A case before the Family Court concerned a mother who applied to take her child on a holiday to Europe. The father, as the respondent, asked the court to set a security of $30,000 before the mother could undertake the trip to ensure that she returned.
The child lives with the mother and spends time with the father. The mother argued that the requirement for a security would be oppressive and was effectively being used by the father as a form of control, and said that a previous trip had been canceled because of the father. She maintained that she had no family in Europe and owns no property there. She further said that she had holidayed in France in the previous year and had returned at the end of the holiday and therefore she was not a flight risk.
The father claimed that the mother does not have any property in Australia and that she has previously lived in France. He further stated that the mother, since the child’s birth, had shown an interest in matters relating to France and the French language which borders on the obsessive.
The Independent Children’s Lawyer argued that one significant incentive for the mother not to return to Australia was the degree of hostility in the relationship between the mother and father and accordingly a security was appropriate.
The Judge said that there was nothing before the court to challenge the mother’s sincerity or credibility, however, the test to be applied in these circumstances is an objective one which requires an evaluation of the risk of non-return and the consequences if that occurs. A consideration was that the level of the security should strike a balance between providing sufficient comfort to the non-travelling parent but, at the same time, not be so high that it would make the travel prohibitive.
The Judge set a security of $30,000 for the trip to take place.
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