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11: Re: Jamie [2013] FamCAFC 110 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Appeal, Gender Identity Dysphoria
Judges:  Bryant CJFinn JStrickland J


Background: The child concerned, “Jamie”, aged almost 11 years at the time of hearing, was diagnosed as having childhood gender identity disorder. At first instance, the parents were asking the court to authorise them to consent to treatment on behalf of Jamie, under the guidance of Jamie’s treating medical practitioners, for the administration of particular drugs designed to achieve suppression of certain hormones affecting the development of male features and particularly the onset of male puberty. The treatment, which occurs in two stages, comprises administration of puberty-suppressant hormones (stage one) and oestrogen (stage two), and is common to children who are diagnosed with this condition. The treatment would enable Jamie, born a male, to live in her affirmed sex as a female. 
 
  [Legal Issue]The first ground asserts that childhood gender identity disorder is not a special medical procedure which displaces the parental responsibility of the Appellants to decide upon the appropriate treatment for their child. The second ground, in the alternative, asserts that the Applicant Mother and Applicant Father be authorised to consent to the following special medical procedures on behalf of their child, ... (“Jamie”), being (i) he administration of puberty suppressant hormones, and (ii) additional treatment of oestrogen as may be considered appropriate by Jamie’s treating Endocrinologist.   [Court Orders]The appeal be allowed. Order 1 of the orders made by the Honourable Justice Dessau on 28 March 2011 be set aside. There be no order for costs.     


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12: 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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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: Emotional Abuse, False Allegations of Child Abuse, Parental Alienation, Parental Disorders, Psychological Disorders, Risk of Psychological Harm, Unsubstantiated Allegations
Judges:  Cronin J


Background: Mr Garzelli (“the husband”) married Ms Lewis (“the wife”) in January 2007 after they had met in 2005 through the internet. The husband is a 61 year old company director who was born in Australia. The wife is a 48 year old woman who was born in Country I. The husband and wife have one child N (“the child”) who was born in 2009 in Country I. This case focussed primarily on the credibility of the wife, and on the expectation that she would work with the father in a co-operative, shared parenting arrangement. 
 
  [Legal Issue]The Court, with the assistance of the psychiatric and psychological experts, determined that the mother went to significant efforts to manipulate circumstance to reflect poorly on the husband. It was suggested that a diagnoses of Borderline or Schizoid personality style or Asperger’s Spectrum Disorder was very likely, exposing the child to likely Parentified Child behaviours, which would force the child to align with the mother and abandon her relationship with her father, so as to meet the mother's increasingly demanding emotional needs and desires. The diagnoses would render the chances of a co-operative parenting arrangement very unlikely.   [Court Orders]That the husband have sole parental responsibility for the child born ... 2009 but for that purpose, the husband ensure the wife is kept abreast of all major issues about the child and in particular: (a) advise the wife of any medical treatment for the child; (b) authorise and direct the school at which the child attends to provide all school reports, newsletters, photographs and invitations usually directed to parents to be provided to the wife. The parents to otherwise have shared parenti     


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Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Emotional Abuse, Enmeshment, False Allegations of Child Abuse, Hearsay, Meaningful Relationship, Obstruction of Contact with Child, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation, Risk of Psychological Harm, Supervised contact with Child, Unsubstantiated Allegations
Judges:  Austin J


Background: For three years after separation, children aged 15, 12 and 10 years had at the mother’s insistence spent time with the father only at the mother’s house. The mother then severed all of the children’s interaction with the father for a period and recommenced access only if the father was supervised. The mother proposed that the father be eliminated or excluded from the children’s lives. The father contended the mother had exerted so much pressure upon the children they were induced to reject him and to resist any interaction with him (alienation). The mother contended that she supported the children’s relationships with the father and their individual rejection of him and that the children’s resistance to interacting with the father was due to their own adverse experiences wi 
 
  [Legal Issue]The judge gave little weight to a recommendation by a psychologist who treated the youngest child’s anxiety, that visits by the youngest child with the father should be postponed until the child has built appropriate coping skills to manage his anxiety. The judge preferred the opinion of the family consultant over the opinion of the treating psychologist for reasons including: (a) the psychologist had made only a superficial appraisal of the youngest child’s situation, and (b) documents containing hearsay of the treating psychologist’s opinions were tendered in evidence rather than an affidavit, denying the father the opportunity to test the evidence by cross-examining the psychologist directly (expert evidence unsatisfactory). The family consultant recommended a change of reside   [Court Orders]The judge found that if the two youngest children remained living with the mother then their relationships with the father would likely be destroyed. The judge ordered that the two younger children live with the father. The judge ordered a graduated approach where there was a temporary suspension of interaction between children and mother, followed by temporary period of supervision of the children’s time with the mother, leading to substantial and significant time with the mother.     


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16: 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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17: Wylie & Wylie [2013] FamCA 426 |
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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