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Dad gets custody from mum who wouldn't let children grow up

Herald Sun
15 July 2011

Dad gets custody from mum who wouldn't let kids grow up
By Shelley Hadfield

An over-protective mum didn't toilet-train her children because she couldn't bear to see them grow up, a court has been told.

The woman kept her son in nappies until well past his fifth birthday.

A Family Court of Australia judge found that if the two children were to live with their mother, they would have no relationship with their father.

This would expose them to emotional harm because of her inability to let them become independent and develop normally.

The father, who has been given custody, told the court he believed the mother had not toilet-trained the children, aged five and almost four, because she could not bear to have them grow up.

He told the court the older child would not even feed himself, insisting that he be hand-fed.

The mother claimed the children wore nappies only when they were leaving the house. But Justice Garry Watts said he did not believe the children had been toilet-trained in the conventional sense.

And he believed the older child was deliberately not going to the toilet for psychological reasons.

An interim order earlier this year saw the children go to live with their father, after the mother sent him a letter stating it was "all gonna end very soon".

In a judgment published this week, Justice Watts gave the father sole parental responsibility, giving the mother only supervised time until next February.

The parents have been ordered to ensure the children are fully toilet-trained.

Justice Watts said that if the children lived with their mother, they would be exposed to her irrational ideas and fears.

He accepted a doctor's opinion that the mother's "enmeshed relationship" with the children was likely to undermine their psychological needs and could have drastic consequences.

"(The doctor) considers the mother to be extremely over-protective and is finding it difficult to let the children separate from her and assert their independence," Justice Watts said.

The mother wanted the older child home-schooled.

In February, Justice Watts ordered that the boy attend school immediately. But in his latest judgment, he said that was yet to occur.

The mother made allegations against the father in court, but Justice Watts said she did not impress him as a reliable witness.

The father claimed she would stop at nothing to avoid his having unsupervised time with the children.

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