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Parenting Orders for a Non-Parent

The case of Grimshaw & Thanh [2014] FCCA 2614 dealt with the issue of a person other than a parent seeking time with a child.

The Applicant had been in a relationship with the Mother for approximately 18 months between 2007 and 2009 when the child was aged between 1 and 3 years old. The Mother at that time had separated from the child’s father. The parents had subsequently reunited and at the time of the hearing were living as a family unit.

The Applicant sought time with the child, communication by phone and Skype and a restraint on the parents denigrating the Applicant to the child. The parents sought that the matter be summarily dismissed due to the application having no reasonable prospects of success.

At the time the application was made the Applicant had not lived with the child for 4 years and had not seen the child for at least 18 months.

The Court initially addressed a threshold question of whether the Applicant was a person concerned with the care, welfare or development of the child. The Court highlighted that such a person only needed to be concerned with one of those items to meet the threshold. In this case the Applicant was found to meet the threshold. The Court noted that any person can file an application whether or not they meet this threshold.

The Court had significant concern that the Applicant continued to describe himself as the child’s “de facto father” long after he had any regular contact with the child and was aware that the child knew the Applicant was not a person spoken about in the family home. The Court also accepted evidence that should the child be required to spend time with the Applicant it would potentially have a destabilising effect on the parents’ relationship, which would not be in the child’s best interests.

Having weighed up all relevant statutory considerations, the Court found that it was not in the child’s best interests to interfere in the way that the parents were parenting their own child in the context of an intact family unit and summarily dismissed the matter as having no reasonable prospects of success.

By Nicholes Family Lawyers


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