Gerasimov & Zlotnik 2015 FamCA 646

A maternal grandmother had cared for a child aged 3 years since birth as the mother and father were unable to care for the child full-time due to their work commitments.  The child was securely attached to the grandmother. The maternal grandmother was in Australia on a 3-year parenting visa that enabled her to stay in Australia for 12 months and then leave for six months before she could return for another 12 months.  The grandmother had previously left and returned to Australia.

The grandmother travelled to her home country with the child and mother.  The mother sought orders that the child remain overseas with the grandmother for a period of five months, exceeding what had been consented to by the father.  The grandmother and the child had been separated for only six nights in the three years of the child’s life.  The father proposed that the infant be cared for by his new partner, although this was an untested arrangement.

An expert observed the infant interact with the father and his partner noting, “…the father sought to pass the child to the father’s partner. The child went to her, but with some pulling back to the father.   Soon afterwards, the child reached out to return to the father’s lap, and …  his father sensitively responded, and the child moved back to the father’s lap. The child snuggled back into the father.” (attachment assessment).

The expert opined that the child would experience sadness and grief if disconnected from the grandmother.

The judge ordered the child to live with the grandmother overseas for the extended period of time and to spend substantial and significant time with the father upon his return to Australia.