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Family Law advice required urgently please

Problem with changeovers

I will try to keep this as brief as possible even though it will be difficult to do so.

I have custody of our 2 sons (4 & 11yo) after 2 custody cases and an appeal by the ex.
I was not 100% happy with the access arrangements, but that was purely for financial reasons because I am on a pension and was not working at that stage. But I regained custody so that was more important to me.

I take both boys from Bendigo to Adelaide, and collect them as well, every school holidays. She has them all holidays except Christmas where the  period is a 50/50 split. I pay for all fares for these lengthy trips.

She is able to have both boys for 2 weekends per term, provided she collects them from school on Friday and returns them to school on the next applicable day. She must also give me 2 weeks written notice. She has never taken advantage of this as she must also pay for their travel, and accommadation if required. She has relatives in Victoria where she has stayed free of charge on numerous occasions before.

She is also able to have the youngest son, who attends Kindy, for 2 weeks every term until he begins Primary school. She is responsible for travel costs and must give 3 weeks notice of the times availed by her, and 2 weeks notice of booking details. However I am ordered to travel to the Airport with the child if the Mother decides to fly over. I do not have a reliable car to travel the 280 km round trip, so I use public transport.This is a 6 hour round trip and costs me over $50. My other trips cost me over $1000 per year. I recieve $3.28pm child support because she has them for 57 nights per year. She is now also pregnant. I recieve no help from the mother nor financial assistance of any sort towards the boys upbringing.

I have, since our sons were returned to me by the Federal Police 3 years ago, always had the boys ready, available and on time for every access period and have gone out of my way to make changeovers as stress-free for the boys as is possible.

This is my problem...

The orders state:-
If the Wife elects to transport the son by air
-she shall give the husband not less than two weeks written notice of the bookings; and
-The bookings shall be made so that the husband is able to collect and/return the child to Melbourne Airport by public transport; and
-The Husband shall advise the Wife as soon as possible of the times that such public transport is available; and
-The Husband shall be responsible for the collection and return of the children from Melbourne Airport.


To help the mother plan for the 2 week access she has with the youngest son, I sent her a schedule showing the times that I was able to get to the Airport by public transport. This was based around the boys activities, education and my part-time (2 days pw) employment that I gained since the trial. This was sent to her in February 2011.

2 weeks ago the mother sent me the approximate dates she was looking at collecting the son from the Airport.
She then sent me the date she wanted and it was one of the days that I could not get into the Airport due to work. This day was marked as unavailable on the schedule. However the mother stated that this was when the cheapest fares were available.
She also stated that her sister would be collecting the child. Her sister has done this on other times as well.

I then recieved a letter from her solicitor giving me the choice of 2 days at a time (midday) that was an hour earlier than I could make it into the Airport.
The solicitor gave me 44 hours to reply or they would seek an urgent hearing at the Federal Magistrates Court.
I chose one of the days but mentioned that I could not get to the Airport at the time indicated, but provided the earliest time that I could which was 1 pm.

2 days later I recieved an email from the mother demanding that I have the child at the Airport HALF AN HOUR EARLIER than the solicitor mentioned (ie 11.30am), saying that the court gave her 'right of way' with travel arrangements and that I must get the child to the Airport at whatever time suited her and whatever cheap flights were available.
She also then advised me that the childs Grandmother would be collecting him.
I emailed back advising her that the child would be there for changeover, but not at 11.30 due to my having to prepare & get my older son to school, then get a train to Melbourne (2 hours travel) and a bus to the Airport (approx 30 min travel).
The mother stated that I would be in breach of the Orders if I did not have the child at the Airport by the time she requested.

I then recieved another letter from her solicitor stating that I have not confirmed the changeover at the 11.30 time and requesting that I do so. Her solicitor also 'advises' me that I should either put the eldest son into before school care or get someone else to get him ready & transport him to school.

My oldest son is already having issues with his mother regarding the extra time with the younger son and her attitude towards him. I have offered him the chance to come out to the Airport to say hi to his Gran, but he does not want to. If I put him into before school care I will be up for another expense. Plus I want to keep these days as close to normal for him because the situation affects him so much.

I am now wondering if I would be in breach if I arrived at the Airport at the time I stated that I was available, not the time the mother and her solicitor are ordering me to be there by.
Due to my schedule I am not able to get public transport at the time the mother wants me to unless I put the older son through unwanted stress and I really can not afford to put him into care.
I have also not recieved any booking details, even though the 2 weeks written notice was due nearly a week ago.
She has also sent me a schedule with times that (she says) I must be available to have the child at the Airport in future. Every time listed impedes on my work hours or the older sons activities & school.

Any advice would be very welcome and appreciated.
-The bookings shall be made so that the husband is able to collect and/return the child to Melbourne Airport by public transport; and
-The Husband shall advise the Wife as soon as possible of the times that such public transport is available;

According to your court order, the wife needs to make her bookings based around the times that public transport is available to you, regardless of whether the flights are cheaper at that point or not. YOUR obligation is to advise her in a timely manner what the available transport times for you will be, which it appears you have done. That means there should be no breach of the order, and therefore nothing to base a visit to the federal magistrates court on. I actually find it a little odd that she's engaged a solicitor to help her save her money on flights. She's probably wasiting the same amount she would have saved.

This concept of the courts giving her "right of way" sounds ludicrous. The orders are what they are, they are not set out with a condition of "right of way" to either side, and in fact I've never heard that expression used legally. Don't be intimidated just yet, because that's probably all they are trying to achieve - compliance through intimidation. Keep sticking to the orders as you have done and seeking advice when you're not certain. I don't believe they have any right to demand that you put your son in before school care to accomodate their time preference. That is not part of the court orders. You are only obligated to do what is required of you directly within the orders.
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