Edwards & Simpson 2013 FCCA 14

A child had lived with her father for five years and spent time with the mother following issue of final orders.  Evidence was given in the trial that the mother had been diagnosed with schizophrenia with symptoms of paranoia and that following a period of shared care the child had expressed fear of her mother after the mother had scratched the child and grabbed her  round the neck.  The child had missed school about one day per week (school attendance).  The mother applied for a new hearing submitting changed circumstances.

The mother submitted that the child had been diagnosed with both autism spectrum disorder and epilepsy and the mother was concerned about the child’s weight, and the mother alleged that the father was not adequately caring for the child’s special needs (neglect).   The mother further argued that her own diagnosis had changed and that she had been weaned off medication.  The mother complained that the father failed to communicate with her about the child’s conditions.

The judge noted that three professional reports indicated that the father was managing the child’s condition adequately (competent parent), and that the child’s conditions had been foreshadowed in assessments that were available at the earlier hearing.  The judge found that the mother had not established changed circumstances regarding her condition, and that the mother unjustifiably blamed the father for difficulties in communication (attributions externalising).  The judge found that the mother had not established there were sufficient changes in circumstances to warrant a new hearing.  The judge noted that continuous re-litigation of decisions must be circumscribed to avoid endless litigation as prolonged litigation is not in the best interests of a child.  The mother’s application was dismissed.