Dollard & Hanning 2014 FamCA 149

The case involved a child aged 5 years.  The judge found that while it is standard practice for a family consultant to observe interactions between a child and parent following interviews, the consultant has discretion about whether to observe interactions.  Concerns were raised about interactions as the child had not seen the father for a considerable period (long absent parent), and the mother made allegations about the father regarding family violence, and drug and alcohol use.

The impact of observed interactions on the mother’s mental state was also raised.  The judge was asked to rule whether interaction between the child and the father would cause the mother such distress that it would not be in the child’s interests for this interaction to occur.

The judge agreed with a proposal by the ICL for one expert to interview parties and for this expert to be provided with information from files before making a recommendation about proceeding to observed interactions.