Josh York v Deena Truman  NZFC 2264
Published 31 July 2016
Contact — supervision of care— serious violence — safety issues — interim parenting agreement — Care of Children Act 2004. An interim parenting agreement was reached providing that the children remain in the day-to-day care of their father. The order provided the mother with daytime contact of increased duration without supervision.
The mother and father had been in a dysfunctional relationship and both had been violent toward one another; the children had been exposed to this violence but evidence was unclear as to the extent of direct violence by the mother against the children themselves. Significantly, the mother had a conviction for stabbing the father in 2006 and the father had a conviction for assault against the mother arising from the same incident. The mother’s evidence was that her violence and aggression arose out of the relationship problems and that she was different when with the children.
While the older child’s desire for contact to remain supervised was considered under the Act, the Judge was of the view that the “forthright” seven year old had the agency to tell her father if there were issues with the mother being aggressive, shouting or physically disciplining her or her brother during contact. Unsupervised contact would not have been an option in these circumstances if the child had been younger and unable to report issues.
The order, which was to be reviewed after three months, allowed the mother the opportunity to “be as good as her word and to provide her children with contact that will be enjoyable, positive, free from stress and anxiety for them.” **Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements.