Paco & Racina and ANOR 2014 FamCAFC 195

A trial judge renewed orders that had previously granted unqualified sole parental responsibility to the mother by adding two conditions: first that two children participate in therapy to facilitate the children spending time with their paternal grandmother on a regime that allowed for supervised access whose duration gradually increased over time (therapy for child), and second that the grandmother be restrained from permitting the children to have contact with or to communicate with their father while the children were in the care of the grandmother (restrained from contact).  An assessing psychologist had recommended that the children receive therapy to address their fears.

The mother appealed these orders.  The mother claimed that the children were too young to engage in therapy, and that therapy would reactivate their fears about their father.

The trial judge found that the mother held a genuine but unreasonably strong belief that the paternal grandmother was involved in a plot to abduct the children and to remove them to a foreign country where the father now lived.  The children expressed a fear that their grandmother might steal them.  A daughter aged 12 years showed signs of anxiety including hypervigilance about having contact with her father and members of his family, and had expressed an unwillingness to spend time with the paternal grandmother (reluctant to contact, temperament internalising).  The trial judge found that the children’s fears had been instilled by their mother.  The judge found that the mother’s concerns reflected speculation about the nature of the risks rather than actual evidence (reasonable concern).

The appeal was dismissed.