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QLD Family Law on Communications Between Parents About Children?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by AnnaLee, 11 September 2016.

  1. AnnaLee

    AnnaLee Member

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    My partner and his ex-wife live in separate states (his choice). He isn’t able to see the children much as it's expensive and he needs to work to support our family. He Facetimes once a week with the kids. The eldest is nearly 4 and 1.5.

    As the distant parent, is she obligated to send him weekly updates and advised what the children have been doing? Most of the time, she does this once a week but refuses to explain exactly what the kids have done, what activities they have participated in. She says whilst the kids are in her care, she doesn’t owe him explanations as to what they do during the day. All she will say is basic stuff about their health, doctor appointments they have attended, a general update that the one child is doing well in day care if we are lucky she will advise feedback the teachers have given and perhaps they went to play park or a push bike ride very basic information about their activities. And she will send maybe 2 photos.

    We feel that she should be giving more details about what the kids have been doing and more photos. Do we have a leg to stand on to ask for more?

    Of late the weekly updates are now turnings into 2 weekly updates? We again brought this up with her she said she said she works and is too busy to be thinking to send him updates every 5 minutes and that he speaks to them once a week he can ask the eldest if he really wants to know.

    Is she failing to meet her obligations to encourage a relationship between the dad and kids by not sending these updates and photos?

    They have been through a few months of mediation however these smaller details were not discussed and put into the parenting plan.

    And lastly, she is now also refusing to be apart of the Facetime, she no longer sits with the children while they do it. It will either be her sister or brother who will hold the baby and iPhone to talk to him. My partner is uncomfortable talking to the kids in front of the sister or brother. When he asks them what the kids have been doing, they will tell him to contact the mother as it's not their business they are just there to facilitate the Facetime. Is this wrong under family law?

    We have discussed this with her she refuses to budge.

    Cheers.
     
  2. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    You're not gonna like my answer....

    Look family law does not make any clear guidelines about this stuff. So no she has no obligation. Without court orders, she really has no obligation at all. So if she wanted to cancel the facetime / phone calls, she could...

    Now let's pretend she has court orders that say she must tell you stuff. Well, what if she decides not to...what then? Nothing. So legally you're on a hiding to nothing.

    I'm sorry my opinion isn't very happy. I hope someone can give you a better / happier opinion.
     
  3. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    I'm inclined to agree with @sammy01.

    No orders means no obligations, but even if there were orders, the Court doesn't make orders for micro-management of parenting matters. There are a few matters in which parents are expected to consult and make a joint decision on as part of their shared parental responsibility, but the sorts of issues you're talking about are day-to-day decisions, which are the sole responsibility of the parent with whom the children are spending time. Fundamentally, mum has to contact your partner about major medical interventions, education decisions, religious affiliation, major relocation and change of name, but everything else is optional.

    When it comes to encouraging and supporting the children's relationship with their father, that's about ensuring they're available to spend time with him as agreed, and ensuring they're available to communicate with him as agreed, without interference and without denigrating him to the kids. It doesn't mean weekly updates between the parents about their daily activities. If dad wants to know those things, he's going to have to ask the kids, without prying into the mother's private life, what they've been up to during his phone contact with them. As for their educational updates and the like, he really should be contacting their providers directly, rather than just expecting mum to put in the hard yards to accommodate his decision to relocate away from the kids.

    Now, for perspective, my partner has gone to great lengths to make sure her daughter's mother isn't included in his communication with the child, because previously, she was prone to interfering - she would answers questions for her, tell her what to say, and distract her. The bottom line is that it's her responsibility to make sure the kids are available to talk. It's not her responsibility to ensure those phone calls are meaningful for the kids. That's your partner's job.
     
  4. AnnaLee

    AnnaLee Member

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    Well that's a disappointing answer for my partner and me, but if I step back and look at it I guess it makes sense. I guess all we can do is try to appeal to her nicer side and hope she will be willing try make more effort.

    I thank you both Sammy and AllForHer for your time and help.
     
  5. AnnaLee

    AnnaLee Member

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    Hello again.

    Does it make a difference if the eldest child's (the child needs a 2nd round of grommets) speech is delayed and there if often a communication barrier between dad and the child as he doesn't talk too much. He tries to but we can't make sense of most of the words? Based on that, should the mother be sending more updates on what the children are doing during the week?

    We brought this up with her last night and her answer was that we need to listen more carefully as she has no trouble understanding 70% of what he says. We asked for something more than that. They have been to the play park and day care to engage the child in conversation as we are sick of the child only speaking for 5 mins tops and leaves.

    Is it normal for a child to lose interest in talking to their dad after 5 mins? Some weekends, the child might only talk for 2 mins and runs off. We can often hear the mother say, "no, go back and talk to your father for longer. Tell him about blah blah blah".

    The child screams no, and she will say, "well, at least say goodbye dad, blow a kiss and then you can go". We don't feel like that's a good enough attempt in encouraging the child to talk to dad by giving up like that?

    Are we wrong?

    Thank you again
     
  6. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    You need to change your mindset.

    Mum is not responsible for the quality of the kids' relationship with dad. The extent of her obligation is to ensure the kids have the opportunity to have a relationship with dad, but that's it, and it sounds to me like she is doing exactly that. Beyond that, it's entirely up to dad to ensure the relationship with his kids is a good one.

    Instead of expecting mum to work miracles with the child's speech delay, dad really needs to take responsibility for working out what the child is saying for himself. Mum had to work it out, and dad isn't an exception.

    I think dad maybe also should do a child consultation with Relationships Australia so he can learn some developmental basics that will help him understand his kids' needs at their respective ages. For example, no four-year-old is going to enjoy long phone conversations because it's neither interesting nor fun at that age to simply sit, listen and talk. They need visual stimulation at that age. The child would probably benefit more if dad were to read a book to the child or draw pictures together via Skype. Think about ways to make those phone calls interesting for the child, but do that yourselves, rather than expecting mum to do it for you.

    To me, it sounds like mum has been more generous than perhaps most parents would be in such circumstances, but your expectations of the mother far exceed what a Court would consider reasonable. As I said, mum is not responsible for the kids' having a good relationship with dad. That's dad's job, so he needs to find what works for him as a parent, rather than expecting mum to do all that for him.
     

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