Warner & Houseman 2015 FamCA 187

Parents separated when a child was aged 4 years.  The father acknowledged family violence including threats to kill both the mother and child.  A final order was made for the child to live with the mother and for the father to not have contact with or to communicate with the child. The father did not have contact with the child for the next eight years.  There was also an order that the father required leave before he could lodge an application for further proceedings.

When the child was aged 14 years, the father applied for a review of orders so that the father could spend time with the child.  The father requested agreement to communicate with the child by phone, to meet the child, to try to build a normal relationship, and for the child to meet members of the father’s extended family.  The father did not submit any specific proposals.

The father had consulted two mental health professionals and submitted reports from these professionals.  Neither report reflected any detailed knowledge of the previous family violence.  One report stated that the father felt wrongly done by in the Family Law Court.  The second report described the father’s presentation as intense and emotional, a manner that may be experienced as threatening although this is not intended. The report described the father as blaming, cynical, victimised, betrayed and embittered, lacking remorse, and controlling and angry.  The judge noted that the assessor did not have opportunities to observe interactions between the father and child, or to interview either the mother or child. The judge found that these limitations diminished the weight that could be attached to the report.

The judge found that the father had not demonstrated changed circumstances and had not demonstrated that the case had merit, so the application had little chance of success.  The father’s application was dismissed.