Lamereaux & Noirot 2008 FamCAFC 22

A family consultant provided a report when a mother applied to relocate with a child aged 7 years.  The mother submitted information from an assessing psychologist who had provided counselling therapy, where this information was provided in a report, in an affidavit and orally.

The psychologist offered a diagnosis that the mother had mild depression.  The psychologist reported not diagnosing symptoms of bipolar disorder such as psychotic symptoms.  The psychologist reported that the mother was very distressed at the prospect of being unable to relocate and was constantly crying, sobbing and expressed anger in one session (parental distress).

The psychologist reported that if the mother were unable to relocate then her confidence as a parent and as a mother would be severely eroded due to her extreme frustration.  The psychologist opined that the mother was at risk of severe depression if she was not allowed to relocate, and was at risk of decompensating into a psychotic episode.  The psychologist gave oral evidence that the mother’s parenting capacity would be severely affected if the mother were not allowed to relocate.

The report by the family consultant had quoted the psychologist as saying that the mother experienced extreme sadness and stress in response to situational factors with no clinical diagnosis of depression.  The psychologist had written in a report to the mother’s solicitors that the mother would experience grief but that the mother’s parenting capacity would not be severely affected if she were unable to relocate, but this sentence was not included in the affidavit.

The judge noted concerns about the psychologist’s objectivity.  The judge issued an order allowing the mother to relocate.  The father appealed pointing to inconsistencies in evidence given by the psychologist (expert evidence unsatisfactory).

The appeal was allowed.