COURT OF APPEALS FINDS TRIAL JUDGE ERRED WITH VAGUE ORDERS AND UNDUE WEIGHT GIVEN TO PSYCHIATRIC EVIDENCE AGAINST MOTHER
Pinson & Pinson  FamCAFC 8 (17 January 2020)
This is a case where a mother challenges the interim parental orders allowing her only to a supervised time nominated by a Contact Centre and giving child custody to the father.
Ms. Pinson (Mother and Applicant) filed an Application for an extension of time to file a Notice of Appeal against the interim parenting orders. The order provided for the parties' eight-year-old daughter to live with Mr. Pinson (Father and Respondent) and to spend only supervised time nominated by a Contact Centre with Ms. Pinson. It also ordered Ms. Pinson to pay the costs of supervised time. Finally, it directed a series of injunctions, designed to prevent her from having any contact with her child outside the ordered supervised time, to Ms. Pinson. Ms. Pinson challenged the form of the order made by the trial judge concerning supervision or supervised time for her being "as nominated by the Contact Centre," and the trial judge's use of psychiatric evidence in the case.
Are there substantial issues to be raised on the appeal that will warrant an extension of time?
(Kent, J) Yes.
Determining whether to extend time necessarily involves consideration as to whether an applicant establishes that there is a substantial issue to be raised on appeal.
Ms. Pinson raised that the order providing for a supervised time nominated by the Contact Centre is vague and ambiguous. She also challenged the trial judge's use of psychiatric evidence, which have driven the trial judge to order for the child to live with Mr. Pinson, and not with her. The Court explained that the order regarding giving Ms. Pinson supervised time nominated by the Contact Centre only is not sustainable as it might be seen as delegating judicial power to a third party. The Court also found that the trial judge was in error in using psychiatric evidence in coming with the decision.
Observing that there are substantial issues to be raised in the appeal, the Court granted the extension of time for Ms. Pinson to file her Notice of Appeal.
The Court found, based on Ms. Pinson’s Notice of Appeal, that there are substantial issues to resolve. First, the order providing for a supervised time nominated by a Contact Centre might arguably be seen as delegating judicial power to a third party. Second, the use of the trial judge of evidence raised by a psychiatrist that driven the trial judge’s decision to order for the child to live with her father and not with her father. Hence, the Court gave weight to these substantial issues in granting the application for an extension of time for Ms. Pinson to file her Notice of Appeal.