Lawrence & Dehn 2015 FamCA 475

Children aged 15 years and 13 years had lived with their father and spent time with the father after the parents separated.  The mother then developed a dependence on the drug methamphetamine and associated with criminals resulting in one child being maltreated substance abuse).  Care was reversed so that the children lived with the father and spent time with the mother that was supervised by a family member.

The mother participated in a rehabilitation programme, undertook drug testing and claimed that her substance use ceased. However the father remained sceptical and prioritised safety measures for the children over a need for the children to spend time with the mother, despite Court orders requiring contact.  The father also failed to inform the mother about a serious health condition of one child.  On one occasion, the father drove the children to a handover location but the children refused to leave his car and handed the mother letters they had written saying they did not wish to spend time with her.    The father supported the children’s actions as being justified.

The mother complained that the father had contravened orders.  The judge found that the father did contravene an order without reasonable excuse.   The judge did not consider the child’s wishes as this had not been assessed in an ideal manner.  The judge issued a bond requiring the father to be of good behaviour for 18 months.