Recovery Orders and Issues with medicating children

The client has an autistic child who was medicated by his prescribing paediatrician. The father of the child was refusing to allow the mother to give the child the prescribed mediation and then refused to return the child to the mother telling her she was unsafe and was “drugging” the child.

He wanted to use an alternative approach including the use of fish oil.

The client came to me very distressed and seeking assistance. She wanted the child to be given back to her, and something to stop the father from taking him again. I suggested a recovery order, which is an Order from the Court that the father immediately return the child, and a live with Order, which is an Order that the child live with the mother. After hearing her story and understanding why the father was refusing to return the child to her I suggested that she also seek an order for sole parental responsibility in regards to medical decisions, which would prevent further altercations between her and the father and allow her to give the child the prescribed medication, at least until the father could be informed of the medical evidence and be able to make an informed choice, or at the very least show he could co-parent with her in the future.

We filed an Application for Orders in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and due to the delays in the Court system were given a listing date that was four weeks later. Meaning that the child would remain with the father and be unmedicated for four weeks and potentially harmful withdrawal symptoms. My client was devastated. I suggested that we seek a review of the Registrar’s decision. The client agreed.

I prepared and filed the Review and as a result of the review, the matter was listed the next day before a Judge for interim hearing. In the meanwhile, the father had gone into hiding and we were unable to serve him with the Review listing.

The following day the Judge heard my submissions and agreed that the matter was urgent and agreed to list the matter the following day. I spent the night chasing up process servers trying to find the father to serve him. Eventually he was served with the document at 7:30 pm.

The next morning the client and I attended Court. I was able to advise the Judge that the father had been served. I explained to the Judge the Orders that we were seeking  and why they were necessary.  After listening to my submissions and reading the Court documents which I had prepared, the Judge agreed and decided to return the child to my client and to grant an order for sole parental responsibility to my client in regards to all aspects of the child’s life.