Meaningful relationship with father would cause risk of emotional harm to children
- Everyone is now in Court. I will order, consistently with our previous discussions, that the father will have no further input by way of communication, time or parental responsibility of the children and finalise the proceedings. I do so recognising that it is a final parenting order. I am satisfied that it is a final parenting order which is an unhappy outcome for the father, but one that is consistent with the best interests of the children.
- I have earlier delivered reasons in the review application, which traverse the primary considerations and the additional considerations, in some detail, although not in the context of a final hearing. I will not repeat those matters here, but my view is that all of what I said in those reasons applies in this determination. I am mindful that this order precludes a relationship between the children and the father’s family and his new child and his child yet to be born. I am satisfied that the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility provide in s 61DA(1) is rebutted. To make an order in those terms would not be in the best interests of either child by virtue of the unbridled animosity which the father bears to the mother and the impossibility of the parents being able to make decisions jointly or to consult about the major long-term decisions for the children.
- It is apparent that the father is upset by the outcome, although it appears that he accepts it. He has, on previous occasions, sought to blame other people for the predicament in which he finds himself – or, more particularly, he perceives his children find themselves – and those other people have usually been the Court, as an institution, or the mother. The father’s disinclination to accept responsibility himself and his inability for introspection is a significant feature of this case.
- I am satisfied that there are significant reasons why any orders for face to face time would have to be crafted so as to protect the children from physical or emotional harm, were they to have an ongoing relationship with the father. I make no firm findings in that respect, because the parties have chosen, at this point, not to adduce evidence in detail. However, based on the evidence I do have, I could not be satisfied, at this stage, that there are circumstances which would render communication or face to face time with the father safe for the children emotionally.
- I am satisfied, at this stage, that it is not consistent with the children’s best interests to have a meaningful relationship with the father. I do not suggest that the relationship had to be the optimal relationship. Meaningful, in my view, is something less than that. However, a meaningful relationship between the children and the father with ongoing communication and face to face interaction would, I think, carry with it an unacceptable risk of emotional harm for the children. This is having regard to their need to have a reliable parent and not to have their relationship with that parent undermined.
- As indicated I am satisfied that the Order I make is consistent with the best interests of the children.
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Brisbane / Sunshine Coast / Gold Coast