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Advice sought by Father considering initiating FLC action

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Access to daughter being restricted after seperation

Quite simply I was advised in September last year (via SMS) that my wife was taking my daughter and moving out. Since this time, access to my 2yo Daughter is being dictated, and restricted, by her Mother. Do I have a right to unrestricted access in the absence of a FLC order or similar?

I am desperate to maintain as much contact with my Daughter as possible and wish to seek an interim order of some description protecting my parental rights until the matter reaches mediation or hearing. Is this possible or am I kidding myself?

If it is, please advise. Im new to this and am not being given much hope by the hordes of information relating to a 'Mother favoured" system.

Any advice, paticularly in relation to these first crucial steps, would be greatly appreciated.

Thanking all readers in Advance.

SM
I do not believe you can get an interim order, without actually entering the court process.

Mediation should be quicker to get into. If the local centre near you is busy, you can pay for mediation, or you can try another centre.

You MUST mediate formally or the court will NOT accept your application.

If the mother is already restricting access and dictating terms, mediation should be something you can get through quickly as it will be apparent that she is not going to grant you any reasonable amount of "spends time with" time.

I would ask for as much time as possible with your child and document every knock back, or time reduction.

Will your ex partner allow overnights with the child?
Will she allow unsupervised access, or does she insist on being present?

These are all important things to note.

I suggest you buy yourself a diary for the express purpose of documenting all interaction, keeping records of everything.

Also, while it is fresh in your memory, try to detail any times in the past where the ex has left the child in your sole care, while you were together.

It is not unusual for ex's to forget that they were quite happy to leave bub in your care and go out for a night on the town. Suddenly, when you break up, you as Dad, are somehow suspect and incapable. Also recall times when the child was in other's care, as Mum may try the "my baby has never left my side" routine to block your access.

In preparation for mediation, start to consider how long and how frequently you would like to have your child in your care. Do you want it to scale up to 50/50 or go 50/50 straight away? What will you need to put in place to acheive this? Will you need to use daycare? Will you have to make changes to your job to accommodate care of the child? You need to have these answers ready to go and the mediator will see that you are a caring and responsible parent.

Good luck and consider applying to SRL on this site, if you believe you will be going through the court process.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
It does seem that there might be a set list of questions to which persons SM-EC and others might respond so that the feedback they can be offered is more considered.
Against those questions references to precedents may be more apparent.
What might those questions (if approptiate) be?

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
There is a separation of rights and what is the best approach.

It can be stated that as no orders are in place both parents are equal and it is not untoward to claim extra time when restricted.

BUT.

There can be extremely negative effects if this intervention is pursued.

You would be better to adopt a different mind set than " Do I have a right to unrestricted access in the absence of a FLC order or similar?"

Your focus needs to be on communication and mediation not forcing the hand of the other parent.

What is done now may well make a big difference to future events.

many go through this initial conflict stage where access is reduced or stopped, there can be many reasons why the other parent chooses to do this and it is important that you do not start off on a reactive campaign.

What existing communication is there?

Are you able to establish a routine yourself? Even if your daughter is not in your company at the time, this can be used to support a routine in future.

In my opinion in the beginning it is important to establish your own ground rules and habits that will continue into the expected future. Things like diarising everything from phone calls to events. get into the habit and be annul about it.
Work towards what you want by providing what is needed for care such as bedding and high chairs, even if hand me downs, establish an environment.

Open communication, if not oral then written and explain what you feel will improve your daughters contact with you, this could mean shorter contacts more often with limited overnight in consideration of her age or similar, with provision to increase time as she grows, think about the future and how she can grow into it and remember to consider how much you are willing to commit on a regular basis.

make an attempt to initiate talks but do not try to control or manipulate, be honest and direct with subtlety and a willingness to negotiate.

Remember the more you can co-operate as parents the better it will be for your child.

If there is no progression through this stage then mediation or more to the point an offer to mediate is the next step.

Then legals.

At mediation things change and you have to re-address your approach, and again if it continues to legals it changes again.

The beast is not a stable environment and there needs to be give and take as well as pliability of your mind to adjust to things.

Hope this helps a little but remember there are many differing approaches by different people and you should find a resolution that suits you, some may go directly into attack mode others may be more defensive etc etc.   
Thanks for the reply,

You are right about the mindset, the last thing I want to do is cause conflict and stress for the two girls I love the most i.e. Mother & Child.
Whilst my actions may seem reactive I am simply exploring my options should it become absolutely necessary to initiate action, I want to be ready and get a head start should things turn nasty as I dont want anything to further restrict the amount of time that I can spend with my little girl.

Contact with my Daughter is regular but certainly not equal to the contact that she has with her Mother. My Daughter is picked up on Friday mornings and spends the weekend with me with a special focus on Sunday being a Mother involved 'family day'. Sadly I return my Wife and Daughter to their current residence, which is some 35kms away, on Sunday night. My Daughter yells, screams and cries when I leave, begging me to stay or take her and crying out "Dont run away from me Daddy", this is gutwrenching and, in my belief, highlights the need for more contact with her Father.

I say goodnight my little girl every night via phone and ensure that she phones her Mother to say goodnight every night that she is with me. This is done to decrease any seperation anxiety that my Daughter may be experiencing.

I have a very set routine, my life revolves around accomodating the needs of my Wife and Daughter.

Re what is needed to provide care - I live in the house that my Daughter was born into. She has her own room, high chair, play equipment, multitudes of toys etc. Re Medical care - I have been responsible for all medical care to date, everything from trips to the hospital following concussion to her regular vaccinations and GP visits.

As parents we cooperate, in as much as I make all of the sacrifices to avoid conflict.

From reading the responses to my post, I believe that mediation would be my best option if my Wife and I can not reach agreement. Whether this is formal or informal mediation will depend on how open to compromise my Wife is going to be.
Your reaction do not seem reactive at all but rather just inquisitive.

Most of us who progress after separation tend to initially think and precede with an emotional mind, much discussion could be had on this as to it's value when following legal proceedings. Truth is it is actually a hindrance and this is why it's important to establish a third persona that is hardened to legal proceedings.

What you can expect to get through the court system will be determined through an individual who is not concerned with emotional poser play but rather evidence as to why the child will be better in each situation and if there are any factors that may influence this.

Mediation is your next stage not the best option.

If you can not come to an agreement mediation has to be entered into or I should say that mediation needs to be proposed. If this is accepted by both parties or refused by one or both parties is negligible. To say negligible means it is party of the process and if ignored the next part is entered into, application to court.

Now

You are still dealing with early issues concerning separation anxiety felt by your daughter. The question is can you do anything to decrease the stress to your daughter when separation time comes, can you and her mother work towards reducing this behaviour. I think there may be.

It is also imperative that you consider age related behaviour as well as her individual behavior

There may also be a need to attend a parenting course that can help initiate some regimes to help you both with your child, together or apart it also is advantageous to you because if things do swing bad you have already shown commitment by attending these courses also if first aid courses are available to attend through work etc.

Now I fell into the trap of sacrificing for the better of the child and considered that my X would do the same in reverse, this actually added to conflict in my case as I was taken major advantage of, when I was able to have the strength to say " No She has a right to stability " it got worse. But after a while it improved. In part my X was scared I would remove our daughter and a million other bad things, although I had proved prior this was not true I think she feared that I was capable of what she was, this I was not. Point being we do have to stand up to stabilize contact for the child sake, even though it may become adversary for a while.
      
Do not go into this thinking 50/50 care and residence is law, it is not so always be willing to compromise and negotiate.

The next thing I'm about to say is not meant to insult but I need to ask.

You seem to think you have the upper hand and that taking it to court will deliver what you want, what sort of parenting time are you aiming for ??
We are both trying desperately to alleviate any seperation anxiety that our Daughter experiences.

No insult  :thumbs:  I dont like to think in terms of who has the upper hand as it feels like were starting to treat our Daughter as property when we speak in those terms. I think the point that I wanted to make is that I am the only one that has sacrificed or made any attempt to compromise.

Im would not aim for 50/50 with our girl at this age as it would result in her having to be in Child care when she could be with her Mother. I want to be able to have my daughter for three nights per week. Is that an unreasonable expectation in todays Family Court?

I must stress that, if possible, I will avoid any and all legal action as I do not wish to harm my relationship with either my Daughter or my Wife (Still married) and that I just want to prepare myself for the worse incase Im required to stand up and stabilise contact for the Childs sake as you said.
Then your on the right path but it's imperative you start building your base up and write everything down, record as much evidence as possible always work towards negotiating but be prepared to voice your objections and ask for time to compensate your loss to establish time and contact.

It's not an unreasonable request and the more you can establish the benefits in your enviroment the better.

Bottom line is it takes time for everything to unfold but the quicker you establish a routine for evidence and contact the better, even if you never use it. I have 3 lever arch files that have been gathering dust and a diary that is current with events and such. I've had 50/50 for over a year now and did not require to open a file in court time, but other have had to rely on evidence that would be presumed insignificant.

Artemis's post has a brilliant source for you where I was just finding out what was troubling you now.

Best of luck hope you find resolution soon.

D4E
I voice my objections but always do so in a 'put yourself in my position' or 'Our Daughter would benefit from…….' manner.

Have not raised the prosect of Family Court action or mediation yet as I have concerns that my Wife will panic and attempt to restrict access further.

Shall discuss mediation with her if this weekends attempt at negotiation goes pear shaped.

My "In Case of Emergency" file is already in place.

All significant events & conversations are diarised.
All SMS messages printed via Bluetooth.
Stat Decs with all relevant information are being witnessed and dated by a JP.

Thanks again, will check out Artemis' posts.
Your well on your way SM-EC and are dealing with things well.

You are right panic can set in with the mention of mediation, a few years back at it's mention my X stopped contact for four months.

But I now understand why she took this approach and I know I did the right thing by not reacting aggressively to her actions.

I experienced several traps being set to catch me out, they all failed because I stayed focused on the end solution.

Keep doing what your doing and refer and talk on the forum.

Do yourself a big favor, go to the community section on the face page then to community ( top right ) press on SLR membership and join.

I am a member but seem to have lost that notation on my avatar.

This will help you immensily to access what is available through SLR's
   
Hello SM-EC,

From your reply, I can see that you are in the early stages of the separation. While you may still have a lot of love for the mother of your child, you need to start to change your focus to a business-like one and imagine what your new life is going to be like. A big factor in this is, what will your life be like with your child.

While you wish your child not to be in daycare at this stage, when she could be with Mum, to not have anything in writing (ie that when the child enters school or pre-school, your care increases) is creating a precedent. Your wish to see the child with Mum now, may be taken as aquiscence in the future. 50/50 is not a law and something you may never get to, if you do not take the correct steps now.

While it is impossible to rule out a re-union, women seldom tend to return to a marriage/relationship, once they have physically left. Do not delude yourself.

Also, be careful that your ex-partner does not use your desire to re-unite to manipulate you over access to your child. My partner experienced this with his ex, with devestating results that ripple through his life today, some years later.

Personally, I would counsel against "family day" as this appears to be confusing the child and creates the belief that you are the one "leaving" her. Children can be upset by handovers, and it is important that these are not prolonged but conducted as short, civil, productive events. You also need to learn to feel comfortable caring for your child solo, if this is not already the case.

Saying goodnight every night is a very good thing, as is a consistent routine.

"As parents we cooperate, in as much as I make all of the sacrifices to avoid conflict." This phrase concerns me and you need to start thinking about changing the dynamic so that your needs are considered into this mix. If you do not start this now, you will find it very difficult to maintain boundaries when/if you have a new partner. Have a look at some of the websites that new partners/step mums comment on and you will see what I mean.

As a next step, I would consider documenting what you want your parenting plan to be. Ask your ex-partner to do the same. Once you have documented your thoughts, see how closely they align and if you can each sign off on this, there is no need to progress to mediation. From little things you have said, I sense there will be some major stumbling blocks.

You do not say if "property" has been sorted out. You need to get your child's routine sorted out first, as often, child issues are used as a lever for a greater slice of the pie at settlement.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
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