Klein & Farr 2011. FMCAfam 1361

A couple lived together for about 2 years and had a child aged 7 years at the time of the hearing. The child had been in the custody of the mother until she had a detained admission to a psychiatric hospital and became homeless on discharge. The child was then placed into the care of the father for a period of 18 months and lived with the maternal grandparents having no contact with the mother.  The mother then requested a reunification plan and sought to regain custody.

The mother claimed the child should be in her care because she was the mother and the father did not treat the child well.

A psychiatrist diagnosed the mother as having an anxiety disorder and taking anxiolitic medication, and as showing heightened emotionality (personality emotionally volatile).

The father had a previous history of chaotic living including gambling and drug and alcohol abuse that had required several hospitalisations (marked instability).  The father informed a consultant that he had not taken alcohol for 8 years and was rehabilitated, was working and had re-partnered and was now in a new stable relationship.  A psychiatrist found that the father had no ongoing psychiatric or psychological conditions.

A family consultant reported that the couple had a long history of fighting.

The judge found that the historical mutual distrust between the parents had resulted in perpetual conflict over which parent would have control of the child (high conflict couple).

The judge ordered that the child live with the father and spend time with the mother.  The judge granted equal shared parental responsibility.