McAllister & Day. 2012. FMCAfam 863

A couple lived together for a short time and had a son aged 18 months when the case went to court.  The mother had a second child aged 6 years from a previous relationship.

The mother relocated without consultation with the father to live with relatives in another state far from the father.  The mother alleged family violence but was not able to provide evidence to corroborate the claim.  The father denied the allegations of family violence and noted that the mother did not seek medical treatment for injuries, and had not reported incidents to police.  The father noted that the mother showed a disproportionate response as she had not taken lesser steps to manage family violence such as taking out a family violence order AVO. The father noted he had been imprisoned for cultivating cabbabis and the mother had not taken that opportunity to change her residence.

The mother asked for a specific order that the father undertake an anger management course.

The judge noted adverse effects of family violence on children that had been recognised in courts based on research as, “They are terrified and simultaneously come to accept it as an expected part of life; they may learn that violence is acceptable behaviour and an integral part of intimate relationships; or that violence and fear can be used to exert control over family members; they may suffer significant emotional trauma from fear, anxiety, confusion, anger, helplessness and disruption in their lives; they may have higher levels of aggression than children who do not have that exposure; and they may suffer from higher anxiety, more behaviour problems and lower self-esteem than children not exposed to violence. Clinical profiles for children who witness domestic violence include disturbed post-traumatic play, diminished ability to regulate affect in the forms of hyper-arousal, numbness, emotional constriction, a low frustration threshold, nightmares and other sleep disturbances, aggressive behaviours, intense and multiple fears, regression in developmental achievements, and disturbances in peer relations.”

The judge noted that the mother gave no consideration to proposals apart from her own preferred proposal (strong belief, personality domineering).

The judge issued interim orders:

  • the infant live with the mother as the child was an infant of tender years
  • the mother take the infant to near a police station that was accessible to the father for access visits
  • the father be restrained from entering any premises used by the mother and children (restrained from contact)