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QLD Changed Circumstances - Changing Consent Orders?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Raye Courtney, 11 March 2016.

  1. Raye Courtney

    Raye Courtney Member

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    Hi,

    I'd like help, if I may please.

    I signed consent orders in December 2015. My 14-year-old is to spend every second weekend at the dad's house. The dad moved out of the area approximately 2 years ago and is now a 50-minute drive away. Changeovers are to occur at 5 pm on Friday and returned by 5 pm Sunday. Also, changeovers were meant to be approximately the half way point (me, the mother drives for half an hour, the father of our child drives for 15minutes).

    Previously, I was working until 2 pm which allowed me time to do the changeover at 5 pm. However, I am now working full time until 5 pm sometimes till 5.30pm. Which means I now cannot make the changeover time of 5 pm. Also, it has come to my attention that the park that I am to do the changeovers at is not a very nice park. It scares me, there are gay peoples having sex in the toilet blocks at the park, lots of creepy people and it's off the highway, isolated and dark with no lighting. A severed head was found in the park a couple of years ago.

    I'm afraid to be there after dark and do not want to expose our daughter to this. I feel frightened something may happen to us. I tried to convey this to the father of our daughter to no avail.

    Child support payments from the child's father are sporadic as I am a low in income earner. I often struggle to have enough money for fuel to do changeovers (I have 3 older children to support). Our older son works in the afternoons and I've got to collect him between 5 and 6 pm.

    I have asked her dad to collect her from my place, however, her father has refused to collect for his visitation because I can't make it by 5 pm to the changeover point and says I've contravened. I now have a nasty letter from his Lawyer saying I've broken the law and that I've withheld our child (which I haven't, this is completely incorrect) and if I do it again he will be putting a contravention in place and ask that I be punished and that I have to pay his court costs.

    One other thing: our daughter, being 14, wants to hang out with her friends on weekends. A couple of weeks ago she was invited to a party when it was the weekend she was meant to go to her dad's. She asked her dad if she could go there instead of his place for the weekend as it was a sleepover. He absolutely objected to this and has also brought that weekend up in the letter from his Lawyer.

    Questions:

    Can I change the consent orders? How do I do this to reflect that I am working longer and that the park is a frightening place? That I can't always afford the drive to do changeover?

    I also now have to pick up my son from his job at any time between 5-6pm when I'm meant to be doing changeovers as well. Not sure what to do at this point. He just won't negotiate. Completely refuses to acknowledge that my circumstances have changed.

    At 14, it's hard to get her to go to her dad's every second weekend. I have no problem with him collecting her from school, etc. Does she just have to miss out on being with her friends or only see her friends when she's with me?

    What's likely to happen if it goes to family court? I'm not withholding her at all.
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    How do you change the consent order? Two options:

    - Get the father's agreement; or
    - File an initiating application with the court.

    Or otherwise, start following the agreement you made with the father not even four months ago.

    My view is that if you take this matter back to court, you will end up with the interim orders that are identical to the agreement you already made, and you'll have to find a way to make it work in the interim anyway while you await final orders which can take up to three years.

    The other issue is that nothing you've really provided here makes the cut for persuading a court the orders should be changed. The judge won't buy your inability to pay for fuel as an excuse for contravening the orders (and notably, one mother was even jailed in recent years for giving that exact excuse for withholding the kids). Child support isn't for your fuel, it's for the child's care needs, so it doesn't add up.

    The judge also won't buy your excuse about being afraid of the park where changeovers happen because you should have considered that when you agreed to the consent orders. Further, the court will appreciate that your daughter is coming into young adulthood and will want to spend time with friends on weekends, but it will still take the view that the child spending time with her dad two nights a fortnight is more important than her spending time with her friends who she sees every day of the week.

    Parenting orders are also designed to be long-lasting. They're not intended to be changed whenever they become inconvenient for one of the parents. It's not about you or the father, it's about what's best for the child, and chopping and changing to suit your work schedule isn't going to be in the best interests of the child.

    My suggestion is to initiate a family dispute resolution conference through Relationships Australia to try and negotiate changing the care arrangements with the father. I also strongly advise that you rectify your situation so you're abiding the consent orders. Not doing so will likely damage the chances of a court ruling in your favour in future, if you show you will not abide any orders it gives you.
     
  3. Raye Courtney

    Raye Courtney Member

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    That seemed like a very biased opinion Allforher.

    How do I rectify my situation when I need to work until 5pm? I asked her father to collect her. I have in no way withheld her. I've made her available to him.

    Oh, and by the way I was forced to sign consent orders I wasn't happy with because we were about to go to court in December and I couldn't afford a Lawyer so I signed and we got leave from the court to appear by phone.

    On the day we were to appear by phone, my ex's Lawyers phone conveniently went to the message bank and the place of business didn't answer their phone, so I didn't get the chance to negotiate better terms.
     
  4. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    It's not biased, it's realistic, and being unable to afford a lawyer does not equate to coercion or duress to sign consent orders. You can, and plenty of people do self-represent.

    Are the travel arrangements and the changeover location included in the consent orders?
     

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