WA Daughter in Domestic Violence Situation - Custody of Children?

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10 March 2015
30year old daughter returned to marital home because of her 2 children after police restraining order (72hrs) against husband and his parents for years of domestic violence (some physical, mainly emotional especially by mother-in-law).

Their son is now 10 and he, as far back as being a 4year old, has informed that "Daddy shouts at Mummy, makes her cry and tells her she is stupid'..I have also witnessed incidents personally. She is an intelligent woman with a career and Post Grad degree, but has now been diagnosed with bi-polar (genetic from her father's side) and is unable to work..she is very aware of her illness. She only has myself and her brother for support in WA and the family initially managed to isolate her from us until she started threatening suicide...she is now seeing the appropriate help and is back in contact with me.

Her husband (aided by his mother) have fostered the public persona of a mentally unbalanced woman who is not capable of looking after her children - without mentioning the continuing day-to-day abusive domestic situation ie: he has informed me that she is 'constantly defiant'!? without even realising what he has said..

He has now informed me that he may have to have her 'hospitalised involuntarily' for the sake of the children' and will sue for custody of children if necessary on the grounds of her mental incompetence.

Do I, as her mother, have any rights to prevent him from going ahead with this should he try and carry it out?


Well-Known Member
10 February 2015
Hi Margot,

I am sorry to hear of the difficult situation your family are in. Because you aren't being directly affected by this situation and your daughter is an adult, you don't have any personal rights. However, it sounds as though your daughter's husband has committed several different acts of domestic violence. I suggest that you get in contact with your local police and try to find someone within the police department who handles domestic violence situations.

You should also ask the police (or look online, or go to a legal centre) for information about domestic violence support services and counselling in your area. You can also call a hotline such as 1800RESPECT. Additionally, keep a written record of events as they happen.

I suggest that your daughter needs to speak with a trusted counsellor or pyschologist, if possible someone with experience in domestic violence. It is common for abusive partners to try to dismiss and downplay their own behaviour by labelling the other (usually female) as mentally unstable. However mental instability and disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can come about as a direct result of the abuse.

Additionally, remember that whilst your daughter may be struggling with a mental disorder such as Bipolar, there is no objective scientific test that can prove a mental disorder. In fact, mental disorders aren't even categorised based on objective evidence. Psychiatry is an incredibly subjective field. That means that mental disorders are diagnosed on the basis of reported symptoms.

Finally, I suggest that you discuss with your daughter making contact with a family lawyer to help her navigate this situation.