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Hello,

I am a first time father of a baby boy. Mother & I seperated during the pregnancy. I am a very willing Dad wanting as much positive involvement in his life as possible, and looking at where I stand.

I have a situation where I am only allowed to see my son for 1 hour a week on a Sunday. I am not allowed to take him out of his home and have unsupervised visits such as a walk in a pram or drive in the car. This means he cannot have a chance to meet my friends and family. According to a few phone calls to the Family Relationship Advice Line, it is more than reasonable for me to request more visiting time. Perhaps 3 times a week. And unsupervised.

I have booked in the first step of mediation, and so far no reply from the mother. I have a private lawyer ready to take my case on.

Facts:

Mother and I originally exchanged emails regarding questions and answers to visitation. The responses I got were arrogant and clearly stated "No" to my requests, with unreasonable excuses. Recently, she has refused to communicate by Email at all. Phone calls are rarely answered, and when they are, it is very short.

I have been denied unsupervised visits, and the excuse is that he is "too young."  This has been deemed unreasonable from counselling I have received. I am in no way abusive or anything like that.

I have been enrolling in parenting workshops to gain experience.



Some questions I have are on where I stand in the shared parenting ideal the government recommends:

Will legal aid support the mother if she is stubborn & un-cooperative in negotiations with me, if my requests are in the best interests of the child?

How will a FDR certificate influence the magistrates judgements if it goes to court? If she doesn't respond to FDR, is this frowned upon by the judge? She has so far not responded and a second letter has just been issued.

Is it a good idea for me to have a MINIMUM set of requirements in my proposal, and not accept anything less? I am thinking of not accepting any less than 3 visits a week, and 3 hours unsupervised on a Sunday. If it went the distance to the courts, assuming I have proved my willingness to be a good father, would a judge support my request and grant an order?

Thanks.
Hi there. You should read everything in this thread because much of it is potentially relevant.

 http://flwg.com.au/forum/pg/topicview/misc/5714

 
I have been denied unsupervised visits, and the excuse is that he is "too young."  This has been deemed unreasonable from counselling I have received.
 Yes. The mothers stance may be 'unreasonable' but unfortunately thats where the mother is at this point in time. Her stance may likely moderate over time.

 Your primary goal at this stage is to have contact with your boy whether its once a week, twice or three times. The risk you take by pushing things - or lecturing the mother about what she should be doing or what's reasonable or what's not - is that she could say 'stuff it, you're not getting anything. We'll go to court". That's not an outcome you want.

 You've got your 'foot in the door'. She's offering some kind of contact. Our friend 'Hyonlife' (a father in the other thread) would kill to be in your position right now.

 My opinion, hold your tongue and accept - FOR THE MOMENT - what the mother is offering. In a month or two the mother might be more willing to move to an arrangement that is more in line with your expectations.

 Use the contact you have now to 'win over' the mother and demonstrate to her that you have the capacity and ability to parent your boy.

For example:

1. Feed your baby during visits. Learn to make formula an your child. Bottle feed.
2. Change your babies nappies.
3. Offer to do some chores for the mother. Support the mother.
4. Pay your child support on time.
5. Buy items for the baby that are practical assist.
6. On your way over to the mothers place, call her to see if th anything she needs. i.e. Nappies, formula, sugar, etc.
7. Listen intently to the mother problems, fears, etc. Like that guy off the 'roccotta' tv. Perhaps not as full on as that!

Become- in the mothers eyes - Mr. Indispensable, Mr. Reliable, etc.


 You would consider getting a solicitor to draft a letter outlining the 'interim parenting arrangement'. You need a paper trial in case things head south.

 Lets say you have a disagreement when you are visiting the child and she calls the cops, they seek an AVO. If you have a letter (evidence) from her agreeing to 'interim' parenting arrangements, that might go some way to covering your backside. For example, "Your honour, I was simply at the mother house visiting my child in accordance with the parenting arrangement proposed and agreed to by the mother. Here's the letter."

 Your 'agreement' with the mother could say to the effect "2 hour contact twice a week, Wednesday & Saturday, 4-6pm, supervised by the mother at her residence. Arrangements to be reviewed in 2 months". This temporary arrangement would be a good and acceptable outcome in the short term.

 At this very early stage, the primary objective is to secure some form of contact. Secondary objective is to win over the mother and win her confidence. Third objective is to avoid aggravating the mother.

 The objective is NOT to 'win a moral argument about the parenting practices'.

 Stay focused. Let the mother think she's in control.

 I've been in exactly your situation. Within 3 weeks of commencing contact under the abovementioned type of arrangement, she was inviting me to visit the child every day. You never know how things will develop. You've got you foot inside the door. Let it develop rather than force things.

And enjoy your time with your boy!

Last edit: by 4mydaughter


4MYDAUGHTER
Hi 4mydaughter,

Thanks so much for your reply. You do make a lot of sense.

The problem is that my ex has told me specifically that she wishes I was not involved in my sons life (after I questioned her about where she stands on it). Reading between the lines, she is going to dangle the carrot and say things like "not ready for more visits FOR NOW" or "No unsupervised visits FOR NOW"

In reality, it is a controlling manipulation that will waste time while the whole week goes by, weeks on end, and at the end of it there will be 1 measly hour spent together. This is certainly appreciated in itself! However, I have come to understand that a young baby needs regular intervals of time with the non resident parent.

My ex is not willing to allow me to learn about changing nappies, she breastfeeds so I cannot help in the way of feeding. She refuses my requests to help her in any way. To put it bluntly, SHE WANTS TO BE A SINGLE MUM and I am just a thorn in her side. Like I said, she told me she wishes I was not around.

But then again, your reply 4md, balances it out a bit. I don't want to aggravate her and I am a 'nice guy' who will hand my power over to her over and over again for the sake of no conflict. I am writing here now because her motives are less than reasonable for the babys best interests and in fairness of shared parenting.

We are also at a stage where my simple greetings such as "hi, how are you?" are ignored and there is nothing good reciprocated.

I am actually surprised that I am getting 1 hour a week with my son by her attitude. This is a double edge sword. If I hand over the power to her and continue doing this with more and more grace, it will be taken advantage of. She may get angry and even withdraw any visitation. That's the risk.

On the other hand, by showing that I am willing to go right through the process to court, and show I am ruthless in this respect, she may gain more respect for my involvement in his life because she knows I mean business about co-parenting.

I believe either way, she will try to be as difficult as possible. The advantage I will have is parenting orders rather than being sidelined in my sons life..

Thanks and I'll be considering your reply!
Some mothers just like to keep you dangling and 1 hour per week is better than nothing, but not enough for the child.
My suggestion is to take the necessary means to increase the time.
Just having an Accredited Family Law Specialist write her a letter seeking to formalise interim parenting arranges for a 2-3 month period can often be enough for the mother to take you seriously without filing papers etc. Is less confrontational then filing papers. This strategy worked in my situation - and my situation wasn't that far removed from yours.

And yes - the mother of my child initially made statements about being a 'single mother' and all that. Not unusual. Sooner or later her attitude will likely change. The mother did in my situation.

You have an hour per week now. That's significant! Take it. Develop the relationship with your boy and the mother. In 2 months time she might accept 2 hours twice a week when proposed via your lawyer.

Don't be reckless with the opportunity you currently have. Be smart and cultivate it this opportunity.

She's allowing you contact. Develop an evidence trail of this. The more she is seen to facilitate contact, and the more evidence of this that exists, the more difficult it would for her to NOT support contact in the future and more difficult for her to creat an argument agianst contact in court in the future. See where I'm coming from?

Think this… you haven't got a problem… YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY!!!!!!

Last edit: by 4mydaughter


4MYDAUGHTER
Thanks again for a very insightful answer, 4md. I have just completed a half day course for parenting and learned it may be too early to push so fast too soon.

I am glad it worked out for you, your attitude sounds very good towards the situation. An interim parenting arrangement sounds like a great idea.
No worries.

When you're spending time with your boy, don't discuss parenting arrangements with the mother. Resist being drawn by the mother into any discussions on these matters whilst spending time with your boy. Establish clear boundaries. Enjoy your interactions with your child. But everything else is 'all business' with the mother.

My only concern is that the mother might be secretly harbouring a desire to get back with you. Her statements about being a 'single mother' could be her 'fishing' to see if you have an interest in that regard.

It may be that she facilitating contact at this stage in order to explore the possibility of getting back with you? If so, things could turn nasty if she works out that you're not interested in her and only interested in the child.

As I said before, establish a history of contact. Keep a diary of all interactions with the mother and the child. Make a brief note of how visitation went, conversations, etc. keep text messages. Take photo's and video (with dates stamps showing) of you with your child. EVIDENCE TRAIL.

Propose/formalise parenting arrangements via a third party, i.e. an Accrediated Family Law Specialist.

Your brief to a solicitor is important. Clearly you don't want to start a fight. You want their expertise to 'skilfully' develop and cultivate this opportunity without confrontation and free of any statements or languaging that might set the mother off.

4MYDAUGHTER
Once again, great advice, please keep it rolling. I will pass these instructions onto my lawyer rather than pushing too far too soon.

It is certain that she actually doesn't want me to be involved, and there is no reconciliation plans in her mind whatsoever. She just wanted a baby - not me. I am just a thorn in her side when it comes to my plans of involvement. Even standard greetings are non-existant from her, let alone her initiating any talk of parenting planning.

This thread has helped me immensely in holding back the reigns a little and looking objectively rather than emotionally.



ds80 said
…I have a situation where I am only allowed to see my son for 1 hour a week on a Sunday.
This sort of contact will not allow you to develop any real bond with the baby. It requires very regular and frequent contacts at this young age.
ds80 said
I am not allowed to take him out of his home and have unsupervised visits such as a walk in a pram or drive in the car. This means he cannot have a chance to meet my friends and family. According to a few phone calls to the Family Relationship Advice Line, it is more than reasonable for me to request more visiting time. Perhaps 3 times a week. And unsupervised.
Perfectly reasonable
ds80 said
I have booked in the first step of mediation, and so far no reply from the mother. I have a private lawyer ready to take my case on.
The Mediation sounds okay but I tend to agree with others that at this stage engaging counsel may not be appropriate (just at the moment). Let the mediation take it's course. If she will not attend get the 60I certificate in preparation for next steps. You don't have to use it at all but if things deteriorate its handy to have it.
ds80 said
Mother and I originally exchanged emails regarding questions and answers to visitation. The responses I got were arrogant and clearly stated "No" to my requests, with unreasonable excuses. Recently, she has refused to communicate by Email at all. Phone calls are rarely answered, and when they are, it is very short.
Just be careful you don't make too many calls and emails or there may be an ADVO proceeding following that. If you are emailing consider your words carefully least they are used later against you
ds80 said
I have been denied unsupervised visits, and the excuse is that he is "too young." This has been deemed unreasonable from counselling I have received. I am in no way abusive or anything like that. I have been enrolling in parenting workshops to gain experience. Some questions I have are on where I stand in the shared parenting ideal the government recommends:
I am not sure the government recommends anything. There is legislation (The Law) made by the legislators in parliament. It is not always what we expected it to be, as public servants along the way seem to slide in weasel words that make it almost impossible to get a clear direction of what is what. Here is where the courts come in as they interpret that legislation and based on either existing cases (case law) or something new they make a determination which forms the basis for our common law system.

So what does that mean here. It means that in this case you will receive much advice about parenting options from many sources. You have a party on one side who wants to deny you the opportunity to parent. On the other side a willing and able parent. You will also have to consider a common sense approach that is practical in the circumstances. From all of the material, you will come up with a path to follow. There are a number of topics in the forums relating to this sort of scenario. I do suggest you spend some time seeking them out using the search engine and reading them.

If you cannot get any agreement at mediation then there is only one alternative where a parent refuses to cooperate and that is to use the legal process to have orders made. In many cases (the vast majority) of these settle with some sort of agreement along the way. It is highly desirable for the parents to settle matters amiably than to have orders made as often neither parent is happy. It is to early to approach this path currently.
ds80 said
Will legal aid support the mother if she is stubborn & un-cooperative in negotiations with me, if my requests are in the best interests of the child?
She can apply and depending on means could well be granted legal aid if a low income. You can also apply if low income. The fact your requests are, in your view, for the bests interests of the child will not be of any interest to legal aid. In family matters most parties pay their own costs and legal aid doesn't mean all free legal services.
ds80 said
How will a FDR certificate influence the magistrates judgements if it goes to court? If she doesn't respond to FDR, is this frowned upon by the judge? She has so far not responded and a second letter has just been issued.
PDR (Primary Dispute Resolution) is mandatory (give and take a few rules). There are a range of check boxes that indicate the sort of mediation that will end up with a  judicial officer in the application.
ds80 said
Is it a good idea for me to have a MINIMUM set of requirements in my proposal, and not accept anything less? I am thinking of not accepting any less than 3 visits a week, and 3 hours unsupervised on a Sunday. If it went the distance to the courts, assuming I have proved my willingness to be a good father, would a judge support my request and grant an order?
You need to maintain some flexibility in mediation and go from there. Certainly what you are seeking is more than fair and reasonable but when you have an inflexible other parent its hard going. Have you talked yet about supporting the child financially? What are the financial circumstances here? Do you both live close to each other? It appears there is not much opportunity to get closer together it seems..


Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
ds80 said
Once again, great advice, please keep it rolling. I will pass these instructions onto my lawyer rather than pushing too far too soon.
Make sure you have deep pockets and a large bank account. Solicitors and the legal fraternity usually enjoy a high standard of living that is commensurate with the appropriate level of income. Be wary about calling every day and handing over countless emails and documents to your lawyer as it wont take long to run up a  large account…

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
Hi SPCA,

Thankyou for your input. Along with 4md, you are really helping me with direction and the forums here are clearly a great benefit to the community.

In relation to child support, I have already paid fortnightly contributions adding up to $600 prior to CSA lodgement even commencing )which should be this week). This is to show that I am holding up my responsibilities, even in a voluntary fashion rather than by requirement.

The legals are already coming to a payment request in excess of $1000, so I appreciate the help from here immensely, to be efficient in my dealings with the lawyer.

Thankyou so much.
Be very careful with costs as they grow very fast and could potentally be 50,000 or more in a case that continues along a totally legal path. Self representation can reduce cost greatly, but with this you must put in time and effort.
Absolutely will kalimnadancer. Efficiency is the key!
In that case..
4MD, if you would be so kind, can you please give me an idea of how a letter should be written that my lawyer would provide the mother as an interim parenting arrangement, so that I can provide instructions? that would be very appreciated.

I would have to be willing to flex my 'minimum requirements' and deal with supervised visits only, but only for a certain amount of time is my mindset.

How did yours go in your situation? It seems to have worked out positively. I want to go down this path. So many paths, different consequences for each one. But I do like this one. And especially the paper trail of evidence.

Thanks
ds80 said
….4MD, if you would be so kind, can you please give me an idea of how a letter should be written that my lawyer would provide the mother as an interim parenting arrangement, so that I can provide instructions? that would be very appreciated.
This is where you also need to start doing your homework. You need to review the many parenting plans and draft orders around the site. D4Life has done a lot of work on various parenting plans but they are often extensive. What you need to seek here is something simple, easy to work with and try out for six months or so and see how it starts to work out. There is simply no point getting a 50 page parenting plan together just at this stage because Bubs grow quickly and the plan will need to change. If your solicitor is dealing with family matters he/she will know what to write and a simple couple of pages at the most is the sort of document that may get best results.

You need to somehow work up regular frequent short periods of contact and build a trust and repore with Mum here. Hard as it is this will reap best rewards.
ds80 said
….
I would have to be willing to flex my 'minimum requirements' and deal with supervised visits only, but only for a certain amount of time is my mindset.
I am not sure why there has to be supervised anything.

Are you an abusive person or convicted sexual predator. I am not sure why you can't for the early stage share the contact at her place or meet at a local cafe and or beach or park. I guess the issue is she doesn't want you in their lives and that is problematic. Unfortunately for her she will not be able to maintain that approach long term as the legislation is clear as to what is required.

A gentle nudge from mediators will help, try getting the mediation centre to give her a call rather than just send letters. Show the centre you are a willing dad and they will do the rest.

In relation to child support why do you need to involve the CSA, as you could set up a private arrangement. The CSA are keen to see private agreements.

Every effort needs to be applied to getting the mum to mediation and the best person for that is NOT you. The mediation centre are experts in this area and the solicitor should be writing an appropriately worded, positive letter requesting regular and frequent contact and outline the two or three key sections in law that underpin this request.


Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
I will aim to work up the trust & rapport with my sons mum with a lot of patience. In reality, I think my patience will be taken advantage of, but if that's what I have to do for the best of my son, then so be it.. at the expense of the recommended 'short but regular visits' which will be necessary for bonding.

In regard to 'supervised visits', I don't mean by a third party, but supervision by his mother by not allowing him out of his home. I am apparantly 'not ready' to be taking him out in the car/pram. When asked about a time that would suit, it was indefinite and it seems the choice is to be made at her peril. And the other excuse is that I am not trusted to bring him back. However, this would be far against my interests or my sons, in doing something so cruel like that.

I have read hyonlife's thread in the other forum, and am counting my blessings for at least some contact. Some other fathers get it much harder.
DS80
Congrats on becoming a father , so sorry that are not receiving equal time with him though.
I know this site is only for legal and practical solutions not venting or such but I'm angry that most men have to go through this . How is it fair that he cant build a relationship with his son just like the  mother? I know slowly some laws are changing but not faster enough . ds80 my husband is going through the same and has been for 17 yrs , thank god the younger daughter is 18 in 2 and  a half years , but then because of all the deceit and  brain washing will she even believe another side ? Done the Family Law they still took the mother's side. So basically pay your child support but stay out of the childs life.
All i can suggest is that do not unless under an extreme circumstances pay anything more then you have via child support ! Otherwise she will keep expecting it! I just pray in the next 10 yrs that things change for both parents as i have 2 sons that i dont want to see go through this , its heart wrenching for the children , the paying parent all involved …
I still personally think its wrong that society just thinks that the mother is the right choice for raising the child fulltime , somethimes this isnt the case . Now accoring to your home page Gillard and the Greens are going to make things in 2011 even harder for fathers , so where is there any justice?
There is another site you might want to check as well ds80 ..DADS ( dads on air) good if you would like to vent …
acep74 said
…..I still personally think its wrong that society just thinks that the mother is the right choice for raising the child full-time , sometimes this isn't the case .
We made some 220 changes to the key Family Law legislation in 2006 and minor subsequent amendments;there has also been a fundamental shift to Mediation and to a far more agile Federal Magistrates court system. There are many other improvements that are discussed elsewhere on the site and we are seeing many more 4,5 and 6 night a fortnight outcomes in court orders. Its a vastly different landscape to what was there some years ago.
acep74 said
So  Now according to your home page Gillard and the Greens are going to make things in 2011 even harder for fathers , so where is there any justice? There is another site you might want to check as well ds80 ..DADS ( dads on air) good if you would like to vent …
Not sure what article that is but I suspect it might have been the news item on "mens vote". At this stage nothing is certain.

We need to maintain a positive parenting approach to ensuring the fundamental principal that each parent shall facilitate and encourage a close relationship with children ensuring that children have the benefit of both of their parents in having a meaningful involvement in their lives. It needs a bit of an update now, as that is what we were dealing with in the 2006 reforms and where we have been since 2002. I think we have come someway to getting to that position. Its not all doom and gloom.


Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
Thankyou for your encouraging post acep74.
It is amazing how selfish some people can be. It's quite disgusting the deeper I look into it, really. I have always had faith in humanity, but now my eyes are opened wide from this experience, exploring the forums, how heartless some people can be. It goes for both men and women who are more than happy to kick their ex while they are down. Looking at the Dads in Distress website, it brought me to tears because of those Dads who are necking themselves. I won't go there, but I certainly can see why some of them are. I'm just at the very beginning of this process, there is luckily no marriage and property settlements to worry about, but I am anxious about what to expect in 2 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years from now in regards to the relationship of me and my boy.

Emotions aside, it's business now. Since my last post, I had a visit to my boy and it only lasted 2 minutes because he was put to bed and I was told not to touch him. Mind you, he was completely awake, and Mum said he is 'meant to be sleeping now' and it was the agreed time to visit. It's absurd. This is not facilitating a relationship. I showed a mild dispute of the situation, and in result I was told to leave, so I forfeited my visit for the sake of not having a fight. I am not sure if I am welcome back now, I would not be surprised if my visits are over until a parenting order is made.

My next question if anyone with insight can help me with, is it too soon to start litigation in the courts? Little man is now 8 weeks old and I have heard from a couple of people that this can possibly go against me that I am going too headstrong, too fast too soon. But on the other hand, leaving it is time wasted. I have tried all the patient, invitational approaches to no avail.

I drew up my own interim arrangement proposal just out of good faith that we will soon work on a more satisfied parenting plan, and this was rejected. I just stated in it things like - we will continue the 1 hour a week visits, I am not to take the baby out of the house, but work up to a parenting plan and resolve these disputes by November - through FDR if necessary.

She is also refusing mediation, accusing me of "controlling her life" with these invitations to FDR she keeps receiving in the mail. Of course, I have no interest to control her life, but just to establish a relationship with our boy.

Any new ideas would be appreciated, thanks.




Getting started and building the relationship.

There has been some very good advice in the previous posts.

A couple of points I would like to add. The general consensus among the experts is that around 3 short visits is good for a baby. The means the baby starts to build memories of you.

If you can hold out, allowing things to develop is by far the best way. From what you have said so far, the mother's position is not uncommon. In the end she will either relent and realise you aren't trying to run her life or you will probably have to initiate court proceedings to continue to develop the relationship with your son.

There is much on this site to guide you in the steps necessary and the appropriate strategy.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
Yeah you're right, everything else has been exhausted, and there's only one way over the hill and that's litigation.
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