This case involved an appeal by the father on the grounds that due to a delay between the main part of the trial and delivery of the judgment, the trial judge’s capacity to assess the evidence was impaired and resulted in the delivery of inappropriate parenting orders.
The matter involved allocation of parental responsibility of a four-year-old child.
The matter first came on for trial in late 2013, though the decision was not delivered until 17 March 2015. It was then held that the mother was to have sole parental responsibility, but was to consult with the father on major issues. During the period between the trial and judgment, the trial judge allowed further evidence to be given.
The trial judge held:
… [this further evidence] was of some assistance to me in observing what the parties have been able to do in the time since the original trial concluded and to consolidate some of the determinations that I had made in a preliminary way after the original trial.
Following delivery of the judgment, the father appealed, contending, amongst other things, that the delay between trial and the reopening of evidence was so great that it caused the trial judge’s discretion and assessment of evidence to be impaired.
Their Honours Finn, Strickland & Austin JJ allowed the appeal, finding that the father’s grounds of appeal successfully established error on the part of the trial judge.
The matter has was remitted to the Family Court of Australia for re-hearing.