Court Appointed Expert Opinion
The Evidence of Dr A, the Court Appointed Expert
- Dr A’s report dated 12 June 2015 was based on interviews held on 11 and 12 May 2015. He met with both parents, Y and X, as well as both the maternal and paternal grandmother. He had available to him all of the affidavits that were filed as at that date, together with copies of all the documents produced on subpoena as at that date. What the Court considers to be the relevant aspects of Dr A’s reports will be set out below, together with some comments or observations.
- He met with the Mother and found her to be “initially over-familiar and mocking in her approach to the assessment.” She told Dr A that she found this “all a joke.” She was frustrated and irritated with the assessment process and anxious about Court. She acknowledged this herself. “She was dismissive and minimising of her relationship with Y’s father, Mr Downs and his rural family, referring to them as “noxious, arrogant, rural, chauvinist, racist with subservient women”. (Paragraph 5).
- In the context of her upbringing, she described her experience of the maternal grandmother as “an emotional retard”, very strong, repressive, cool and not overly affectionate. Dr A observed that “this was a striking description of the woman that she referred to as ‘Mum’ and relied on as her primary emotional support.” In cross-examination, however, Dr A clarified that the Mother was describing her own upbringing and not her current relationship with her mother.
- The Mother acknowledged her history of poly substance abuse particularly as a young adult. She was a heroin addict and a drunk. She agreed that during a drunken wild night she was given intravenous amphetamines and developed hepatitis C, for which she continues to be treated.
- Dr A records at paragraph 85 and 86 as follows:
85.When asked about additional issues, Ms Seabridge stated that she was disconcerted by Mr Downs’s “fake” behaviour. Although X had always liked Mrs Downs, they had never been close. X envied Mrs Downs’s grandchildren and had wanted to be involved. Ms Seabridge was thus surprised to hear that X happily sat on Mrs Downs’s lap. She viewed this as “very bizarre”.
86.Ms Seabridge questioned the nature of the assessment and how it was possible to form an opinion given that the father’s statements to the Court had been “crap” and “ridiculous”.
- At paragraphs 92 – 94, he makes some further important observations about her:
92.The stability of the environment which Ms Seabridge had provided for the children was explored. She had lived in five different locations with X. X had attended three different schools. There had been difficulties with the other children at her first school, (omitted). X had thus moved to (omitted), which offered a (omitted) program which had worked well. Although this had been good educationally, she had failed to make close friends. Ms Seabridge emphasised that now that she was in (omitted), she was not moving again.
93.Ms Seabridge returned to the report writer’s lack of appreciation of “the enormity of the head/mind fuck” by Mr Downs. “If he cared … he wasn’t there. This is a crock of …” Ms Seabridge again referred to her dislike of the assessment process and lack of trust in the outcome. She dismissed the “army of crap” which had been submitted to the Court. She added: “This is just craziness!”
94.During her four years in (omitted), Ms Seabridge had never had paid work and had difficulty in establishing housing. She was optimistic that work would be available in (omitted), while acknowledging that it had the same unemployment rate. She hoped that the tourist flow would enable her to pursue her interest in (omitted). Nonetheless, her first priority was her health. Her mother would stay with her in (omitted) for however long she was required. When concern was raised regarding the multiple changes of environment for X and the impact upon her development, Ms Seabridge contemptuously responded: “That disgusts me!” She went on to state that X was happier at her school in (omitted) than she had ever been. She was enrolled in (hobby omitted) and was able to go to the beach. She loved it there.
- The Court notes that the Mother’s attitude as observed, and recorded by Dr A, was plainly apparent to the Court when she gave her evidence.
- The Paternal Grandmother was interviewed. She made a positive impression on Dr A.
- The Father was re-interviewed. At paragraphs 110 – 112, Dr A explores some of the Mother’s allegations against him:
110.Mr Downs further detailed his frustration at the obstacles placed in his path by Ms Seabridge during his attempts to maintain contact with his son. Although he would try to be friendly at handovers but Ms N would respond in a curt manner. Ms N appeared unaware of discussions regarding alternative arrangements with Ms Seabridge. Ms Seabridge had been angry, screaming expletives, when he had contacted Ms N directly. Ms N appeared irritated that he did not have consent to ring her directly.
111.When pregnant with Y, Ms Seabridge had finally received a Housing Commission home unit after years on the waiting list. Nonetheless, she had let this go. When he and his family offered help with the relocation, she had rejected this. This could be regarded to be tacit support for her decision. Instead, she had relied upon a Church charity, incorrectly stating that she had no one else to help. He emphasised that his family had provided a lot of support, including child care, for Ms Seabridge while she was resided in (omitted). He was willing to reduce his working hours to be available. He spoke with empathy about the challenge of being a full-time carer for Y. He remained motivated to share more in his son’s life.
112.Mr Downs’s gambling habits were explored in detail. He acknowledged that at times he would spend $50 on poker machines. He dismissed any suggestion that he had incurred $8,000 worth of debts, but acknowledged that he had been in arrears for $5,000 given a cancelled work contract. He gave a detailed account of these circumstances. He also acknowledged that the electricity had been cut off at the time as he was short of money. He continued to help X and Ms Seabridge during this period. He emphasised that he and his brother were resourceful people and were unaffected by the lack of electricity supply.
- Dr A then addressed the terms of reference of his report. He was unable to identify any significant risk to the children from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence. Both children presented as well-cared for. Their interactions with their parents and grandparents were positive, and inconsistent with any allegation of harm. Dr A acknowledged, however, that there were contested allegations in respect of which he was unable to make any comments. Of course, the Court has had the benefit of all of the evidence before the Court, including that of both parents under cross-examination, and it, likewise, reaches the conclusion that, even based on the contested allegations, there is no risk of harm to these children from being subjected to, or exposed to abuse, neglect of family violence.
- Dr A reported on the views expressed by the children. Y was only 13 months old at the time of the interview, and whilst positive interactions were observed between Y and all of the significant adults in his life present at the interview, he certainly did not have the capacity to express any views. The report covers the views expressed by X, as that was a contested issue at the time. Dr A records that it was plainly evident to him that the issues before the Court had been discussed with X by her mother, “which had in turn impacted on her views. She was strongly motivated to remain in her mother’s case.” (Paragraph 118.)
- The opinion by Dr A that X had been a participant in quite inappropriate discussions is a finding the Court makes and is consistent with the evidence of both the Mother, and the maternal grandmother. The issue here is not so much X’s views, which are not only irrelevant but plainly unreliable because of the maternal influence, but rather on the Mother’s attitudes and insights.
- In regards to the relationship between the children and each of their parents and grandparents, Dr A reports at paragraphs 120 – 121:
120.A close and highly attuned relationship was observed between X and her mother. Numerous positive and enthusiastic interactions were also observed between X and her maternal grandmother, Mr Downs and his mother, Mrs Downs. Her presentation was inconsistent with the allegations of the mother and maternal grandmother that X was anxious and avoidant of Mr Downs. The mother was surprised by the comfort, ease and enthusiasm in their interactions. X sat smiling broadly on Mrs Downs’s lap, enthusiastically engaging in conversation. According to the mother, this was inconsistent with previous interactions.
121.Y was a bright enthusiastic 13-month-old infant with positive, engaged and highly attuned interactions with his mother, maternal grandmother, sister, father and paternal grandmother. There was no indication that he was anxious or traumatised. He did not suffer from Separation Anxiety. A secure attachment was observed between Y and his mother, with positive secondary attachments with the other parties. X was seen to be a loving and engaged older sister to her baby brother.
- It is important to recognise, and record the professional opinion of the Court-appointed expert that Y was securely attached to his mother, and that his other relationships, including with the Father, was a “positive secondary attachment”. Dr A maintained this view in cross-examination. No other evidence was led before the Court which would lead it to make a finding contrary to Dr A’s professional opinion.
- At paragraphs 122 – 124, Dr A deals with a term of reference he was given to explore the willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the children and the other party. This, of course, is not an additional consideration under section 60CC, but the evidence is clearly relevant to the issue of parental attitudes and responsibilities, and will thus be reproduced in that context:
122.The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the children and the other party:
123.The mother justified her reluctance to support a relationship between the children and the father and his extended family. She provided extensive information consistent with her Affidavit material. She viewed him to be neglectful, unreliable, a chronic user of cannabis, possibly on the Autistic Spectrum without the capacity to be a consistent supportive parent or partner. She viewed him to be neglectful of the family’s needs. She thus decided that there was no benefit for the children to remain in (omitted). She needed the support of her stepmother, but Ms N was unwilling to relocate south of (omitted). They had agreed to relocate there together. It was alleged by the father and paternal grandmother that this was enacted in a precipitous fashion, without discussion or planning. This was disputed by the mother who asserted that there had been discussion prior to the move. Although she asserted that there would be regular and easy contact between Y and his father as (omitted) was “just over the hill”, it was evident that current regular weekend contact arrangements were disruptive, stressful, expensive and unsustainable. The mother blamed the father for this and took no responsibility for these circumstances. She was quick to debate feedback and justified her unwillingness to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between Y and the father. She opposed an ongoing relationship between X and Mr Downs and his family. She diminished any existing positive engagement despite this being evident during the assessment.
124.The father and paternal grandmother were respectful of the children’s relationship with their mother. The father’s Application for primary residence was a response to the mother’s relocation to (omitted), indicative of his motivation to be a significant figure in his son’s life. He also expressed care and concern for X, despite acknowledging that he had no biological right to have X’s primary care. He recognised the importance of not separating the siblings.
- In cross-examination, the Mother indeed confirmed that at the time she moved from (omitted) to (omitted) she had regarded the prospect of regular and easy contact between Y and his father in terms of (omitted) being “just over the hill”. That was plainly disingenuous of her. It reflected a significant lack of insight on her part as to the potential impact on Y of her relocation so far away, in circumstances where she must have known, or should reasonably have known, that her relocation would expose him to the need for considerable travel.
- The Court specifically rejects the contention made by her Counsel that the Mother did not know what travel would be involved. Bear in mind that a significant part of her case supposedly focused on the adverse effects on Y of the travel between (omitted) and (omitted). It is simply implausible to suggest, as her Counsel did, that she simply did not know at the time she relocated. Even if that were the case, though the Court rejects this, the fact is she should have known, and she should have considered the impact of travel on him.
- Moreover, the Court accepts Dr A’s observations that the Mother blamed the Father for her need to relocate and took no responsibility for these circumstances, as being entirely consistent with the evidence. When the Mother was systematically challenged in cross-examination about the reasons of the relocation, including work prospects, better accommodation, closer to her mother, the only reason that really survived critical scrutiny was the Mother’s acknowledgement that at least one of her reasons was to get away from the Father.
- Furthermore, Dr A’s observation that the Mother opposed an ongoing relationship between X, and the Father and his family, is plainly evident from her evidence.
- Dr A was asked to consider the likely effect of any changes in the children’s circumstances, including of separation from parents and any other significant adults in their lives. He deals with this at paragraph 126, clearly dealing with both children:
126.The children’s removal from their mother as their primary carer, would an overwhelming experience of separation and loss, particularly for X. It would be disruptive of the secure primary attachment relationship for Y. This would not be in their best interests. The children’s removal from their mother would have a long-term impact on their emotional development, which would be characterised by initial regression and subsequent emotional vulnerability.
- The Father’s Counsel’s cross-examination of Dr A on the issue of whether it could be in the best interests of Y to be placed in his father’s care was expertly done, but Dr A would not change his view. To remove Y from his mother’s care would disrupt his secure primary attachment to her, and place him into the relatively unknown situation of his father, and the paternal family. Dr A was quite dogmatic about this – this would not be in the best interests of Y. This remained the case even though, it should be noted, Dr A was scathing of the Mother’s attitudes as regards Y’s relationship with his father.
- Dr A commented on parental capacity. He found that both parents were seen to have capacity to respond to Y’s emotional and intellectual needs. He was aware of the concerns raised by the Father in this regard. He made the quite strong point that the “children’s positive developmental trajectory was inconsistent with exposure to substantive neglect or abuse.” (paragraph 128).
- Dr A deals with the Mother’s allegations about the Father, at paragraph 129:
129.The mother alleged that the father lacked interest, motivation, attention and connection with the children. This was reportedly exacerbated by his chronic cannabis use. Although there was no evidence that the father had recently imbibed cannabis his acknowledged chronic use was likely to have had a significant impact. During the assessment, he was observed to be relaxed, attuned and responsive to the children’s needs. He was well supported by the paternal grandmother and extended paternal family. This was acknowledged by the mother; although she expressed concern regarding the cannabis use of one of the paternal uncles.
- It is interesting to note that the Mother maintained her concerns about the Father’s cannabis use, notwithstanding the fact that he was scrupulous about compliance with requests to produce drug tests, but she was not. This hypocrisy did not seem to bother the Mother. The Court is prepared to accept, in fact, that there were times before Y was actually born but was in the womb and times after he was born but before separation, when the Father could have demonstrated more interest and attention in connection with Y.
- The situation is, however, far more likely to be that which he asserted, than that which the Mother asserted. That is to say the Mother rebuffed his attempts to have a greater involvement in Y’s birth, and life, but that is not to say that he could not have done more. This is not an issue that determines this case. The Mother’s case that the Father was disinterested in Y is rejected by the Court. The more likely scenario is that she has sought to systematically exclude the Father from Y’s life. She certainly has succeeded, so far as X is concerned.
- The risk that the Independent Children’s Lawyer pointed to, and which the Court acknowledges, is that insofar as she has succeeded in undermining X’s relationship with the Father, there is a risk that in the toxic household constituted by the Mother and the maternal grandmother, the risk exists that Y’s relationship with his father will, in the fullness of time, be undermined.
- And yet in contradistinction to that, the Mother advances a proposal (even if one suspects on the basis of good legal advice) that will provide a basis, perhaps a barely adequate one, for Y to continue his relationship with his father. The best that the Court might be able to do in the circumstances of this difficult case is to make orders that facilitate the continuation of the Father’s existing meaningful relationship with Y, but to remain vigilant about anything the Mother does, says, or fails to say or do that has the effect of subverting the orders.
- Dr A deals with parental attitudes at paragraphs 130 – 131 in the following terms:
130.The attitude to the children and to the responsibilities of parenthood, demonstrated by each of the children’s parents or any other relevant person:
131.The mother expressed a loving attitude towards the children and highlighted her commitment to the responsibilities of parenthood. It was, however, concerning that she had failed to provide them with a stable residence, schooling and social network. At the age of nine, X had attended three different schools. The mother’s relocation of family to (omitted), given the maternal grandmother’s unwillingness to relocate further south, raised questions regarding her capacity to prioritise the children’s needs. She was unwilling to acknowledge the impact upon the children which limited their contact with their paternal extended families. The distance was problematic and unsustainable. She could not accept responsibility for the outcome of her relocation. The father expressed a loving attitude towards the children. Although he asserted that he took the responsibilities of parenthood seriously, this was strongly disputed by the mother, who asserted that he lacked the capacity to prioritise the children’s needs.
- In the passage above, he highlights some of the Mother’s deficits as a parent, deficits that she was clearly not prepared to accept in cross-examination, let alone in the course of the assessment.
- It must be remembered that the Court treats paragraphs 122 – 124 of Dr A’s report as being reflective of matters relating to the Mother’s attitude to the children and to the responsibilities of parenthood.
- Dr A observed that the children were not identified to have been exposed to family violence, and the Court accepts that this is consistent with the evidence before it.
- At paragraphs 134 – 135, Dr A again reiterates a problem inherent in the Father’s proposal for Y to live with him. Dr A explains that it would be “distressing and challenging for Y and X to be separated.” He emphasised that it was in their best interests to remain primarily within the same household.
- Dr A considered the effect of making an equal time, or substantial and significant time order in relation to the children. Whilst he thought that the Father, with the assistance of the paternal grandmother and extended paternal family, probably could implement an arrangement for either equal time, or substantial and significant time, he doubted very much whether the parents had the capacity to communicate with each other and to resolve difficulties that might arise in such an arrangement. In any event, the Court doubts whether either would be reasonably practicable, in circumstances where the Mother remained in (omitted), and the Father in (omitted).
- Dr A was asked to consider the mental state of both parents, insofar as it relates to parenting issues. At paragraphs 139 – 40 he expresses the opinion:
139.The mother had a vulnerable mental state in the context of her challenging developmental history, recurrent experience of separation and loss, recurrent child sexual abuse and ill health (Hepatitis C, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the sequelae of her complicated pregnancy and delivery). This was exacerbated by the current Family Court proceedings, which had been a source of extreme frustration and distress. Whilst she expressed reactive emotional distress, a primary psychiatric disorder was not identified. She was not identified to have a persistent Depressive or Anxiety Disorder, Mood Disorder or psychosis. She readily acknowledged the stress of her current circumstances, Family Court proceedings and the onerous impact of the weekend contact arrangements.
140.The father exhibited a stable mental state. He had particular strengths related to his capacity to fix (omitted), which was both his profession and hobby, and was a talented drawer. He was well supported by the paternal grandmother and extended family. It was likely that his capacity to work and for domestic duties at times had been impaired by his chronic use of cannabis, as alleged.
- Dr A’s description of the Mother’s mental state as being “vulnerable” was clearly manifest in the Mother’s evidence. In cross-examination, however, he was forced to concede that another possible diagnosis for the Mother was borderline personality disorder, particularly in the context of her challenging developmental history, recurrent experience of separation and loss, child abuse and ill health, all seen in the context of the Mother’s behaviour in this litigation. Even so, Dr A opined this did not mean that Y was at risk of harm in his mother’s care.
- Dr A found both children to be of sound mental health, and not having special needs. He also found that neither the Mother, nor the Father, appeared to be currently abusing substances including cannabis. Both had previous dependency issues which resulted in ongoing side effects. For the Mother, it was Hepatitis C, and for the Father Dr A recognised that “his persistent dependency on cannabis would have the capacity to impact upon his ability to prioritise the children’s developmental needs.”
- In other words, the Court formed the impression that Dr A was concerned about relapse on the Father’s part, which could raise parenting capacity issues. However, as the Court observed earlier in its reasons, neither party conducted the case on the basis of a risk of harm from substance abuse. On balance, the evidence does not support findings of risk of harm arising out of either parent’s substance abuse.
- At paragraphs 147 – 151, Dr A makes a number of recommendations:
147.Any other matter the Court Expert considers relevant:
148.I would recommend joint parental responsibility.
149.I would recommend the mother’s maintenance of primary residence with Y and X.
150.I would recommend the gradual increase in contact between Y and his father over time. The nature of this contact will depend upon the living circumstances of both parents.
151.While I see the potential benefit in X of having ongoing contact with Mr Downs and his extended family, during visits with her brother, Y, it should be recognised that the nature of X’s relationship with the Downs extended family was not at the same level as that of her biological father and would be a source of stress and tension if ordered against her mother’s wishes.
- In conjunction with this, at paragraph 153 he deals with issues of practical difficulty and expense associated with contact. In this regard, he states:
153.The maintenance of the current arrangements whereby both parties were responsible to travel between (omitted) and (omitted) had resulted in significant, ongoing and unsustainable expense and stress. When the mother travelled to (omitted), this resulted in significant disruption to Y’s daily routine. It further resulted in regular separations from X. The mother had experienced stress regarding this. This was relevant, given her vulnerable physical health in the context of Hepatitis C and requirement for chemotherapy. The current arrangements limited the capacity for both children to have regular, ongoing contact with their paternal extended families. It was of concern that the mother and the children lacked any social support within the (omitted) area. The mother asserted that she would have the capacity to obtain work in the future in the (omitted) area, unlike in (omitted); however, this remained untested. The mother relied upon the support of the maternal grandmother in (omitted). When interviewed, the maternal grandmother was unwilling to make any commitment regarding the future, simply stating that she was planning to remain in the (omitted) area until the current issues before the Court were resolved. This was of concern given the mother’s unstable developmental history and multiple relocations throughout her life. The maternal grandmother had only relocated to (omitted), Queensland, several years ago because she was unwilling to remain in Victoria, due to the climate. This raised questions regarding the stability of the mother’s residence in the (omitted) area; however, she did emphasise the importance of maintaining X’s current school placement. I would support the benefits associated with this. Nonetheless, it would be my recommendation that the mother return to the (omitted) area to enable both children to have regular contact with their paternal extended families, without the attendant distress of maintaining a long distance relationship.
- In cross-examination, particularly led by Mr Cooke, Counsel for the Independent Children’s Lawyer, Dr A agreed that, on balance, the Mother’s proposal for sole parental responsibility was probably more potentially problematic for the children than an order for equal shared parental responsibility in circumstances where the parents could not communicate, and had no trust for each other. He seemed to concede that, in effect (and these are not his words) equal shared parental responsibility was the lesser of two evils in circumstances where the Mother’s pervasive attitude of negativity towards the Father could mean that sole parental responsibility would become a licence for her to legitimately exclude the Father from Y’s life.
- The Court entirely agrees in this regard. The Mother needs the accountability of an equal shared parental responsibility order to at least nominally keep the Father involved in Y’s life. To grant her sole parental responsibility would, indeed, give her the licence to implement the Mother’s manifesto of excluding the Father from Y’s life.
- Once again, it should be noted that Dr A was firm, indeed strident in his professional opinion that Y should continue to live with his mother, obviously despite her significant deficits in parental attitudes.
- The Court wishes to acknowledge that its own findings about the Mother accentuate her appalling attitude towards the Father, her baseless allegations and concerns about him, and her preference for advancing her own interests thinly disguised as Y’s best interests, in relocating from (omitted) to (omitted). The Family Law Act 1975, however, mandates that decisions are made in the best interests of children, and not on the basis of which parent is more likeable or pleasant. For all the Mother’s inadequacies, she is Y’s primary attachment figure at his age. Dr A strongly warns against disrupting this primary attachment, even in the circumstances of this case. The Court agrees. The Mother can be made accountable in other ways without creating any risk of attachment harm or disruption by reversing the existing care arrangements. Hypothetically, the decision might have been different if Y were older, had developed a mature, more resilient attachment with his mother and father, and the Father had a better track record of quality time with his son. The Mother would do well to consider this should she ever deign to read and think about this Court’s reasons for judgment.
- Subject to the other evidence before the Court, the Court accepts Dr A’s recommendation that Y continue to live with his mother.
- At paragraph 153, Dr A considers the possibility of the Mother returning to (omitted). He clearly sees it as the best possible outcome. When it was made clear to him, however, that the Mother did not want to relocate, and would not relocate, it did not change his fundamental opinion that Y should continue to live with his mother, wherever she lives, subject only to the continuation of the existing relationship with his father. Dr A recognised the importance of stability for X, particularly in terms of her school.
- As foreshadowed earlier in these reasons, the orders proposed by the Independent Children’s Lawyer for Y’s time with his father, and its gradual progression to overnights, and then successive overnights, is based on the evidence that Dr A gave not just in his report, but in his cross-examination. For example, in cross-examination, he indicated that overnights could start at age 3 for Y and that, in any event it was better to graduate the introduction of overnights to make the transition comfortable for Y. This was particularly the case as the number of overnights increased.
- The key points that Dr A made in cross-examination are summarised by the Court in the dot points below:
- He strongly disagreed with the submission that the removal of Y from his primary carer would not be a problem. He described it as a “significant problem”. He described it as a “significant stress for Y to be removed from his primary caregiver, to be removed from his sister, to be removed from the family home and other connections, such as the maternal grandmother.” Indeed, he thought that the mere contention reflected “that the Father lacks emotional attunement to Y’s emotional and developmental needs – psychological developmental needs.” (Transcript, Dr A, page 4, lines 34 – 43).
- Dr A felt that the prognosis for an improvement in the parents’ communication was poor, not just because of their personalities, orientations, how they perceive their life experience and their children’s needs, but also because of the pragmatic reality of geographical distance between them, and the need for counselling to involve both of them. (Transcript, Dr A, page 5, lines 4 – 14).
- Dr A believed that the Mother’s unilateral relocation exhibited a “preoccupation with her own emotional and psychological issues, rather than having the capacity to consider the infant’s wellbeing, and rather than considering the importance with regard to both Y and X’s need to establish and maintain stable environments and relationships.”
- Whilst in his report he had emphasised that the best possible outcome for Y in this matter, and X too, was to return to (omitted), he conceded that he might have to change his view “if there is a new stability that has been established in (omitted).” (Transcript, page 12, lines 14 – 21).
- Having accepted in cross-examination that “there are signs that the Mother does have features of longstanding and pervasive maladaptive personality traits consistent with a personality disorder”, (Transcript, page 18, lines 36 – 38) at transcript, page 20, lines 28 – 45, he would not go so far as to predict that Y would, in his mother’s care, acquire his mother’s traits.
- Referring to what counsel described as the Mother’s inability to prioritise Y’s interests over her own, at transcript, page 23, lines 12 – 27, Dr A explains that this attitude reflects a view that the Mother genuinely holds, based on what she perceives to be her experience of the Father, but which seems to be inconsistent with the evidence. In effect, rather than being malicious, it is a misguided perception, “It’s not because she is doing it to harm Y.”
- The Court accepts Dr A’s evidence, and his recommendations. The Court accepts that the independent children’s lawyer’s proposed orders, reflect his recommendation. Dr A’s observations are entirely consistent with the Court’s own observations about the witnesses. The Court accepts Dr A’s professional opinion about the matter. Nothing that was put to him in cross-examination undermines the Court’s view.