Caught in the middle of parenting nightmare
KIM ARLINGTON COURTS
April 17, 2010
HE WAS three years old when his parents first went to court, unable to agree about what was in his best interests.
The dispute has been so prolonged that, seven years on, the Deputy Chief Justice of the Family Court, John Faulks, has made comments about the case
The case has been to hearing 19 times since 2003, with another 19 occasions on which orders were made.
Deputy Chief Justice of the Family Court, John Faulks saidI am "thankful'' the boy's 18th birthday was just eight years away so ''there could only reasonably be another eight years of disagreement capable of further litigation''.
Final orders were recently delivered in Canberra, with the judge making 22 directions about the child's upbringing.
The boy, who cannot be identified, will live primarily with his mother, but both parents share equal responsibility for him.
The orders dictate how much time he should spend with his father and set out parenting arrangements for his birthday, Mother's Day, Father's Day, school holidays and the Christmas period.
Issues relating to the boy's schooling, after-school activities, weekend sport and discipline are also subject to court orders.
One of the issues considered by the court was whether the boy was being bullied by other children in his father and step-mother's household.
Justice Faulks saidWhile both parents were intent on doing what was best for their son, they found it difficult to consult each other about long-term issues relating to his care, welfare and development. ''Proceedings before this court have sadly been quite prolonged
This matter has been around for a long time and the parents are still not entirely in agreement and may never be in agreement.
The father denied the boy was being bullied.
The judge was unsure whether the child reported being bullied because he sought ''the security of a one-on-one relationship which he enjoys in his mother's household, rather than the hurly-burly of his father's household where he has to share attention with a number of other people in his father's new family''.
Justice Faulks saidThe matter was "beyond the realms of legal determination" on the evidence.
It was "clear" that the child is, in old-fashioned terms, the "apple of his mother's eye" and that when he is with his mother he enjoys her undivided attention
Justice Faulks expressed doubt that the orders he made would operate without trouble in the future and suspected the parents would be back before him before too long.
Justice Faulks said'It is obvious that the parents really do not like each other at all