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Family Law

Family Law in Canberra – Court surname battle reaches conclusion

By September 30, 2015No Comments

The bitter court battle between a set of divorced parents in the Sydney Registry of the Family Court has finally ended, with a mother losing her battle to hyphenate her 8-year-old son’s surname to include also her family name (surname). The boy will retain only his father’s surname, which he has had since birth.

The parents had been engaged in litigation for the boy’s entire life!

The mother had argued that inclusion of her family name in the boy’s surname would enable the child to identify more easily with her side of the family, but the court disagreed and found that arguing over the surname essentially amounted to arguing over ‘ownership’ of the boy. As the boy had already been known by his father’s surname for eight years, the court did not feel it was in his best interests to change it now. An independent children’s lawyer had also argued against the change.

The boy’s surname was not the only issue in contention, with a range of other orders demonstrating the parents’ poor relationship and inability to agree on parenting matters, with the boy being deemed “confused and anxious” over a number of matters in dispute.

The judgment notes that, “Of even more concern was (the independent children’s lawyer’s) observation that during the interview the child referred to his father as “the man”. When she asked who the man was, he said “my Dad”. She said that the child indicated that he does refer to his father as ‘his father’ and call him “Dad”, but said that his mother calls (his father) “the man” and that he only refers to (the father) as “the man” at his mother’s home. (The independent children’s lawyer) said that it is clear that the child is used to calling his father “the man”.

The judge noted that “this is troubling, because the only interpretation I can place on this is that the mother is deliberately undermining the child’s relationship with his father”.

The relationship between the parents was so negative that the judge imposed a ruling ordering both parents not to denigrate each other in front of their son.

Here at Alliance Family Law we are focussed on keeping clients out of the court system as much as possible. We would hope that our clients can walk away from separation without being involved in litigation for even a year, let alone 8 years of a child’s life! We aim to achieve a negotiated settlement for all our clients, using collaborative,” interests-based” practice where suitable, so that you, your Ex and your children can get on with your lives after separation. If this sounds like the way you’d like to manage your break-up, do make an appointment to see one of our friendly team here at Alliance Family Law.

For details of the case, the source is:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FamCA/2015/725.html

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