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Mother fights to stop daughter calling her stepmother 'mum'

Family Court decides mum's the word after mother moved to stop step-mother using it.

Elsewhere LA noted that this mother's application failed on three 3 counts:

1. She asked the court to make an order that names the child as responsible for changing her actions;

2. A family report would be needed to identify the issues and respond, even if it was seen as the father forcing the child. If mum had raised the issue in terms of a parenting application and affidavit against the father then the subsequent family report would have addressed the issue; and
 
3. Such an order would be unpolicable.

Here is a copy of the judgment - Klement & Glynn (No. 2) [2010] FamCA 97 - 5/2/2010 - CATCHWORDS: FAMILY LAW - CHILDREN - parenting order application by the mother seeking an injunction restraining the father from causing or encouraging his new partner from referring to herself as a motherly figure best interests of the child held it was not in the best interests of the child after weighing up the factors in s 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) application not granted.

Attachment
Klement & Glynn (No. 2) [2010] FamCA 97  5/2/2010


The judgment can also be found at Austlii.

Additionally, the same woman had another (child support) case running (also dismissed) in the FCA: Klement & Glynn [2010] FamCA 40 - 29/1/2010 - CATCHWORDS: FAMILY LAW - CHILD SUPPORT - jurisdiction application by the mother seeking orders pursuant to ss 111 and 112 of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) for leave for the Registrar to make a determination under s 98S in respect of child support periods more than 18 months prior to the date of the application whether the Court is able to make the orders sought whether the application is a sham to overcome difficulties caused by the mothers failure to pursue appropriate avenues of review of the Registrars decision and failure to appeal the refusal to grant an extension of time to review application dismissed.

Mother fights to stop daughter calling her stepmother 'mum'

The Australian
8 March 2010

Mother fights to stop daughter calling her stepmother 'mum'
By Caroline Overington

An Adelaide mother went to court to prevent her daughter from referring to her ex-husband's new wife as "Mum" or "Mummy" or "my other Mummy".

The woman, who cannot be named, argued that her ex-husband was deliberately undermining her role as their child's mother, by encouraging his new wife to answer to the terms "Mum" and "Mummy" and "Mummy-D" (D being the first letter of the stepmother's first name.)

The battle has been going on for almost as long as the child has been able to speak. Her parents separated when she was four months old.

The Family Court case sets a precedent for Australia's million-strong blended families, where arguments over who is to be called what are commonplace.

In the Adelaide case, the mother, known in court documents as Ms Klement, argued that the stepmother should not be permitted to refer to herself "as a motherly figure".

By consent, her ex-husband agreed that his new wife should not be "Mum or "Mummy" but thought "Mummy-D" was fine.

The mother said the father was "attempting to replace her as the child's mother by encouraging the child to call his new wife "Mum".

She said the new wife would sign the child's school notes "Mum" and take the child to medical appointments, where she "presented herself as the mother".

Ms Klement was "adamant that the child should only call her Mum" or any variation of "Mum".

The stepmother rejects the accusation that she presents herself as the child's mother.

The court declined to make an order that the child not refer to her stepmother as "Mummy-D" in part because the judge was concerned that such an order would lead to further litigation "where it would be up to the court to determine whether the father had breached the order in relation to encouraging the child to use the term Mummy-D".

The court also expressed hope that the child would grow out of "Mummy-D" and begin calling her stepmother by her first name.

It was the only dispute between the separated couple.

All other matters, including where the child should live and go to school, and how much child support should be paid, had been settled in pre-court mediation, after more than six years of litigation.

The parents have a shared care arrangement.


Attempt to block 'Mummy D' fails

The Sydney Morning Herald
8 March 2010

Attempt to block 'Mummy D' fails
By Joel Gibson

A woman has failed in her bid to have the Family Court stop her former partner from encouraging their six-year-old daughter to call her stepmother "Mummy D".

The mother applied for the unusual order in a South Australian case, years after the parents separated within the first year of the child's life.

She said encouraging the term of endearment was "an incendiary action" by her former partner and his new partner, even though it was followed by the initial of the stepmother's first name and they had agreed not to encourage the simple use of "mum" or "mummy".

But Justice Christine Dawe refused to grant the order, saying it was impractical to require the father to stop encouraging the stepmother and the child to use the term ''Mummy D'', and could have led to further litigation.

"Weighing all of the factors up, and particularly that the child has in the past used the expression 'Mummy [D]', and on the basis that I am not satisfied from any of the material before the court that the use of the expression 'Mummy [D]' by the stepmother would undermine the mother's relationship with the child, I am not satisfied that it is in the best interests of the child [to grant the order]," the judge said.

"I also accept that, at her age, she will develop and in future will be likely to, or may well possibly, adapt to calling each of her step-parents by their first names rather than using expressions of either 'Mummy' or 'Daddy'."

The judge said that details of names used are usually agreed outside the court, but "in this case, it has not been possible".

Professor Patrick Parkinson, a family law expert from the University of Sydney, said it was the first such case he had heard of, but was similar to frequent disputes over whether a child's surname could be changed.

"There are limits to what any court can do. You can't regulate every aspect of family life through court orders," he said. "We've got to grow up and stop thinking every breakdown can be resolved by the court."

The case had probably cost the parties a lot of money, time and anxiety, but there was not much that could be done to stop such changes occurring after divorce except to respect the other people involved and recognise their role in a child's life, he said.

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