Family Court: step-mother v. mother

Family Court: step-mother v. mother

The recent Family Court case of Darwin and Gryner is an illustration that a link by affection and care of the child can count more than a link by blood.

Justice Barry ordered that on an interim basis that a 10 year old boy live with his step-mother and not his mother. The father had died in 2008. Since then the parties had been to  mediation  when they agreed that the child was to still live with the step-mother, who although she had not lived with the father had been in a long term relationship with him.

The child had not seen his mother in 5 or more months. The mother was not consistent in exercising telephone contact with her son. More significantly, the mother sought that the son live with her, even though she was a virtual stranger to the child, at a time when her partner was a convicted sex offender. The child wanted to remain living with his step-mother. The mother had 5 other children all of whom, for various reasons, left her care.

Justice Barry allowed the mother to see the child for short periods of time, provided that her partner was not present.

His Honour had this to say:

The child is in a invidious position in that at a young age he’s lost his father, he has not had a relationship with his mother and it is well known that if children have a parent that they’re not having a relationship with they tend to fictionalise or fantasise or idealise, that relationship. It’s far better that the child has a relationship with the surviving parent so the child can have concrete thoughts based in reality.


I do have to question her commitment if she’s not making any phone calls and the court will be looking at that aspect to say, well, if you’re serious about wanting this child, to have a relationship with him, you should be making a greater effort to either communicate with him by post or by phone calls.

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Family Law Section Law Council of Australia Award
Member of Queensland law society
Family law Practitioners Association
International Academy of Family Lawyers - IAFL
Mediator Standards Board