Parents’ joint opposition to grandmother spending interim time with children…

family law casenotes

…does not displace judicial scrutiny as to children’s best interests

In Chandler & Bonner [2022] FedCFamC1A 210 (14 December 2022), Tree J, sitting in the appellate jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, dismissed an appeal of unified parents against interim parenting orders.

These orders were made by the Magistrates Court of Western Australia for professionally supervised time between the parents’ four children and their maternal grandmother.

The parents argued that the court had erred, including by not applying s43 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (the Act).

Tree J said (from [17]):

“Plainly neither s43 nor s69ZN of the Act operate to displace the paramountcy of children’s best interests established by s60CA … [A]s the section headings of both s43 and s69ZN suggest, they … articulate general principles to which regard must be had in all proceedings under the Act (s43) and to which effect must be given in conducting child-related proceedings (s69ZN). (…)

[19] … [T]he primary magistrate did not … disregard either s43 or s69ZN of the Act. … [H]e expressly considered the potential impact on the parents and the children of time with the grandmother resuming, and … recognised the desirability of minimising that impact … (…)


[25] … [T]he time the children were to spend with the grandmother was sparse … and … denigration of a party, or discussing the proceedings in the presence of the children was prohibited … [E]nforcing those prohibitions was the main reason for the grandmother’s time with the children being supervised. (…)

[34] … [T]he interim orders merely enabled any relationship to be, in a very limited way, facilitated at least until final orders were made. …

[35] … [T]he grandmother’s historical involvement in the children’s lives was … contested, and therefore unable to be determined … (…)

[41] … [T]he reason why … the primary magistrate considered that the children should spend time with the grandmother, was the possibility of them deriving benefit from that relationship … ”

Craig Nicol and Keleigh Robinson are co-editors of The Family Law Book. Both are accredited specialists in family law (Queensland and Victoria, respectively). The Family Law Book is a one-volume loose-leaf and online family law service (

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