Unsubstantiated allegation of child sexual abuse leeds to overnight time

Many matters that come before the court and practitioners in general contain unsubstantiated allegations of one thing or another. It is important for parents to put aside differences and consider the children and what is in their best interests. Section 60CC of the Family Law Act outlines considerations the court ponders when approaching children’s matters. It would be a good idea for all who are involved in or have approaching Family Court proceedings to familiarise themselves with this section of the act. The courts primary focus is on safety for the child/ren.

In Raki & Perez Varela [2013] FamCA 122 (1 March 2013) the parties agreed that equal shared parental responsibility was appropriate. An allegation by the mother that the father had acted in a sexually inappropriate manner towards their child was unsubstantiated. It was held by Johnston J that unsupervised time with the father would not expose the child to an unacceptable risk of abuse. It was found that the child needed an adequate opportunity to develop a relationship with the father but that overnight time with him should be delayed to enable the mother to settle her concerns and become confident that the child was not being exposed to any risk of improper or damaging behaviour. It was ordered that the child live with the mother and spend limited unsupervised time with the father in the short term graduating to overnight time and holiday periods.

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