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Mental health concerns?

Hi all, I'll try to be brief as it's late, I just want to throw this one out there in case anyone has some ideas. I'll be happy to elaborate later if need be, just ask.

Is it possible to require a parent with a history of mental health issues to be assessed if they are showing signs of paranoid delusion?

Brief outline:

Partner's ex (1 child, shared cared, week about) has a diagnosed mental health condition. Not clear on exact diagnosis as she keeps the details very quiet, but family history of schizophrenia, and all signs point to that being her problem. She has had two previous severe psychotic episodes since he has known her, both preceded by progressively worsening paranoia. One instance involved her coercing the child into a false allegation of sexual abuse against my partner (case was eventually thrown out due to child admitting coercion, lack of evidence etc). She then pulled the child out of school for several weeks without letting anybody know as she thought people at the school were "talking about her", and eventually, she completely lost her grip on reality and the child was removed from her by DOCS and given to my partner while the mother was placed in a psych ward. As soon as she was out, the arrangement went back to week about (much to my partner's horror). She is supposed to be medicated, but I guess we don't know whether she is taking it or not.

So we have just had a hysterical 9 year old tell us that mum spotted a bruise on her arm and obsessively hounded her into "admitting" her dad did it (poor thing didn't know what to do, and mum wouldn't take no for an answer). She has also informed us that her mother says that I am stalking her. To any sane person, the basis for this is ludicrous; Our children go to the same school, and I'm lucky if I actually bump into this woman once a week. Yet apparently she is continually alluding to the fact that I am following her, and has been for some time. She has just split with her boyfriend, and told the child it is her dad's fault, even though they have been separated for many years, and my partner has had no involvement with her and the new man at all. She has recently told the child that she wants to take out her out of her current school. There are many other small indications in her behaviour and demeanour that alone would seem like nothing much, but put it all together, and the overall picture is a lot more sinister.

These issues seem all too familiar, and my partner is really concerned she is on a downhill slide. What we are most worried about is that her paranoia seems to escalate very quickly when she has an episode, and this could lead to her trying to leave town without telling anybody, and we may not be able to find her. She has no real family or ties here, so it would be simple for her to just pack up and leave. She has been known to go missing when unwell in the past (prior to having her daughter)

Any ideas on what we can do here would be appreciated. Is there any way to get her assessed, or do we just have to wait until something goes wrong?

 
It sounds like a repeat of the first episode.

These sorts of issues are the hardest to deal with and getting in front of a Federal Magistrate to get an order for referral to a clinic is one thing. To get an order is extremely hard. The curtailing of civil liberties by ordering attendance at any sort of clinic requires a very persuasive amount of real evidence from professionals approved by the court to provide such. I have acted as a Mackenzie friend on one such case and the Federal Magistrate was very good in dealing with the issues but at the end of the day we did not manage to get the orders sought. We did resolve the parenting issues along the way so that was a bonus. The evidence we had to refer the party to a clinic was compelling. Police reports, DIC 1 year disqualified, children in car while disqualified, alcohol abuse, drug abuse logged by hospital reports and affidavits from four children 11 through 19 etc. We were not medical professionals and even though we had evidence the Magistrate would not take that evidence as "adequate enough" to warrant overriding and curtailing the liberty of the respondent to referral to a clinic.

Do you have court orders currently or any parenting plan? I am not sure that any mediation at an FRC will be of value here but worth a call to see if you can at least start a proper dialogue. … Somewhere down the line you will need to get a more workable arrangement. Nothing immediate comes to mind except it all seems very conflictual and she has not moved on past the initial separation.  Not offering much here thats certain.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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Hi rabbit,

I don't have a great knowledge of the law but I have been reading alot of recent court judgements lately and from those it seems in ALOT of cases where allegations of sexual abuse turn out to be unfounded the other party gets given sole parental responsibility eg    Dalziel & Belladonna(2009)FamCA 254 [7 April 2009] ,in this case the father got sole responsibility and the mother supervised contact. It surprises me that you didn't get a similar judgement but the factors of individual cases are so varying,I suppose.

One case I was reading  ,Vile & Prabszic(2009)FamCA25 [28 January2009] was interesting as the mother here was given sole responsibility( after having  previous supervised contact due to a history of mental illness) as the court decided her " mental health had improved".

If it was me I would be concentrating on how your step daughter is being affected, as this is the main consideration the court will be concerned with.  Is she being damaged psychologically by the actions of her mother?  Does her mother have the capacity to provide for her needs? Is the mothers mental health affecting her ability to parent? …I suppose a professional like a psychologist would be the best person to judge this. It seems in my opinion some counselling would be beneficial for your step daughter and then there would be a record of  " incident's"  that collectively could make a case. From my reading a court takes alot of weight of professional opinions and the "he said" ,"she said" cases are harder to get a court to take any action.
Thanks so much for the response. Not exactly what I hoped to hear, but good to know.

Since last night the situation has worsened. When my partner and I went to pick up his child this evening (I always hang back near his car, while he walks down the road to her car to collect the child), she charged straight past him and came storming over to me and got in my face. She asked me "what the f*** is your problem?" and "what's the go with you coming down the school all the time?" I told her my kids go there, of course I'm going to be there. She proceeded to accuse me of "staring at her" while I was waiting for my kids yesterday. I was quite dumbfounded, but each time I tried to speak she drowned me out, so I didn't bother too much. She yelled "you stay away from me and my daughter!" I told her I would not be staying away from my children's school so she'll have to get used to it. She said I better back off or she'll pull her child out of the school, and then stated that she has spoken to the school and has "got it in writing that they endorse her". I asked who she spoke to and she said the principal. Needless to say, I'll have to have a word to the principal, as much as I hate the idea of bothering the principal with this woman's petty squabbles. We also noted she had two friends drive down seperately and stand across the road until she finished blasting me, so we are certain this was premeditated - for what reason, I'm not sure. She has been known to file false avo's and make false allegations, so I'm half expecting a policeman at my door with an avo for stalking. lol Considering how erractic and unpredictable she is, I would probably be more in need of an AVO, but realistically I think that would just make things more difficult.

You're right though, I don't think she's moved on (she also claimed we are rubbing her face in it because we came to pick up the child together - mind you it's been a LONG time since they split). There is no dialogue, but I can't do much about that; she simply started ignoring me after her daughter fell off the see saw while we were at the park (very minor), and has become more and more hostile ever since. I haven't even spoken to her, done anything to upset her, or even been around her apart from the odd occasion we pass at the school. So I'm not sure what else I can do to appease her. She quite regularly makes things difficult or makes petty complaints, so her hostility is nothing new, but we just ignore her for the most part and get on with things. But it has jumped to disturbing levels these past few weeks, and the paranoia has entered the equation; things are definitely escalating, and that's what worries us.

My partner has kept a dialogue with docs, and reported some possibly concerning things a few months back just to put them on the record, but asked them not to investigate just yet, but rather to see how things went. He will be calling docs again to report this latest info. Considering the fact that they have had to remove the child previously due to her mental instability, we are hoping they will look into it.

Yes, there are consent orders in place regarding the care arrangements and other basic requirements (no drinking to excess, no derrogating the other parent, providing copies of all relevant documents and information regarding schooling, health etc, and so on). She has already contravened by derrogating dad, but proving that would be a pain. I notice there is no order relating to equal input on major decisions that affect the child in the long term. Does this mean the mother can place the child in a new school at her will without seeking an opinion from the father? If so, is it possible to amend the order so that there is joint responsibility? On the subject of amendments, does there need to be a mediation session and approval of proposed amendments by both parties, or can amendments be made by one party only?
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