VIC Non-Custodial lodged Family Violence Intervention Order

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12 November 2019
Hi all,

Until late September, I was a custodial father to my kids with Autism for 8 years. Both have horrible sensory problems. Ex saw them once a fortnight and that was that. We have Consent Orders in place.

My eldest has been suicidal this year and we were getting him the therapy he needed. It was expensive but there were changes. Wife & I were also doing parenting courses to help with this (Tuning In To Teens - Highly recommended). I assume his school GP referred him to Child Protection.

They came out and talked to my kids and my step kids. My two boys both said I had been physically abusing them which was just plain wrong. Situations they gave from 2 years ago, I explained to DHHS that they were bum smacks and we have since stopped smacking bums, and their sensory issues would have made them seem worse. We offered them to speak to their Family Day Carer who could say the same thing, that even so much as touching them, they will yell "Stop hitting me!". These had also been documented in their psychologist reports when they had been assessed, and reassessed years later.

So with that, they had my boys removed. My step kids remained and they mentioned they had no concerns. My ex picked them up and then a week later, filed a Family VIolence Intervention Order. DHHS did not make any referrals either to the courts nor to anywhere else. We haven't heard from them since that day.

My ex lives across the state from me so pulled the boys out of school and placed them in a school close to her. She confiscated their phones after they messaged me (This was prior to me being served, or even being made aware of the FVIO) and I've had zero contact since. This was 6 weeks ago. I had to go on an urgent business trip to Singapore. I came back and told my ex that I wanted to see my kids. I was told that no, that wasn't going to happen but if I'd like to call them, I can do so in 14 days. What else could I do? I said yes. I asked her to place arrange more calls. She said "After the first one" and that if I asked again, she would report me to the police as breeching the FVIO (Even though she didn't take it out on herself)

We have our Hearing for the FVIO in mid January. The fact that it takes 3 months is ridiculous. I haven't talked to my kids. Their friends keep asking my step kids where they are, when they are coming back. Their psychologist hasn't heard a peep, received no request for their files. I haven't seen or heard from them and I have no idea what she's telling them.

My lawyer tells me that a Recovery Order will likely fail and the best thing to do is file an Application to the Court but I have read that as DHHS haven't closed the file, despite them not doing a damn thing since that day, the courts won't hear it. Would I be better to save my money and fight the FVIO first and THEN the custody? We obtained a recording of the case and she lied to the Magistrate about there being Consent Orders and the FVIO even says "Court Orders: NO" so clearly this was never checked and she lied to the Magistrate

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. It's a 2 pronged battle here and I want to do it right but have no idea how to handle it.

Thanks in advance
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