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WA Son's Grandmother Requested Mediation - What to Do?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by alice_iw, 8 September 2015.

  1. alice_iw

    alice_iw Member

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    I have looked through quite a few threads on this topic but didn't find a similar situation.

    My son is almost 10, he has had no contact with his paternal grandmother since he was 1 and prior to that she saw him less than 20 times, mostly due to her being too busy or uninterested. His father and I have an amicable separated relationship and he has regular visitation with our son.

    For almost a year and a half after the last time she saw our son, I was located at the same address and was easily contactable yet no attempt at contact was made during that time. I moved away with our son when he was almost 3 to QLD and have returned to WA in the last year. During the time away, his father's visitation and contact were maintained. I also maintained the same mobile phone number since before my son was born so she has always had a way to contact our son but has never attempted it. To date our son has not seen this woman in over 8 years.

    Today I received a Facebook message from her out of the blue asking me to contact her regarding mediation for contact with our son. I am quite upset over this as there has been no prior contact or request to see him, just a jump straight to legal procedure and my son wouldn't recognise her if they crossed in the street. There is a lot of backstory but ex refuses to see or contact his mother due to some atrocious behaviour on her part during his childhood. She has no relationship with his new child. I understand that the child has a right to maintain contact with their extended family which is why I maintain contact for our son and my other children with his step-grandparents (who are biological grandparents to my other kids - their father and I are also separated) who are very involved in his life and have been since he was a toddler.

    I have concerns over her behaviour and past addiction history. She has been known to drive drunk alcohol and/or intoxicated. I don't know if this is still the case, as like I said I have had no contact with her but my ex has told me that he has doubts as to her rehabilitation. He has requested that I send her a message denying contact with our son and that I request that she not contact me again. We will be presenting a united front should it go to family court requesting that she has no contact with our son, but I am worried about potential outcomes.

    I genuinely doubt that this woman can have a positive influence on our son and given that his father still struggles with the emotional wounds that she inflicted on him, I worry about her potential negative influence on our boy.
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to seem like a stickler, but can you clarify your legal question for me?
     
  3. alice_iw

    alice_iw Member

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    Sorry, how likely is it that she will get access to our son? If both her son and I are objecting how much weight will be given to our opinions? What sort of weight will that early exposure have in the case?
     
  4. Kate Cruz

    Kate Cruz Member

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    In similar cases attorneys are doing a favor to all ordering everyone into a mediation
     
  5. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Well, it's impossible to predict an outcome in court, but court can probably be avoided if you don't refuse outright to facilitate the child spending time with the grandmother. While it's not often the court will make orders for time spent between a grandparent and a child where no relationship already exists, it is legislated that children have a right to know, spend time and communicate with relatives on a regular basis, insofar as their best interests can be met. Even if there is a limited chance of success, she may still commence proceedings and there is still a lot of strain to be had from court proceedings commencing, so it's best to try and avoid that as best you can.

    The best way to do this, I suppose, is to propose care arrangements that reflect the child's best interests while still considering his rights. You could consider supervised time for a period of a few hours once every six weeks or so, or even just simply at times as agreed between the parties. If the child has no real relationship with the grandmother, then it could be detrimental to spend time with her any more frequently than that and without a person known and trusted by the child nearby.

    It might not be a good idea to outright refuse, though. That may guarantee court proceedings, even if she has a limited chance of success.

    If it were to go to court, the matter would be determined based on what's in the best interests of the child, so you and the father would need to pitch your case as to why the child's best interests will be better met with your proposed parenting orders, whether they are for no time with the grandmother or for some time spent with the grandmother.

    In my personal view, the court will likely give significant weight to evidence from both parents that neither believes it is in the child's best interests to spend time other than perhaps the minimum with the grandmother. It's not a common outcome in court for grandparents to win regular care arrangements where a healthy relationship doesn't already exist between the child and the grandmother.
     
  6. alice_iw

    alice_iw Member

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    Thank you, not exactly what I wanted to hear but somewhat reassuring.
     

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