Maxwell & Finney 20913 FMCAfam 131

The case involved a child aged 10 years who had lived with the maternal grandparent since infancy when the parents separated.  The father ceased contact when the child was aged 3 years.  The mother died when the child was aged 6 years and the father subsequently applied to resume contact with the child (contact long absent).  The grandmother was cautious about the amount of contact the father might have.

The consultant found that the grandmother and father harboured a great deal of hurt, anger and resentment about the early history and the separation of the parents.  The consultant noted that the grandmother had a very forceful personality (personality domineering).  The consultant opined that fathers have a significant and essential role in the development of social skills, emotional regulation and positive self-worth.  It is important that adults cooperate and show respect not only towards a child but also towards each other.  The consultant noted that children who have experienced significant loss develop trust in another person only slowly.  The consultant recommended that the child required stability and recommended that the child continue to live with the grandmother and spent substantial time with the father.

The judge found that the father and grandmother continued to expect the worst of each other, and demonstrated low levels of trust in each other.

The judge ruled it essential that the father recognise the grandmother’s role as primary carer and not undermine this role, and that the grandmother recognise the father’s role.  The judge commented that it would have been better if the father had stated earlier in the proceedings that he wanted to pursue a supportive role for the child but not the primary role or not for reunification.  The judge ordered that the child live with the grandmother and spend time with the father, and granted sole parental responsibility to the grandmother.