Batkin & Batkin 2014 FamCA 462
The parents of children aged 13, 11 & 9 years had separated 7 years earlier. The mother alleged that during the relationship the father had perpetrated family violence upon her, and that the children’s refusal to see or spend time with the father occurred because they had witnessed his conduct towards her during the relationship (contact limited). The father denied the family violence.
Matters were settled by consent between the parties and did not go to trial. The judge noted that every expert who has reviewed the matter, with the benefit of interviews of the parties and of the children, had reached a firm conclusion that the children’s responses of refusing to see the father or not to have a relationship with him, were the product not of their own experiences but of the influence of their mother. Expert reports made it is patently obvious that the mother had a determined approach to ensure that the boys adopted her view of the world and her view of the father and what role he should play in their lives, namely little or none (strong belief, personality domineering). The judge considered it likely that the children’s alienation from the father was complete and entrenched.
The judge ruled that a particular view held by one parent about the other parent must give way to the best interests of the children when the Court formulates orders.
The consent orders provided only for supervised visits at a contact centre three times a year. The judge ordered that the father be at liberty to reactivate parenting proceedings if the mother contravened without reasonable excuse, without a need to establish changed circumstances.