Molloy & Molloy 2013 FCCA 1834

An 8 year old child had not spent time with the father for a long period after the mother withheld the child from the father.  A consultant reported that the mother engaged in many behaviours that disrupted the child’s relationship with the father including the mother moving interstate, making unilateral decisions about the child including changing school, discontinuing phone conversations with the father, not responding to messages from the father, keeping the child separate from the father during social events, and speaking to the child about court events (adult topics).

The mother alleged that the father had difficulty controlling his anger, became violent and abusive, and was liable to explode when placed under stress.

The judge reported that the law releases a parent from an obligation to follow a family law order regarding withholding a child, if the parent is concerned that such an action is necessary to protect the health, including the psychological health, of the child concerned, however a parent can take that approach only for a period of time which is reasonable in all the circumstances, and this is not an unlimited licence (reasonable excuse).

The judge favoured a gradual re-introduction of the father and child, commencing with supervised visits lasting for two hours.