WGOC & GH 2015 FamCA 356

Children were X aged 16 years who had Downs Syndrome (child’s disorder) and Y aged 15 years.  Most recent orders had required the children to live with their father and to spend time with their mother.  However Y on eight occasions had run away (abscond) from the father’s house, despite involvement from both police and the child protection department who placed him into foster care for a period.  Y had stayed at the mother’s house and had not attended school for a year as the father declined to enrol him in a school that was nearer to the mother’s house where Y had friends.   The judge described the mother as being passive for not drawing Y’s school non-attendance to the attention of the Court (parenting style permissive).

Y informed an assessor that the father forbad him from bringing things from the mother’s house, and the father searched Y’s bag daily and gave him no privacy.  Y felt that he was blamed for conflict between the five children who lived in the father’s house.  The father wanted Y to wear clothes the father had purchased, but Y resisted this as he considered the father wanted Y to look like himself.

The father and his new partner saw no need to change any actions they had taken towards Y.  The father was willing to have police return Y to the house each time Y ran away.

The judge found that the father was unable to see things from any perspective apart from his own, and was unwilling to compromise, and was determined to impose his own will on Y (perspective take).   The father expressed a view that if Y remains in the mother’s care then Y would become a dope smoking high school dropout with limited opportunities.  The mother described the father as adopting an approach of ‘his way or the highway.’  The judge found that the father adopted a rigid, controlling and directive parenting approach (parenting style authoritarian).

The judge ordered that the older child live with the father and spend time with the mother, and that the father have sole parental responsibility for the older child.  The judge ordered that Y live with the mother and spend time with the father, and that the mother have sole parental responsibility for Y.  The judge ordered that arrangements be made for the siblings to spend some weekends and holidays together (sibling relationship).