Nimmo & Silva 2014 FCCA 160

Parents disputed arrangements for a 10 year girl who had lived with her mother and who objected to spending time with her father (reluctant to contact).  Evidence was presented that there was a history of family violence by the father towards the mother that had been witnessed by the daughter (personality aggressive).  The father had a history of alcohol abuse and cannabis use, and had been imprisoned for violence towards other people.  The mother obtained an AVO but the father had sent multiple texts to the mother in the following weeks.  The daughter was diagnosed with anxiety attacks associated with a requirement to visit her father even when supervision was arranged (reluctant to contact).

The judge found that many instances of family violence had occurred, and that the daughter had been exposed to violence by seeing and hearing incidents, including finding damage inflicted to cars that impacted on the mother’s ability to transport the daughter to events.

The judge found that the daughter feared the father and feared for her mother’s safety, and that this fear was based on the daughter’s own observations rather than on comments by the mother.  The judge did not criticise the mother for informing a child about safety measures taken by the mother to protect the family, and the judge did not criticise the mother for her ongoing reluctance to encourage a meaningful relationship between the daughter and father, because of the serious impact of the father’s actions on the family (impact on child).  The judge noted that three previous attempts to encourage a meaningful relationship between the father and daughter had failed, with two failings being due to actions by the father.

The judge ordered that the daughter live with the mother, that the mother have sole parental responsibility, and that the father have restricted communication with the daughter by sending cards, letters, photographs and gifts (communication structured).