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      

 ] Download Decision

Federal Circuit Court of Australia emblem
2: Ridgely & Stiller [2014] FCCA 2668 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Emotional Abuse, Equal Shared Parental Responsibility, Meaningful Relationship, Obstruction of Contact with Child, Parental Alienation, Parenting Orders, Risk of Psychological Harm, Sole Parental Responsibility, Substantial and Significant Time, Unacceptable Risk, With whom a child spends time with
Judges:  Bender J

Background: The parents separated in 2007 after five years together. The child had lived with the mother since her parents separated when she was 13 months old. Since the separation, the mother engaged in an unrelenting campaign to undermine the child’s relationship with her father, causing the child significant distress. The mother interfered with her daughter’s court-ordered parenting time with her father, often resulting in the child not seeing her father for months at a time.  
  [Legal Issue]These proceedings primarily hinged on Section 60CC (2)(a), where the court is required to consider the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child’s parents. This section was particularly relevant given that the mother prevented and was likely to continue preventing the child to have a meaningful relation with her father.   [Court Orders]The child, who had lived with her mother since her parents separated when she was 13 months old, shall live with father and spend time with the mother. The father shall have sole parental responsibility in relation to health and education, and otherwise the parties to have equal shared parental responsibility.     

 ] Download Decision

Full Court of the Family Court of 

Australia emblem
3: Goode & Goode [2006] FamCA 1346 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Appeal, Equal Parenting Time, Equal Shared Parental Responsibility, Interim Parenting Orders, Parenting Orders, Shared Parenting, Sole Parental Responsibility, Substantial and Significant Time
Judges:  Boland JBryant CJFinn J

Background: The parties were married in July 1996 and although there was a separation in December 1999 they finally separated in late May 2006. While there was some dispute as to the circumstances of the separation, the facts allowed the judge at first instance to find that the appellant father chose to leave the matrimonial home and bring the marriage to an end. Thereafter there was some dispute as to what happened in relation to the care of the children. Collier J recorded that the respondent mother asserted that after a period of time the parties reached an agreement and the appellant father commenced spending time with the children on each alternate weekend. The appellant father’s case was that the respondent mother removed the children from him and made it very difficult for him to have 
  [Legal Issue]This is an appeal by the father against a decision for interim orders. In this case the Judge in the previous decision did not apply the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility, as stipulated in the family law act, nor did he consider what was in the child's best interests, as listed in the primary and additional considerations in the family law act. Instead the Judge applied the principle previously determined in Cowling v Cowling [1998] FamCA 19, commonly referred to as the "Status Quo". The principle of Status Quo determined that if a child was in a well-settled environment, the child's arrangements should not be altered. As such, the Judge determined that in interim hearings, the Status Quo should be the prevailing principle, not what was determined to be in the    [Court Orders]The Full Court of the Family Court determined that the appeal was successful, and that: (1) The presumption that an order for equal shared parental responsibility will be in the child’s best interests still applies in interim cases, even if neither party asks for such an order. (2) Where that presumption is applied, the Court must still, at an interim hearing, consider the practicality of the child spending equal time with each of the parents under Section 65AA of the Act. (3) Even wh     

 ] Download Decision