Self harming de facto partner restrained from being present during childrens time with father

Children – Father’s self-harming de facto partner restrained from being present during children’s time with father – Restraint granted despite evidence of psychiatrist and family report writer that de facto partner did not present a risk to the children – Risk was unlikely but possible

In Gardiner & Rivers [2014] FCCA 76 (24 January 2014) Judge Lindsay considered a parenting case where a mother of 6 and 3 year olds applied to restrain the father’s de facto partner from attending the children’s time with the father. The de facto partner of the father (referred to in the judgment as “Ms S”) “stabbed herself and at the time of her being evacuated from her home by ambulance, indicated that the wife had been responsible … repeat[ing] this allegation in a statement … to the police” (para 26). Ms S “was convicted of perjury arising out of her false allegations against the wife” (para 28) and as part of the parenting proceedings was ordered to “attend for a psychiatric assessment with a psychiatrist nominated by the ICL and at her cost”, Ms S having indicated her consent to this course (see para 34).

When analysing the psychiatric evidence Judge Lindsay said (from para 57):

“Dr T was certainly clear that if she was to realistically come to grips with her psychological frailties, Ms S would have to abstain from alcohol consumption altogether for a period of at least two years. He expressed the opinion that ‘from a psychiatric perspective’, Ms S was not a risk to the children of these proceedings. He was aware of and gave some weight to the fact that she had, apparently successfully, exercised responsibility for her own child, A. A is the child of a previous relationship. He also expressed the opinion in his report that:

‘The stabbing incident is not part of a series of self-harming or violent behaviour to others.’
Of particular note is Judge Lindsay’s reasoning under paragraphs 90, 91, 92, 133, 134 & 135.

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