Garraghan & Westerfield No 2 2014 FamCAFC 96

A father pleaded guilty to assaulting the mother.  The mother later withheld the child from the father and applied for an order that the father have access to the child only under supervision by members of her family or her nominees.  Evidence was presented that the father became angry and stormed off, over-reacting to minor events (personality emotionally volatile).  The mother submitted evidence that the father had argued with his own mother and questioned the suitability of the paternal grandmother as a supervisor, with the mother saying that insufficient evidence had been provided that the paternal grandmother could be relied on to protect the child from the father’s inappropriate behaviour.

The judge ordered that the father have contact with the child twice a week and that the father’s access be supervised by members of the maternal family on one day and by the paternal grandmother on the other day in a public place (access supervised).

The father appealed against the order, arguing that no evidence had been provided that supervision was required, or that the paternal grandmother was not a suitable supervisor.

The appeal court ruled that the trial judge had not assessed the risk to the child of unsupervised contact with the father (assess risk), and accepted both grounds of the father’s appeal.