Family court orders children live with father after
mother's negative comments
By Caroline Overington | March 31, 2009
Article from THE AUSTRALIAN
TWO children have been sent to live with their father
after a court ruled the mother encouraged "negative" feelings about their dad.
The two children - a girl, aged nine, and a boy, aged seven - had been
struggling with "change overs" between parents, saying things such as "I don't
want to go" and "I don't have to go" when their father arrived in Tasmania from
Melbourne to collect them for access visits,
The Australian reports.
The Family Court found the mother did not discourage them from saying these
things, and did not encourage a positive relationship between the children and
The children told counsellors they were angry their father had left their
mother, and lived with his new girlfriend in Melbourne.
Family Court judge Robert Benjamin said the children "clearly wanted" to stay
with their mother, who had been their primary carer since birth, and
acknowledged the "disruption to the children's family unit and their stability
if they were to move to Melbourne to live with their father".
But Justice Benjamin said the "mother could see what was happening at change
overs and did little about it".
Justice Benjamin said the girl, B, was becoming "emotionally estranged from her
father" and was at risk of "psychological damage, if not psychiatric damage" if
she was not allowed to have a relationship with her father.
The decision was made under new laws, introduced by the Howard government, that
require the Family Court to adopt the presumption of "shared parenting" when
dealing with children of divorce.
Justice Benjamin ordered the children be removed from their mother's care, and
to see her for school holidays and Mother's Day. She is also entitled to a phone
call "each Sunday between 6.30pm and 7.30pm".
The court took evidence from a psychologist who helped facilitate a change over
between the parents on June 27 last year.
When the time came for the children to get into the car with their father, the
girl "started what can only be described as a mantra, or a chant".
"She kept repeating: 'I don't want to go' and 'I don't have to go'," the
psychologist told the court.
"When her father greeted her, she (said), 'I hate you'.
B gave the psychologist a list that said: "I don't want to go with my father
because he tells lies, he hurts me, he left our family and he has got a
girlfriend and I don't like her."