“Massage parlour dad wins access to kids” was the headline recently in the Daily Telegraph. It was a story about a decision made in the Family Court which found a father who regularly visited prostitutes or massage parlours offering a “happy ending” should not necessarily be considered a bad parent and should not be refused access to his children.
These issues and others such as the viewing of pornography, the use of recreational drugs, or a criminal record are often viewed socially as being of such significance that they go directly to the moral fibre of the person concerned and surely such a person could not be considered someone appropriate to be trusted with the care of children.
Such arguments are often central to position of one parent in the break-up of relationship while contending that the other should not spend time with the children.
The current family law regime in Australia is a no fault system where no judgment is made as to the factors contributing to the breakdown of a relationship, the social acceptability of any behaviour alleged or the morals of the people involved. Rather, in parenting matters, the Court is interested in achieving a result that is in the best interests of any children involved.
If the behaviour complained about or lifestyle adopted is confined so that there is no negative impact upon the children, the Court will often find that it is in the children’s best interests to have a full or a substantial and significant relationship with that parent. This is not to say that there would not be restrictions placed upon that relationship to provide some guarantees to the Court and the other parent to ensure that there is no negative impact felt from the undesirable behaviour.
In the case referred to in the Daily Telegraph while the mother alleged that the father was “addicted to prostitutes” she did not suggest that his behaviour had in anyway involved in the children. Her position was that the morals of her former husband engaging in that behaviour or to be considered by the Court as being a factor which would be against the children’s best interests.
It was the Court’s view that because there was no direct impact on the children, the chilren’s interests were better served by maintaining a significant and substantial relationship with their father.
If you are facing a situation where your relationship with your children restricted as a result of allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour, pornography, addictions or drug issues or if you are concerned about the welfare of your children spending time with your ex partner as a result of these issues, please contact us to discuss your situation. Your first appointment will be free if you decide not to proceed with any action.