Lilley & Jasper was a 2019 case heard in the Family Court of Australia in which we successfully acted for a father in a custody and parenting matter. This article will provide a summary of the facts and outcomes of the case.
Child B was born in 2011 to Mr Lilley and Ms Jasper. Ms Jasper suffered from a postpartum psychiatric illness and was admitted to the hospital following B’s birth. In 2013, B was diagnosed with a medical condition.
Mr Lilley and Ms Jasper separated in 2013, when B was two years old, following which Mr Lilley commenced proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Over the next few years, Ms Jasper continued to suffer from mental illness and was admitted to the hospital multiple times. From May 2014 onwards, B lived with her father. Mr Lilley remarried, and he and his present wife had two children.
Between 2014-2018, contact between B and her mother was initially supervised at a contact centre. By February 2018, the mother’s time with B was supervised by the maternal grandmother or grandfather on alternate Saturdays and, after six weeks, alternate weekends.
In July 2018, Mr Lilley and Ms Jasper reached an agreement that B would live with the father and spend alternate weekends from Friday after school until Sunday evening with the mother.
Application for Adjournment
Ms Jasper applied for the case to be adjourned because she had dispensed with her legal representatives.
In rejecting this application, Justice Rees referenced the fact that it was in the child’s interest for the drawn out proceedings to be concluded, and for there to be certainty and stability in her life. Her Honour also noted that Ms Jasper had not suggested that she was unable to conduct the proceedings herself. Due to these factors, and the fact that three days of hearing time had been allocated to this matter and there was not sufficient time to bring on another matter to avoid those days being wasted, Justice Rees denied the application for adjournment.
Mr Lilley and Ms Jasper reached an agreement on the first day of the hearing that B would continue to live with her father and that she would spend alternate weekends from Friday after school until Sunday evening with her mother. They also agreed to phase out strict supervision by the maternal grandparents, and equally shared parental responsibilities.
On the second day of the hearing, both parents were cross-examined.
On the third day of the hearing, four issues were left to be considered:
- Whether Mr Lilley should have sole parental responsibility regarding B’s medical treatment
- Whether Ms Jasper’s weekend time with B should be extended to from 5 pm Sunday to 8 pm Sunday when B is 12 years old
- Whether Sunday afternoon changeover should take place at a halfway point
- Overseas and interstate travel
Mr Lilley sought sole parental responsibility regarding B’s medical treatment.
Justice Rees ruled that both parents have B’s welfare at heart and that parental responsibility regarding B’s medical treatment should be shared. It was ordered that Ms Jasper be able to attend appointments with specialists and receive copies of all specialist reports that Mr Lilley may take B to.
Ms Jasper proposed that when B turns 12, she stay with her until 8 pm on Sundays instead of the current 5 pm. This would enable Ms Jasper to have dinner with B on Sundays. Justice Rees rejected the father’s argument that B goes to bed at 7 pm and an 8 pm drop-off is too late, stating that by the time she is 12, her bedtime will no doubt be later. Further, as B would have had dinner by the time she got back to her father’s at 8 pm, Her Honour said that 8 pm would not be too late for her to rest before school the next day, and found in favour of Ms Jasper’s proposal.
Sunday Afternoon Changeover
The parents lived one hour and 15 minutes from each other. Ms Jasper proposed that the changeover should take place halfway between the two homes. Mr Lilley opposed this, as he worked rotating shifts and could not be available every Sunday to pick up B from the halfway point by 5 pm.
As the parties had experienced difficulties in the past when they attempted changeovers in accordance with the father’s roster, Justice Rees ruled that there was no alternative but for Ms Jasper to return B to Mr Lilley’s home
Overseas and Interstate Travel
Ms Jasper sought to restrain B’s father from travelling overseas with B until she is 10 years old, as she needed time to settle into the new parenting arrangements. Justice Rees rejected this claim, as the weekend arrangements had been in place since 2018 and thus no adjustment was necessary.
Ms Jasper also asked that, in the event that the father travels with B within Australia, he should provide her with an itinerary and contact details due to a fear he may travel with B to Queensland and not return. Justice Rees ruled that this claim had no basis in logic, and imposed no such requirement.
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