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Parents rights and responsibilities to each other

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Shared care obligations - 'Obligations' rather than 'Rights' are in the Consent orders - If they have been properly written that is!

My ex husband and I have shared care of our 2 young boys. We have consent orders that have worked really well until he got a new partner.

Now he is treating me as the enemy and all good faith etc gone out the window. He started breaching the orders, firstly changing the frequency of his contact..which eventually i conceded to every 3 weeks although he wanted a lot less.

Now he has moved house with his current partner and absolutely refuses to handover his address to me, even though its in our orders. He thinks I am a threat to his new relationship.

I have tried reasoning with him that I just need to know where my kids are when they are with him, and as far as I knew 'shared care' meant shared parental responsibility in that both of us are responsible for the boys, at all times, even in each others care.

A lawyer advised me to cease contact due to their age. I was also advised to put in a breach with the courts, but quite frankly don't have the energy and am waiting for him to take affirmative action so I can actually SEE he is motivated to have contact with them.

I am wanting to know is there anywhere that specifies co-parents obligations/rights… to each other in terms of shared care? Surely its a basic right as a parent to know where your kids are sleeping?
'Obligations' rather than 'Rights' are in the Consent orders - if they have been properly written.

Section 65 of the Amended Act details responsibilities and other issues.

Yes you do have a right if the orders specify - to know the address the children are residing at.

I would be very wary of using the advice of just one solicitor telling you to withhold the children - two wrongs do not make a right in the Family Courts

I think your first option is to contact the nearest FRC and request mediation


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

FRC

Does not the Court look at what's reasonable for a parent?

That is what I am trying to find out really, regardless of the fact the address issue is in our orders and he has breached that… does not a parent have a duty and obligation to know where their children are sleeping at all times?

I have asked a few non-separated parents about this issue, and they strongly say no matter if its a family member or not… they would always want to know where there children are… so i'm wondering why would or should it be different for separated parents?

Or do we have to compromise some of our basic parenting responsibilities to our children, like they are cut in half?

The local FRC is about 2 hours away so when i contacted them it was completely unreasonable to attend given the distance, childcare and working.

Should I maybe consult another solicitor? I want it resolved sooner rather than later, but i just read in the Sunday Times there is a 12-18 month delay for hearings. It's ridiculous.

Do any lawyers do mediation that you have heard of?

Mediation Practitioners

A visit to www.familyrelationships.gov.au will provide a list of approved Primary Dispute Resolution Practioners (mediators).

Simply follow the links to Approved PDR providers, and then do a search on your location. Many of the people and organisations listed will offer phone mediation as well.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
As previously suggested get a second legal opinion.

Yes there are some solicitors that mediate - however the solicitor then cannot act for either party (Recent appeal in the FCoA)

The time delay you referring to - is to a final defended hearing. The majority of cases settle long before that. Are you aware of the potential costs in taking a matter to final hearing in the FMC or FCoA?

'Contraventions' are normally heard within a few weeks

You claim your ex partner is contravening the orders - are the orders specific about addresses ie 'keep the other party informed' etc

When you say 'does a parent have a right or duty' - the moral answer is yes. However depending upon your orders you have effectively handed 'day to day' to the other parent when the child is with them. Separated parents do not have the 'luxury' of continual face to face contact with each other.

You must also bear in mind that children have the rights - parents have duties and obligations under the Family Law Act


Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas.†
squiddy3 said
Does not the Court look at what's reasonable for a parent? That is what I am trying to find out really, regardless of the fact the address issue is in our orders and he has breached that…does not a parent have a duty and obligation to know where their children are sleeping at all times?
You have two questions here. the first is Does the Court look at what's reasonable for a parent. Well mostly not. The Family Law Act is about children and the best interests of children and protecting them and ensuring they can have a relationship with both parents… The Family Law Act is very clear in many sections 65 and others but reading all this stuff is not for the faint hearted. If you wanted to read something there is somewhere here on the site an abridged summary of the new act from the Secretary SPCA (Me).. I will try and locate for you. Its been written in plain English.

The second question in the above was the obligation to know where their children are sleeping. That is something you should have in your consent orders but failing that the answer is in general terms only YES. BUT and there is always a but most of the time with courts and orders. The new Act clearly defines Shared Parental responsibility and I would suggest you have that by deafult. It talks about consulting on a range of major issues and in my view is not limited to just the ones listed like Schools and Education and Health matters. I would suggest it extends to where the children live. Surely it is not an unreasonable question either. I am sure the courts would not be impressed to hear one party or the other was withholding a residential address of where the children were residing during the other parent time.
squiddy3 said
I have asked a few non-separated parents about this issue, and they strongly say no matter if its a family member or not…they would always want to know where their children are…so I'm wondering why would it …or should it … be different for separated parents? Or do we have to compromise some of our basic parenting responsibilities to our children, like they are cut in half?
A very good question also but unfortunately when parents separate and for some inexplicable reason, often what was occurring during the relationship in relation to parenting activities, does not continue and life becomes extremely different as the relationship fades and especially as new partners develop who have other ideas also. Your family (children) are no longer yours and they are (were) effectively cut in what used to be 80/20 but we have improved things now to closer to shared time where practical… The last resort to try and fix this is court. It is a relatively slow process but the Federal Magistrates are now-days generally making good progress. As you already have orders by consent you might well be able to get through things faster by modifying existing orders. You could try and see if there is a family member who you both would talk to who could Mediate or someone in the local community such as a JP perhaps. The best option is a professional Mediator and a phone call to Michael Green mediation may give clarity here.
squiddy3 said
The local FRC is about 2 hours away so when i contacted them it was completely unreasonable to attend given the distance, childcare and working. Should I maybe consult another solicitor? I want it resolved sooner rather than later, but i just read in the Sunday Times there is a 12-18month delay for hearings. Its ridiculous. Do¬ ;any lawyers do mediation that you have heard of?
Some Mediators do phone counselling and I would certainly get Michael Green's book on shared parenting as a start. I think it is under $20.00. The problem with a parent who does not want to cooperate is that you cannot easily "make" them cooperate without a court order. When you do have court orders and they are not complied with either consent orders or otherwise they can be quickly dealt with via the contravention process. This usually is dealt with in a few weeks so it is a good process to sort out delinquent parents. You cannot use it for ";frivolous"; things and you need to have very good records of events…

If you are a long way from a Federal Magistrates Court try talking to your local court Chamber Magistrate about options as they are a good source of advice and often local courts in rural and remote areas will hear family matters where orders by consent have been made and amendments are needed.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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