Children's Cases

ERINA LEGAL does not take cases involving domestic violence or child abuse.  The following information may assist parents to come to an agreement about the ongoing care of children of the relationship only. 

ERINA LEGAL WILL ASSIST with the negotiations and writing of Consent Orders or a Parenting Plan for the future needs of children. However court representation is not provided.

The Family Law legislation recognises that children benefit from a relationship with both parents, provided there is no abuse, violence or practical reasons why it is not appropriate. 


Shared parental responsibility is not the same as equal time spent with the children.  Shared parental responsibility is about making decisions such as the education health, cultural needs and other such decisions for the child.  The time spent by each parent is dependent on a number of issues that should be considered by the parents.

  • How much time did the child spend with each parent before separation?
  • Where do the parents live?

  • What is the age of the child?

  • What school does the child attend if any?

  • Does each parent work and if so what hours?

  • Are there work commitments that may affect time spent with the child?

  • Is there a need for either parent to move to another location because of work commitments or other significant needs?

  • If a parent needs to move further away, what arrangements can be made so that the child sees each parent as much as is practical?

  • What out of school activities does the child attend?

  • Who has taken the child to such activities before separation?

  • Is the child to attend any other after school activities  now or in the future?

  • Who will take the child to such future activities?

  • Are there brothers or sisters who also need to be considered that may affect each other?

  • Does the child have any special health needs?

  • Does the child have any special educational needs?

  • Are there cultural or religious issues that should be considered?

  • Have you discussed with the child what the child may like?

  • What kind of relationship does each parent have with the child and with each other?

  • Are there high levels of conflict between the parents and what are they about?

Whenever there are high levels of conflict, there are usually high levels of emotion.  This makes thinking rationally difficult - however rational thinking is needed. 

In many cases the conflict results from unmet needs (not wants) or may be caused by high levels of stress, also often related to unmet needs.  People often do not realise what basic needs are not being met for each person.  This can often be discussed with the help of a third person if not with each other.

The use of appropriate psychometric tests can also assist in  discovering unmet needs and other factors that may be affecting the relationship between the parents and the children.  This can be beneficial prior to mediation, or before court proceedings as long as they are provided by a qualified Psychologist experienced in the use of appropriate psychometric tests and family law issues and legislation. 

The tests are supported by clinical observation of the family dynamics, and each parent and child's interaction, and if there are court proceedings, the Psychologist also has the benefit of reading affidavit evidence, school and medical reports.  The school and medical reports or other relevant information can also be provided if there are no court proceedings if they are needed.

The psychologist can provide a detailed report to the parents or their solicitors whether or not an application has been made to the family courts.

It would be helpful if the report included recommendations as to how any conflict can be reduced or eliminated so that the parents don't have to bare the costs and stresses that often increase the conflict during court proceedings.  Instead the parents and children should be able to continue their ongoing relationship that best meets the needs of the children to develop without being psychologically damaged by continual conflict between the parents.

Parental and Child Alienation
Alienation of parents and children is involved in many of the high conflict cases that have to be adjudicated at court.  There are a number of different forms and causes of the alienation.  However where there is a high level of conflict, it is psychologically damaging to children and to the parents and can affect lives for many years after the court proceedings are over and possibly throughout their lives completely. Some psychologists have found that when one parent alienates a child against the other parent, research has shown that it often occurs that the alienated child will turn against the alienating parent in the future.
Alienation and unfounded allegations of abuse can be very costly, stressful for both parties, and damaging to both parents and children.  It should be avoided completely.  It is possible to manage separation and divorce reasonably as the majority of separating parents have shown.  This is the only way to overcome the high level of conflict that can and does destroy lives.  Sensible, practical and less stressful solutions can be found if the parties are willing to try with the assistance of a qualified psychologist, mediator and finally a lawyer who is not intent on using the highly costly and stressful litigation process.

There are many different strategies used by parents in order to cause a child to alienate the other parent.  Some of these are as follows:

·         Bad-mouthing the other parent.

·         Limiting contact with the other parent.

·         Withdrawing love, being angry if child cares for the
          other parent.
·         Telling the child that the targeted parent does not  
          love the child.
·         Telling the child that the only parent who cares
          about the child is the alienating parent
·         Forcing the child to choose between the parents.
·         Creating the impression that the targeted parent is
·         Confiding in the child about adult issues in the
          relationship with the other parent.
·         Limiting mention and photographs of targeted
·         Forcing a child to reject the targeted parent.
·         Limiting contact and belittling the extended family.
·         Belittling the targeted parent in front of the child.
·         Inciting conflict between the child and the targeted
·         Telling the child that only the alienating parent can 
          provide safety for the child.  

Emotional abuse is more difficult to observe and document although it is described in the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (PL 93-247)(USA)[1] as

“a repeated pattern of caregiver behaviour or extreme incidences that convey to children that they are worthless, flawed, unloved, unwanted, endangered, or only of value in meeting another’s needs.”

Some issues that result in the child having psychological pathologies  are when the child: has been rejected, isolated, ignored, terrorised, corrupted, verbally assaulted, over-pressured, witnesses parental abuse of drugs and alcohol, threatened with abandonment,  exposed to domestic violence, told that the targeted parent does not love the child, told that the targeted parent is unworthy of love, told of personal  details that exceed the child’s cognitive and emotional capabilities, made to feel responsible for an adult’s well being.

Such children are often identified by personal characteristics, perceptions, and behaviours that convey low self-esteem, a negative view of the world, and internalised and externalised anxieties and aggressions, and have inappropriate and exceptional social behaviour and responses.

There has been some research on adults who experienced alienation of a parent during childhood or adolescence.  The adults researched reported the long term effects of that alienation on their relationship with the rejected parent, and with the alienating parent, and on other relationships in their adulthood.  In many cases the alienated child, now adult, rejected the parent who caused the alienation initially. 

As for other psychological disorders, such as personality disorders, therapy is required to remedy the psychological consequences of the alienation as a child.

Skilled use of appropriate psychometric tests together with clinical observation and recommendations for appropriate management by psychologists experienced and competent to do this at an early stage may assist the parents to come to an agreement and if no agreement can be reached without court intervention, can assist the court to make appropriate orders and may enable the problem to be remedied before it becomes too entrenched.