Lawyer wants ‘unfair’ guardianship form scrapped after NSW court orders form
Lawyers representing a woman seeking guardianship after she was forced to leave a domestic violence relationship told the ABC that she would be unhappy with the form because it was “unfair”.
Natalie Williams said she had been forced to move out of her home in Sydney’s north-west after she and her partner, Nathan Smith, both 26, broke up and Smith allegedly used a cane to break the lock on the door and beat her.
Nathan Smith (right) and Natalie Williams (left) have been told to leave the NSW capital after a court ordered the form be scrapped because it did not address the relationship’s underlying issues.
Williams, who has two children, had been living with Smith since September 2015, when she became pregnant.
Smith allegedly battered her repeatedly with a wooden cane, punching her and kicking her, hitting her in the head and repeatedly kicking her in her legs, she said.
She eventually left Smith after two months.
Ms Williams said the form did not ask about her partner’s past or any other relevant issues, but instead said she was an “unstable” and “non-compliant” parent.
“It was really confusing,” she said, adding she was unsure if the form was designed by the state or a legal adviser.
Mr Smith’s lawyer, David Ritchie, told the NSW Supreme Court that it was unfair for the form to have to answer questions about his client’s history and his partner’s history with him.
He said the questions did not make clear whether his client was “mentally unstable” or “not compliant”.
“She’s the sole parent and he’s not compliant with the law,” Mr Ritchie said.
“It’s unfair to put her down because she’s an uncooperative person.”
Nigel Denton, a partner at the law firm of Denton & Co, said he was also concerned that the form’s language could be interpreted as asking whether Smith had a “good reason” for the violence.
“(It was) a way of putting the focus on him,” Mr Denton said.
Mr Dennett, who was not present in court, said Smith had no prior convictions and had no previous convictions relating to domestic violence.
He said he believed that the court’s order was intended to address “the underlying issues that led to the conflict”.
He added that if a woman wanted to leave, they should “ask for a full and open discussion” about those issues.
“If they don’t want to, then it should be up to them to make their own decisions,” he said.
‘I’m sick of being a victim’Ms Williams, who is now living in Perth, said she felt like she was being “victimised” because she did not want to leave Smith and felt “trapped”.
She said she wanted to seek legal advice about the process.
The law firm, which is known for representing people who have been battered in custody cases, said it would appeal the court order.
It is understood the NSW Legal Aid Commission is considering whether it can intervene in the case, but that would require it to be given the power to intervene in cases of family violence.
Topics:domestic-violence,law-crime-and-justice,courts-and-(procedural)-law,courthouse-bay-4855,nsw,australiaFirst posted March 06, 2019 07:48:48Contact Rebecca MartinMore stories from Western Australia