Parental support of the other parent’s relationship with children

Parental support of the other parent’s relationship with children will be an important consideration in the family court in child custody disputes. This is especially so where the court is considering an application by a parent to  relocate with children away from where the other parent lives.

If you would like some practical legal advice concerning parental support of each others relationship with children or other family law issues, contact our experienced Brisbane child custody lawyers or our child custody lawyers Brisbane Northside. We can assist you in all areas of family law, including issues that arise regards a parent facilitating the other parent’s relationship with children. We will advise you regards likely outcomes and options for your particular circumstances allowing you to then make informed decisions to resolve your family law issues. You are also welcome to read on for further information right now………

In the case of Kerson & Blake [2018] FamCAFC 215 (12 November 2018), the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia considered a case where parents support of each other’s relationship with children applied to each parent to a greater or lesser extent.  The case involved an appeal by the Mother from orders made by the primary judge in circumstances where the parties and their children were US citizens who had been living in Canberra for some 3 years prior to separation. Following separation, the parents shared the care of the children whilst continuing to reside in Canberra.

The Mother had applied for orders that would permit her to relocate the children to live in the United State of America.

The Full Court allowed the appeal by the Mother against orders of the primary judge which had included that the parties have equal shared parental responsibility and, in the event that the Mother moved away from Canberra, that
the children live with the Father.

In relation to the capacity of the parents and parental support for each other’s relationship with children, the primary judge found that “up to the time of the trial the parties had cooperated in an equal shared care arrangement for the children in which the children spent equal time with the parents…..His Honour concluded that the parents each had been “generally supportive of each other’s relationship with the children although this has taken place in the context of severe conflict between them…..””

However, post separation, the primary judge found that the relationship between the parties deteriorated to such an extent that they communicated in writing.

The Father had contended that the Mother made it difficult for him to talk to the children and that whilst the Mother travelled in USA she failed to provide information to the father regards when the children would be available for contact. The primary judge had referred to a particular situation that occurred in July/August 2017 when the children had been in USA with the Mother for some 18 days. Over that period, the primary judge noted that the children spoke to the Father 5 times. The Mother’s response in hostile terms to the Father’s request for a schedule for communication was noted.

The primary judge was found to have “placed determinative weight on the one occasion that the mother travelled with the children in the July/August 2017 holidays to support the finding that the mother was hostile to that communication and then, relying on this finding, the primary judge found at [79] that the mother’s commitment to fostering the relationship was called “into question” based, it seems, not on the whole of the mother’s evidence, which his Honour clearly accepted, but based solely on the father’s complaints about the telephone calls during the July/August 2017 travel to the USA…”

The Full Court considered that this error permeated his reasons and underpinned the decision he made so that the finding of the primary judge could not stand. The appeal was allowed and the case remitted for re-hearing.

Whilst error was found to have occurred on the facts in that case, it is important that a parent appreciate the importance of parental support for each other’s relationship with children. It is important for the children’s wellbeing. Where a parent is seeking relocation orders, the ability or otherwise of a parent to facilitate children’s relationship with the other parent will also have an important bearing on the outcome of the case.

Contact our child custody lawyers Brisbane or North Brisbane child custody lawyers if you are having difficulty with your former partner facilitating your relationship with your children or any other child custody issues. Our goal is assisting our clients to reach an amicable agreement with their former partner, whether concerning child
custody arrangements for their children or family law property settlement. However, we have the experience to represent you effectively in Court if court action becomes necessary.

The information set out in this blog is not a substitute for legal advice. We recommend that you obtain advice tailored to your particular circumstances from our Brisbane child custody lawyers or our child custody lawyers Brisbane Northside.