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SA Can We Put AVO on Partner's Violent Ex?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by IDS, 19 August 2016.

  1. IDS

    IDS Well-Known Member

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    My partner's ex (not divorced) wife has been verbally abusing him nonstop since she relocated with his child a little over two years ago.

    Background info -

    She moved interstate, and since then, has prevented contact with their son. She used to allow FaceTime once or twice a week. Now it is limited to when she seems to be in a good mood and allows a short phone call. Lucky to be twice a week. She refuses the child to have a relationship with my partner and encourages him to call her new partner dad. She constantly tells my partner he is irrelevant and has no rights to child, etc. My partner has a fammily court date set later this year to apply for visitation rights, etc.

    Anytime my partner tries to communicate with his ex in regards to their child, she abuses him. She uses degrading language and often messages him/us unprovoked. She sometimes calls my partner, swearing and yelling abuse at him over the phone. She has threatened us both many times with physical violence. We do not provoke her in any way, retaliate or have ever used abusive or disrespectful language towards her.

    If my partner has to message her in regards to their son, he does so in a polite manner and usually she responds with swearing and calling him names, "deadbeat dad" , "a**hole", "pathetic waste of space", "f**king idiot" ,"You have no right to question me", "get it through your f**king stupid head"...You get the idea.

    Apologies for the language.

    She has also made a number of degrading and untruthful Facebook statuses about us both and not only named him publicly but sent it to our phones. I changed my number but, unfortunately, he cannot as he needs to have contact with her to try to communicate about his son.

    I guess my question is, can he have some kind of AVO or restraining order taken out on her so she can only message him about his son and stop the constant abuse? Are her Facebook statuses slander or libel? Can she be charged with harassment or verbal abuse?

    Not only does it worry me how violent her language is but also that she is starting to make my partner feel depressed about the constant abuse, and I worry that as she is known to be physically violent and frequently loses her temper, she would attack one or both of us if we ever had to be in the same vicinity as her.

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    If you have these comments in written form, like a text message or email, then you probably do have grounds for a domestic violence order, but I think your energy would be better focused on outcomes that benefit the child, rather than you and dad.

    The reason I say this is because first, the respondent is in another state. The extent of her threatening behaviour realistically is a few harsh text messages with a bit of swearing and name-calling. Unfortunate, sure, but not exactly a direct threat to your safety and well-being.

    Second, even if she breached a domestic violence order, what then? The SA police can't arrest her unless she's in SA, and even if she did happen to come under arrest and was charged, the child then has his mum maybe serving a prison sentence for a couple of weeks at best, he would probably end up spending that time with the boyfriend, and it really accomplishes nothing toward a workable co-parenting relationship or the child having a meaningful relationship with both parents, which isn't of much benefit to the child at all, is it?

    What I suggest instead is learning how to rise above the drama and focus on the child's best interests, which generally involves the child having a relationship with both parents and limiting the child's exposure to conflict.

    If you want to limit contact from the ex, then seek it in parenting orders - request that all communication between the parties is via e-mail, request that all communication between the parties be courteous, brief and only about the child, request the parties be restricted from denigrating each other, and request that the parties refrain from allowing the child to call anyone but the parents 'mum' and 'dad'.

    If you want further information about family law, feel free to ask. :)
     
  3. IDS

    IDS Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for your reply,

    I think I may have understated the amount of abuse he receives. We do have a copy of the abusive/threatening text messages, etc. roughly upwards of 1,000 of them.

    She has threatened to come interstate to "teach us a lesson" and asked a mutual friend what our residential address is. I assume at hand over for holidays she will demand to be present and has threatened violence "on sight" and refuses to let their child out of her sight.

    To be honest, I feel it is affecting his well-being. We have tried to rise above as we do not respond to her threats or abuse but she definitely seems to have plans to act on it.

    Obviously, her serving a few weeks in jail is not ideal for anyone. But if we are allowed to visit with him interstate she has made it clear her and her partner would be 'paying us a visit'. This will be making it incredibly hard for them to co-parent when one parent feels so threatened and discouraged to see his son.

    Is there a way to have all of this recorded in the court orders to prevent further abuse? She will not cooperate with my partner or have a civil conversation about their son when abuse is an option for her.

    She also abuses his family frequently and after two years of trying to rise above and ignore it, we've all had quite enough.
     
  4. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    So, some personal insight.

    My husband has a catalogue of over 20,000 text message received from his ex after their separation and divorce. They're highly unpleasant - swearing, name-calling, threats to attempt suicide, threats to attend on his clients' workplaces, threats that he would never see his daughter again, threats to threaten every female he was friends with on Facebook, threats to bankrupt him, threats to withhold his funds, threats to show up unannounced at his house if she ever suspected he had a woman there, threats to make false allegations of abuse - crazy stuff.

    Now, here's the kicker - most of those threats, she actually followed through on. There are videos, photographs, witness statements, even affidavits in her own hand describing the abusive conduct she has perpetrated against the father of her child. The first time I had any contact with her, she was attempting to climb into our house through an open window after being asked to leave, and that was just one of the maybe six occasions when police had to come and remove her. Being the 'new girlfriend' of two weeks, it was a truly frightening experience - and we lived in the same town!

    So, in short, I can assure you, I really do understand what you're going through, and we actually did go the extra step of getting intervention from the Court by way of protection order, twice.

    But the reality of the situation was that once we turned our attention to the parenting matter and had it sorted out on paper so there was no longer any room for manipulation, all the above craziness tapered off. Sure, our parenting orders are strict - no communication except via communication book, no communication at all about anything other than parenting, no changeovers anywhere except the school or the local McDonald's - but in my view, it was the fear of how her own behaviour would impact her position in Family Court that really motivated her to change her behaviour.

    I think that's what you will find here, too. State Courts dealing with domestic violence orders are kind of 'low-risk' for the perpetrator - an order alone isn't a criminal matter, and it's easy enough to disguise abusive behaviours as 'attempting to negotiate about the kids', which the Court will rarely prosecute as a genuine breach of a domestic violence order.

    The Family Court, on the other hand, is a high risk operation - abusive conduct that went unpunished before now suddenly has the potential for some serious consequences, like losing residency or even contact with your kids.

    I understand your position, and like I said, you probably do have grounds to apply for a protection order, so certainly do so if you feel it is warranted. Her options will be to contest it, or accept without admissions, and most people choose to accept without admissions, since there's not really any consequences for doing so. If she contests and you decide to hire a lawyer for the trial, it'll cost maybe $3000, and the worst that will happen is that the Court will either make the domestic violence order and be done with it, or it will dismiss the application. In most states (I think including SA), protection orders can last up to two years, and a breach is considered a criminal matter, which means it would be prosecuted by the police, rather than by you.

    All I am saying is that I think you'll find it more beneficial and more influential to pursue the right parenting orders, rather than a domestic violence order as well. That's all. :)
     
  5. IDS

    IDS Well-Known Member

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    Thank you that was really insightful and helpful. Looks like making strict orders are the way to go to try to stop the abuse.

    It makes me sad to hear of other people going through such rough times also.

    One last question - we have already had the orders written out and court date set. Unable to serve papers so far. Can we bring these requests up at the first hearing?
     
  6. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Yes, you can bring it up at first hearing, but this process takes a long time, and the first hearing is just an interim hearing - the judge will do a brief assessment of the matter and make some interim orders to try and get the parties on track for resolution. If you've raised your concerns about the behaviour of the mother and the impact it might be having on the child, the the judge will be more likely to make orders requested during the interim hearing rather than on paper.

    Focus first, though, on making dad look like the party that wants to co-operate.

    Is your partner represented at this point? What kind of orders are you seeking in terms of care arrangements?
     
  7. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    So the best way she can keep you away from the kid is to show high conflict. She is doing her bit...and if you respond in any fashion it shows conflict. An AVO will also help her cause because it shows there is high conflict and the kid should not be exposed to such stupidity.

    Best you can do when she calls you a 'fcuki**diot" is to respond once. Just once.

    Your response - "Such comments are inappropriate, please refrain from such comments in the future. I will be using these text messages in court if necessary and I'm hopeful to establish a workable relationship that is in the best interest of (insert child's name)". If she responds with more rude nonsense, don't respond.

    The mother will never go to jail for abusing you or your partner. Don't even bother.
     
  8. IDS

    IDS Well-Known Member

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    He has a lawyer from a family law firm. He is seeking one week of every school holidays, three weeks over Christmas holidays. Alternate Christmas, etc. Phone calls at least three times a week and video calls where possible. Basic stuff like to keep him updated with school, any behavioural or medical issues...

    He has been as cooperative as/where possible. Always trying to do what's best for his son, even moving closer to the airport to make visiting easier.

    We would prefer he was relocated back to SA since she is unwilling to allow contact or work with my partner to sort out visitation.. but given the length of time, we're sure it will never happen. My partner was a very hands on dad, always spent time with him, fed him, put him to bed, took him on holidays without the mother for the weekend to see family etc.

    I think he just wishes he could see him more frequently than just one week school holidays.

    Sammy01 - I have never responded just ignored the abuse and deleted her comments from my Facebook, blocked her etc. as for my partner he politely asks her to stop using profanities/stop swearing at him in front of their son/only message when it is to discuss their son, etc.

    Mostly if he tells her to stop the harassing messaged and only contact him about their son when she's ready to discuss it in a calm manner she either threatens to stop contact with him or tells him she has the final say and his input is irrelevant so there is nothing to discuss. It's confusing trying to negotiate anything with her.

    Not our intention to get her jail time just to stop the abuse so as to be able to communicate with her civilly about the son.

    My partner has never sworn back at her or bickered back, anyone who reads the messages can see he is just trying to do the best for his son
     
  9. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    My thoughts - go for holiday time. Forget the rest. She won't comply with phone calls anyways and will just use it as an attempt to continue the nastiness and if it is in the orders and she doesn't comply, it will be a waste of money trying to get the courts to do anything about it anyways... So why bother?
     
  10. IDS

    IDS Well-Known Member

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    I guess because one week of school holidays and nothing in-between is too long for them both. I know his son asks to talk to his dad all the time and if they stopped the calls it would probably have a negative effect on their relationship. He seems to be upset and confused enough by the long gaps between calls as it is.
     

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