Motives Behind Withholding a Child and Its Consequences

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Denying Access to a Child in Australia | Walker Pender

Children’s welfare and best interests are paramount in family law. Both parents should have access rights to their child, allowing them to nurture their relationship.

But what happens when one parent unjustifiably withholds a child from the other parent?

For in depth and tailored advice to your situation, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice from a professional family lawyer.

Reasons Other Parent is Withholding Child

There are several psychological reasons why the other parent, for instance, a mother is withholding child from the father. While it’s essential to stress that the following behaviours are not healthy or productive for the child or parents involved, they do occur.

It’s also important to note that these behaviours are not exclusive to mothers; fathers may also engage in such behaviours.

Unresolved Anger or Resentment

A mother might harbour anger or resentment towards the father if the relationship or marriage ended on poor terms. She might withhold the child to ‘get back at’ the father for perceived wrongs.

Also read: Equal Shared Parental Responsibility in Australia

Fear of Losing the Child

The mother might fear that if the child spends too much time with the father, the child might begin to prefer the father or that the father might try to take the child away. This can stem from feelings of insecurity or possessiveness.

Control and Manipulation

In some cases, a mother withholding child from father Australia might use the child as a tool for control or manipulation. By withholding the child, she can control the father’s ability to see the child or manipulate the father to act according to her wishes.

Parental Alienation

A form of psychological manipulation where a mother might turn the child against the father by badmouthing the father, making false accusations, or creating scenarios where the child fears or dislikes the father.

Protection Instinct

Mothers often have a strong instinct to protect their children. They might withhold the child if they perceive (rightly or wrongly) that the father threatens the child’s well-being. This can be exacerbated if the mother has mental health issues like anxiety or paranoia.

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Potential Consequences

This comprehensive overview delves into the seven crucial consequences of denying access to a child in Australia.

These outcomes highlight the seriousness of this action and underscore the importance of adhering to court-ordered parenting arrangements or seeking legal recourse to address valid concerns about a child’s wellbeing. 

Contempt of Court

If a court order is in place, such as a parenting order granting access or visitation rights, and when a parent is withholding the child from the other parent, they could be found in contempt of court. This can lead to various penalties, including fines or even imprisonment in extreme cases.

Changes in Parenting Orders

If access is continually denied, the other parent can apply to the court to change the existing parenting orders. The court may alter the child’s living arrangements or adjust the parental responsibility, possibly granting more access or custody to the parent being denied.

Mandatory Family Dispute Resolution

The court may require the parents to attend family dispute resolution (mediation) to resolve the issue and agree on the parenting arrangements.

Loss of Parental Responsibility

In severe cases, continual denial of access without a valid reason could lead the court to reassess the offending parent’s parental responsibility. They could potentially lose custody of the child if the court finds it’s in the child’s best interests.

Emotional Impact on the Child

Denying access to a child in Australia can have emotional and psychological effects. It may harm the child’s relationship with the denied parent and cause feelings of rejection or guilt.

If the matter goes to court, the parent withholding the child may be ordered to pay legal costs, which can be substantial

Damaged Parent-Child Relationship

Continually denying access to a child in Australia can strain and potentially damage the relationship between the child and the parent withholding the child, especially as the child grows older and understands the situation better.

Withholding a Child From Another Parent Without Court Order

When no court orders are in place, both parents typically have equal rights to the child, but taking unilateral action to withhold a child can unfavorably influence future legal decisions regarding custody.

When a child’s safety is at risk, a parent might be justified in temporarily withholding the child.

Parents are encouraged to explore mediation and other forms of dispute resolution to handle custody disputes amicably, as these methods can be less adversarial and more beneficial for the child. 

Dealing With Issues Of Denying Access To A Child In Australia? 

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