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QLD Family Law - Wife Took Off With My Daughter - What to Do?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Temujin, 22 November 2015.

  1. Temujin

    Temujin Active Member

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    Hi. Being a Sunday, I am out of luck with any help anywhere, so found this forum, and figured I would both try my luck for now, and as a future reference since it appears law advice is what I will need in the immediate future.

    This will be a 2 part question, and you will know more about me than my mother by the end of it.

    In basic form:
    We have been living together, but basically separated, without it being official. We have no consent orders, and we have 1 child together, an amazing 2-year-old girl that creates happiness wherever she goes.

    Due to our financial position, I have been working late nights, and Friday nights. I worked til about 4 am, and I woke at 10 am and nobody was home. Usually, my girl will wake me up for snuggles, but not that day.

    I text her an hour later asking where my girl was. She was not answering her phone. 7 hours later, she messaged me saying she was gone, and I couldn't see my girl again until mediation, which she apparently rang up family relationships to organise, but of course, outside hours so I can't find out if that is even true til tomorrow.

    There are no domestic violence issues, at least that I am willing at this stage to divulge (what I mean is none from me but don't want to go down that route for her yet), the only issue was where my daughter would stay when her mother left, with her other 2 children.

    The other is, of course, asset splits.

    Here is our life.
    We were married 3 years ago. At the time, she was a single mother of 2, renting. She had no assets, and any furniture she had was bought by me before we got married. She had a wreck of a car that was picked up for free for scrap metal. Zero money, zero assets.
    I gamble for a living. When we were married, I had a house full of new furniture. Was in the area for just 18 months, and was renting a 350sqm house for 700 a week. I had a motorbike, 2 cars, houseful of furniture less than 2 years old, and around 70,000 in the bank.

    As a wedding present, my father took out a loan on our behalf, with a contract of sale for 1 dollar when the loan was paid off (as no bank would touch me without a "legitimate" income).
    My wife was around 4 weeks pregnant when we got married, and we "purchased" the house around a month later. When we did so, we sent all the furniture to the tip, or gave it away, and I purchased brand new furniture for the new house.

    During the time we were together, we were far outspending what I was now able to "make". Still made money for the whole time, but money dwindled away quickly. Now I have around 10% of what I had, and that includes leftovers from a further loan to do renovations and the leftover money. Since then, I sold my motorbike, and 1 of the cars also.

    She was on a legitimate Centrelink payment, of around 1100 per fortnight. Out of that, she basically bought food and smokes. No idea what else. I was left to cover the rest, mortgage, and all expenses outside of that. Mortgage, rego, insurance, rates, etc, and, of course, her speeding and parking fines, as the car is in my name.

    She basically was in charge of the kids while I was at work, or we both were. For much of the time, I only worked about 3.5-4 days a week, and mostly nights from 6-12 or so. She will argue she was in charge of all the housework and slaved away all day every day, but the reality is not much of it was ever done.

    During the time, she was in a custody dispute with her ex. This lasted most of our marriage, with her delaying, and dodging. During this time she built up a 14,000 legal bill before I had to pull the pin as it was about to break "us". I, of course, paid that bill.

    So the whole time we have been together, she has supplied the family with food, and clothes, and herself cigarettes. Also for the last month or 2 petrol, as I flat out refused since I hardly even use the car and felt she was taking the piss by not helping out with expenses. She also gets child support. So basically, an income of around 635 a week. Payments specifically for the raising of her children.

    Point being, I have paid for pretty much everything, lost everything I had when we started, and she came into this with absolutely nothing. She did, of course, do around 6 weeks work. A home based business, which of course I set up for her, another few thousand. The money from that, certainly didn't go towards any expenses, and I was in full control of the house and kids, whilst still having to try and make 1400 a week to cover expenses.

    Our marriage has been pretty much a sham from the start. She was never prepared to let me in as a full member of her family, as a result our agreed parenting plan was always overridden by her through her guilt issues of her kids not still being with their dad. Created a full us against him scenario, so I was left just trying to make enough money to get us all by. Even to the point she would actively tell her kids not to listen to anything I say because I am a fat useless****. To an 8 and 6-year-old. Hmmm

    Either way, that is now done, and good. She has told me for 12 months that she wanted to leave, and I have welcomed the idea. I said my baby girl is staying, as when we got married and found out she was pregnant, this house was to become her future. She is leaving, and has no extra rights to take my girl out of her home, but now that she has, it appears I have no rights.

    Of course, I have the right to do as she has done, if given the opportunity, but short of ruining any case I have right now, I would never get the chance because I am not sneaky and devious.

    I have lived this through her ex for 3 years at how she plays dangle the child and get him angry, and I have no intention of allowing that to happen.

    What are my options? Until the court tells me I don't (which they won't), I have equal rights to time with my daughter, and she has zero reasons to withhold her from me.

    She is taking the stand that until the courts decide, I won't get any time with my girl. But for her to do that, means she needs to prove that she was worried in some way about my interactions with my girl.

    I have no idea where she is. There are 2 options that stick out. With her mother, who has basically represented herself as "sorting out" one of her exes, and needed to be talked out of organising another, or her best friend, who is in a women's refuge hiding in a house that she gave her address to her ex, who claimed he was going to butcher her, and everybody she knows.

    There really isn't much upside in either, but would side with her mother, who at least when wifey goes out on the drink and doesn't come home until sometime the next day, they will be looked after.

    I always wanted to keep this civil. I understand both parents have rights. My only statement to her was that my daughter would never grow up thinking I abandoned her or gave up on her.

    I understand the longer this drags out, the less hope I have for anything, so I want to get this sorted now. At the moment, I have the only house she has even known, and wifey has them presumably staying either in a 2 bedroom unit with 5 people, or a 4 bedroom refuge house, with a woman and her 4 kids, so 2 adults and 7 kids.

    We really don't have much left to divide up, and I feel as this has only been 3 years, most of which was done out of loyalty to the children, and everything we had came from me, that I should get the better end of the stick in property settlement?

    In regards to my daughter, I am not entirely sure what to do. It took the system 9 months for her ex to serve her papers just to get a family court date, 3 months later. By that time, of course, contact has been so little, that he had no chance but to build up contact from scratch. I have no intention of letting that happen.

    Since she has made her intentions clear that she has left the home, does that mean even though she was here as of yesterday morning if I happen to get my girl home, can I refuse her entry? Nothing is in her name, and she made it clear she was gone, never to return. Right? Of course no idea how I can get my girl home, but if I do?

    What are my steps under Family Law?

    I really have no desire to make this messy, but feel that is her intentions. I know from experience that once you have put in an application, with an affidavit, that is pretty much the bones of your case. If I do that in a civil way, then it restricts me from proposing anything else, as if it were true, I would have put it in originally. Right?

    I am certainly not going to sit around waiting for her to do anything. I haven't seen my girl in 2 days. For the first time ever. I have no desire to go another day without her just because her mother decides that is what she wants.

    Mediation as far as I am aware is really nothing to do with anything. If we agree, then interim orders can be made, at least describing visits, but that needs to be agreed between both parties. Right now, I don't have my daughter, and my wife does. She has all the power, and if we don't agree to anything, all that happens is we get a certificate saying we both undertook mediation. Then we wait to go to court, and I still can't see my girl.

    3 months best bet to get a court case, means even though I have equal rights right now, I am not allowed to see my girl for 3 months? Wifey has made it quite clear she won't let me until a court decides. She won't respond to me, her mother won't respond to me, and her friends won't respond to me.

    So outside of simply bending over and copping it, what exactly do I do?
     
  2. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Stay calm. Mate, it would be really easy to go and take the child or make threats or whatever but that will harm your cause in the long run.

    So start planning... What sort of time do you want with your child and work towards making that your primary goal... So call relationships Australia and ask if they have heard from your ex. They might still be in the process... so can't tell you anything... That being the case, start organising it.

    Do not contact the ex except maybe for 1 text message saying that you'd like to be able to see the child for XX time until mediation can be sorted. Don't get caught up in a text message war. Your job is to pour ice over this situation and cool things down. Do not cause conflict, do not argue...

    It is a long and painful process. You have a rough path ahead. Make sure you do nothing that will make it worse.

    The only other thing you could do is ask the police to do a welfare check on the ex and your daughter, but all they will do is contact her and ask her if she is ok. Then get back to you and say that she said she is ok... So what have you achieved? You might piss her off because you called the cops on her.

    Stay calm
     
  3. Corinne

    Corinne Well-Known Member

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    Hey,

    If you still don't know where your ex is with your daughter, you should apply for a Location Order or Recovery Order ASAP.

    Recovery orders - Family Court of Australia

    She's not allowed to bail and leave you in the dark.

    Good luck!
     
  4. Temujin

    Temujin Active Member

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    Hi. Thanks for the responses.

    I have managed to gain a few different opinions from legal professionals who have all given me the advice to stay calm as it is a long road ahead,

    That wasn't acceptable to me, so I organised mediation through a private mediator/psychologist/counsellor. This was done on Thursday. She got in contact with my "ex" that same day, and requested an email address to send the information, and stated mediation would be done asap with the "free service" that normally people get sent down currently had a 3 month waiting period.

    By Tuesday, ie day 11, she received no email address, and the "ex" claimed she was going to seek legal advice and get in touch in a couple of weeks.

    At this point, I received confirmation that there was a certificate waiting for me stating that I was unable to do FDR due to the other party being unwilling.

    I received that on Wednesday, ie day 12, and finalised forms.

    Day 13, I was at the court, with all documents and filed.

    I went and gave initiating application, notice of risk, mediation certificate, recovery order. I also requested an urgent appeal for a hearing ex parte.

    I received confirmation on day 14, that this request had been granted and I now have a court date on the 14th of December.

    I text my "ex" this morning, to request her address as I would have documents sent to me soon, and if she would like a copy, I would happily serve them to her, otherwise court is on the 14th, and they don't care if she is there or not, and doesn't expect her to have received the service documents.

    I have not heard anything of her yet and assume her phone number to be changed.

    So day 23 I will be up standing in court, and get to fight my case. Which I assume, is already half fought since they have all my information already.

    It will be a tough final 8 or so days waiting for this, but this is about as good as I could hope for outside the obvious.

    At this point, I feel I have done everything in my power, short of searching every house in the area I suspect her to be, and the courts appear at least to be willing to give me a fighting chance.
     
  5. Corinne

    Corinne Well-Known Member

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    Your perseverance is admirable and I'm sure when your daughter is old enough she'll be grateful for the lengths you went to, to ensure her relationship with her dad.

    My partner's court date is in march for his son.

    Good luck! Let us know how you go :)
     
  6. Temujin

    Temujin Active Member

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    Thanks. It has been tough. Everywhere you turn, everybody tells you, you have no hope. The lawyers I saw all told me I was wasting my time. They said ex parte? lol, no chance.

    When I was handing in the files to court, she looked at me like the enemy, and said what is this? You have no hope, but I will show the relevant people anyway.

    Nobody will fight for my little girl like her daddy, and for that reason, I will go it alone. Out of the 4 lawyers I saw, none of them would have gone down this route, and all suggested to sit tight for a few months, and then I would get my weekends with my girl...

    I am no Sunday dad.

    I will of course keep updated, and bring in some good news in just over a week.
     
  7. Corinne

    Corinne Well-Known Member

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    Nice work. Your ex's complete unwillingness to cooperate pretty much ensures your daughter will be placed back into your care.

    The judge will know how to handle it. All the little minions underneath just don't want to do the paperwork.
     
  8. Temujin

    Temujin Active Member

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    Yeah, I sat in the court office for 2 and a half hours after I filed hoping the registrar would come down before they closed. They ended up having to kick me out, of course, nothing untoward, I was very patient and simply felt I would be waiting at home anyway, so wait there.
    Registrar didn't get to see it until the following day.

    I requested the same judge as her last case, but received a different one. But hopefully the documents I have pointed to will pay off, being a glowing report of me as a father in her sworn affadavit, and much the same in the family report for that case. There is also another issue that I will leave off here, but I am very much hoping her name comes up in that document, at which point, the case would be pretty close to being over already.

    Sorry, I am and have been sitting here alone for 2 weeks with basically zero support, so it is good to have correspondence with somebody. :)
     
  9. Corinne

    Corinne Well-Known Member

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    Hang in there, hopefully it will be over soon.

    If you feel like it's getting too much please reach out for support. There are several dad support groups in Australia that are easily accessible :)
     
  10. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Please keep us informed and I really do hope it works out for you. and you see your child before Christmas. But I want to give you some thoughts.

    Be cautious - Courts are slow. I've been involved with family law nonsense for a few years both personally and through helping others. I do hope you get arrangements sorted but in my experience you need to prepare yourself for a few disappointments along the way. I know you've already had the biggest - waking up to your kid not being there. I do understand.

    The other piece of advice is not legal advice at all. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF. Have a look at mensline, join a support group, plan stuff to do in your downtime. Boredom, loneliness and despair are nasty emotions, mix them all together and you've got a dangerous mix. Mate when I wasn't seeing my kids and I was seriously struggling, I got on my bike and went for a ride. IT wasn't long before I was riding 60-80 km and feeling physically fit helped with my head space.

    Do nothing stupid. Mate, you sound like a pretty level-headed bloke - If you stumble into a disappointment, by all means go out to the middle of nowhere and cry/ scream your lungs out. Then get back up and start planning the best strategic move to get the best long-term outcome for you and your child. In short play hard and play fair. The best way to do nothing stupid is to learn the rules of the game. Asking question here is a good start but get informed.... So let me give you a starting point.

    Have a read:
    Family Matters - Issue 88 - Shared care time | Australian Institute of Family Studies

    If you're in a rush then scroll down to where it says 'court data'

    You have mentioned that you're 'no Sunday dad'. Good. And guess what the world has moved on from dad getting every second weekend and half holidays - that document shows that you should not expect to be a Sunday dad. You should be expecting 4-5 nights a fortnight as a minimum...

    Next READ THIS -
    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/fla1975114/s65daa.html
    It is the legislation and it states that the magistrate MUST consider 50/50 shared care - That should give you cause to smile...
    And this
    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/fla1975114/s61da.html
    It is the legislation and it states that shared parental responsibility is presumed. That means both parents need to have the same rights in making decisions. Your ex has clearly made decisions about the child without even discussing them with you.... So you have everything on your side right now. So like I said before - don't do anything stupid that could change that around....
     

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