Raymont & Barrille  FCCA 1325 (25 June 2021)
The mother seeks an interim order made for her to have sole parental responsibility over X. The father, on the other hand, seeks unsupervised time with X. The Court, in deciding the dispute, assesses the risks posed to X by the father's mental health and history of drug use.
Since the parties' separation, their child X has not spent any time with the father since separation to date. The mother alleges that the father poses a significant and unacceptable risk to X due to his criminal history, drug use and mental health. As such, the question of time between the child and the father should be determined after the father has been assessed by a psychiatrist in respect of his mental health.
The father presses the Court for orders that he spend time with the Child from daytime on Sundays to alternate weekends.
If the Court deems there is an unacceptable risk to the child in spending unsupervised time with the father, then he presses the Court for an order for supervised time.
The parties agreed to place their names on the waitlist at a contact centre in Suburb B but only the mother attended.
The father says that because the wait list is close to 12 months at the contact centre in Suburb B that he will pay for private supervision of his time with the child.
The father produced to the court a diagnosis from a psychologist that he has Chronic Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. In 2016, the father served a 6 month sentence for drug related offence. In 2020, he was charged with and plead guilty to affray, resulting in a conviction, a fine and no bond. The mother seeks an order for sole parental responsibility.
Whether or not X should spend supervised time with the father.
Whether or not the mother shall have sole parental responsibility.
Family Law Act 1975(Cth) ss 69ZL - provides that a court may give reasons in short form for a decision it makes in relation to an interim parenting order.
Keats & Keats  FamCAFC 156 - provides that in terms of a risk assessment, the Court is to determine that issue by weighing the probabilities of competing claims and the likely impact on the child in the event that a controversial assertion is acted upon or rejected
Mr C, the psychologist, recommends that the father attend ongoing psychological counselling to assist him to resolve the severity of his symptoms which are strengthened because of his dual diagnosis. However, there is no evidence that the father presently engaged with psychological counselling as recommended by the psychologist. Coupled with his past drug use and criminal behavior, there could be doubts that he will not put X at risk.
Supervision centres would have a protective mechanism so that if a parent appeared to be drug affected, it is possible for physical separation to occur as compared to an open or public space where there might only be private supervision.
An order for sole parental responsibility is made when there is evidence that the parties have issues in respect of making long-term decisions concerning their child. In the case at bar, there is the risk identified in the father's case which is that the mother may move with X to Queensland.
The Court ordered that child X shall live with the mother. The child shall spend time with the father supervised by Suburb B Contact Centre or other appropriately qualified contact centre each alternate Sunday from 9am to 12pm; and if the contact centre is not able to supervise the father’s time with the child, the child shall spend time with the father for at least 2 hours each fortnight at times suitable to the parties and the contact centre.
The Court declared that an order for the mother to have sole parental responsibility on an interim basis will not be made. Each party shall do all acts and things necessary to attend any appointments for assessment for suitability for supervision of the time the child spends with the father; participate fully in the assessment, and comply with the contact centre.
The father shall pay the costs of the supervision at Suburb B Contact Centre or other agreed contact centre. The matter is listed for directions at 11:30am on 25 October 2021.