Selfish separated parents who try to stop their children having a relationship with their former partners are having the kids taken off them by courts.
A judge recently took the “drastic step” of ordering that a girl, eight, who had lived with her mother since her parents separated when she was 13 months, instead live with her father.
Changing the child’s primary carer from the mother to the father was the only way the girl could have a meaningful relationship with both parents, Judge Evelyn Bender decided.
The mother had for years interfered with her daughter’s court-ordered time with her father, who did not see his child for months at a time.
“The mother tells (the child) that her father is going to take her away and not allow her to ever see her mother again,” Judge Bender said.
The anxious little girl had told a Court family consultant it was her dream to be able to “love Mummy and Daddy at the same time”.
Brisbane family law specialist Deborah Awyzio said it was only in extreme cases that a child was taken away from one parent and put in the care of the other.
“This is a warning that parents need to be child-focused in every parenting decision they make and not self-focused,” Ms Awyzio said.
“People think it is extreme when a child is removed from the carer they have been with, but the focus is on the child’s right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents.”
In the recent case the court heard the couple, who separated in 2007 after five years together, had been in ongoing litigation over their daughter’s living arrangements.
The court heard the mother’s unremitting campaign to undermine her child’s relationship with her father distressed the child, who loved both parents.
Judge Bender said if the girl lived with her father she would be “allowed to be a child”.
She gave the father sole responsibility for the child’s health and education and allowed the mother to spend time with the girl on alternate weeks and during holidays.