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Dispute Resolution Certificate attained; now the Ride begins

Now I have my Certificate (non attendance of other party), she wants her conference

I'd like any constructive and objective advice people are willing to offer. I'm a first time father of a three month old boy whom I have not seen since his birth. No violence, no abuse (name the kind, it didn't happen) and no reason for my not being involved in his life and yet, this is his and my situation. Finally, after these long weeks I have received my Certificate so I can head to court and now my solicitors finally receive word from the respondent that they (her Counsel) would like for me to attend mediation. Personally, I do not see the point or need notwithstanding I would rather spend the 8k retainer on my baby instead of legal eagles. My point being, the mother has form for poor behaviour and has had many opportunities in the way of several letters from my solicitors while the Family Relationships Advice Line were trying to contact the ex for conference and I am skeptical.
Should I give this late request a chance or is my best bet considering going to court - considering her blatant disregard for our child to date?

Regards,

Jet
A hard choice… But unfortunately my some what jaded experience is that the only way to bring errant parties to the table is to proceed to the Federal Magistrates. If you have given ample opportunity to mediate and the mediation centre has not been successful then it is a clear indication that there is a serious reluctance on the other side to get a regime of contact in place.

Why can't the mother give you immediate contact arrangements? Why do you have to arrange another set of mediations before you can get to see your son. It is completely outrageous that contact is withheld on this basis. Her solicitor should know well what the key provisions are in the Act in relation to determining what is in the best interests of a child in paragraph around 60CC(3) (c ) an important additional consideration is the willingness and ability of each of the child's parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent.  

This criterion will need to be considered by the court along with the other criteria set out in subsection 60CC(2) and (3) when making a parenting order.  New subsection 60CC(4) also provides that when considering this factor, the court must consider the extent to which each of the parents has fulfilled or failed to fulfil their parental obligations.

The solicitor should be suggesting contact immediately and making some arrangements now; not in many weeks time when there may or may not be another mediation session. It seems like a delay tactic and dangling some hope and a miserly carrot with only the string and where the carrot is not even attached.

The Shared Parenting Council has continually maintained a commitment to the primary principal that each parent shall facilitate and encourage a close relationship with children ensuring that children have the benefit of both of their parents having a meaningful involvement in their lives.
 
On the surface of what has been posted there seems no reason that frequent regular contact is not taking place. Perhaps there is more to be advised about the circumstances.

You should carefully read the many posts about contact with young children under 2 years of age. It is vital to get regular and frequent contact. My view, from the many research papers I have read, is at least three to five times a week (7days) for at least a couple of hours. Use the site search engine and you will get many results returned and some good material.

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
 
Hyonlife said
Should I give this late request a chance or is my best bet considering going to court - considering her blatant disregard for our child to date?
  Yes. Absolutely.

You want to avoid the matter being determined by a Family Law Court. It's expensive and you wouldn't necessarily get an outcome satisfactory to you. It would probably cost you $25K + to have the matter determined in a Family Law Court. Your $8k would likely be consumed in 6-8 months, one year before a final hearing. Yes - it would probably take 18 months to get an outcome through the Family Law Courts.

You would be forced into negotiation during a final hearing anyway. You might as well resolve the matter now and save $20K.

Mate - you're probably hurt'n because you haven't seen your child for a while. That's understandable. Probably best to give the mother the 'benefit of the doubt' at this stage. Pregnancy can have some strange effects on mothers - especially first time mothers. Give mediation you're best shot. You'll need to leave your anger/hurt at the door. Otherwise you risk gett'n caught up in a high conflict situation which is not good for anyone, especially your child.

4MYDAUGHTER
Would it be possible to agree to mediation on the proviso that the mother immediately make contact available? No contact, then no mediation and it's off to court.

The point of mediation being that it is the best way to avoid court.

I agree with Sec. SPCA that her solicitor should know the key areas of the act. But as we all know there are good, bad and indifferent solicitors out there.

The solicitor(not ours) in our matter told the other party not to send the child for contact, and then we eventually had a letter stating that the other party wanted there to be no contact until court orders were signed. So I don't really see that the solicitor in this instance was acting under the key areas of the act. (Rant over).

Hyonlife, to use that old well worn phrase, at the end of the day, the decision is yours to make. We can all probably debate it until the cows come home. But you are the one who knows what your ex is like. All the best
Boots said
Would it be possible to agree to mediation on the proviso that the mother immediately make contact available? No contact, then no mediation and it's off to court.

No. Bad advice. Delivering 'ultimatums' doesn't work and is unhelpful in any context. The idea is to give mediation the best chance of success. Not give it the best chance of failure.

If she is a first time mother, she likely has anxiety issues. Issuing an ultimatum would just feed that anxiety.

In any event, the onus - and pressure - is on the mother to justify/identify a proper basis for withholding contact. She'll probably say that the child is 'too young' to be out of her care. And I think that any reasonable person could understand a mothers concerns in this regard. Separation anxiety, etc. The father needs listen to the mothers concerns and to provide her with reassurances, during the mediation process, to address those concerns - within reason.

Remember also that the mother's counsel will put pressure on the her to settle.

The alternative is to employ 'collaborative' family law processes. I reckon this should be the next step should mediation fail, rather than filing applications with a family law court.

Last edit: by 4mydaughter


4MYDAUGHTER
If you ex has been delaying matters for months or years and always made contact difficult or witheld it for no good reason youre probably best off to go straight to court.

you will probably find sexual abuse allegations made against you and there will allegations of violence throughout the relationship. youre ex will ask for protection from you in court etc etc.

solicitors know how to play the system and if they are told you are only seeking orders because you are still in love with youre ex and want to control her life they will be party to all sorts of delay tactics.

The most important thing you can do is stay focussed not allow emotions to enter your thoughts and keep plugging on regardless of the rubbish coming from the other side.

You can fool some of the people some of the time but you cant fool all of the people all of  the time unless they work for CSA and youre a Payee:)
Yes, but the thing is that the father already initiated the mediation process, and the mother refused to participate. Now when it gets to the pointy end of a potential court appearance, she is suddenly willing to participate.

How long will she delay this whole process, and in the meantime she is witholding contact.

Ok, maybe another option, is agree to the mediation but that the mediation must be undertaken within in a certain period of time. If the mother is "happy" to do mediation then she should be willing to get it done as soon as possible. This poor baby has not seen his dad for three months now. How much longer should he have to wait?

And I am sick and tired of anyone trying to justify things due to "being a first time mother". Just my opinion. This is a card that is being played far too frequently, without proof. There are a lot of women out there just like me, who just got on with the job of being a parent.
The child is 3 months old! Hello!

Suggesting that the father might be accused of sexual abuse or violence is way out of line and totally unhelpful to the father in these situation!!!!

Boots - I'm not making excuses for mothers in these types of instances. The child was born 3 months ago. The mother is probably still processing her new reality. She will have anxieties - as every first time mother has. Rational or not.

The father doesn't need this situation/matter to escalate. What's required is a calm, considered, gently gently approach.

Because the alternative is that the whole thing goes pear shaped and the father doesn't get the spend time with the child until orders are made which might be 12-18 months!

4MYDAUGHTER
Ok 4MD, but how long should he give for the mother to participate in meaningful mediation?

Just a note though, not every first time mother has anxieties. I didn't, and a lot of my co-workers were of the same ilk as me. We just got on with the job of parenting. Unfortunately there are a lot of women out there who play the "pregnancy brain" card and the "new mother" card. SO maybe we will just have to agree to disagree on this point.

4MD, so what in your opinion is an appropriate time frame for this father to wait for mediation to occur? And I mean meaningful mediation, not just the lip service type that sometimes happens.
Well he got issued with a certificate after a 'few long weeks' and the child is 3 months old. This matter is hardly being drawn out. I take it the the father initiated the mediation very shortly after the child was born. I'd suggest that move had a high likelihood of failure.

How long should he give the mother? As long as it takes.

If the mother's solicitor is suggesting mediation then this is a good sign. This is a VERY GOOD SIGN!!

The mother's solicitor will put pressure on the mother to resolve the matter through mediation. The father needs to step back and let this process work. The father has probably injected too much pressure into the situation as it is, by initiating dispute resolution so early on in the piece, so shortly after the birth of the child.

He just needs to chill out, give it time ans space. LESS IS MORE!




4MYDAUGHTER
Yes, but we ourselves have been on the receiving end of a solicitor saying that he will "urge the mother". And nothing happened.  Because, it was the mother's decision, not the solicitor's to make.

Realistically though, how long should he allowed for mediation to be completed? After all, if it doesn't go through the same centre, then they will both have to do initial interviews and whatever else the centre requires before the first joint mediation session. And then there are some centres that have very long waiting lists.

So in essence, how much time should Hyonlife allow to go by, without father and son spending time together, for mediation to progress. Would three months be a reasonable amount of time. And if mediation hasn't started within three months, then he takes the matter to court. And by mediation, I mean the joint sessions, not just the intake interviews.

Hyonlife has not given us a background on the lead up to the birth etc. So we are all responding to very limited information. All we know is that he hasn't seen his son since birth. We do not know what was happening/arranged prior to the birth etc. We don't know if there were any proposals made before the birth regarding contact after the baby was born. Maybe with a bit more information, we can give some more considered opinions.
4mydaughter said
The father doesn't need this situation/matter to escalate. What's required is a calm, considered, gently gently approach.
No one (well any reasonable member) disagrees with this.
4mydaughter said
Because the alternative is that the whole thing goes pear shaped and the father doesn't get the spend time with the child until orders are made which might be 12-18 months!
The father has not had contact for three months it seems. If the father agrees to additional mediation that could well extend to 12 weeks easily IF you can actually get into a  centre within 12 weeks. Lets say 8 weeks to get in and 2 mediations over a three week period. So here we have 3 months + nearly another 3 months. If no contact is given by this stage we have six months gone by. To file we are looking at 4 - 8 weeks if we are lucky for a mention so we are now into 8 months and nothing has happened. We might see interims in this scenario inside 9 months.

If I was the father and had not had contact for 9 months I would be wondering why the system had let me down. It is unacceptable to have such delays.
4mydaughter said
How long should he give the mother? As long as it takes.
A nice thought when you have some contact going but a new father, wanting to have some contact I don't believe "As long as it takes" is appropriate.
4mydaughter said
If the mother's solicitor is suggesting mediation then this is a good sign. This is a VERY GOOD SIGN!!

The mother's solicitor will put pressure on the mother to resolve the matter through mediation. The father needs to step back and let this process work. The father has probably injected too much pressure into the situation as it is, by initiating dispute resolution so early on in the piece, so shortly after the birth of the child.
Yes agreed the solicitor may put some pressure on to get things to mediation but he could just as easily have put some pressure on for interim contacts. This vision of 6 - 9 months or more is manifestly inappropriate, not acceptable in any circumstance and is blackmail and coercive behaviour to bring this father to his knees so he will agree to any minuscule piece offered later down the track.

It all does not look all to friendly and mediatable to me.




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
 
My son has not seen his daughter properly since she was 2 months old and has attended or attempted 4 mediations and is in court. Supervised contact was available for a while, but not last 5 months (no vacancy). His daughter is now 15months old and not likely to see her before at least november. So he has seen her 14 hours in 13 months.
No I do not believe that mediation games work.
The reason why the father should take a step back is because both parties have legal representation. I believe mediation has more chance when parties are represented because lawyers have obligations and they are predictable. These type of challenges become more problematic when a party doesn't have representation.

If a reasonable offer for contact is proposed by one party, the other parties solicitor would put some pressure on that party to accept the offer.

Whilst participating in mediation, the fathers solicitor in this instance should also table an offer to the mother proposing parenting arrangements. The Father's solicitor would include a notation in the offer that a costs order would be sought against the mother should she reject any reasonable offer and the matter proceeds to court.

The Mother's solicitor would then explain to the mother the consequences of not accepting a parenting proposal that is reasonable. The Mother's solicitor would also explain to the mother that she can't refuse any reasonable offer without proper basis.

A skilled family law solicitor with good negotiation skills should be able to achieve contact for the father. A bad outcome from this process is a protracted family court dispute.

People should do whatever they can to avoid family law court litigation. Its an extremely unpleasant experience!

The father in this instance should give this process a chance for a little while longer - 4-6 weeks at least.

4MYDAUGHTER
NOw see, there are good lawyers and bad. There are some who promote the guidelines of the family law act, and others who just don't seem to get.

In our case, the mother had agreed to a review of the situation (long distance move by her) in 12 months time. That time period elapseed. Soon after, when the child was in our care, the father got the mother to agree to mediation. Once the child was back in her care, she renegged. Further mediation was initiated by the father. In the meantime the mother's solicitor was saying that they were going to take this to court. 2nd mediation refused.

Child not sent to sepnd time with father, mother lodges in court, interestingly enough at the same time as the second mediation was being organised.

Papers in the system now. Mother proposes VIA HER SOLICITOR that there be NO CONTACT until orders are signed.

Yep, I can certainly see in this (oour) case that the solicitor was actively promoting mediation and an outcome without going through the court system.NOT…………..

And as for reasonable offers, I really don't think allowing a child to not have contact with a parent for six months at a time is reasonable. That was one of the offers.
Boots said
Papers in the system now. Mother proposes VIA HER SOLICITOR that there be NO CONTACT until orders are signed.

That proposal framed in such a manner - if indeed an accurate reflection of the proposal - is boarding on coercion - which is totally unacceptable.

I'd be directing the father's solicitor to write to the mother's solicitor with a warning that you will be bringing this matter to the attention of the court at the appropriate time.

If you wanted to up the ante, you notify the solicitor that further conduct of this nature will result in a compliant to the law society.

4MYDAUGHTER
We have only just started utilising the services of a solicitor now. This was sent a few months before getting the solicitor.

We have alrady been through the "if you don't sign this you won't see your child" scenario. That resulted in not seeing the child of course.

Our situation has been a roller coaster of coercion. And as for their "consent" orders proposed, no one in their right mind would consent to any of it. Imagine agreeing to not seeing your child for six months at a time. Especially when prior to the move, the child was seen weekly.

We do wish we had known then (prior) to the move what we know now. Hindsight is a very stront teacher.

And yes, mediation had been done previously, but when you have one parent just paying lip service, there is not a lot you can do.
With respect people, and particularly to 4MD, some salient points in my initial comment have been ignored. Firstly, several requests for communication were ignored prior to and during the mediation processes. I can disclose now, also, that I tried to talk with the other party's solicitors to ascertain their thoughts to attempt to diffuse this situation.

They refused to discuss anything and then complained to my representatives that I should not be talking with them.

Secondly, my opinion was and is it does not matter how young or old the child is; I have certain obligations to my son that are being denied. It is my preference to avoid the semantics that many wish to engage in so without being cute, I also have the right to be involved in his life as the father that I am.

For those who think I went in too quickly for mediation, perhaps they would like to impart their wisdom as to WHEN is appropriate? Keeping in mind the rights of the child to know and be loved by BOTH parents (quoted in the Act and ignoring that this is just right and proper), it is self evident that his natural rights to knowing who I am have been denied.

Finally, it is a simple argument (and one without merit) to suggest only mothers are capable of feeling love and loss for their child. If you want details as to WHY I am apprehensive, these can be provided. Truth be known, however, these details do not change the facts. Be the mother a first time mother or not, this is clearly not a case of the mother being anxious.

It is a vindictive action towards me and a manipulative approach of the legal system. Understand the juxtaposition to a married couple as distinct from my circumstances (de facto) and you will appreciate the hypocrisy within laws and societal beliefs. There is a suggestion in the 'anxiety' argument that even fathers within de jure relationships should have restricted sic contact with their children just in case the mothers has issues. It's a ridiculous and unsupportable contention
Secretary SPCA said

It all does not look all to friendly and mediatable to me.



I agree. She has refused to mediate proved by the FRC certificate and substantiated by no-contact coercion. Her lawyers offer now is nothing more than delay and status quo accumulation. It is time to file an application stick, which clearly emphasizes her as "unwilling and/or unable to facilitate a relationship" and "likely overprotective".

The longer one continues without contact the harder it becomes to get meaningful contact and the more likely one will accept less.  Once the stick is applied "carrot" negotiation can be continued more effectively until hearing. In fact most matters settle on the day on the courtroom steps. One has to jostle for position until then. Have a realistic parenting plan. I like 313313 and be prepared to phase it in. Once she gives time it is difficult to argue against further time. Don't let her handicap you out of the "meaningful relationship" race.

Forget about lawyers acting ethically or according to "the Act" - they are being paid by their client. You can bluff costs but realistically in a parenting case they will laugh at you.
I have no interest in denigrating the mother; it is just unfortunate that the situation has become as acrimonious as it is. Worse still, however, is how my best efforts, my most humble requests to be able to hold our baby are rejected out of hand.
For those interested, here is a brief summary:

Baby conceived within months of being an item. I wanted this child, without equivocation and prepared a nursery in my home as I wanted the mother to be provided for (it should go without saying I wanted her to be there also for us to be a family). We disagreed ultimately over how I perceived things as being one sided - my opinion to be sure, but as a person of character and on my word and correspondence I will stand. We broke up, she moved out taking all our baby supplies with her. No contact from her until I sought her out at the hospital on advice of her own sister that things were not well with mother and child. Rejected at birth - yes, I wanted to be there and was told to leave. One photo received 14hours after the rest of the family got one. Again, her own sister supplied pic within minutes of birth. Henceforth, on advice from police (harassment allegation raised as I turned up uninvited at hospital), my pursuits have all been legalistic much to my chagraine. Backtracking, prior to birth, mother and father had agreed on names and this was changed arbitrarily as was my paternity rejected on birth certificate (NSW jurisdiction). 24hours prior to birth, I contacted maternal grandparents to voice my distress at not being invited to birth and politely expressing my concern that I have been totally and unnecessarily excised from the entire birthing experience of this, my first child.
Brief though it is, if more is required I will play
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