in children matters, the credibility of the parents’ evidence can play a major part
Decisions of the Family Court often hinge on the credibility of the parents’ testimony and the credibility of the parents’ evidence. No evidence can be more powerful to show that a parent should not be allowed to exercise parental responsibility than the actions of the parents themselves whilst appearing in Family Court.
When parents fail to appear or fail to submit documents when required it gives the Court insight as to the parents’ priorities. When parents refuse to submit themselves to medical or DNA testing to prove a fact in dispute, the parents display their incapacity for truth-telling. For one, the Family Court can infer from that behaviour that the parents are recalcitrant -- holding a position that has already been shown to be based on a falsehood.
When parents hurl unsubstantiated charges against each other, or when they file numerous criminal complaints against each other, the Family Court can conclude that the relationship between the parties is intractable. When the parents denigrate each other’s character in front of the Court or in front of their children, the Family Court sees that the parents are focused on themselves and not focused on their children. This shows the Family Court that the parents cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of their children. When parents threaten each other and call each other names, the Court can infer that neither parent can protect the child from harm resulting in the ongoing conflict between them.
In the case of Letsos & Vakros  FamCA 217 (27 March 2013), the Family Court put great weight on the report of the Family Consultant where the parents acted similarly. The Court described the relationship between the parents as ‘disturbing and dysfunctional’.
The Court opined that being in the midst of the destructive behaviour of the parents is detrimental to the emotional well being of the child. Conflicts between the parents make it highly unlikely for them to cooperate in deciding about the child’s well being making shared parental responsibility an impossibility. Further exposing the child to her parents’ conflicted relationship can only bring about psychological harm to her.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.