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Advice needed for child to live with father

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Hi

I am new to the site and I wanted to get some information or advice because my 12.5 year old step daughter would like to come and live with her father and I to start grade 8 with us.

We have been told by legal aide that it would be pointless to try as we would have a slim chance of getting her as she is to young to make a choice like that.

I will try to explain the story as best as possible. I met DSD father 6 years ago and we moved back to where his daughter was so he could be closer to her and see her more. We had her every weekend end for the 4 months until I fell pregnant with our son and the mother cut access to every 2nd week with the child going to the mothers parents on the weekends we didnt have her.

Once our son was born visitation stopped for no reason and my DSD didnt see her only brother until he was 7 months old because the mother couldn't handle the DSD misbehaving anymore and we were able to see her again. In the time that we didn't she her we approached by the mother direct family members who told us that the mother had told the daughter on several occasions the dad didn't love her anymore and he was to busy with the new baby to be bothered with her.

Fast forward to august last year, my partner and I decided to leave the home town where the daughter lived as our relationship was just about over and we thought a new town (300km away from the daughters home town)a fresh start would help, we talked about this with the daughter and she had no problem with it. We travelled back to get her every 2nd friday and again to drop her off at her home as the mother refused to drive out of her driveway because she said that she had other daughters to worry about and it wasn't her problem to run around after her daughter to go to her fathers.

So we had no problems driving the 1300km every 2nd weekend to see the DSD as if we didn't we wouldn't of seen her at all. My partner and the ex wife went to mediation and all the ex wife would agree on was every 3rd week and half the school holidays and nothing else.

The DSD said to us 3 months ago that she would like to live with her father and start high school where we are living but is to afraid to talk to her mother about it as DSD doesn't want to be kept from seeing her father again.

We are start to have issues when its time to take he back to her mothers as she doesn't want to get in the car to go home and she has told as that she doesn't feel like she belongs in the family at her mothers anymore and that where we live now feels like home to her. DSD will be 13 next march and we would like for her to live with us but we just don't know where to start or who to talk to or whether DSD has a say on what she wants.

All legal aide was interested in was the DSD mothers family and said that we wouldn't have a chance to get her till she is 15-16. We just don't know when to go from here?

Last edit: by MikeT

A suggestion is that you read through these forums as there are a great many references to the age a child can express their wishes.

Being quoted 15-16 years old is not correct. Technically a child can leave home at 14 and receive Government assistance, given that choice a Judicial Officer will opt for the desired parent rather than let a child live on the streets. Of course Legal aid may not be willing to fund the case due to lack of resources (money) and why would they find a case if there are no known problems.
Initially a child's wish list is no different from a parents wish list when applying for Legal Aid.

What is a DSD? if you must use abbreviations please use the site glossaries.
http://flwg.com.au/WEBGuide/pg/glossary2

SRL-Resources. the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) www.srl-resources.org  Non gender Professional and peer support for SRLs. Closed site, no public forums, no search engines, no lurkers, guests or the other side and their Lawyer and Friends.
At 12.5, there is a relatively good chance that the daughter's opinion could be considered.  When did you go to mediation and did you get the certificate? You could take the matter to court and perhaps for little cost (checkout the SRL-Resource on here (Click on Community at the top and then on SRL-Resource on the left)).

One hurdle would be what is known as "Rice and Asplund", which basically requires there to have been a significant change. My guess is that you could pass that, new school, new location, step daughters changed opinion/age. However the SRL-s are the better people to provide comment, so hopefully they will contribute to this topic.
They should read through the forums that deal with this issue, particularly how a change in lives with' status will affect the schooling and social structures of the child and contact with the other parent.

Understand that a wish such as this expressed by a child will be the subject of a Family Report.

Not expect a case such as this to be Legal Aid funded unless LA are satisfied there are serious or substantial issues involved.

They will have to do some research as it relates to their own case circumstances.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
I believe DSD might be one of the common abbreviations used on some of the baby forums ;)  I haven't been on one for years now and remember having to ask someone even what LOL meant at the time haha If I recall correctly I think it might be "Darling Step Daughter" or something like that.

Just copying and pasting the last response to the actual post from Agog below:

Agog said
They should read through the forums that deal with this issue, particularly how a change in lives with' status will affect the schooling and social structures of the child and contact with the other parent.

Understand that a wish such as this expressed by a child will be the subject of a Family Report.

Not expect a case such as this to be Legal Aid funded unless LA are satisfied there are serious or substantial issues involved.

They will have to do some research as it relates to their own case circumstances.

"Never, "for the sake of peace and quiet," deny your own experience or convictions". Dag Hammarskjold
I needed help with my case and couldn't afford a lawyer and found these guys invaluable  srl-resources.org
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