An adult child’s perspective – Family Report
Proctor & Proctor  FCCA 613 (23 March 2016)
The following is annotated. For full case: http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/cases/cth/FCCA/2016/613.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=family%20law%20act
- Risk also flows from the children’s exposure to the views of at least their elder sibling Ms P, which views they are exposed to frequently as she provides the preponderance of their care.
- On the totality of the evidence I am satisfied that Ms P is, wittingly or unwittingly, an “ally” or “accomplice” of Mr Proctor in undermining the children’s relationship with their mother, informing and fixing false and negative impressions of the mother in the minds of each of the children and in failing to support (if not actively undermining) the children’s participation in a relationship with their mother who is otherwise a capable and adequate parent wishing to pursue a relationship with them.
- Certainly, the children’s disadvantage as a consequence of exposure to conflict, including the ongoing conflict which they have been exposed to since the physical separation of these parties and principally as a consequence of Mr Proctor’s actions, is acknowledged by Mr Proctor in the following portion of the Report:
- <li “=””>
Mr Proctor stated that the children had been affected by the conflict….Mr Proctor said that he believed there had been more conflict between the children and their older siblings recently….Mr Proctor also said that the parental conflict had affected X and Y’s usual wittiness and craftiness.
- A number of other criticisms are raised by Mr Proctor which are not supported or are contradicted by the evidence.
- Mr Proctor raises issues with respect to alcohol use reported as follows:
- <li “=””>
Mr Proctor reported that Ms Proctor had a problem with alcohol when they lived together. He was unable to provide specific details regarding the amount of alcohol Ms Proctor was drinking.
- There is no evidence led by Mr Proctor which would support this allegation.
- Mr Proctor also raised with the Family Report Writer the issue of Ms Proctor’s mental health. However, Mr Proctor’s description of the treatment that Ms Proctor has received and his positive instigation of or involvement with that treatment is disingenuous and inaccurate. Mr Proctor is reported:
- <li “=””>
Mr Proctor stated that he had attempted to seek mental health support for Ms Proctor when their relationship had started to fail. He stated he had tried to seek help through their general practitioner, the police, a psychologist in (omitted), the (omitted) mental health team and through Dr G.
- The notes of Dr G, in fact tendered by Mr Proctor, contradict Mr Proctor’s suggestion. The good doctor suggests that she had attempted to engage Mr Proctor in treatment or joint counselling and that he had refused.
- The Family Report Writer met with the adult sibling Ms P. The description of this interview opens with the following, “Ms P (Adult Sibling) stated that she did not identify Ms Proctor as her mother and instead just referred to her as “she””.
- This presentation by Ms P is entirely consistent with her Affidavit evidence and her evidence during cross-examination. From her demeanour in the witness box it was clear that Ms P entirely rejects a relationship with her mother, cannot concede any benefit to her younger siblings of such a relationship and considers such a relationship dangerous.
- Ms P is clear in her assertion to the Family Report Writer as to the role she plays in the lives and care of her two younger siblings. Whilst I reject Ms P as an accurate historian or witness of truth in general, I accept this portion of her evidence, namely:
- <li “=””>
Ms P said that she played a major role in caring for X and Y, and had for some time. She stated that she cooked for them and cared about their health and education.
- Whilst Ms P projects her parenting and that of Mr Proctor as exemplary, she describes Ms Proctor’s parenting of the children in the following terms:
- <li “=””>
Ms P said that Ms Proctor just gave the children takeaway food at her house, and that they did not get a proper breakfast. She stated that X had informed him that they did not do much there.
- Ms P advances these criticisms notwithstanding that she has no direct knowledge of anything which occurs in Ms Proctor’s household.
- Ms P’s description that the children and Ms Proctor do not engage in activities is consistent with X’s comments to the Family Report Writer and his attitudes towards his mother. However, those statements are entirely inconsistent with the evidence of Ms Proctor and Y’s comments to the Family Report Writer, which evidence I prefer. It thus begs the question as to why such statements are made by X when they would not appear founded in reality.
- One possible solution, and I need not pursue the issue to finality, is that X has an entirely distorted view of reality based upon attitudes impressed upon him by and reflective of those of his father and elder sibling.
- Ms P goes further in her criticism of her mother when the following is reported of her:
- <li “=””>
Ms P said that she did not know if Y would be safe visiting Ms Proctor without her siblings there. She stated that she was aware Ms Proctor took Y to visit her friends. Ms P said that these friends allegedly smoked cigarettes and had dogs on the loose at their house.
- Regardless of one’s attitude towards smoking as a lifestyle and health choice, to the extent that Ms P perceives (and I do not suggest that it is the only basis of Ms P’s assertion) that her younger sibling would be “unsafe” visiting her mother on that basis, it is telling. It would appear that absent any valid basis for criticism, having rejected Ms P’s evidence as to her past treatment by her mother as inaccurate, that any basis will suffice.
- Similarly, complaints by Ms P and X, regarding activities and food give the impression of them struggling for a basis to criticise the mother rather than there being any real or valid criticism as to safety.
- With respect to family violence within the home and between the parents Ms P is reported as follows:
- <li “=””>
In regards to the allegations of family violence between her parents, Ms P reported that Ms Proctor, in 2011, had punched Mr Proctor in the lip whilst he was driving their car.
- <li “=””>
Ms P said that she had witnessed her parents get in verbal arguments with one another. She stated that she had not seen Mr Proctor be physically violent towards Ms Proctor.
- In cross-examination Ms P confirmed her position that she had “never” seen Mr Proctor be violent, physically or verbally, towards Ms Proctor her mother.
- I certainly accept that the children were present in a motor vehicle with both of their parents in or about 2011 and that this resulted in the entire family presenting themselves at (omitted) Police Station. I do not necessarily accept the version of events given by Ms P.
- It is clear that these children have been exposed, on a regular basis, perhaps as frequently as daily, to conflict and disputation between their parents.
- The most reliable evidence I have of these disputes and conflicts and their development is that shown by Exhibit ICL2. That suggests a very different version of reality to that which Ms P and X suggest, wherein their father is an innocent victim of the mother’s aggression. Nothing could be further from the truth from that depicted in the video wherein the father and the adult siblings act in unison against Ms Proctor.
- That is not to suggest that Ms Proctor has never engaged in such behaviour. However, the manner in which such events are related by Ms P and now X cause me real concern.
- It is to be remembered that during her cross-examination Ms P denied that she had ever had any involvement in conflict between her parents or that her father had ever instigated conflict. Ms P seemed genuinely confronted when, after having denied the use of certain language, she was appraised of the existence (whether subsequently destroyed or otherwise) of video evidence to the contrary.
- I am satisfied that Ms P’s description to the Family Consultant of that which occurred within the household and Mr Proctor’s innocence in those events and Ms Proctor’s sole culpability, must be rejected.