Mother says she Can’t Cope with Father Seeing Child
The court recently considered an application by a father for parenting arrangements. The court made orders that the mother have sole parental responsibility and that the child spend no time with the father. The court found that the mother’s lack of ability to cope with the child spending time with the father was, among other things, relevant to the court’s determination.
The unique facts of the case were as follows:
- The child was 7 years of age at the time of the hearing;
- The child had special needs and had been diagnosed as having autism and ADHD. There was evidence before the court that the child could be violent at school and towards the mother.
- There was also evidence that the mother had health issues, including a spinal condition, PTSD, depression and anxiety.
- The father had not been involved in the child’s life for approximately 6 years, since separation.
- The mother gave evidence that the father had been violent towards her during the relationship.
- The mother said that the child spending time with the father would trigger her PTSD, which would in turn affect her parenting capacity.
The court had to balance the two primary considerations, being:
- The benefit to the child of having a ‘meaningful relationship with both parents’; and
- The need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm.
The court accepted the mother’s evidence, and that of the family report writer, that if the court ordered that the child spend time with the father, there was a high risk that she would be unable to cope and would therefore be unable to care for the child.
On that basis, the court determined that any benefit to the child of having a relationship with the father was outweighed by the likely risk to the child’s continuity of care, and that those risks were unacceptable.