Seizure risk to child welfare

Seizure risk to child welfare considered

Clough & Light

  1. What I am tasked to do here is balance this child’s right to a relationship with her father and obtain the benefit of that meaningful relationship with him, and the risk to her in his care. There is clearly some risk to the child in the father’s care due to the possibility of another seizure occurring randomly. However, as I see it, that risk is minimised because the father is well aware of the triggers which resulted in the seizure in July 2016. He had been all night fishing, had drunk alcohol and had not had his usual dosage of diazepam.
  2. This child is young. She is only three years and (omitted). However she has been living with her father since 2015, effectively, and only because of this seizure have the arrangements had to change. I accept she cannot live with her father if the time with him is to be supervised. The incident in July 2016 appears to have been quickly over. However, as I have said the father is well aware of the triggers that caused that event to occur and is carrying out the recommendations made by his doctors.
  3. I accept he would not risk his daughter’s safety by driving with her in the car, and he does not need to bathe the child. He can shower her if that is a concern for the doctor. I do see a risk of the child alone with her father in the day and in the night because of the random nature of a seizure he may or may not have. However, the question for me is: is that risk sufficient to outweigh this child’s right to a meaningful relationship with her father and for her to be restored to his care as was agreed between the parents in Court this year and, effectively, since separation in 2015?
  4. I do not doubt what the mother says that Dr G told her about the father’s condition, and they are all the negatives. However, I am sure there are some positives, but they have not been discussed. I do not discount what the mother says Dr G said to her. I am most concerned that the emotional and psychological risk to X with her having such limited time with her father or it being supervised is a greater risk of harm to the child than the possibility – and that is the highest it could be – of another seizure. It is not likelihood. It is not a probability. It is a possibility and it may never happen. That possible risk has been minimised because the father himself tells me the triggers and he is well aware of them: alcohol, sleep deprivation, use of drugs, and withdrawal of prescribed medication such as diazepam.
  5. The father is now taking care of himself, and he must do so to give himself the best chance for no further attacks.
  6. Looking at the Act, this child benefits from a meaningful relationship with each of her parents. Both parents have alleged in the past they have used illicit drugs and perhaps have behaved poorly in the child’s care. However, that behaviour seems to have reduced.
  7. The child is clearly attached to both her parents. However, she has lived in the primary care of her father since separation in 2015. There would be a significant impact on this child of a change to her now living primarily with her mother and not with her father. This change, I see, may have the most negative consequence for the child rather than the prospect of a possible seizure of the father whilst the child is in his care. I agree that the child needs a regular pattern of time with both her parents, and each parent need to know where she is on each occasion.
  8. I have formed the view today that the father’s time is no longer required to be supervised. I have formed the view that, consistent with my orders in September 2016, the child should attend day care Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and she will be in her mother’s care on those days as her mother works. On Thursday and Friday of each week, she will be in her father’s care. On the alternate weekends the father’s time will extend to the commencement of day care on Monday morning.
  9. These orders provide for a sharing of the child’s care – something she is used to – significant and substantial time in each of the parent’s care, time at the preschool and kindergarten to allow her to socialise with other children and will ensure that the child has overnight time, weekend time with each of her parents.
  10. I find these are the orders in the child’s best interest


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