The Toowoomba Chronicle Reports on 24 June 2015:
Dr Google wrong: Tattooed mum not a risk to child
The Family Court of Australia has overturned a decision of a Federal Circuit Court judge who issued an injunction stopping a mother from breastfeeding her child after she had decided to get a tattoo.
Best Wilson Buckley Family Law’s associate, Andrew McCormack said” “In what I can only describe as a controversial decision, a Federal Circuit Court judge sided with the father in what the media reports have described as a bitterly contested parenting dispute.
“The father had made an application to stop the mother breastfeeding the child.”
The judge in the case, who sits in Newcastle, determined that the child’s mother, by breastfeeding the child, posed some type of unacceptable risk to the child.
This was based on his Honour’s view that despite the mother having tested negative to HIV and hepatitis, the test results were “not conclusive”.
After an appeal by the mother was fast-tracked, the Full Court determined that an error had been made and lifted the injunction.
“It appears that the judge may have based his view on his own research, most likely using Google, having read articles from the Internet including from the Hepatitis Association and the Australian Breastfeeding Association,” Mr McCormack said.
“Generally it is not the place of a judge to rely on their own views and they must take into consideration the evidence before them put forward by the parties.
“Courts quite frequently rely on expert medical evidence to determine these types of issues.”
The Family Law Act has been amended a number of times to ensure that the risk of harm, abuse, neglect or family and domestic violence are at the forefront of the legislative framework that judges must use when determining parenting orders.
In Mr McCormack’s experience when the courts look at unacceptable risk, it is usually in circumstances where they need to determine if a parent or a person poses an unacceptable risk to a child as a result of past behaviour.
He said “breastfeeding a child is a decision that should not need to be made by courts”.
Alliance Family Law Comment: If you believe a decision has been made that is wrong or should be the subject of review please contact us for advice. We make no comment on this particular matter other than to quote Alexander Pope “to err is human; to forgive, divine”; to challenge one of the “err” moments is however your right – you can worry about forgiveness later.