Landon & Maclin 2015 FamCA 241


A child was aged 5 years at the time of the hearing.  When the child was aged 2 years the mother babysat both the child and another child.  When the parent  of the other child came to collect this child the parent found the mother unconscious  with three open bottles of wine  nearby.  The mother was taken to hospital and was found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.363 (substance abuse).  The mother attributed her drinking to being upset by actions of the father.  Further instances occurred of heavy drinking by the mother.  The father applied to police for an AVO citing concern about the mother’s drinking.  Soon afterwards the mother reported to police that the father had raped her, an allegation that she later retracted.  The mother left the father’s home and moved into her own mother’s house 260 km away, taking the child with her (withheld child).

The couple reconciled.  The mother later alleged that the father had sexually abused the child.  Specialist assessors did not substantiate the allegation, but considered that the child may have been coached (unsubstantiated allegation).   The mother maintained her allegation during an initial hearing but withdrew the allegation during a later hearing.

The judge found that the mother was an unreliable witness (credibility).  The judge found that the mother tried to exclude the father and paternal family from the child’s life.  The judge found that the mother’s use of alcohol impaired her parenting capacity.

The judge ordered that the child live with the father.   The judge ordered that the mother have limited and supervised contact with the child for 12 months, followed by an increase in supervised time.