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VIC Family Law - Letting New Partner Meet My Children?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by mkr, 13 July 2016.

  1. mkr

    mkr Active Member

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    My ex-wife and I separated 2&1/2 years ago and divorced 1 year ago. Property settlement was finalised. When we separated, we lived in PNG. She returned to her hometown in Vic. I remained in PNG and travel to see our children as regularly as I can within my leave entitlements (about once every 2 months). The hildren are aged 7 and 4.

    I have a new partner who has a daughter and we are expecting a new child shortly.

    The issue I have is:

    - My ex-wife demands that I conduct visits only in her hometown. She states that she would maybe consider the children travelling to QLD to visit their grandparents, but has stated that she would not allow the children to have contact with my current partner or her child (well adjusted daughter aged 3).

    - Previously I tried to be very upfront and transparent about taking the step of my children meeting my new partner, but she then thwarted my plans for a visit and travel by advising she was then travelling on holidays (which didn't happen) and that the children would not be available at the planned time.

    Once she learns of any potential contact with my new partner, she is difficult and restrictive, citing "It is not in best interest of the children".

    I feel it is important for my children to know their father's family and I view them all as part of our family. They want to meet my new partner's daughter and also want to soon meet their new step-sibling which they are excited about. However, their Mother believes she has the right to decide if, when and where that will occur.

    We do not have family court orders for parenting. Things were reasonably amicable and workable within the limitations of our long distance apart (it was her choice to move to Victoria after separation) but I am finding things difficult now that I have a partner.

    My new partner is also part-PNG citizen and she uses terms like "half-caste kids" & "bush kanaka", etc. in conversation which I find offensive and not helpful.

    Finally, she does little as well to help with phone calls. She will stay at her parent's house for weeks on end (without advising) and when they are uncontactable. Mobiles switched off, and won't give me her parents' home number as 'they do not wish to talk to me'.

    I would like to be open with my ex-wife and am happy for her to know where the kids are, who they meet, etc. and to trust that they are cared for and in good company. I am not over-bearing or restrictive to her (she does what she likes).

    Am I right under Family Law in saying that it is my choice as to when and where the kids meet my new partner, her daughter, and their new step-sibling?

    Regards
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Yes, you are right in saying that when your child meets your partner is your decision, and the Court will agree, but without orders from the Court, there's nothing stopping your ex from doing whatever she wants.

    My opinion is to organise a family dispute resolution conference to discuss care arrangements for the children. If she refuses to attend or an agreement can't be reached, then you file for orders from the Court.

    Usually, a solid dose of legal advice will tell a difficult party that controlling behaviours don't form part of the parental relationship. Hopefully, your ex will get legal advice before family dispute resolution and come to the table with a sensible view on what could happen if she refuses to negotiate.
     
    SamanthaJay likes this.
  3. Danstar

    Danstar Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to say but your ex is just plain old jealous that you have moved on. Your best and only option (as it looks like you won't be able to sway you ex to allow visits with your new partner) is to go through Family Dispute Resolution and hope this works. If not, you may need to go to the courts for a judge to make a ruling.
     
  4. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Take her to court. You can't make her be reasonable but a magistrate might have a better chance...Sadly court orders can't make an unreasonable person be reasonable and even with court orders, there isn't much you can do. The fact is, you can get court orders that say that you talk to the kids at 6pm on Wednesday on Skype or phone... But if she chooses not to turn on the computer or phone, what then...

    She has no right to tell you who you can introduce the kids to. But again what to do about it? The answer - get court orders to ensure you have access to the kids during holidays, etc.

    Same applies to the language she chooses to use. My orders said something about not denigrating the other parent. Didn't stop her... And is it really worth going to court and wasting all that time and money?

    Pick your battles.

    So one more thing... Are you paying child support? I hope so. Are you paying for anything else? I hope not.
     
  5. mkr

    mkr Active Member

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    Thanks everyone for your help. Noting that I am not on unreasonable or illegal ground with my requests, I'll be clear and consistent in my expectations and proceed to Court if I need to. Secondary question: Do I need to use a Victorian court, just because she is in Victoria? Quite difficult (but not impossible) in my situation noting distance.

    Also, we have spousal and child support orders. I honour these despite the enforceability of these being questionable, noting that I am resident in PNG with no reciprocal agreement.

    Property settlement left her with most of our assets. For Child support: I pay $350 per week, per child for living expenses + full health insurance + all schooling/childcare costs.

    For Spousal support, wife receives full health insurance + $500 per week. Would I be on safe ground in ceasing payment of this? She argued for this settlement on the basis of not having reliable work, but since sign off has secured a full-time management role. Secure with assets/cash and debt free as an outcome from Property settlement.

    Thoughts?
     
  6. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Depends on the nature of the spousal support agreement. Is it registered with the Court? Or is it just an agreement you had written up between you?

    Assuming all of this falls under Australian jurisdiction, if it's the latter and the Court isn't involved, then yes, you can and perhaps should ceasing spousal maintenance payments and instead continuing only with the payment of child support. Let her pursue spousal maintenance herself if she wants it, since it is only by Court order that a party can be made to pay it (and it's a very difficult order to have made these days, anyway).

    What's the nature of your child support agreement? Binding or not? Is it through the Child Support agency, or simply an informal agreement between the two of you?

    Do you need to use a Victorian Court? Technically, no, but where else are you going to file? You're in PNG, so it's probably going to happen that the Court transfers proceedings to a Victorian-based federal Court anyway, since that's where at least one of the parties is based.
     
  7. mkr

    mkr Active Member

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    Hi AFH,.
    The agreements for Spousal support, child support and property settlement were developed by negotiation between us and then registered with the court (Family Law Court of Melbourne).

    The child support agreement was not through the CSA, but contained within the abovementioned Court Order.

    Thank you
     
  8. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Okay, so you're basically bound to the terms of the orders unless you apply and succeed in winning a stay of the agreement. Unfortunate, yes, but this is a consequence of such an agreement in circumstances where you can't predict what might happen or change in future.

    If you end up in Court for parenting matters, you may as well seek a stay of the financial agreement, too. I can't envision why anyone would agree to pay spousal maintenance to an ex when it's not an entitlement to begin with and will only be paid by order of the Court. I say that if an ex wants spousal support, make them go through all the expensive hoops to get it, since that's the only way they will get it unless the other party consents.

    Not helpful, I know, but you've got the raw end of the deal and I think there's merit to a case seeking to remove spousal support, especially since she's working, you're still paying $500 a week, and you're paying more than your share of child support costs.
     
  9. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Madness you must be a millionaire. I'd stop paying anything. Let her initiate court. At very least, you could pause payments until she changes her mind.
     
  10. mkr

    mkr Active Member

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    Thanks all for your help. Considering the agreement is tied up in a Court Order, and her Spousal support only has 6 months to run, I will probably see it through to completion. She is still playing hard-ball on trying to ensure my children do not meet my partner or their new sibling. This has included:

    - Demanding that I inform her of anywhere we go during visits. She informed me that a recent 90 min drive to visit Melbourne Zoo was 'grossly irresponsible'.

    - Advising that she decides which 'strangers' the children meet. I advised her that the only reason they are strangers to her is because she has attempted to put barriers in place to ensure that they remain strangers.

    Don't see this going anywhere fast. I see my options are:

    - Push the issue, and potentially end up in mediation or court.

    - Influence her to cooperate by taking the risk of ceasing her Spousal support.
    I do have issues personally with ceasing the spousal support. Although I feel a bit conned, I do have a belief that I should honor my commitments... ie: I signed up to paying it (good advice or otherwise) so a person of good character should continue to do so?

    Thankyou,
     

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