Zeehan & Archibald 2011 FamCA 534
Parents had lived together for 3 years and had a son aged 4.5 years at the time of the hearing. A GP observed physical damage to the boy’s rectum. The boy had a history of difficulty in passing stools. The mother had children from a previous relationship and, based on an allegation by a daughter aged 14 years that the father had sexually abused her, held a strong belief that the father had engaged in sexual abuse of other children.
The mother had relocated to protect the child from the father but had not denigrated the father to the child.
A pediatrician stated the injury to the boy’s rectum could have been caused either by passing a hard stool or by sexual abuse.
The judge quoted a statement from the Full Court that a false-negative report about sexual abuse accompanied by appropriate standards to protect the future relationship between a parent and child, such as adequate supervision to guard against possible abuse, may be far less disastrous for a child then an erroneous-positive finding that leads to a cessation of the parent-child relationship (standard of proof).
The judge ordered that the mother have sole and exclusive parental responsibility for the child, and that the child live with the mother. The judge ordered that the father have supervised access with the child.