Prantage & Prantage 2010 FamCA 1198

The children in the case were aged 11 and 8 years when the case concluded.  The family lived together until an incident occurred.  In the following year the children were reported to be very disturbed and declined contact with the mother (reluctant to contact).

The incident began when the husband was out of the house and the mother received a phone call informing her that a relative of the father had died in tragic circumstances.  The mother phoned the father who returned home.  The couple argued in front of one child on the father’s return.  The mother made comments that were interpreted as a threat to kill all three members of the family and the mother approached family members with a knife.  The father and children left the house and went to a police station.  The mother subsequently left the family home.

The wife later alleged that the husband alienated the children from her. The husband alleged that the mother had a mental illness and that the children had observed her behaving in ways that produced fear and anger in them.

The judge found that the husband had feared for his personal wellbeing and safety during the incident, and that the wife had intended to harm the children and himself.

The judge noted that a treating psychologist who saw the children stated that in her therapeutic role she believed what the children had told her and did not see it as appropriate to reality test or to cross examine the children (therapist evidence).

The judge ordered that the children live with the father and that the father have sole parental responsibility for making decisions about major long term issues affecting the children and that he inform the mother.