Turner & Alexander 2014 FamCA 14

The father of children aged 15 and 13 years alleged that his ex-partner’s new husband posed an unacceptable risk of sexual abuse as the new husband was on the sexual offenders register following an incident 7 years earlier, and the mother had not informed the father of this.

The new husband informed an assessor that he could not remember circumstances surrounding his offences.   The mother submitted a report from an assessing psychologist saying that the new husband had offended at a time when his psychological state was seriously disturbed and the offences were symptomatic of that disturbance rather than symptomatic of any ongoing psychosexual disorder. The assessor reported that the psychological disturbance was being addressed and thus, in the assessor’s opinion with the continuation of treatment and in the absence of further psychological depression, there must be a basis for an optimistic prognosis.  A second assessor identified some ongoing risk issues based on the Static-99 instrument (psychometric test), and recommended interim supervision of contact.  The judge expressed low confidence that the new husband accepted responsibility for his actions, saying that the new husband minimized his responsibility and continued to blame the victim for what had occurred.

The mother discouraged one child from spending time with the father and informed the family assessor that she was standing up for the children.  The family assessor suggested that the mother was putting her own needs first.

The mother made a complaint to police that the father had indecently assaulted her over ten years earlier, and the father was charged with the charge pending.

The judge found that the mother had made a decision to live with her new husband in preference to having one child in her care, effectively prioritising her relationship with the husband over her relationship with the child instead of prioritising a child’s needs.

The judge found that the mother lacked capacity to protect the children.  The judge ordered that both children live with the father and spend time with the mother, and the children be restrained from contact with the mother’s new husband.