Talbot & Wayans 2013 FMCAfam 84

A father with epilepsy had no contact with a child aged 7 years for 3 years and applied to recommence visits in a contact centre.  The mother objected on the grounds that when the father had seizures he was likely to harm himself and others and to damage property.  The mother submitted that the likelihood of seizures increased when the father was stressed.  The father acknowledged that he smoked cannabis about twice per week but not in the presence of children.

Evidence was provided by a treating neurologist and by the father’s sister who was registered as his carer.  The father had seizures about every six weeks, and an ambulance might be called.  Ambulance officers had often left the father in the care of his sister.  The father had been hospitalised due to seizures in the previous year.  There had been no reports of violence in the past year.  The judge conducted a risk assessment and concluded that the likelihood of a seizure occurring during a visit of two hours was lower that 1% and was minimal.  The judge found that the mother’s concerns were not in proportion to reality (unreasonable concern).

Upon receiving a report that a contact centre expressed confidence in being able to manage the situation, the judge ordered that the father visit the child in a contact centre with the sister being present as required.