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Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Allegations of Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Equal Shared Parental Responsibility, False Allegations of Child Abuse, Parental Disorders, Risk of Psychological Harm, Sole Parental Responsibility, Unacceptable Risk, Unsubstantiated Allegations
Judges:  Tree J


Background: The mother of children aged 10 and 7 years was in her third long term relationship. The first relationship commenced when she was aged 18 years and produced 3 children. The second relationship commenced when the mother was aged 25 years and lasted for 12 years, producing 3 children. The mother alleged that the father had sexually abused one child and the child protection department removed two children from the mother’s care and stopped contact with the father for a period, deeming that the father presented an unacceptable risk of harm to the children. This assessment was later reviewed and reversed when it was found that the mother had made false allegations of sexual abuse by the father. The children were then placed in the care of the father. The mother commenced supervised co 
 
  [Legal Issue]The family consultant opined that an allocation of equal shared parental responsibility and equal division of time between the parents might overcome the reluctance of the father to facilitate a meaningful relationship between the mother and the children, as it would effect a balance in power between the parents. The judge described this view as hope triumphing over experience. The judge found that the consultant had not considered the effect of the mother’s allegations on the father. The judge noted that the family consultant had not spoken to the mother’s therapist whom the mother had seen monthly for 8 years. The judge ordered that the children live with the father and spend time with the mother, and that the father have sole parental responsibility.   [Court Orders]The children B born ... 2004 and C born ... 2008 (“the children”) shall live with the father. The father shall have sole parental responsibility for all decisions concerning the long-term care and welfare and development of the children, but otherwise each parent shall have the sole responsibility for all decisions concerning day-to-day care, welfare and development of the children for the time that they are in that parent’s care. The father is to notify the mother in writing of all      


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2: Helbig & Rowe [2015] FamCA 146 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Allegations of Child Abuse, Child Abuse, Complaint against ICL, Emotional Abuse, False Allegations of Child Abuse, Falsified Documents, Risk of Psychological Harm, Sole Parental Responsibility, Unacceptable Risk, Unsubstantiated Allegations
Judges:  Rees J


Background: The parents separated in January 2009 when the children were three and eight weeks old, respectively. The mother moved away from the matrimonial home with the children, who lived with her. This case has a signification history of litigation since then, culminating into these proceedings. In this case, the mother has made serious allegations of child sexual abuse by the father against a child of the marriage. As a result she has requested that the children live with her and that any time that the children spend with the father be supervised. After investigation, the allegations were deemed to be 'false'. The family report went so far as to recommend that the children be 'immediately' removed from the mother's care because of her unrepentant beliefs that the father was a paedophile  
 
  [Legal Issue]This case hinged on whether the allegations made by the mother that the father had sexually abused the child or children of the marriage were reliable and plausible to the extent that they would raise the issue of "unacceptable risk". The family courts responsibility is not to determine whether child sexual abuse did or did not occur, unlike the criminal courts. However when faced with an allegation of child sexual abuse, it refers to the standard of proof of "unacceptable risk".    [Court Orders]-That X (“X”) born ... 2005 and Y (“Y”) born ... 2008 (“the children”) live with their father, Mr Rowe (“the father”). -That the father have sole parental responsibility for the children. -That the father inform Ms Helbig (“the mother”) in writing (including by email or text message) as soon as practical of any specialist medical appointments for either of the children with any medical consultant. -That the father do all acts and things to ensure that the mother is provide     


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3: Thornton & Thornton [2015] FamCA 92 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Allegations of Child Abuse, False Allegations of Child Abuse, Recorded conversations, Unacceptable Risk, Unsubstantiated Allegations
Judges:  Murphy J


Background: The parents of two girls, aged 10 and 6, engaged in failed financial negotiations after separation. Soon after these negotiations, the mother raised allegations of child sexual abuse by the father against their two female children. The children were medically examined but were found to have no physical indications of sexual abuse. The children were also found to have made inconsistent statements to police, family members and carers. The children also made conflicting statements as to their desire to see their father.  
 
  [Legal Issue]Where the mother alleges that the father had engaged in sexual misconduct against their two female children – Where relevant rules of evidence are excluded pursuant to s 69ZT of the Act – Where expertise need not be established as a result – Where the trial judge holds that the appropriate qualifications, training or experience of an expert is a significant factor in the attribution of weight. Where the evidence is insufficient to establish the risk as unacceptable.    [Court Orders]The mother has been handed sole parental responsibility for the girls. The father will be allowed to spend unsupervised time with the girls, aged 10 and 6, for up to half of each school holiday period, but the mother will make all major decisions about the girls. The Judge explained that the Sole Parental Responsibility Orders were to avoid conflict between the parents.      


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Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Allegations of Child Abuse, Discretion to Admit Evidence, Emotional Abuse, Recorded conversations
Judges:  Hannam J


Background: The mother is 42 years old and the father is 43 years old. The parties commenced a relationship in 1999 when they were in their late twenties. The case involves competing claims of domestic violence and alleged child abuse. To support his case, the father has submitted transcripts of recorded conversations between himself and the mother. These recordings were made covertly, without the knowledge of the mother.  
 
  [Legal Issue]At issue is the admissibility of transcripts of covertly recorded conversations made by the father, alleged to have captured various unguarded conversations between the mother and the father. The mother objected to the admission of the transcripts of audio recordings on the basis that the evidence was unlawfully obtained and was inadmissible. Both the father and the Independent Children’s Lawyer sought to have the evidence admitted and argued that even if it were prima facie inadmissible the court should exercise its discretion to admit it.   [Court Orders]The evidence, which refers to transcripts of recorded conversations in the father's affidavit in paragraphs 25, 128 to 150 and 235 filed on 23 September 2014, is admissible.      


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Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Allegations of Child Abuse, Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, False Allegations of Child Abuse, Parental Disorders, Psychological Disorders, Unacceptable Risk, Unsubstantiated Allegations
Judges:  Tree J


Background: Mr & Ms Wylie met and married in 2000, bought and renovated and sold houses in the property boom, travelled and worked through Europe. Their twin girls were born through IVF in 2007, when Mr Wylie was establishing his own small business. They experienced increasing conflicts within their relationship, until Mr Wylie eventually suggested that they should separate. One day soon after, Mr Wylie received a text message from Ms Wylie: “You need to talk to the Department of Child Safety, they’ve got some concerns.” However an assessment determined that there was no evidence of sexual abuse, but there was evidence of emotional abuse, stemming from fabricated allegations by the mother. Ms Wylie also advised that she too was sexually abused as a child.  
 
  [Legal Issue]Previous consent orders. Urgent application following almost immediate failure to comply with orders. Allegations of sexual abuse and violence against the father. Allegations of manipulative and alienating behaviours against the mother. Consideration of argument as to admissibility of statements attributable to the mother being made to Department of Communities officers and communicated to police officers – finding of admissibility – consideration of the objects of the Act and principles and application of relevant considerations – consideration of whether the behaviour of one or other of the parties constitutes an “unacceptable risk” to the children – determination on an interim basis that a risk of psychological harm of an unacceptable nature does arise – orders a   [Court Orders]Family Court judge Justice Peter Tree, “after eight days of trial before me of fiercely contested competing parenting applications relating to the parties’ six-year-old twin girls”, ordered that Mr Wylie have sole parental responsibility for the major long-term care of his children and that Ms Wylie ask her GP for referral to a psychiatrist. “I am satisfied, on the material before me, that the concerns which inevitably would otherwise have flowed from the mother’s notice of abuse, have     


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Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Allegations of Child Abuse, Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, False Allegations of Child Abuse, Risk of Psychological Harm, Unacceptable Risk, Unsubstantiated Allegations
Judges:  Murphy J


Background: The mother has asserted that the child has been the subject of sexually improper behaviour by the father. This has included claims that the father had inserted items such as a fish hook, pizza and an electric cord into his anus, while in the presence of the child. After investigating the allegations, the police, the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (“the Department”), as well as the Independent Children’s Lawyer have each determined that the child had not been the subject of sexual misconduct by the father. 
 
  [Legal Issue]   [Court Orders]     


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Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Allegations of Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, False Allegations of Child Abuse, Hostile Parental Behaviour, Obstruction of Contact with Child, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychological, Risk of Psychological Harm, Unacceptable Risk, Unsubstantiated Allegations, With whom a child spends time with
Judges:  Bennett J


Background: This is a case of an Anglo-Australian father and a Chinese-born mother. There was a high level of parental conflict during and after the breakdown of the relationship. After separation, the mother and father lived in separate states. They had two children aged 11 and 9. The father had then re-partnered. In dispute over 'contact with the children' after separation, the mother made allegations of child sexual abuse against the father. She also made allegations of physical violence by the father against her and the children. These allegations were found to be baseless, contrived and pre-meditated by the Court. The mother also engaged in behaviour intended to incite hatred in the children against the father. This alienation proceeded to a degree where the children did not want t 
 
  [Legal Issue]Despite the findings of the Court against the mother, the Court had to address how it was going to deal with the intense "antipathy" that the children felt towards their father, to the point where they threatened self-harm if they were forced to see him. The Court found the children to be “articulate, forthright and self-assured adolescents.” In that context, the threat of self-harm if made to spend time with the father must be given sufficient weight as a likely outcome if contact with the father was forced onto the children. The Court concluded that imposing a “solution” on the children without deference to their views would at least compromise their development and, possibly, inspire the threatened self-harm.    [Court Orders]His Honour ordered equal shared parental responsibility, but that the children live with the mother and spend no time with the father. However, the Judge ordered a "post orders program", as recommended by the supervising family consultant with a view to the girls, being reunited with their father as soon as practicable. (this program subsequently failed: re: Wang & Dennison (No. 2) [2009] FamCA 1251) The judge also requested that a family consultant be nominated to supervise compliance with t     


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