Stone & Stone and ANOR 2015 FamCA 14
Children aged 8 and 6 years lived with their mother after separation. The mother and maternal grandparents refused to allow the children to spend time with their father despite orders to permit this. The mother put the children into hiding (secret location) and the children did not attend school for a period (school attendance). When the children were found the judge ordered that they live with the father.
An expert reported that the children blossomed during the time they lived with the father.
An expert gave evidence that the mother’s family system required that the father be excluded from the children who became drawn into a family system that was enmeshed and exclusive. The father was demonised and considered to be evil by the mother’s family to the extent that he was alleged to be a threat to the lives of his children. In order to maintain this position the family engaged in self-deception where each member of the family re-constructed events in a consistent way. The mother was not “brainwashed” by her parents as contended by the father as she was an active player in the collective family deception. The deception can be considered to be a family myth or confabulation that holds the family together (personality suspicious).
The mother acknowledged that she may have made some mistakes as she had been misled by contradictory professional advice in the past. An expert considered that the mother demonstrated an external locus of control (attributions externalising) as she focused on the influence of the father’s behaviour rather than on her own behaviour (parenting style undermining).
The judge disbelieved evidence that was presented by three members of the mother’s family about two events (credibility). The judge described the relationship between the mother and her parents as pathological.
The judge found that the children would be at an unacceptable risk of further emotional and psychological abuse if they continued to live with their mother and the judge made an interim order that the children live with their father for a period of six months.
The judge ordered that the children live with their father and that the father have sole parental responsibility.