.  The judge found that the consultant undertook a comprehensive investigation and had provided a detailed family assessment report.

The mother gave evidence about disturbing behaviour as the child had, on return from the father’s house, displayed disturbing sexualised behaviour towards her including pushing his bottom into her face and rubbing it across her face, gyrating his bottom in front of her face, lying in front of her on his back, then lifting his legs up and smacking his bottom with his hand a number of times (child’s sexualised behaviour). This behaviour was reportedly done when the mother was sitting on the couch or on the carpet.

The mother linked these reports to her having to allow the child to spend overnight time with the father.  The child denied to the assessor that his father or his father’s partner did anything nasty to him, stating that at his father’s house he had his own bed in his own room, and he denied watching any adult television.  The child expressed a view that he would like to spend more time with his father including overnight stays on the weekend.  The judge declined a proposal to order counselling for the child as this may be unnecessary at best and emotionally challenging at worst (therapy for child).