Father loses all contact with children due to Facebook posts

FLAST CASE BRIEF: Shannon & Joles [2019] FCCA 374 (7 March 2019)

FEDERAL CIRCUIT COURT OF AUSTRALIA

This was a family law matter concerning , where there were allegations about the father’s mental health, family violence, and drug and alcohol abuse. The court considered the best interests of the child and found "no benefit to children of a relationship with their father" where risk of harm is evident and an order for no contact was made.

Examining the judgment it was noted at paragraph 36 of his Affidavit filed 7 February 2019 the father deposed: “I have no issue in respect of mental health.”

In cross-examination, however, he was much more fulsome, both about his past mental history record and his current mental health.

For example, in a Facebook message that the Father posted on 26 January 2019 he said, amongst other things, that he was “...losing my mind...”. The previous day a post included the words “...I’d love to go crazy...”.

In cross-examination he agreed that when he made that post his mental health was probably not stable. Whilst he denied thoughts of self-harm he explained that he “...already felt dead inside”. He accepted that these posts were a cry for attention. He expressly denied thoughts of suicide or harming anyone.

The Family Consultant noted the extensive evidence about the Father’s Facebook posts which, as will be seen below, strongly suggest that his mental health was at least strained, if not in crisis, at the time of posting. The Family Consultant was unsurprised, noting that it was consistent with both the Father’s character, and his history.

Perhaps the clearest evidence about the need to protect the children from harm, both physical and psychological, is the evidence of the series of Facebook posts made by the Father in the period 14 April 2018 to 26 January 2019.

Turning to the posts themselves, they bear some clear characteristics. They are abusive of the Mother (14 April 2018): “fuckn dumb slut of an X misses I obviously have aye heartless dogggg”. The same post was also threatening: “I’d stab a bitch for that LOL”.

On 11 July 2018 the Father posted his certificate of completion of the domestic abuse program but with the comment: “I am a qualified stalker and intimidator LMFAO”. Counsel informed the Court that LMFAO means “laughing my fucking arse off”.

Concerns about the Father’s mental health arise from posts he made on 5 August 2018, 2 September 2018 and 11 November 2018. The latter post says: “fuckn fuck this cunt of a world I hate it I hate women I hate fuckn everything”.

To read the full case click here SHANNON & JOLES [2019] FCCA 374 


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