Court says “No!” to “no contact”
A court order that prevents contact time between a child and a parent is rare and requires compelling circumstances.
In a recent case the trial judge was satisfied that a father should have “no contact” to his 6 year old daughter, however on appeal, the Full Court disagreed.
The father had not seen the 6 year old daughter, since she was 11 months old. The mother alleged that “Her (the mother’s) fear of the father, based upon… history of violence was so profound that she would not even be able to cope with the child only spending supervised time…with the father”. The father argued that the mother’s fear “was either not real, or not rationale, or both”.
The trial judge accepted the evidence of the mother and that of a psychiatrist “that if the child had anything to do with the father… the mother may decompensate to the point where her parenting capacity would be seriously impacted”.
On appeal, the Full Court stated that “a No Contact Order needs to be arrived at only after a careful evaluation of all of the other options which might work to enable the child to have the benefit of some kind of relationship with the contact parent, for what is at stake is the potential for a child to never know their parent”. The father identified a number of contact proposals and the Judge should have considered these and made an informed determination as to the magnitude of any risk to the mother’s psychological health and hence parental functioning, which attended each of these, to enable him to then consider whether the risk of harm to the child still remained unacceptable.
The Full Court set aside the court order and remitted the case for re-hearing before another judge.