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VIC Contact with Granddaughter - What are Our Grandparents Rights?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by suzie10, 10 August 2016.

  1. suzie10

    suzie10 Member

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    My son has 50% custody of children for his daughter. He agreed to allow the Ex and his daughter to live in Victoria on conditions that he could phone his daughter each week, come over to stay with him on the school holidays, a copy of school reports, etc. His ex did not follow this and both his ex and my granddaughter disappeared.

    After much time and money was spent, my heartbroken son stopped looking (we now know they went to live with her boyfriend). A few years later,, I found a newspaper clipping stating that our young granddaughter was flown to Melbourne hospital from Shepparton Hospital gravely ill and that family members have all been contacted to be by her side as she may not make it through the night.

    My son or anyone in our family were not contacted. My husband and I have retired and the first port of call was to travel to Victoria to try to connect with our granddaughter. With my son's blessings/ approval, we found her and her mother gave us permission to visit.

    Our granddaughter stated that she would love to visit her dad. Ahe also happened to mention that she has been overseas also. I am so confused how legally all this could happen, so my question is:

    1. How did a young 10-year-old get a passport without her Dad knowing?

    2. What are our grandparents rights to have phone contact with our granddaughter?

    3. How can the ex really stop her from visiting her Dad even when it's on the court order? It's her 15th birthday tomorrow.

    Do hope someone can help me, thank you.
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    1. Possibly through fraudulent avenues? This usually can't happen, but it sometimes does. Given the child's age, I'm not sure it's worth pursuing.

    2. Grandparents don't have rights, per se, but your granddaughter does have legal rights to know, spend time and communicate with you on a regular basis. The same applies to her father, and I'm inclined to say that the father should be pursuing action on this matter rather than you, only because he's going to have a higher likelihood of success given the nature of his relationship to the child.

    3. Family Court orders are only as enforceable as the parties allow them to be - if he has allowed his ex to sever contact without pursuing a location order or contravention order, then really, it's sort of his own fault. There's no point to Court orders if neither party is going to pursue their enforcement when thing go awry.

    Before I give you any more guidance, would you mind answering some additional questions?

    When did the mother relocate with the child? How old was the child when it happened?

    Is the child still unwell, or has she recovered?
     
  3. suzie10

    suzie10 Member

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    1. Mother took the child to Victoria when she was 5 years old,
    2. She has made a full recovery,

    Mother has changed the child's surname also.
     
  4. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    So, the first thing I will say is that I don't think there's any point in pursuing this matter through the Court.

    First, there were already Orders in place and the father didn't act to have them enforced for ten years. If he tried to have them enforced now, the Court would probably be more inclined to establish new orders than enforce old ones because it's unlikely the old orders will still reflect the best interests of the child.

    Second, the child's age is likely to compel the Court to give her view a lot of weight, potentially to the effect of making orders that grant the child freedom to spend time with her father (and you) in accordance with her wishes. There comes a point where the Court accepts kids will vote with their feet, rather than have their wishes ignored.

    Third, parenting orders expire upon the child's 18th birthday, and proceedings for parenting matters often take two to three years. It's an awfully big expense for something that won't have effect for much longer.

    Ten years ago, my guidance would have been different, but I am afraid the failure to act on the father's part makes this a difficult situation to navigate.

    So, in light of the above, I would say you're better off seeking a civil outcome rather than a Court-ordered one.

    Contact the mother and try and negotiate an outcome. There's also the option of mediation, but I really strongly urge you to get the father on board with being involved in the process. If the mother gets legal advice, and it's the father who is the potential applicant, it's more likely the advice will be more in his favour than if it you who was the potential applicant. Parents are simply 'more significant' to a child than grandparents.
     
  5. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    so has he asked mum for opportunities to spend time with the child during holidays?
    has he been paying child support?
    Hopefully mum will agree for him to see the kid, if not call relationships Australia. Sadly, unless you've got a few grand to throw at a solicitor I think court is a waste of time, mum has already shown she will not follow the rules and by the time you get the courts do actually do anything the kid will be 21... There is no justice in family law....
     
  6. suzie10

    suzie10 Member

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    Thank you,

    The mum has changed mobile numbers so many times over the 10 years. My son spent thousands to get all this to court, selling everything he had for a piece of paper!!! he thought he was doing the right thing for his daughter, trusted his Ex to do the same.

    I will say he did end up having a breakdown, had depression lost his job through all this when he couldn't find her and then blamed himself for being too soft., it was through family support that he got back on track...It was only when I tracked her down in another state that we got to speak to her and our granddaughter, while we visited our granddaughter my son phoned my phone and got to speak with his daughter for the first time... since then all my phone calls to mobile and work, letters, emails have gone unanswered or once again disconnected...

    Yes, my son is paying child support 100% level... He would dearly love to have her visit, but it seems he and his side of the family have been cut out of her life, just so sad, I can only hope that my grand daughter remembers the special bond we had with her years ago and that one day we will meet again.
     
  7. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    I am so sorry. I don't think you have many avenues left. You could spend thousands on solicitors and wind up exactly back where you started. If you know what school she attends you could contact the school and ask for copies of school reports etc but sometimes that causes more grief than anyting else.

    I don't suppose you have a postal address for her?
     
  8. suzie10

    suzie10 Member

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    No, we don't have a postal address and no idea what school she attends now.

    Thank you for all you help
     
  9. Matthew Lynch

    Matthew Lynch Lawyer

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    You, as grandparents, can apply for parenting orders under the Family Law Act 1975.

    An application for an Order for telephone contact with grandparents is not going to be refused by any Judge unless the child expresses a strong desire not to speak with the grandparents and there is a justifiable reason for that desire.

    I do not think the delay will damage the prospects of success of the application especially in circumstances where the child wants to contact the grandparents and/or father.

    I would not give up hope. I would file the proper application and get this before a Judge.
     
  10. okanynameyouwishthen

    okanynameyouwishthen Well-Known Member

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    Mam, I am so sorry for your family's loss as my elderly parent's are subjected to same treatment from the mother of my little girl, all with the court's silent blessings.

    ICL, also legal aid, could've drafted up 3 undertakings for me & both Grandparents to sign, assuring I would remain uninvolved - 20-30 mins. and a phone call to mum''s lawyer to secure the agreement. Not been directed to act by the courts though when I urged the ICL.

    Years ago, I sought help from this "out of touch" system to allow our daughter to know more family than her mum & pop. Fast forward and the action of naively asking the court for help & not taking vigilante action has cost my child 2 wonderful grandparents.

    I indeed feel very much for you both & your son & please pass on my wishes & relate my above tale to him to let him know he is far from alone & I felt some small comfort when hearing other dads were in same boat as me somewhat. As we know, us blokes tend to shimmy down into any dark black holes solo most times and under the radar.
     

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