In the recent case of Mitchell v Mitchell  FCCA 2526 (14 November 2014), the Federal Circuit Court of Australia discussed at length the dangers of sexual and physical abuse committed against children by people within their immediate family circles. The Court discussed the change in society’s perception of “stranger danger” and highlighted the fact that it is a ‘fallacy [to focus] solely upon the danger to children from strangers and forces external to the family. In this case…the danger to children has been from their own parents and within their own family’ (at ).
Whilst the Husband in this case had not committed physical or sexual abuse of the children, he conceded that he had abused the children psychologically by neglecting their emotional and intellectual needs. The Court, in finding that the Husband had committed serious neglect, considered evidence that the Husband would often berate the Mother to the children and discussed adult issues with them such as the Mother’s sexuality, which the Court found ‘entirely unnecessary and inappropriate’ (at ) particularly due to the children’s age (being 4, 7 and 9 years old). Further, the Court found that the Husband frequently exposed the children to substantial anger and family violence, that he openly communicated his hatred of the Mother to the children and employed the children as “co-conspirators in furthering his interests’ (at ).
The Court ordered that the Mother have sole parental responsibility of the three children, granting very limited access rights to the Husband. The Court further ordered that if the Husband desired extra time with the children, he is to undergo comprehensive assessment by a forensic psychiatrist, assessment by a psychologist, evidence that he has successfully completed an anger management course, as well as successful completion of further parenting courses.
If you or someone you know requires assistance dealing with issues of family violence and parenting, then contact Rowan Skinner & Associates Lawyers today for a confidential discussion as to how we may be able to assist you. As Accredited Family Law Specialists, we can provide you with a sustainable resolution that will help your family in moving forward.
Mitchell v Mitchell  FCCA 2526 (14 November 2014)
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