ALL CONTACT BETWEEN FATHER AND CHILD HALTED BY JUDGE
The recent case in the Family Court of Australia of Dunst  saw Judge Austin order that the father not spend any time with his five children.
Whilst much debate has been had in recent times regarding the assumed favoritism by the Family Court ordering more time with mothers and neglecting the wishes of fathers with respect to the care arrangements for the children, in this case, at least, it seems that the best interests of the children have been met.
The details of this case set out that while the father was serving a prison sentence the mother moved into hiding with the children siting her reasons for doing so as being that there was an unacceptable risk of violence in the future for the children in the future due to an abusive relationship with the father in the past.
The Court favored her evidence and found that an unacceptable risk of harm to the children and that “ there was no safe alternative but to eliminate all personal contact between the father and the children”.
The Court made suppression orders and injunctions so as to impede the possibility that the father could learn of the mother and children’s address and so that if he were able to learn their address that he was not lawfully allowed to approach the mother or children at the home or at their school.
It seems clear that in circumstances where there is a a risk of family violence and harm to the family members that no other orders can be made other than to eliminate contact with the family member responsible. In these circumstances the premise that children should have a meaningful relationship with their parents is surpassed and the paramount principle of the family court with respect to children is upheld. This principle outlines that it is the children’s best interests that should be considered above any other (including that of the parents) in making orders about their care. It is this principle that has stood the test of time (and criticism by some) and seems the most productive way forward in protecting the children of Australia. Often from the ones who claim to love them the most!