Controlling a Parent’s Behaviour
In determining children’s arrangements the law states that the child’s ‘best interests’ are paramount. The court can therefore make orders restraining a parent’s behaviour including their freedom of movement.
A father recently appealed an order restraining him from various activities including:
- Collecting or taking the children to school;
- Attending at the school to undertake class work in each child’s classroom;
- Attending during school hours or when the children were in attendance to undertake any voluntary work including his attendance at parent-teacher interviews and concerts;
- Making arrangements directly with the children; or
- Attending or participating in the children’s extra-curricular activities.
He was also restrained from questioning the children about the mother, her behaviour and social activities.
The order also provided that all changeovers were to occur at the school (rather than the parties’ homes) and communication was conducted predominantly via SMS messages or emails.
The trial judge found the father had difficulties accepting that his relationship with the mother was at an end and that he behaved in ways that were distressing to the children.
The father argued that the orders were too restrictive on him.
The Appeal court dismissed the appeal saying “… at this stage of separation, face to face contact between the parents presents an opportunity for disagreement and tension between them to be witnessed by the children.”