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FULL COURT SAYS YES TO SCHOOL AND MEDICAL REPORTS

Should an access parent be able to get information on their child from a doctor or from the child's school?

In a recent Appeal, The Full Court of the Family Court of Australia stated "Unless it was positively demonstrated that the provision of such information (school or medical reports) might be detrimental to the child, then that information should be made available to the access parent"

Note the use of the word 'positively'. It would also be rare where a resident parent could establish that the provision of a school or medical record to the other parent would be detrimental to the child

Schooling and medical issues already form a part of the Equal Responsibility 'must discuss' clauses in the Amended Family Law Act. The actual mechanics of obtaining or providing reports is normally contained in the orders


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TF & JF & Children's Representative [2005] FamCA 394 (24 May 2005)

"56. The approach taken by the trial Judge on this issue was to conclude in the absence of any evidence whatsoever that an order enabling the father to have information as to his childrens education and medical progress would not be in their best interests. First, we struggle to see the justification for such an approach on any evidence and further we fail to see how the trial Judge in making that statement paid any weight to the fathers interests in having some knowledge as to his childrens well-being. There would appear to be no detriment to the children by their father maintaining an interest in their welfare. Indeed, there may well be circumstances in the future that could arise where, even though the father has not been permitted to have any contact with the children, the very knowledge that he has taken an interest in them may one day bring the children some comfort. If the father had been shown to have been making unreasonable demands upon the childrens school for the provision of information or otherwise interfering with the childrens progress then circumstances may have arisen or may arise in which the continuation of such an order may no longer be appropriate. There was, however, no such evidence in this case nor any predictable likelihood that the father would conduct himself in such a manner. When the parent of a child who has responsibilities cast upon them for the protection of the child seeks information concerning the childs welfare and progress, it would seem that unless it was positively demonstrated that the provision of such information might be detrimental to the child, that information should be made available. To the extent that the trial Judge failed to make an order as sought by the father relating to such information, we think she was in error. "
Edited

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