NSW Child Visitation Following Child Support Dispute

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8 April 2015
My son lives in Newcastle and his ex partner lives in Victoria with their 4 year old son. My son pays weekly child support. The ex advised that she would be driving through Newcastle on her way to Coff's Harbour and could drop the son off to his father for 4 days, but only if he paid her $200 to do it. He agreed and was supposed to get him today until Sunday.

She called today to say that it would not be until tomorrow, (as the drive was too long and she was stopping overnight somewhere), and that she would collect the child at 4.00pm on Saturday - meaning that we would have him for 2 nights. My son said that he would not pay her the $200 (this above the weekly child support) and she has threatened to continue through Newcastle and not drop the child off. They have no legal documentation on visitation or custody of children etc. Can she do this? Does he have any recourse under family law?


Well-Known Member
23 July 2014
While every there is no parenting plan or consent orders in place, the mother is able to do this, though I expect any good solicitor would advise her against doing so because it demonstrates that the mother is unsupportive of the relationship between father and child. A pattern of behaviour that shows a lack of support has in recent times cost a growing number of parents their residency with children when assessed by the court.

Your son is not, and should not be required to pay money to spend time with his son, and he should not encourage such behaviour by making agreements to that effect. The child has a legal right to know, spend time and communicate with both parents on a regular basis, and the court would protect that right at all costs, regardless of the rate of child support.

I strongly suggest that the father organise mediation as soon as possible to get at least a parenting plan in place that enables the father to see his son on a regular basis. I understand the tyearanny of distance may seem like a problem, but from Newcastle to Victoria, long weekends, three or four weekends each school term and half of all school holidays is workable.

Children who don't spend regular time with one parent are the most likely to engage in antisocial behaviour and experience mental health challenges in future, such as depression and anxiety. It's important for the child that he see his father, and as such, it's important for your son that he take steps to protect that time through a parenting plan or consent orders.

Tell him to contact legal aid and have them organise a family dispute resolution conference. It's the first step toward legal recourse, should he need it.

As a matter of interest, if this ended up in court (and hopefully it doesn't), the court would make orders in the best interest of the child. See section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975 to see how the court decides what's in a child's best interests. The primary consideration is the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents, not just one of them.

I hope this in some way helps.