By Gianna Huesch
A father’s contact with his children has been terminated by the Family Court after the court found it necessary in order to protect the children from “his bizarre and anti-social beliefs”.
The Queensland family had been proceeding through Family Court litigation for some years. The children, a son and a daughter aged 12 and 14, live with their mother and the issue was over the father’s contact with the children.
An earlier court action several years ago had seen the Federal Circuit Court reduce the man’s time with his children to two hours’ supervised contact a fortnight. However in the intervening time, the man had “chosen to spend only eight supervised hours at a contact centre with his children in 2014, only two hours in 2015, and has not seen them since May that year”.
Hearing the matter this year, Justice Carew noted that the father “had not been bothered to turn up to see the children” and said, “I have formed the view that the father has no inclination to pursue a relationship with his children unless it is on his terms”. She found it was likely that the father had been more interested in possibly converting people to his religious views, rather than genuinely attempting to meet the needs and wishes of his children to spend time with him.
Under the Family Law Act, the family courts are required to balance the need for children to have a meaningful relationship with both parents with the need for children to be protected from harm. In this case, the court found there was an unacceptable risk of emotional and psychological harm to the children if they were to spend time with their father, even if that time were supervised. This was even though the children had indicated their wishes to maintain a relationship with their father. But as part of the no contact orders, the father is not even permitted to send letters to the children.
The father claims to “only answer to religious laws”, subscribes to extreme religious views which he feels place him outside Australian state and federal laws. In addition, “he does not recognise titles such as Mr or Sir, he does not use his surname and has posted YouTube videos showing him challenging police and parking officers”.
The judge expressed the concern that the man’s beliefs will impact on the children’s mental health, which fears were echoes by a family consultant: “The judge said the son was heavily influenced by his dad and his previous school behaviour suggested he had begun to reject some social norms and demonstrate anti-social traits.”
It’s likely the father will pursue the matter further, given his vehement disagreement with the court’s decision and having already alleged the court was engaged in an attempt at parental alienation.
Do you need assistance sorting out parenting arrangements following separation or divorce? Please contact Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400 for advice.
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