Brunner v Askin [2018] NZFC 5442

Published 26 March 2021

Forced contact — estrangement — welfare and best interests of child — Care of Children Act 2004, ss 4, 5, 6 & 133. The parties were in the middle of parenting proceedings, however pending the appointment of a court ordered psychologist, the respondent mother sought resumption of contact with her son. A year before the mother had physically assaulted her son, the extent of which was disputed. The child was adamantly refusing contact with her. The mother alleged that her son was opposed to contact because of the applicant father's input. The Court sought a psychologist's report to help determine what the contact arrangements between mother and son should be, but until this report was obtained the judge had to decide whether to force some limited contact on the son. In order to decide whether or not contact should be first, the Judge had to be satisfied that contact was in the child's best interests. Evidence from a psychologist who had been treating the child stated in no uncertain terms that forcing the child to see his mother would be detrimental to the child and possibly to his relationship with his mother in the long term. The Judge decided it would not be in the child's best interests to force him to have contact with his mother. The Judge also directed that the Auckland Family Court manager appoint a psychologist equipped to deal with the issues before the Court be appointed to the child within a week. This would decrease the time before the mother and son could begin repairing their relationship. Judgment Date: 19 July 2018. * * * Note: Names have been changed to comply with legal requirements * * *