QLD Family Law - Dealing with Dad's Family?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Movingon, 14 May 2018.

  1. Movingon

    Movingon Member

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    History:

    Final orders in place allowing for no contact with Dad (unless requested by the children and then mum can take it into consideration), full parental responsibility to mum. Orders put in place due to long-term substantiated abuse of the kids, backed by DCF finding, ICL, Family report and Counsellors recommendation. Children's wishes at 11 and 13 were clear and taken into account. Relocation granted to another state.

    Now:

    Parenting order has an undertaking that requires the mother to try to facilitate ongoing connection with Dad's family. By legal advice, this was explained to us as not legally enforceable, more just a statement of intent. Children have had a relationship with the family their whole life and dad's family is indigenous, so we also consider it to be important. Children also have a number of half-siblings not in Dad's care, and we feel it important to maintain this connection for the kids to.

    However, the Grandparents have a highly dysfunctional relationship with their son, and a tendency to choose to believe/back his story even when it is evident that he is lying. Thus, they believe the children were alienated (all professionals disagree), and that they truly want to see their dad and it's just us stopping them. They do not believe their son was abusive, possibly because of their own parenting beliefs/values.

    We try to have the kids ring reasonably regularly and we have a Facebook page set up purely for the family to be updated on the kids, get pics and communicate with them. Grandparents have recently allowed Dad to move in with them, and the phone calls/facebooks messages are consistently on the theme of what a great guy their dad is, posting pictures of him to their wall etc. This is upsetting the kids, because they feel like their grandparents believe Dad over them and won't listen to them when they say they don't want to talk to or about them. Polite messages sent asking them to focus purely on their relationship with the boys and leave their Dad out of it, have been met with hostility. Kids no longer want to call grandparents, and we are not sure what to do.

    Do we continue to strongly encourage them call/maintain that relationship or do we allow them to withdraw from individuals that are invalidating their trauma and disrespecting their boundaries? We have maintained contact with siblings, which is what seems to be most important for the kids, including visits, FaceTime, Facebook ect. We had planned a trip back to original state with the kids this year to visit grandparents, but are now uncertain, as they can't stay with grandparents due to Dad being there anyway, and it's an expensive trip to undertake if the grandparents are going to continue to shove the 'idea' of Dad in their face and upset them.

    As we understand it from our previous legal advice, we are not legally obligated to do any of this. But we, a) want to do what is best for the kids, b) don't want to give BD a reason to drag us back to court even though it has no merit and would be thrown out, c) throw more money at a lawyer, as the previous years of court have impacted us greatly, and d) want to let the kids move on as the anxiety of being caught up in the court process has taken its toll.

    What would you do to cover your bases of family law? Would you continue to encourage the relationship, but try and put former boundaries down? And if we did reduce contact, and BD tried to take it to court, what are the chances he would succeed in bringing new proceedings, given that it was not a clause in the order, but an intention (judge was specific about that, because he wasn't keen on it being there at all, as it is 'unenforceable' and it is part of the orders that Dad can't bring further court action without the Court's prior approval'?
     
  2. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    How old are the kids?

    I'd write a very carefully worded email, run it past a few folk here and possibly even waste the grand on a solicitor for their advice.

    Dear Grandparents,

    I have noticed a few posts on the Facebook page that related to the children's father. I am very keen on maintaining the children's relationship with their grandparents. However, I have some concerns about the references to their father on the Facebook page. Please stop making references to the father in future communications.

    Kind Regards



    Ok, so you've sorta done that already... Make sure there is a solid paper trail, 3 months worth...

    Then cease all contact. Do you really think they're gonna get a court to look at this again? No chance...

    So If they refuse, then cease all contact... Just for 6 months... then maybe contact them and ask if they would like to resume contact but without reference to the father.
     
  3. Movingon

    Movingon Member

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    Kids are 12 and 14. That's essentially almost word for word the Facebook message that I sent, which resulted in a message back from grandma calling me cruel and telling me I was keeping the kids from her and ruined her Mother's Day. (Unfortunate timing, message was sent a week prior but she didn't read it, so when she put another post referencing Dad on their Facebook page, she was told to please check messages). No acknowledgement of the request to stop pushing Dad on to them or agreement that she would not. Haven't respond to her message.

    So I guess I'll leave it and see whether anymore posts crop up, and if they do, just let her know we are ceasing contact until the boys request it, which would be helped by her not posting pics and messages about their Dad on Facebook and see where it goes from there.

    Don't really care what she thinks of us, as long as she isn't disparaging us to the kids or pushing their dad in their face. So I don't really see the need to respond to her tantrum, if she actually starts doing the right thing by the kids.

    Would prefer not to use any more money on lawyers unless we absolutely have to, as the last few years have tapped us financially, and we are just getting to the point where we can afford to spend our money on extracurriculars, experiences and trips for the kids rather than lawyers, therapists and family reports. But we will if we have to.

    Have screen shots of the messages and posts on facebook and will start keeping a journal again to keep track of any incidents during phone calls. We learnt that through the last court process... document the hell
    out of everything, even if it seems insignificant, because things can be twisted. Already on guard about that, because the last photo she commented on why 12yo always looks so sad? They were photos taken with the sun in his eyes, plus he is 12 so not the biggest fan of photos anyway, but he'd had an awesome day out... would not be surprised if that was an angle though. During court process dad tried to claim 12yo had asked him to help him and that he wanted to see him, ICL investigated, spoke to child (who hadn't spoken to Dad in 18 months and had no desire to), turns out apparently he had seen 12yo crossing the street one day and he had asked him 'with his eyes' by he knew what he meant because that's his son... sigh.
     
  4. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member
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    No. An undertaking is a promise to the court and can be enforced.

    Question here is will a court enforce the undertaking and I can't comment except to say you appear to have a valid reason not keeping the promise.
     
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  5. SamanthaJay

    SamanthaJay Well-Known Member

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    Can you contact the grandmother another way, rather than facebook messaging? I find it's not particularly reliable due to many reasons. Email or snail mail might be more predictable.
     
  6. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Can you please us to the law that says undertakings are enforceable? In my many years of studying and working in law, I can’t say I’ve ever known undertakings to be enforceable by the Court...
     
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  7. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member
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    Strange, Constitutional Law is part of the Priestly 11.

    I also take it you have not read the signature panel used on a family court undertaking form. Check that out and post back if you are still uncertain.
     
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  8. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    I stand corrected.
     
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  9. Movingon

    Movingon Member

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    I'm perhaps using the wrong term, I'll have to dig up the orders and check. Basically it was an addendum at the end of the orders, that verified our intent to make a reasonable effort to maintain contact between the children and the paternal side of the family. The Judge insisted if it was to be in the parenting agreement (and he wasn't really keen on it, as it wasn't legally enforceable, too vague (what is reasonable? and the grandparents were not a party to the proceedings/their suitability for contact with the children had not been tested in court, so he could not make orders for time with them, that was a decision for the parent with parental responsibility) that it not be in the orders, but just a kind of statement of intent at the end. We agreed because it was what the dad insisted on to agree to the orders, and otherwise we would have had to go through with trial. This was butted out the evening before first day of trial, as Legal said did not want to go to trial for Dad and Judge said it needed to be agreed upon and accepted by him by 5pm or trial would proceed. We didn't care because we were prepared to go trial, and other than this, we had everything we wanted in the Parenting Agreement, which likely would have been the same through trial, but no guarantee.
     
  10. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    A notation, most likely.

    I understand the judge’s reluctance to make time with the paternal family into any kind of discernible orders, especially if they weren’t parties to the proceedings. The judge would expect the paternal family to get their own parenting orders, and rightfully so.

    Notations are not enforceable, but your treatment of same would likely come up if the paternal grandparents were to seek parenting orders of their own.

    My view? Ask yourself which is better - trying to prevent more Court action that may never come to pass anyway, or doing what you believe is best for your kids?

    I’m a big believer in not planning for Court proceedings that aren’t already on foot.
     
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