Richardson v Harvey [2019] NZFC 4908

Published 08 October 2020

Parenting order — supervised contact — protection order — psychological violence — drug use — methamphetamine — safety — contact with child while in prison — welfare and best interests of child — Care of Children Act 2004, ss 4, 5 & 6 — Domestic Violence Act 1995. This hearing was to determine whether a final protection order should be made against the respondent in favour of the applicant. It was also to make parenting orders in relation to their son, particularly around supervised contact between the respondent and the child. The parties had been in a relationship for nine years and both admitted to using methamphetamine throughout this period. There was no dispute the child was to remain in the day-to-day care of the applicant. To make a final protection order, the Judge must be satisfied that the parties lived in a domestic relationship, there had been domestic violence and that there is a necessity for making the order. The respondent accepted and admitted to breaching a temporary protection order, once by going to the applicant's property with a knife and once by telephoning the applicant. This psychological violence coupled with the respondent's methamphetamine addiction meant there was necessity for making the order and so a final protection order was granted. Section 4 of the Care of Children Act states the paramount concern is the welfare and best interests of the child. It is also a requirement that the Court take into account the principles in s 5 which include safety, parental and guardian responsibility for care, consultation and co-operation, continuity of caregiving arrangements, continuing relationships with parents and the preservation and strengthening of extended family relationships and identity. Section 6 states that opportunities must be given to children to express their views and any views expressed must be taken into account. The child missed his father and wanted to have contact. Matters relating to the parenting order were complicated by the fact the respondent was in custody on a raft of charges, including the breaches of protection order. The respondent hoped to soon be sentenced to home detention and sought supervised contact, but submitted that it should be supervised by his mother or sister and not a professional supervision provider. The family members suggested by the respondent were not deemed appropriate supervisors until the respondent could show at least 12 months of sobriety. His mother admitted she was protective of her son and would struggle to curb his behaviour. His sister worked a 70 hour week and had children of her own to care for. The appropriate option was for an in-home supervision provider to supervise contact at the respondent's home detention address on a weekly basis. The respondent's family members could attend this contact. If the respondent was not sentenced to home detention then contact would occur fortnightly at the prison. There was also to be phone contact. These interim orders were to be reviewed in nine months. Each party would provide a 12 month hair strand test and the orders would be reviewed to ensure they were still meeting the welfare and best interests of the child. Judgment Date: 1 July 2019. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *