W & S 2008 FCWA 39

The mother of a 3 year old had commenced a relationship with a new partner (re-partnered).  The father asked for an order to prevent their daughter from coming into contact with the mother’s new partner.

The father alleged that the mother used cannabis and this was not disputed, but there was no allegation that use of cannabis resulted in neglect.  The father learned that the mother had arranged for the daughter to be examined for sexual abuse (that was not substantiated) and the father then withheld the child from the mother’s care.

The mother did not disclose her new relationship, saying that she wanted privacy.  Counsel for the mother submitted that the father showed an obsessive desire to reconcile with the mother (personality rigid).

The father had ceased contact with his daughter for a period of 6 months.

The judge considered that the mother may have concealed her new relationship because of the new partner’s unsavoury background that included drug use, anger issues, and his own children having been removed from his care.

The judge found the fact that her mother tells lies in Court, consumes drugs and has what is arguably poor taste in men is not evidence that she is not a good mother (competent parent).

The judge accepted that the father was self-absorbed and persuades himself that he is harshly dealt with and tends to blame others rather than take personal responsibility, becoming misty eyed about his parenting.  The father appeared more hurt by the breakdown of his relationship with the mother than by the separation from his daughter – although he does love his daughter. The judge was concerned that the father might seek to use the daughter in order to retaliate towards the mother (parenting style self centred).

The judge considered that the father showed no capacity to distinguish the emotional needs of himself from the daughter’s emotional needs (differentiate own/other emotions).

The mother was restrained from allowing contact between the daughter and the new partner (restrained from contact).

The judge declined the mother’s application to relocate, as this would impede the father’s opportunities to spend time with his daughter, and would increase the chances of the mother maintaining a relationship with her undesirable new partner.