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VIC Custody of Children - Dad's Skype Time with Kids Constantly Changing?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Overseas Dramas, 24 March 2016.

  1. Overseas Dramas

    Overseas Dramas Active Member

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    Hi,

    My husband lives overseas and when he decided to end the marriage, he sent me and the kids back to Australia. As he lives in a country where Australia has no reach, child support will not deal with the case of maintenance. So he pays whatever he feels like each month and there is nothing I can do. I have learned to accept this, but now he wants to Skype the children also on his terms and based on his work schedule.

    I have fulltime care and custody of children and have to work fulltime to provide financially for them. My job is 9-5, however, with 100% day to day care of the kids, I find it hard to manage and my plate is full. I have told him that I am happy to facilitate Skype time with him and his children but it needs to be on a set day and a set time. For example, Every Thursday at 7pm.

    As his job is not 9-5 and he has a roster which changes constantly he now wants me to follow the Skype time based on his roster. This means that each month the Skype time will change. For example, in one month it might be Monday week 1 and then Wednesday week 2 and then Friday week 3, etc.

    Although he can give me a month notice I find this unreasonable to ask me to follow his schedule and not take into account the stability of having a set time frame so that it makes life easier for me to plan.

    Will the family court see this as being unreasonable on my part? I have tried to talk to him but he refuses to budge, stating that this is his roster and that he cannot guarantee to be available for Skype on a Thursday each week and he will see me in court as I am being unreasonable.

    As he lives overseas there is no way I can ask him to go to mediation, is this correct?

    I really cannot afford to go to court but I am finding that I seem to be at a disadvantage as I have a 9-5 job.
     
  2. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Ok, so do you expect him to take time off work so he can Skype when you want it to happen? Or what if things were reversed? How about he ask you to take time off work to organise something? Yep, that ain't gonna happen.

    Next, Skype ain't that different from a phone call, true. Now when people call you on the phone, do you refuse to answer because they have not scheduled the phone call with you a month in advance? Yup, didn't think so...

    I have court orders that say the kids live with me. But if the ex gives 21 days notice of her intention to visit, I must make the kids available to her. So I reckon him giving you 2-3 times via email and you can choose one of those times to lock-in would seem like a reasonable compromise.

    Now - I get that you're not happy about the child support, but look he could refuse to give you any money and you would have no recourse.
     
  3. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    I think the court will definitely see you as being unreasonable. This is a Skype call, not time spent with, and a month's notice is more than generous for something so simple.
     
  4. Overseas Dramas

    Overseas Dramas Active Member

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    I actually don't want money from him so that's a mute issue.

    In terms of the Skype time. What I am trying to ascertain is whether it's in the best interest of the kids:

    1. To have no set schedule where it changes monthly.

    2. I work full time and look after the children full time with no sharing capability. To get home in time for a Skype call at 7pm (the kids are in bed by 8pm for school) is a task in itself in Melbourne given that I have to rush home from my job to pick the kids up from their carer and then drive back to my home.

    So to have a fixed day where I can ask to leave early to do this would be reasonable. But to ask work each month to leave early on a different day is unreasonable from my perspective or not?

    3. If it was the reverse, I would be doing my best to fit in with the schedule with the party that has taken up all the responsibilities.

    Skype is very different to a phone call. You are required to have an internet connection and a device. My children are young and require me to turn this on for them. Too young to introduce for them to have their own phone so he can call and I guess being overseas phone call is expensive.

    So please don't judge me. I am just asking to see if the law takes into consideration both parties challenges when deciding what's best for the kids.

    I have no want to keep the kids from him but it seems unreasonable to demand things on his schedule only and not take into account mine even though mine seems to be, on the surface, not a difficult task.
     
  5. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Nope. Skype and a phone call are very similar, you need a device for both - either a phone or the internet. Most phones these days do both. Kids would also need help with a phone. Skype has the advantage of the visuals. That is good for kids.

    To answer your question about the law, I reckon both me and the other person have answered. Yes, you're being unreasonable. You are not being flexible. Dad has a really good reason to require flexibility (work) and you would do well to try to work around that.

    What would a court do? I'd like to think that a magistrate would see it reasonable to organise a compromise around providing notice.

    Look, I've heard of twits who had orders that said 7pm on Tuesday. If the dad rings at 6.59, the mum won't answer. If the dad calls at 7.01, the mum won't answer. Magistrates would see that as stupidity because it is.

    So, let's try and stay out of court. How about this? You email him and provide him with a few time slots and let him decide. Oh I have a better idea. So let's lock in 30 min on Saturday or Sunday morning/ arvo. Let's say, "Hey dad, 5pm on Saturday and if it don't work out, you'll make sure 5pm Sunday arvo will happen." Yup I like it. Dad can ask the kids all about their weekend while you're busy making Sunday dinner. Wow, how easy.

    Now when you say that you "don't want child support, so that is a mute issue" - read your first post - the first issue you mention is child support, clearly it is an issue. Me too.

    I have 3 kids - they used to live 65% with mum. I paid $500 child support. Now they live 80% with me and mum pays nothing. But my point is you mentioned child support. I'm just highlighting that money should be kept separate. My ex once offered me more time with the kids but I had to pay for it. Bit like renting DVD's, no thanks.
     
  6. Overseas Dramas

    Overseas Dramas Active Member

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    Hi sammy I think you're taking your personal issues into answering my question. I appreciate your answers but it seems one sided.

    Yes, I am happy to offer Sat/Sun. Actually, I am happy to offer any day that he wants to pick but have an issue with this changing every week and every month. How do I plan anything even if I get notice? This is a change every month not just for one school holiday. 12 months in a year I have to schedule in a different Skype time each week.

    Unlike your situation, yes who would not like child support, but I am unwilling to spend all my money with lawyers to drag out into court, etc, etc, so I have told him no problems just don't pay.
     
  7. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Look, I'm using my scenario to illuminate a point. I'm not a solicitor, so all I have to go on is my experiences and observations.

    Dad is asking you to understand his work commitments - he can't lock in a set time because of his work. Your response? Tough...

    So you've asked about the law

    Here is the legislation
    Parenting cases - the best interest of the child - Federal Circuit Court of Australia

    In relation to your question.

    The bits that are most significant are -

    The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent.

    A court must consider the extent to which each parent has or has not previously met their parental responsibilities, in particular:
    • taken the opportunity to:
      • participate in decision-making about major long-term issues about the child
      • spend time with the child.
    • communicate with the child, and has:
      • met their obligations to maintain the child, and
      • facilitated (or not) the other parent’s involvement in these aspects of the child’s life.

    The bit in bold is the bit where you're gonna struggle.

    Now if I was a solicitor and I was representing your ex I would make the case that. Your stance is that he has to lock in a set time. Now based on what you've written it would appear that your expectation is for him to change his employment to suit you and you reserve the right to have flexibility in case something else pops up. Now that isn't facilitating close relationship.

    Now none of this matters yet because it really isn't worth him taking you to court over Skype. But if he returned to Australia and sought to have time with the kids and you resisted, then this whole Skype discussion becomes relevant and it shows that you've not been flexible and you have not tried to facilitate the relationship between kids and dad...

    I don't think having to schedule in a particular time each week / month is all that onerous and the other argument I'd make as his solicitor is that you're prioritising planning other stuff in your life / the life of the kids ahead of the kids getting to communicate with the kids.

    Now you've asked for opinions - you've gotten 2 different people who have both suggested you try and be more flexible. Watch closely, I don't think you're going to get too many posters here offering a vastly different opinion. Let's wait and see.
     
  8. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    You came here for an answer, but I think you were hoping we would give you an answer that you wanted to hear, rather than an answer that is accurate.

    You are being unreasonable, and the court will see it as such. A month's notice is far more than enough time to organise yourself to have a device and an Internet connection for the kids to speak with their dad.

    If you remain inflexible, and dad pursues court, I imagine he would be seeking more than just Skype time with the kids. He could seek time spent with them, and he would likely seek that you pay half the travel costs.
     
  9. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    just thought I'd add one more suggestion.

    I'm guessing things are still pretty recent and hence pretty raw. So story time.

    I did mediation, cost lots of money caused lots of grief. My ex suggested I pay extra child support so $450, not the $400 I'd been assessed to pay. In return, the ex would agree to some of my requests. I screamed and yelled and had a tanty.

    How dare she ask me for extra money. My solicitor quietly reminded me that I'd told my solicitor that I'd said I was prepared to pay an additional $70. In short, I was being a twit and, in fact, my ex's offer was better than what I was prepared to pay...

    The moral of the story - sometimes we let our judgements get clouded because of all the emotion involved....
     
  10. Overseas Dramas

    Overseas Dramas Active Member

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    Hi,

    Please don't take me wrong, I appreciate hearing your view and I am not looking for someone to agree with me, but I just wanted clarification and I guess it's loud and clear that regardless of the fact that he has left me with the full-time care of the children (he is not interested in custody or shared custody of the children as that would impact his career) to me and he is only willing to Skype the kids as being the only thing that he is contributing that the court will not consider the heavy burden is on me and still views that I must accommodate to his schedule.

    I am doing my best to put the kids at the center of my decisions but between caring for the kids every need and working full time, there's just no fair assessment of my contribution and time already.
     

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