Deledio & Deledio. 2012. FMCAfam 646.
The parents separated with a child aged 8 years. The mother left the home with the child and moved to a secret location after alleging domestic violence and alcohol abuse by the father. The mother was concerned that the father might consume alcohol while caring for the child. The father had no contact with the child for 5 months.
The father submitted that evidence from the mother was not credible as she had made a false claim for compensation in the past. The judge noted that this allegation was not related to parenting and declared the information inadmissible.
The son developed a rash that continued for 2 months. The mother took the boy to a doctor who prescribed a cream to be administered daily for 2 weeks. The mother passed the cream on to the father with no further information. The father used a different cream that he preferred.
The judge ruled that some information produced by the mother was inadmissible evidence as it was argumentative rather than factual in nature.
The judge found that high levels of hostility, animosity, distrust, inability to communicate, and attempts to blame the other parent were shown by both parents and this contributed to unnecessary suffering for the boy as reflected in the inconsistent treatment of his health condition (high conflict couple, parenting style undermining).
The judge found that the father had exposed the son to parental conflict by telling the boy he would not see him again and this was the mother’s fault. The father exposed the child to adult topics by speaking to his son about letters from lawyers. The father exposed the son to his attempts to pressure the mother to allow more frequent visits. The judge found these practices to be emotionally and psychologically abusive to the boy.
The judge found that the father had been violent towards both the mother and to people who supported the mother (personality domineering). The judge found that the mother was justified in moving to a distant and unknown location to minimise the domestic violence, and that her movement was not evidence that the mother was discouraging a continuing positive meaningful relationship with the father as the father still had other methods of communication with the son.
The judge found that equal shared parental responsibility was not viable due to a range of factors including the level of distrust and hostility between the parties, the history of violence by the father, and the father’s ongoing tendency to verbally abuse and to belittle the mother.
The judge ordered:
- sole parental responsibility to the mother
- that the child live with the mother
- the father have access
- that the father be restrained from alcohol use for a 12 hour period before the child comes into his care and while the child is in his care
- the father was restrained from approaching within 100 metres of the mother
- both parties be restrained from denigration of the other parent.