Gilliard & Gilliard 2015 FamCA 18

The case involved siblings who were separated, as one child aged 12 years initially lived with the father while twins aged 9 years lived with the mother (sibling separation).

An expert reported that the father exhibited narcissistic traits as he considered himself to be superior to the mother, he viewed himself as a victim and the mother as a person with a problem who had to change while the father was blind to his own role in precipitating problems; the father did not recognise individual perspectives and desires of others, he had an idealised view of himself, and he lacked empathy.  The expert considered that the father had a need for superiority, affirmation and exclusive admiration and loyalty of the children, and that the father relied on the children’s affirmation that he was a good father, and that this amounted to a form of emotional abuse of the children (personality self-centred).  The expert identified some parentification as the children focused on meeting the father’s needs rather than their own needs.  The expert recommended that limits be set on the time the father spent with the children.

The expert referred to the father clinging to a child at handover times, with the father engaging in prolonged hugging to the extent that the child became distressed when trying to free herself and to move to the care of the mother (parenting style dependent).

The judge found that the father’s behaviour amounted to emotional abuse and family violence as the father engaged in relentless criticism of the mother to several professionals (personality ultra-critical).  The judge found that the father provided excellent daily or practical care for the children’s pragmatic needs.  The judge considered that the father was obsessive in his reactions to injuries to the children while they were in the care of the mother, where the judge considered the bruises to be part of childhood living (personality rigid).  The father referred the mother’s conduct to numerous external authorities and sought to recruit the help of those authorities against the mother.

The judge found that the father did not present an unacceptable risk for the children as there were no allegations against him of sexual or physical abuse or a lack of parental capacity.

The judge ordered that the children live with the mother who was granted sole parental responsibility.  The judge ordered that the children have a regime of graduated approach of increasing time with their father.