Boy, 4, ordered to visit ice dad

by Natasha Heathcote on February 17, 2016

Natasha Heathcote

The Australian reported on 1 October 2015 that a four-year-old boy was ordered to spend time with his father notwithstanding his use of the drug ice and evidence of him serving jail time for an incident where he allegedly threatened the mother with a shotgun.

Whilst the article makes out that the father is dangerous and the child is spending a lot of time with him, upon reading the interim decision by Judge Neville of the Federal Circuit Court in Canberra (Rossiter & Tierney [2015] FCCA 2440), it is not entirely the case.

Judge Neville was tasked with the difficult decision of whether the father’s time with the four year old boy should be supervised, and if so, by whom and where, and also how much time he should spend with the father. This is in circumstances where the mother alleges domestic violence, including an instance where the father threatened her with a shotgun (the father says he threatened to hurt himself with it), and the father’s history with illegal substances and disengagement involvement with child welfare organisations.

These proceedings were commenced by the mother, in circumstances where the father had taken the child, without notice, interstate for an extended period of time. In the first instance, orders were made on an urgent and ex parte basis for the children’s return to the mother.

Following, His Honour was provided with submissions and evidence from the parties. While His Honour had difficulties accepting some of the evidence and submissions put forward by the father, including the submission on behalf of the father regarding a drug test positive for methamphetamines, and while questions were raised about the mother’s credit relating to alleged perjury in the Magistrates Court in Wodonga, His Honour made orders largely as proposed by the Independent Children’s Lawyer that the child live with the mother and spend two hours supervised with the father each week.

His Honour went through the legislative framework of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and after determining that the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility did not apply, found that the father should spend supervised time with the child, supervised by a private organisation for not less than two hours a week. A further order was made for the child to have a short telephone call with the father each week with the logistics to be determined by the Independent Children’s Lawyer.

Despite the title of the article, this boy will be spending time with his father in a supervised and safe environment, as the Court has the paramount principle of the child’s best interests and His Honour was of the view that supervised time with the father was in his best interests.

Although supervision is a rare condition for the long term this will allow the father time with his son to continue their meaningful relationship in the interim and the Court will be in a better position to more properly consider the evidence before it on a final basis.

If you require assistance regarding the short or long term parenting arrangements for your children, please contact us at Armstrong Legal.

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