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Mother at risk of harm from children

Mother at risk of harm from children

In the recent case of Watts & Lorreck, the court noted the family violence being perpetuated between mother and child but also child and mother. Taking into account the importance of not separating siblings, the immaturity of the children, and the ongoing risk of further incidences of family violence in the mother’s household, the court determined to reverse the pre-existing arrangements (children live with the mother) and such that they live with the father:

  1. It may be observed that there are strong matters pointing in different directions in relation the resolution of this matter. In noting those matters, it is important again to acknowledge that there is significant uncertainty in relation to these matters, given the interim nature these proceedings. While often it may be thought that the view of a 15 ½ year old would be determinative on its own, the degree of immaturity attached to that view means that is not so in this case. However, it is still a matter to be accorded some weight. What is pivotal is what accompanies that view, and that is the fracturing of the relationship between the mother and, in particular X. While there are difficulties in the relationship with Y, as expressed in the views that he has told the Family Consultant of, they are not so grave. However, in X’s case, the fracturing of the relationship is serious and carries with it a significant risk of a descent into family violence, either on the part of X towards the mother or the mother towards X. This also carries with it the risk of Y being exposed to family violence, This also means that, even if X and Y were to return to Queensland with the mother, there are significant questions as to how that might benefit her relationship with each of them. It is notable that neither parent sought or raised the issue that orders be made separating X and Y.
  2. On balance, the fracturing of the relationship with X, when coupled with the view expressed by X and Y and the risk of exposure to family violence is pivotal and means that orders will be made for Y and X to remain in the ACT with their father.
  3. This is the case despite the risks that flow to the relationship with the mother should the boys be living with the father.

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