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QLD No Communication About Children Despite Consent Orders

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Frazzledmum, 26 August 2014.

  1. Frazzledmum

    Frazzledmum Member

    26 August 2014
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    Consent orders in place since 2010 with ex husband to see children every 2nd weekend & 1/2 school holidays. Consent orders also stipulate that we are to keep each other informed / consulted about issues impacting the children and specify particular situations.

    This calendar year I have sent 7 x items of correspondence to my ex (all relating to the children): 3 x about eldest requiring braces and seeking input to the decision making process / 1 x providing children's report cards / 2 x medical issues with kids that impacted the kids for the weekend they were about to spend with him / 1 x advising it was ok for him to call our home phone if he couldn't get hold of the kids on their designated mobile phone number.

    Yesterday, I received a letter from his solicitor advising that he considers this level of communication to be unnecessary and that I should only contact him in cases of emergency, and if it is a medical emergency, that the medical practitioner should be the only one contacting him! I believe that this is requesting that I breach the terms of the consent orders.

    I requested a mediation with him about other issues last year and he refused to participate - I don't believe that the answer would be any different if I called for mediation again now. In fact, the letter specifically prevents me from providing his contact details to a 3rd except in the case of an emergency, so I wouldn't even be able to provide his details to a mediator!

    This letter also stipulated a visitation calendar for 2015 which I have been given no opportunity to provide input to. He has reduced the amount of time that he sees the kids to 53 nights in the year (conveniently above the 52 night threshold for paying more child support).

    The kids don't enjoy visiting him as his new wife is very nasty both to them and also towards me even though we have never even been introduced.

    I am absolutely at my wits end about what to do in this circumstance. Do I just send all information relating to the children (e.g. school reports, medical information, etc.) to his solicitor? How should I proceed??
  2. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

    16 July 2014
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    Hi Frazzledmum,

    Has your ex husband actually breached any specific provisions of the custody agreement/consent order? Is you ex husband no longer seeing the children every second weekend and 1/2 of the holidays?

    Does the custody agreement specify what types of communication should be communicated to each other about the children? Are you worried that you cannot get this information through to your ex husband and therefore fear breach of the consent order? Or are you concerned that your ex husband is keeping information about the children from you about which you would like to know?
  3. Frazzledmum

    Frazzledmum Member

    26 August 2014
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    He only sees the boys about once a month and is trying not to see them for 1/2 school holidays - but I have been told that is not a "breach" of the orders - he is just not taking advantage of the time that is available to him. As for specific breaches of the orders, I believe he has breached the provision that we have about "speaking respectfully of the other parent........... and not discussing parental relationship issues with the children......... and attending joint counselling"

    Yes, our consent orders specify that the other parent shall be kept informed / properly consulted about issues including 1. medical / health matters affecting the children; 2. matters relating to the children's education including provision of school reports (among others). The only times I have communicated with him have been in relation to these types of matters. He refuses to communicate with me on any level (ie I received no response to any of the communication items that I initially listed). He expects the kids (aged 10 & 7) to be the message carriers which their counsellor and I both agree is unacceptable. He has his home email account configured so that any email from me gets sent to his spam / junk.

    My concerns are that he is trying to prevent me from providing information about the children to him, which not only would breach the consent orders, but also would mean that I cannot be sure that he is caring for them properly when they are visiting him. Also, by only communicating with him (or his solicitor) in emergency situations, this will effectively prevent me from trying to discuss potential schooling changes with him - but I am sure he would have something to say if I changed the boys school and he wasn't consulted about it!

    He needs to be aware of medical issues for which the children require treatment but he clearly does not want to know. On the last weekend visit, my 10yo actually self-medicated his anti-biotics, because he thought his dad would get angry if he asked for his help!

    It is frustrating that I am only trying to do the best for my kids and he doesn't seem to care what is going on with them, so long as it doesn't cost him any more money. He has never spoken to the kid's teachers or taken part in any parent teacher interviews etc. His actions make it blatantly clear (and my eldest is starting to realise it as well) that he doesn't really want to be a part of their lives (but he would deny this if asked). I don't believe he is keeping information from me - he doesn't see them often enough for there to be anything of relevance anyway. My kids always tell me about anything that happens at his place anyway.

    I guess I am just frustrated and am trying to figure out how to respond to this letter.
  4. Victoria S

    Victoria S Well-Known Member

    9 April 2014
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  5. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

    23 July 2014
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    I feel there's a few things that should be addressed here.

    It's an idea to take this in perspective.

    The 'breaches' you have listed are very much a tit-for-tat argument that won't hold much weight in court, and might even lead to a proverbial rap across the knuckles for being petty. Basically, if you are seen to be taking minor issues to court, it will backfire because you will be seen as the parent determined to prolong conflict.

    Realistically, the only person you are responsible for in terms of ensuring the incidental orders are upheld, is YOU. If YOU speak respectfully to the other parent, you have done your part. If YOU are keeping the kids out of it, you have done your part. As for joint counselling - well, I'm not sure what this is about. Is it joint counselling with you? Or is it joint counselling with the kids?

    In any case, he's the one with a solicitor, so if he wants to file a contravention about communication, let him. Just don't be the instigator, because the only real breach a court might afford its precious time and energy to deal with, is if one stops facilitating the kids' time with the other parent.

    Your only responsibility is to send the information in the first place. Once it exits your hands, it's up to him what he does with it.

    Yes, I get that this is frustrating - your kids are exiting your care for a time and you want to make sure they are cared for properly - but you will find that even though it's nice to at least be acknowledged (let's face it, nobody likes to feel ignored), most communication between parents doesn't require a lot of dialogue. What further information do you need from the ex after sending the kids report card?

    In my circumstances, we receive a lot of communication from my partner's ex-wife about the child, most of which is good information, but it rarely warrants a response. Out of courtesy, my partner will say 'thanks for letting me know' but this tends to invite more conversation...and unfortunately, that conversation generally includes a lot of telling my partner how to parent. The result is just less communication because otherwise, it just leads to unnecessary conflict.

    Try and consider what's important when you communicate, and if you really *need* a response, or if you just *want* a response, because once you give him information, it's up to him what he does with it.

    Don't let this become a concern, until it IS a concern. As I said above, all you have to do is fulfil YOUR role in the orders - send the kids, send the information, that's that. You can literally just ignore his solicitor until he lodges an application of any kind to the court - the letters he sends are not binding. They're just intimidatory to try and get you to act, but you don't have to until he does. Let HIM lodge an application if he wants, but if you follow the orders and do what YOU are supposed to do, it won't even be a concern.

    When you communicate about major long-term decisions, like the example you gave of changing schools, consider how you frame your communication and place the ball in his court. "I am intending on enrolling the kids in [school x] from [date y]. I am happy to discuss this further or negotiate different options if it does not suit you, so please feel free to contact me via [contact method z]." That way, if he decides not to contact you to help make that decision, then it's his choice.

    Mm, not really true. *You* need to make him aware of medical issues for which the children require treatment. How he then uses that information is his choice - if he doesn't want to know, unfortunately, that's that. Yes, this is crap when you're a parent. You don't want your kids to be sick. But ultimately, is it going to lead to permanent, long-term harm? Probably not. They might just stay ill for an extra day or two.

    As I said, yes, it is unbelievably difficult to understand how this is okay - but the courts would give him a reprimand, but ultimately probably say it's okay.

    Look, to be frank - it sounds like the co-parenting relationship between you and your ex is so difficult that you really don't have solid insight into what it's like at dad's house. You are likely making assumptions drawn from emotion, not logic. You might *feel* like you're the only one trying to do the best for your kids, but you don't *know* that because you have such difficulty communicating about it.

    He has never spoken to the kids' teachers - are they doing poorly? If not, then he's probably seen it on the report cards and feels it's unnecessary to talk to the teachers.

    He has never attended a parent/teacher interview - are you in attendance? It sounds like he doesn't want much to do with you, so of course, he's probably going to avoid you and the conflict that he fears might arise from it.

    His actions are making it blatantly clear that he doesn't want to be a part of their lives? I think the case may be that he doesn't want to be a part of *your* life. He has consent orders to spend time with them and does so regularly...that doesn't sound like a man disinterested in being a part of his kids' lives.

    I feel what you may have here is a matter of emotional conflict, not legal conflict. I might even suggest doing a parenting orders program to get the insight of people in your position, and in your ex's position so that you have a better idea of what might just be going on.

    Anyway, apologies for not giving much legal insight. I hope you might take some new perspective on the matter, in any case.

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