Who gets to spend time with my kids?
Separated parents often disagree with who their ex-partner chooses to spend time with, and more commonly, who spends time with their children.
For the court to prevent a person from coming into contact with your children or your ex-partner, you need to provide pretty compelling evidence as to why that’s the case. And that evidence needs to prove that person poses a risk to the welfare of your children.
In a recent case, court orders were in place which provided for the children to live with their mother and spend two nights each fortnight with their father.
The father wanted the orders changed so that the children would spend more time with him, and also that the mother be restrained from bringing the children into contact with one of her friends.
The friend in question was the mother’s counsellor and someone she had known prior to her relationship with the father.
The father also wanted the friend to be prohibiting from going to the mother’s house, even when the children were not there. The father alleged that the mother’s friend “looked like a paedophile” and was influencing the mother’s parenting of the children.
In an attempt to prove his case, the father provided the court with extensive surveillance footage of the mother and her friend in private and public venues. The mother was distressed about the footage and said that type of “controlling and intimidating” behaviour was common during her relationship with the children’s father.
An independent expert, a child and family psychiatrist, prepared a report after interviewing the parents. The expert reported that the involvement of the mother’s friend in her life appeared to be one of the issues in the parties’ relationship and that the father’s accusations were so lacking in basis, that it seemed he was determined to undermine the mother’s relationship with the children.
Despite this, the expert concluded it would be best for the mother’s “sense of autonomy” if she created a strict boundary between her family life and the relationship with her friend. However, the court disagreed. The judge said the court could only order an injunction where it was “appropriate for the welfare of the child” and the evidence did not show the mother’s friend posed a threat to the children’s welfare.
Instead, it was just the relationship between the mother and the friend that appeared to be of concern to the father. The court concluded the law “does not provide a basis on which the mother should be restrained from enjoying the support and friendship provided by persons of her choice, or that she should be fettered in her enjoyment of her own home”.
Every case is different, so it is important that you receive legal advice from a specialist family lawyer. Our team at Michael Lynch Family Lawyers can provide you with tailored advice that suits your circumstances and we offer obligation-free fixed-cost initial consultations.
Contact our office by calling (07) 3221 4300 or emailing: [email protected]