Compliance with facilitating time pursuant to Court Orders extends past the drive to McDonalds’ car park

by Karen Devey on May 26, 2016

Karen Devey

In the recent Federal Circuit Court judgment of Cartland & Cartland [2014], Judge Terry found the Respondent Mother to have contravened the parties’ Parenting Orders by not facilitating their two children, aged 11 and 12, to spend time with the Applicant Father as provided for by the Orders.

Her Honor heard that on at least 8 occasions, the parties met in the McDonalds car park for the purpose of changeover. On each of these occasions, the Father approached the Mother’s car and the children wound down the window and advised the father that they did not want to go with him. On the Mother’s own evidence, she did not look at the Father or the children, nor say anything to the children.  She allowed the children to wind the window up and drive out of the car park.

On a further occasion, the children messaged the Father and advised that they were too sick to spend time with him, despite this not being true.  The Mother acknowledged that she was aware the children were not in fact sick at this time yet she did not contact the Father and advise him otherwise.

Judge Terry was highly critical of the mother’s lack of ‘parenting’ at changeover and imposed a financial bond on the mother. Her Honor found that the Mother had a positive obligation to facilitate the children’s time with the Father, saying that simply driving to the car park was inadequate. Her Honor suggested that the Mother, at the very least, needed to such ask the children to get out of the car and reassure the children that they would have an enjoyable time and that they were safe.

Her Honor’s criticism of the Respondent Mother is a timely reminder that ‘spend time with’ Orders can impose indirect obligations on parties’, which extend past the drive to McDonalds’ car park.

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