Can you control who your co-parent allows around your child? Often the issue of who is allowed to be around your child will be raised when a co-parent enters a new relationship. There may be a range of reasons why a co-parent doesn’t want their child exposed to their ex partner‘s new relationship partner. But whether the objection is to a new significant other being around your child, or another adult entirely, there may be a remedy through seeking an injunction in the courts. Let’s take a look at the question “can I stop someone from being around my child?”
Injunctions in family law are made under Section 68B of the Family Law Act 1975. The Act empowers the family courts to grant whatever injunctions are considered appropriate and necessary for the welfare and personal protection of a child. Powers of arrest are attached to injunctions.
Generally, when parents have their child with them, they can determine who else is present as it would be considered a ‘day to day’ decision that the parents are able to make individually, without consultation with the other parent. The other parent doesn’t have the power to dictate which adults can be around your child. When it comes to a significant other, it’s up to the dating parent to decide whether to introduce the new partner to the kids.
In order to be able to have the power to control which adults are around your child, you will either need the agreement of the other parent, or evidence that your child is at risk in some way through being around a particular other adult.
Ultimately, it boils down to being brutally honest with yourself: do you have legitimate concerns about your child’s safety or wellbeing around another person when in your co-parent’s custody? Or do you simply not like the idea of your child being exposed to a new dating partner?
If you are concerned over an individual being around your child, you need to be able to present evidence about that person’s current conduct if you want to have the Family Court intervene. For example, a historical conviction is not necessarily evidence that a person is a current danger to your child. However, evidence around whether an adult has substance or alcohol abuse problems may well be highly relevant. Similarly, if there are charges or convictions for violent crimes in more recent times.
Usually, courts do not micromanage parents’ new relationships nor allow an ex to have some way of controlling their former partner. The only thing that is important to the court is the best interests of the child, and whether there is any risk to their health and safety. But the courts, as always, need very strong evidence.
In a recent parenting case, Earle & Earle (court-appointed pseudonyms), a father raised concerns over his children’s contact with their mother’s brother and cousin when in the mother’s care. The father successfully sought that the mother be restrained from allowing the children to have any contact with those particular individuals.
Although the mother denied her relatives were a risk to the child, she also refused to allow the court’s expert to assess them and didn’t adduce any evidence from them at the trial. However, the expert was still able to form a view regardless, based on other evidence as to antisocial, aggressive, “volatile and antagonistic” behaviour on the uncle’s part. The court also accepted the father’s evidence about the uncle’s history of “abusive and intimidating behaviour”. None of the father’s evidence was challenged by the mother.
The judge said:
“I have real concerns about the welfare of the children if they were exposed to, or involved with either of these maternal relatives. This is particularly so in circumstances where the mother shares a close-knit relationship with both relatives and coupled with her mental health difficulties, is likely to have difficulty in recognising any such risk they may pose. Accordingly, I consider it appropriate to restrain the mother from bringing the children into contact with the maternal uncle and cousin in any way.” (You can read this judgment in full here.)
Going to court to seek injunctions relating to other people’s presence in your child’s life means a judge will review all the facts and evidence in the matter to determine the child’s best interests. Unfortunately, if you can’t establish that another adult’s presence puts your child at risk in some way, you will likely have to accept that adult’s presence in your child’s life.
You may have serious concerns about someone, but are finding it hard to gather proof. In that case, speak with your family lawyer who can probe the situation further and has ways to collect evidence to support your case.
To get help reviewing your child’s situation and assessing your concerns over other adults present in your child’s life, please call Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Family Law. You might also like to read: Can I stop my ex from leaving Australia?