A Tasmanian father has had multiple charges dismissed and a conviction quashed for alleged breaches of a family violence order after courts found the order had inconsistencies with a family law arrangement.
Police issued the man a family violence order in mid-2018 with conditions that he not stalk, threaten, harass, abuse or assault the mother and children and not come within 50 metres of their place of residence.
But it was the conditions that he not come within 50 metres of the children's school when they were present, or come within 50 metres of the children generally - except to collect them for a fortnightly visit - which created an overlap with the family law matter.
Six years ago, the Federal Circuit Court provided "shared parental responsibility" in which the father would use the school as a collection and return point for the children on alternating weekends.
In 2019, he was charged with breaching the family violence order by attending the school when one of the children was present, and another occasion when no child was present. The first occasion was when he attended to discuss the various orders with the school principal.
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The school called police and he was arrested and charged on multiple occasions.
The chief magistrate dismissed the charges regarding coming within 50 metres of the children, finding that the family violence order "does not prevent [the father] from spending time with his children as per the Family Court orders", but upheld charges relating to the school.
This was appealed, and the remaining matters - bar one - were also quashed, with the Supreme Court Chief Justice finding that the school condition "did not operate because it was inconsistent with the parenting orders".
The man was fined $50 without conviction, however, for attending the school when one of the children was present and it was not to collect the child for a fortnightly visit. He also appealed this.
The man claimed the school visit was to exercise his "rights and responsibilities" as a parent of the children, and to ensure the school "did not interfere with those orders", which it ultimately did.
In assessing past cases, Supreme Court justices found that family law was "not intended to operate as a complete statement of the law on the subject of family violence".
Acting Justice Brian Martin said the family violence order did not prevent the father from attending the school when no children were present, and so the charge was proven.
"I reject the broad proposition that any constraint on the [father's] ability to visit the school, at any time, necessarily creates a relevant inconsistency," he said.
"In my opinion the prohibition ... which applies only when a child 'may be present', is not relevantly inconsistent with the [father's] obligations (and rights) pursuant to the parenting order."
The appeal was dismissed, and the fine was imposed without conviction.