The Internet, Titillation and the Family Court

Does a predilection for masturbation mean that someone should not spend overnight time with their children?

Judge Ryan of the Family Court of Australia at Sydney delivered a judgment in a case that concerned this issue in January 2016. The full text of the judgment is available here( ).


The case was an appeal from the initial decision in the Federal Circuit Court.

In brief, it is a question that turns very much on the facts – in this situation, there was it appeared no evidence that the children would be exposed to the material that the father accessed, and that if they were to do so, every indication was that the father would act promptly to correct the issue. Additionally, there was no evidence that the children were aware of the father’s habits, and there was no evidence that they had ever interrupted the father during masturbation.

No material appeared to be permanently stored on the father’s television, phone or tablet.

It also seemed that although there was reference to pornography by lawyers acting for the parties, the material concerned may have been at least in part more properly described as television shows containing sex scenes, which would have passed censoring of some sort, rather than wholly pornography.

The father would it appears watch a show on the TV or tablet, and sometimes masturbate in the bathroom afterwards. The mother in the situation was highly critical of the father’s other parenting skills as well, which may have contributed to a perception that her concerns were out of line with wider community expectations.

The Court made a careful consideration of the facts, and the children were permitted to spend time with their father for one overnight per fortnight on an alternate weekend, and for three nights per week during school holidays.

Media reports on the case have missed some of these subtleties and may inadvertently misdirect a party as to what is acceptable conduct and how to conduct yourself during Court proceedings. Broad sweeping statements about what type of behaviour is or is not permitted can lead people astray.

It is for these types of reasons that detailed, specific and expert advice tailored to your particular circumstances is important to reach a happy ending.

Contact our Liz Hall and Richard Hamilton on 03 9614 7111 or to talk through your situation.