When there are two children, each aligned with one parent and refusing to see the other.

FLAST CASE BRIEF : COFFEY & TILLMAN [2019] FCCA 1118

This was an unusual matter  involving two children (16yrs and 13yrs) with two unsuccessful attempts at Court ordered family therapy.

Each child was aligned and living with one parent and refusing contact with the other parent.

There was agreed sole parental responsibility for each child to the parent they live with and it was agreed each child may spend time with and communicate with the other parent if and as they wish.

Where children are voluntarily spending time with each other and the father seeks a court order for a further attempt at family therapy, the father seeks an order requiring children to spend time together in line with time currently being spent.  The mother and ICL both opposed the Fathers suggestion at another attempt of family counselling and for the children to spend more time together. 

The father’s proposed orders were not made, with the Court holding that while it would be desirable for the parents and children to voluntarily take part in family therapy, if one or both of the parents, or the children, are not committed to it then it will not work.

If they are all committed an order is unnecessary.

All an order will therefore do is create a potential avenue for the continuation, by way of contravention application, of these proceedings if further family therapy is not successful. That would not be in the best interests of the children.




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