parental alienation australia

Parental Alienation: Change of custody when a parent alienates the other parent

Parental Alienation in Australia

To see how the Family Law Courts treat parental alienation, here is a summary of a case recently decided where custody was changed: 

(Lankester & Cribb [2018] FamCAFC 60 (6 April 2018)

This was a case of severe alienation of the child against the father where the mother simply could not accept that he should have any relationship with their child whatsoever (despite him being cleared of allegations of sexual interference).

At the time of hearing the child was 8 years old and had lived primarily with the mother since separation.  Litigation had been going on for 7 years!  The parties had separated when the child was 6 months old.  Court proceedings started when the child was only about 12 months old).

Child Protection was advised that the child was distressed at handover to the father for contact visits, and allegations were made that there may have been sexual assault.

The mother questioned the child about the allegations repeatedly and took the child to the hospital to be examined for sexual abuse.

The child exhibited separation anxiety, but this was determined to be normal for her age.

Allegations of sexual assault were made shortly after orders were made for gradually increasing time with the Father.

There was an investigation into the sexual assault allegations, with the determination being made that there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations.

However the mother appeared not to accept this and she was determined not to support the child’s relationship with the father.  The mother alleged the child showed “extreme distress at even the mention of the father’s name, extreme fear of his attendance at kindy, bed wetting after contact with the father, her being inconsolable after each contact visit, screaming nightmares about the father, locking the house doors in fear of the father” [28]

Due to the Mother being unwilling to support the child having any relationship with the Father, the Judge ordered that the child live with the Father.

The mother’s contact time ordered was limited to the following:

  • First 6 months: prohibited from seeing the child at all;
  • Then 6 months: supervised for 3 hours every second weekend;
  • Then 6 months: supervised from 9am to 5pm one day every second weekend;
  • Then 12 months: unsupervised on alternate weekends from 9am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday;
  • Then finally: unsupervised on alternate weekends from 9am Saturday until 5pm Sunday.
  • The father was also granted sole parental responsibility

The mother appealed but was unsuccessful changing custody back to her.  The child remains living with the father.

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