A LITTLE boy will be raised by the “only father he has ever known” after a horrific head-on crash took the life of his mother on a notorious Queensland highway.
The tragedy in 2012 sparked a complex family court row as the “father” and the mother’s family fought for custody of her three children.
In an extraordinary ruling handed down in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the boy’s “psychological father” has secured sole parental rights.
The decision has ended a bitter 18 months of litigation centred on the boy, who is the middle child.
He will grow up alongside his younger half-sister, who is the only biological child of the relationship.
A second boy, who is the eldest child in the family, is staying with his maternal grandmother under an agreement with his biological father.
The maternal grandmother had fostered the mother-of-three since infancy. Judge Michael Baumann’s ruling followed her failed attempts to involve the younger boy’s biological father in the court case.
But perhaps the saddest moment was a fight over a lock of the mother’s hair, her hand-prints taken when she died and her jewellery and photos.
“These children have suffered what, in many ways, is likely to be the hardest loss they will ever experience, the death of a loving and caring mother,” Judge Baumann said.
“Surely all the adults in this situation can take steps to heal these rifts and support these three children, as they deserve to be supported.”
In a rare admission, Judge Baumann lamented the court’s decision to order a family report within a month of the accident, with both families still “engulfed by grief”.