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VIC Family Law - What to Do to See Son?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Saddad, 10 September 2016.

  1. Saddad

    Saddad Member

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    Hi, I'm just after some help, please. I'm out of my depth.

    This story starts like all good ones do.

    I met a girl on Tinder. She wasn't for me but she got pregnant. I've always wanted kids but not like this. So I went through the crapper for the next 9 months. She has 2 other free range kids, on the pension and in a commission home. I don't judge so I soldiered on hoping to make it work for my new family and I.

    It's seems she has underlying mental health issues and even her family warned me. It's been hard and amazing at the same time. I now have a beautiful 11-month-old son who I've looked after primarily while she was working. I lost my job, all my money and now I'm on the bones of my ass; she kicked me out.

    She lives in Perth and I'm originally from Melbourne. I only went to Perth for work, never planned to live there. So now I'm with my family in Melb. She says I can only visit him one day at a time? Surely he is allowed to come to Melbourne for a couple of weeks so he can get to know his other family, then I take him home. Is that not right?

    I'm more than capable of looking after him and I know he misses me in the chaos of 3 kids and a bipolar mother. She's impossible to talk to so I kinda need some direction if you have some for me.

    I'm just a Brickie, left school at 15. I wouldn't know what steps to take from here, it's all too much but I know my son needs me. I need to do something but what?


    Please reply. I need all the family law help I can get!!

    Thanks
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    First, Legal Aid offers free legal advice for family law matters and you may also be eligible for funding, so contact them for a chat.

    Now, the parenting matter.

    I won't go into the legal side too much, since you're probably a long way off actually going to Court at this point. The first step in resolving this dispute, however, is to contact a dispute resolution service - Relationships Australia or Legal Aid, usually - to organise a family dispute resolution conference with your ex.

    The purpose of the conference is to try and negotiate care arrangements for the child so the child can have a meaningful relationship with both parents. If you can agree, the arrangements can be made up into a parenting plan and then consent orders (meaning they become enforceable by the Court), or if you can't reach agreement, you will receive a certificate that enables you to file for parenting orders through the Court.

    One of the matters you should consider when negotiating care arrangements is the child's age. If the Court were to decide this matter, the child being only 11 months of age would make it reluctant to facilitate overnight time in a foreign city of a significant distance away from the primary attachment figure (namely the mother). This isn't a reflection of you as a parent or gender bias or anything else; it's a reflection of psychology studies on attachment theory that show children of very young ages experience distress and anxiety when away from their main carer for longer than they are accustomed to.

    The other thing is that you decided to move away from the child, so it's you who is going have to accommodate that situation, rather than expect the child to accommodate it instead. You should expect to travel to see the child intermittently, rather than expect the child to travel to you for days at a time when he is so young.

    Ordinarily, I would pitch the argument for shorter contact periods more frequently, but since you're dealing with the tyranny of distance, you should probably expect to travel to spend time with the child once or twice a month for a weekend until the child is a) old enough to be comfortable spending longer periods away from mum, and b) comfortable spending overnight time in your care, such that the child can travel to you for school holiday periods and the like. Usually, this kind of comfort is associated with children of around 3+ years of age, but it depends on the child's development and relationship with you, rather than just age.

    It's important that you let go of hang-ups about the mother, as most your complaints and criticisms, rather than actual issues. As an example, the mother having two other kids in her care is more likely to benefit her case than damage it - those are your son's siblings, and it shows the mother as a parent has already been tested. Likewise, it doesn't matter that the house she lives in is a commission house. They have shelter, and she's obviously making it all work for the benefit of her kids. You're also not an expert on personality disorders, so it doesn't do well to speculate as such.

    By letting go of these petty criticisms, you will enable the child to grow up in a conflict-free environment, which is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your son.
     
  3. Matthew Lynch

    Matthew Lynch Lawyer

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    Hi Mate

    Your situation is unfortunate but more common than you would think.

    If you are on a low income you should qualify for legal aid. I would recommend contacting them.

    If you can't agree on when and where the child can see you then you need to file an application for parenting orders in the federal circuit court. I would recommend doing this as soon as possible.

    You are still able to agree on a parenting arrangement after you file your application. Here is a link to the form:
    Initiating Application Kit (do it yourself kit) - Family Court of Australia
     
  4. Matthew Lynch

    Matthew Lynch Lawyer

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    But yes as Allforher states you must contact Relationships Australia first to attempt mediation.
     
  5. Saddad

    Saddad Member

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    Thanks for the replies!

    I'll get onto legal aid as soon as possible.

    The attachment theory, would that mean it's always the mother? I spent everyday and night for 11 months with him, feeding, cleaning, bathing, rocking him to sleep for hours. Since I've left she said he has gone from 3 naps a day to 1. He won't sleep unless I'm pretending to be asleep next to him. She looked after her children and I looked after mine. And yes that was a cause of major conflict between us.

    So I suppose none of that is taken in consideration?

    It's really hard not to criticise someone when they are holding apart of your heart for ransom.

    There is no way I can afford 800 a month to fly there and back. And only see him for a day? That's more traumatic than not seeing me I would of thought. Go there, argue with her for a bit, leave my son crying, then fly home.

    This is so hard.

    It's crap, equal rights my ass. I am more maternal than she will ever be. But can I prove that?

    In these matters do they take into account the other children's mental health, the fact she smokes pot, the fact she can't afford food.

    Sorry if it sounds offensive but it's been good to vent.
     
  6. Corinne

    Corinne Well-Known Member

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    The only way to obtain quality time with your son and continue to be a part of his life will be to move back there and commence proceedings for regular access.

    Unfortunately, there's not a lot you can do for him sitting on the other side of the country.

    If you can't afford the travel, get rid of the distance.
     
    Saddad likes this.

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