Family Court of Australia emblem
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: Mitchell & Mitchell [2014] FCCA 2526 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, failure to call witness and Jones & Dunkel inference, Hostile Parental Behaviour, Interim Parenting Orders, Jones & Dunkel inference, Meaningful Relationship, Obstruction of Contact with Child, Parental Alienation, Risk of Psychological Harm, Sole Parental Responsibility, Supervised contact with Child, Unacceptable Risk, With whom a child lives with, With whom a child spends time with
Judges:  Harman JHenderson J


Background: Since separation, the three children lived primarily with their father [Mr Mitchell]. In these proceedings, Mr Mitchell has conceded that he has denied the children their right to a meaningful relationship with their mother, accepted by Mr Mitchell to be a caring and loving relationship, as well as exposing the children to his significant rage and repeated derogatory comments towards his ex-wife and her lesbian partner, while also exposing the children to discussions of adult issues, (such as the mother’s sexuality), which for children of these ages is entirely unnecessary and inappropriate. 
 
  [Legal Issue]These proceedings primarily hinged on the definition of "abuse" and "family violence", and whether the exposure of the children to the father's rage towards his ex-wife, and specifically the repeated derogatory comments towards his ex-wife and her lesbian partner, constitutes child abuse and/or family violence. The evidentiary standard of "Unacceptable Risk" was used to determine whether the risk of future abuse was significant enough to warrant measures.    [Court Orders]The children’s mother [Ms Mitchell] shall have sole parental responsibility of the three children. The three children shall live with their mother. The children’s father [Mr Mitchell] shall spend time with the children from 11am Saturday until 5pm Sunday each alternate weekend.     


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4: Chan & Phu [2013] FCCA 556 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Enmeshment, Hostile Parental Behaviour, Sole Parental Responsibility
Judges:  Scarlett J


Background: The parents were together for two years until they separated in 2001, when their daughter was only eight months old. The father has remarried. Relations between the pair have been so strained that they have only communicated by email and they have been arguing about which high school she should attend. They have been battling in the courts since 2003, when the Family Court made orders dealing with their daughter’s surname, where she should live and how much contact each parent should have. In 2007 the Family Court ordered the parents should have equal shared custody of their child but she should live primarily with her mother. 
 
  [Legal Issue]The Judge observed that even after eleven years since the separation, the Mother appears to have “maintained the rage” against the Father for his actions in leaving the relationship. As evidenced from her affidavits, her emails to the Father and her oral submission to the Court, the mother sees all of the Father’s actions as being directed against her personally. Her evidence does not suggest that she is able to separate herself and her feelings from the child and the child's needs to have a relationship with her father. Whilst the Mother claims that the Father is oppositional and exhibits passive-aggressive behaviour, the Father’s evidence suggests otherwise. The email conversation of 29th June 2012 are illustrative of the Father’s claim that he is acting in a manner cond   [Court Orders]Judge Scarlett made interim orders on June 18 that she should live with her father. He said the father should have sole responsibility for making decisions about “major long-term issues” concerning the child’s welfare.     


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5: Pedrana & Cox [2012] FamCA 739 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Enmeshment, False Allegations of Child Abuse, Obstruction of Contact with Child, Parental Responsibility, Risk of Psychological Harm, Sole Parental Responsibility, Supervised contact with Child, Unsupervised contact with Child, With whom a child lives with, With whom a child spends time with
Judges:  Bell J


Background:  
 
  [Legal Issue]   [Court Orders]     


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Australia emblem
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Amicus Curiae, Children, Medical, Parental Responsibility, Premature Infants, Special Medical Procedure
Judges:  Young J


Background:  
 
  [Legal Issue]   [Court Orders]The judge concluded that any treatment decision was up to baby D’s parents in conjunction with the doctors, and that no criminal sanctions would apply if death came as a result. As a result, Baby D’s parents are permitted to authorise the removal of the child's ventilation tube, leading to the child's death.     


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9: Green & Hann [2010] FamCA 747 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Communication, Emotional Abuse, Enmeshment, False Allegations of Child Abuse, Obstruction of Contact with Child, Parental Alienation, Parental Responsibility, Parenting Orders, Psychological Disorders, Risk of Psychological Harm, Sole Parental Responsibility, Supervised contact with Child, Unsubstantiated Allegations, With whom a child lives with
Judges:  Cleary J


Background: The parties began a relationship when Ms Green was 12 and Mr Hann was 16 years old. They married in 1993. Two children were born of the marriage. The parties separated in 2004 when the children were aged about 3 ½ years and 18 months old respectively. The children then lived with their mother and spent regular time with their father, including overnight time. Contact between the children and their father proceeded without incident until 2009. However in 2009, the children began to exhibit challenging and concerning behaviour both at school and towards the father.  
 
  [Legal Issue]In 2009, the children began to exhibit challenging and concerning behaviour both at school and towards the father. The Court has found that this behaviour was encouraged by the mother, who had formed an unhealthy dependence on the children. As a result, the Court found that there should be a change of residence, from the mother to the father.    [Court Orders]there should be a change of residence; there should be a period of time when there is limited supervised time with the mother to enable them to settle down in the father’s household and to begin to understand all the changes in their lives; the children’s behaviour, especially C’s, needs ongoing therapeutic intervention. I find that the mother would not facilitate this but the father and his extended family will; communication between the parties may improve after the mother takes     


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Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Blood Transfusions, Cancer, Medical, Parens Patriae, Parental Responsibility, Parental Rights, Religious Beliefs, Special Medical Procedure
Judges:  White J


Background: A 10 year-old South Australian boy was suffering from an aggressive form of cancer that doctors feared would spread throughout his entire body if not treated with an intense 39-week regime of chemotherapy and surgery. The speed of that process would not have allow his blood cells time to regenerate, require blood transfusions so that the chemotherapy can continue to be effective. In a statement read to the court, the boy said transfusions carried spiritual consequences. "The doctors have told me I might die and I don't want to - but I don't want blood," he said. "The blood will change me... when you take blood, you are taking someone else's life. "I really don't want this and my heart is ripping apart." On May 10, doctors discovered a tumour in his left leg. The boy co 
 
  [Legal Issue]The hospital asked the Supreme Court of South Australia to invoke its power of parens patriae, allowing it to look after those incapable of looking after themselves, in order to rule on behalf of the child in this dilemma between religious beliefs and the very real risk of death if a blood transfusion was not permitted, despite the child's parents objections to the blood transfusion.   [Court Orders]In a South Australian legal first, the Supreme Court gave the Women's and Children's Hospital the right to give a 10-year-old boy - a member of the Jehovah's Witness faith - transfusions as part of his cancer treatment, despite the objections from the boy's family. The decision, in line with similar rulings from around the world, paves the way for hospitals to take action in future debates with religious parents.     


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