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To mediate more or to court?

insight into private v legal aid mediation needed

Does anyone know whether legal aid mediation is useful? After 2 FRC mediations, my partner is jaded with the public system. As it was obvious his ex would never allow overnights, my partner finally saw a lawyer, who wrote to his ex and asked for over nights. After a year of asking and useless FRC mediation, it took just one letter from a lawyer to get her to agree! Although has tried to limit these already, she quickly changed her mind when my partner said he was about to file his court application.  So now he knows she wants to avoid court, and she has now said she is open to more mediation to agree on consent orders. She no doubt meant FRC mediation, as in the past she was able to delay and to walk all over him, so he replied that he is not willing to attend more FRC mediation, but is willing to arrange private mediation as he wants his lawyer present. She hasn't replied to this in over a week, and he is wondering what to do next. She may not be able to afford a lawyer and probably qualifies for legal aid, but I called legal aid to see if they would fund a lawyer for her at private mediation initiated by my partner, and they said no. Legal aid said that can only happen if she initiates legal aid mediation herself, and that my partner can bring his own lawyer to that.
This worries him as it puts the power back in her hands and means she could delay as she did for many months with FRC mediation. Do you think my partner should suggest she do this (to keep the ball rolling, he really wants a date set for before Christmas to mediate early next year), or just continue to arrange private mediation and it is her problem if she cant have a lawyer? Is it bad to have the other party be seen as the initiator? Also, has anyone experienced legal aid as being biased toward the legal aid client or do you think it's sound? Any advice about what to do next would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, ish
IMHO I would start court proceedings.  This will take forever and there will be the opportunity to attend court ordered mediation along the way. I tried FRC mediation a number of times and they were always pointless because they were not reportable (ie confidential).  My ex was very difficult and would agree at the beginning and then renege on it right at the end.  All sorts of fun and games.

The Child Concilation Conference which is part of the court process was far more usefull. We came to some good agreements and the mediator was quite directive with my ex.  It was reported to court and forms part of the court documents.  Unfortunately it is still not legally binding and once again my ex refused to actually sign off on what he agreed, but at least now I have a record of it!

If your partner's ex is being difficult and doesn't want to go to court, this might frighten her enough to get an agreement, and if not at least will start the ball rolling.

I don't know much about private mediation but I am not sure it will get you any further unless you go into the mediation saying that anything agreed on the day needs to be signed off before you leave the mediator.

On another note, my ex's new partner is very heavily involved in his legal 'battle' with me and also heavily involved in trying to reduce his CSA payments.  I have to say that I find this very insulting and I don't think it is any of her business.  It has made the conflict even worst because she is now 'fighting' me too.  I say this because I would advise caution in how much you become involved in your partner's 'battle' with his ex.  Your presence and involvement may make the conflict even worst.  Support from the sidelines is fine, which I would do if my new husband had a problem with his ex (which he doesn't) but over involvement, in my opinion, just inflames the situation.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Thanks for that feedback. My partner is worn out with trying to get his ex to be reasonable, and perhaps you are right that he should just file his application rather than trying more mediation after what he's been through. The last thing he wants is it dragging on any longer before getting a legal agreement. Also, thanks for the advice on my involvment; I do stay behind the scene, I would never attend mediation or correspond with her or anything like that. I agree with you that it is not my battle to fight, and it would only infuriate her more. I can see why you find your ex's partner's involvment insulting, surely it isn't about her. To be honest I would like to have been involved less, but my partner has really needed the support as basically, he isn't any good at researching his options and has often felt powerless and down about not seeing his daughter enough. But I would not get directly involved. Unfortunately just the fact that I exist is enough to infuriate his ex I think (not that I had anything to do with the break up). Hopefully one day she will get over it for their daughter's sake…
To be honest I would like to have been involved less, but my partner has really needed the support as basically, he isn't any good at researching his options and has often felt powerless and down about not seeing his daughter enough. But I would not get directly involved. Unfortunately just the fact that I exist is enough to infuriate his ex I think (not that I had anything to do with the break up).
Exactly the situation I am in my my OH, I'd rather not have to help him anyway. However it has gotten to the point were my partner just cannot handle it anymore. Nor is he any good at reading legislation and trying to figure out the court system. I don't speak or write to her but do all the reading up, explain it too him, then type up what he wants in his affidavits for court, CSA COA's ect.

His ex constantly trys to drag me into by insinuating stuff about me to the CSA and now the magistrates court cause of property settlement, but I just ignore it. She can't stand me but has no problem trying to get the CSA and family court to investigate my finances..fortunately they have told her on no uncertain terms, she is the one that needs to mind her own business lol.
Sounds familiar…I'm sure a lot of people help their partner with the research and writing up part of the legal process. Some people just don't have the skills in that area, so without the help they get walked all over, or else pay way too much to lawyers to write everything for them! Personally, I think I'm almost at the point where I can't handle it any more either! Time for the lawyer to take over I think…I hope you don't feel too dragged down by it all, it is an exhausting process.
there seemes to be quite a few of us in the same position, I would love to talk to his ex face to face and tell her exactly what i think of her,  But that is never going to happen, I have his daughter now living with us, from the day she was born he has had to fight this woman for access, He even agreed to try a reconsilation with her so that he could be with his daughter when she was 6, that resulted in the mother getting pregnant again and threated to have a abortion if he left her again. he stayed again for the children, eventualy he could take it no more and left again. he had court orders to have them stay with him 50/50, she soon put a stop to that when she had nowhere to go and asked him if she could move back in with him, he told her no, it would never work. she then accused him of child abuse, had the court issue a recovery order on the 24 december and the children was removed from him, and a restaring oder issued that he could not remove the children from the care of the mother without another court order. That was the last time he saw his son. He did go back to family court in jan2004 but walked out before any orders where issed, he could not cope with the allegations, in the best intrest of the kids he walked away. His daughter who is now 20 moved into our house on the 24th of december 2011, 8 years after the police removed her.

He would love to reastablish contact with his son, the mother would never allow contact and there is no point in medation. Its always been about control with her, well she has lost her daughter now, she came back to her dad on her own.
So sorry to hear your story. I'm glad that his daughter worked things our for herself eventually (we all live in hope!) and I really hope he'll be reconciled with the son.

Since going through this, I've heard so many people's stories about mothers denying their kids' fathers, for bitter and nasty reasons of their own. I'm shocked, as before that the only kind of issue I was aware of were fathers who were slack and didn't want to share responsibility. Unfortunately I think many people still have that stereotype of deadbeat dad in their minds, and think that if a mother wont allow her kids contact there must be a good reason for it, when really it seems to be about control and using children to punish their ex.

I feel distressed about the state of the law, as many people also believe that it is now fair, or that both parents automatically get contact with their kids, which we know is not the case. BUT IT SHOULD BE! (unless they are psychos, natch).

Our situation has improved thanks to spending thousands, my partner now has consent orders and will have significant time with his daughter, finally. But so many people don't have this. I want to lobby governments to change this (or increase public awareness) but don't know how to go about it, don't want to align myself with any marginal hate-filled groups.

Any tips from any members welcome!

Moderator Note

Edited for clarity.

Last edit: by MikeT

wish we had money to take this woman back to court. the last orders made were status quo, what ever that means.. but it dosent matter what it means, she still has control and always will have until some law stop these women from saying anything they want to get what they want.
They could start with treating parents equally in C$A. It was only in the last few years that the self support income was made the same for both parents. Prior to this a "lives with" parent could earn $40K before any of their income was acknowledged in a CS assessment.

They could now start to have a set standard with how they apply the COA process. It has shown over and over to be wrought with inconsistencies in the way parents are treated. I have heard stories of SCO's ageeing to reimburse overpayments to some payers and not others.

It is this type of inconsistency that makes payers lose faith in the system that advertises itself as "supporting  separated parents" and then treats paying parents like convicted fraudsters. All payers want is to see their kids without the ear bashing from the OP. Most are happy to pay a "reasonable" amount. But getting taken for a ride with 0% care and "lives with" parents failing to make a financial contribution to the kids they helped create, is why payers rebel. Its about justice and fairness.
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