In the recent case of Cappetto & Cappetto No.3  FamCA 345, his Honourable Justice Watts made findings about what parent the children should live with. The children in this case were referred to as “B,” 5 years and 8 months old and “S,” 3 years and 10 months old.
The Applicant Father wanted sole parental responsibility. The Independent Children’s Lawyer sought Orders that the children live with the father and that the mother spend time with the children from 11 am to 2 pm on Saturday for 4 weeks, and when the initial 4 weeks had expired, from 10 am to 4 pm each Saturday for the next 5 months. The Applicant Father was in agreement with the Orders that the Independent Children’s Lawyer was seeking.
The Respondent Mother sought Orders that the children live with her and that she have equal shared parental responsibility with the father. The mother did not outline the amount time she was happy for the father to spend with the children and left this Order for the Court to make, based on what it found to be in the children’s best interests.
You might be wondering why I am writing a blog article on this case? This case demonstrates the importance and value of good parenting skills and of a parent encouraging the child’s relationship with the other parent. The mother’s parenting skills and ability to encourage the children’s relationship with the other parent were significant issues in this case that the court took into consideration in deciding which parent the children should live with. The mother would not let “B” attend school; she alleged that she feared that the father would “interfere” with “B’s” life if “B” attended school. The father argued that the mother had not toilet trained the children. He argued that she did not toilet train the children because she did not want them to develop and become independent. At the time this case was heard, both children were still wearing nappies and were not toilet trained. Further, the court found that “B” was reluctant to feed himself and accepted the father’s evidence on this point.
You might be asking what findings the court made based on the evidence and issues in dispute… Essentially, his Honourable Justice Watts made findings that he was concerned about the mother’s willingness to encourage the father’s involvement in the children’s lives. The court found that the mother had a misguided view of the father as a “dangerous” man. The court found that the mother was not likely to encourage the relationship between the children and their father. Essentially, the court found that the mother might be unstable and therefore the children might be at risk in her care. Taking into account factors such as that the mother had not toilet trained the children, the court found that if the children were to live with the mother, they would be exposed to emotional harm because the mother was not able to encourage their development and independence.
After considering the evidence, the court ordered that the children live with the father. His Honourable Justice Watts ordered that the children’s time with the mother be supervised be gradually increased from 1 night to 2 nights and then including some time on school holidays.
After reading this blog, you might find yourself asking what does this case demonstrate about Australian Family Law? This judgement can be viewed as placing significant importance on parenting skills and of parents encouraging the child’s relationship with the other parent.
For specialist advise from a family lawyer with expertise in this field of law, contact us on 02 6288 1100 to make an appointment with a family lawyer to discuss your concerns.