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Father threatening legal action for contact

Hi,

I'm hoping that I might get some answers on here as I have no idea what to do at the moment.

My son is nearly 3, and I have not seen/spoken to his father since I discovered I was pregnant. The only initial contact was him telling me that I should get an abortion, but after that there has been nothing to show that he has an interest in my son at all.

Now all of a sudden he has begun texting me, using the "I'm so sorry" line, has threatened committing suicide if I didn't allow him to see the child, and when I informed him that I was in a relationship with someone else he has now threatened me with court action to get access.

This guy is mentally unstable and a known heavy drinker / drug user. I just want to know what I can do to make sure that he doesn't get access, he isn't on the birth certificate but I am aware that he could get a court order for paternity testing to prove parentage…but would it mean anything in court due to the fact that he has shown no interest over the past 3.5years?

Last edit: by Secretary SPCA

I would certainly be keeping copies of the texts, as evidence of his state of mind and the current status quo will assist you, however, there are only rare cases where they will not let a bio parent see their child, as it is the child that has the right to be loved and cared for by both of their parents.

I would sit tight, at this stage and see what his next move is.  Let him take action to see the child legally.
The child has a humane right to know and be cared for by both parents and as such there are ways in which a parent can have contact with the vast majority of types of parent, including parents who may be a risk to their child. Such parents can be ordered, or even agree, to undertake what is termed as supervised contact. Supervised contact itself has differing levels e.g. supervisions could be a family member, a parent of the parent is not uncommon. It could be that contact be at a contact centre where trained staff would oversee the contact.

There is a great deal of research that tells of the numerous and lifelong disadvantages that a child who is deprived of their humane right to know and be cared for by both of their parents is more likely to suffer. A greater propensity to commit suicide, to under-achieve throughout their life, to follow a crime ridden and or drug abusive lifestyle are some.

Adding these two together I believe that you should really be asking yourself how you can safely do what you can to reduce the potential of the child suffering throughout their life, rather than seeking ways to increase the potential of your child falling foul of the pitfalls.

An understanding of the stages of separation may be of assistance in understanding why the other parent and perhaps yourself may not be reacting in the way that is best for yourselves and especially the child. Perhaps the other parent has moved onto the moving forward stage. Here's an overview from the Family Law Court's website, which will hopefully lead to you considering that perhaps the stages of separation are taking their path.

Family Law Courts said
Separation
This section is about stages of separation, how separation can affect people, what you will need to consider and some immediate decisions you may need to make. It provides links to places you can seek assistance and legal advice about your situation.

Stages of separation
Separation is a major step for everyone. It's a time when you need help and information. Most people admit feeling the worst they have ever felt in their life. Grief, where you feel the loss of an important part of your life, may be the reason for this. If you separate, you may experience these different stages of grieving:

    * shock and denial that it is really happening
    * anger and blaming your former partner or another person
    * sadness and depression,
    * moving forward - acceptance and adjustment to your new life.

Talking to friends and family can help you sort out your feelings. Trained help may assist you and your children cope better with the changes.

Moving at a different pace
Separation affects everyone differently. You and your former partner may move through the stages of separation at a different pace, feeling different things at different times. For example, one of you may be starting to accept the separation while the other is still feeling angry. Even if you are at different stages, it is possible to talk with your former partner about arrangements for your children, house, money and other financial matters. Courts understand you may be at different stages of moving forward and that this may affect your ability to negotiate with your former partner.
What you need to consider
If you separate, you and your former partner will need to make some immediate decisions about practical issues about your children and your assets. You may not be able to agree on all these things at the time of separation, but it can greatly help you and your family if you try to reach a temporary agreement. You can use the facilities of the Family Relationship Centres, if there is one in your area, or other community-based services to reach an agreement. It is a good idea to get legal advice. Some of the things you need to consider are:

    * where your children live and who will take care of them
    * how you and your former partner will support yourselves and your children
    * what, how and when you will tell the children, other family members and friends
    * who will pay outstanding bills or debts
    * who will stay in the house
    * how will the rent or mortgage be paid
    * what will happen to any joint bank, building society or credit union accounts
    * what will happen to the house, car, furniture and other property.

Getting help
Talking to friends and family can help you sort out your feelings. There is also trained help available that can assist you and your children cope better with the changes. Some of the services available are:

    * Family Relationship Centres. To find a centre near you, or to find out about other services in your area, call 1800 050 321 or visit Family Relationships Online located under website links.
    * Reconciliation counselling may help you understand more about your feelings and help you decide whether to stay together or not.
    * Separation counselling or mediation may help you to sort out any problems you have about settling your arrangements if you decide to separate.
    * Legal advice may help you understand the law relating to family disputes and help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities
    * Legal information is widely available on the Internet and in public libraries.
    * In the Getting Help section of this website, services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities has information on Court services for Indigenous communities and links to Aboriginal Legal Centres.
    * In the Getting Help section of this website, services for ethnic communities has information on translation and interpreter services for ethnic communities.

Here's a link to the above, http://www.familylawcourts.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/FLC/Home/Separation+and+Divorce/Separation/
Smurfegirl said
I would sit tight, at this stage and see what his next move is.  Let him take action to see the child legally.

I think that smurfegirl's response doesn't consider the potential benefits of being seen as a more responsible/consdierate parent that could potentially be gained from initiating/facilitating contact and reaching some form of plan. You could save a great deal of money and not leave a decision up to a complete stranger who has a very limited view on which to base their decision or decisions upon.
Fair comment Mike, the other option may be to invite the father to mediation to see how he wishes to proceed.
Thankyou everyone who has replied,

I am aware that if a paternity test is ordered that he will have rights to my son, but I just fail to see how a court can go…sure you have never seen him, he has no knowledge of you but here you go, and give access. I don't trust him or any of his family to be around my son, and hold fear that he/his family would not return my son if visitation rights/access were granted. I have never been away from my son for more than 10hrs (if that), and he will not stay with other people except for the carers at his childcare…He has a great home environment and a very loving family (I live with a sibling and our parents), and not once has he ever asked for daddy despite knowing his friends all have them as do his cousins. It just stresses me out that his 'father' can just jump in and try to ruin everything that I have spent so long building up, and if I decide to get married, the chances of him being able to legally adopt my son are next to nill as my son's bio dad would never agree to it.

I doubt that he would have ever contacted me had his most recent relationship not failed, he played the dad role there and I think it is the main reason why it has been brought up. I just have no idea as to what to do, because I cannot be sure if court action is an idle threat or not…but if it is, it appears there is no chance I have to keep a bad influence away from my child.
If the father has had no access at all, they won't just give him overnights outright, he will need to build up a relationship with his son by starting out with a small amount of time, building to overnights.  If there are substance abuse concerns, then supervised access can be ordered, as Mike T said.

That is why it could well be an idea for you to initiate the mediation upfront.  You will be required to go to mediation either way and it may look better for you, if you do initiate it.  Burying your head in the sand, won't help.

The other thing is that a lot can change in 3 years, especially if you were both young when your son was conceived.

The overriding thing to remember is that it is the child that has the rights, not the parents.  It is enshrined in law that children do have the right to know and be cared for by both parents.
Freakingout said
and not once has he ever asked for daddy despite knowing his friends all have them as do his cousins.

At around 3 years of age the child would almost certainly not be at the concrete stage of cognitive development (this starts form around age 7), rather the child would be at the pre-operational stage, in which the child very much thinks in terms of them-self. Basically, the child is far too young to think/understand that a father is missing.
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