In 2018, the New Zealand Family Court made an Order that a child live with the father and that the father be permitted to relocate with the child from New Zealand to Australia. The mother was to spend supervised time with the child in New Zealand during school holidays.
The New Zealand Court had made that Order after finding that the mother posed a risk of harm to the child.
About a year later, the mother obtained a medical report that she was mentally stable. She applied to the Family Court of Australia for the child to spend unsupervised time with her and later to live with her in New Zealand. The Trial Judge dismissed her Application, saying that she had failed to establish a change in circumstances sufficient to allow the Court to reconsider the New Zealand Order.
The mother appealed to the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia. That Court decided that the New Zealand Order had been made because of the mother’s “intense fixed and wrong beliefs about the father’s behaviour” which were so serious that, if the child was to learn of those beliefs, she would suffer lifelong damage.
The mother said that she had addressed her mental health issues, which were raised at the New Zealand hearing. However, the Australian Court was satisfied that the New Zealand decision had been based on the mother’s beliefs about the father’s behaviour, rather than her mental illness and the Court concluded that the mother had failed to establish a sufficient change in circumstances to allow it to reconsider the New Zealand Order.