The father of a ten year old boy came to us for assistance with a family law matter that initially focused on working through satisfactory living arrangements for the child.
Having moved interstate for work while the mother and son remained in Adelaide, the father’s time with the son was generally limited to school holidays, while the mother was not helping to facilitate regular contact.
While this was a difficult situation for both the father and the son, it also came to light that the mother’s new relationship was the cause of further concern. Following some investigation, we discovered the new partner had a number of previous convictions for violent offences. Although none of these were perpetrated against the mother or the child, there had been some recent incidents at the home indicating that the child was at risk there.
We subsequently subpoenaed a number of police reports; one, in particular, detailed an incident where the partner had used obscene and threatening language towards the son. These were brought to the attention of the court and an updated family report from a child psychologist was ordered.
Despite the boy’s age, his desire to live with the father was also taken into account, and the psychologist recommended that the existing parenting arrangements be reversed. The son was therefore ordered to live with the father until a further order was issued.
The matter was contested, leading to a trial. However, the court affirmed the recommendation of the child psychologist, resulting in the son continuing to live with the father.
While this was clearly a positive outcome for both the father and the son, it also demonstrated that the family court system does not work inherently against fathers but remains focused on an outcome that is in the best interests of the child.
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