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$30,000 spent to decide birthday venue

News.com.au story

All I can think of is what a waste of money, and surely there must be other ways to sort out issues like this?

$30,000 spent to decides birthday venue for child, 7

By Janet Fife-Yeomans


May 07, 2008 01:34am


Article from: The Daily TelegraphFont size: + -


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[*]Feuding parents disagree over daughter's birthday[/*][*]Matter heard by the Family Court[/*][*]Estimated cost? A cool $30,000[/*]TWO warring parents who can't even agree on the location of their little girl's birthday have asked the Family Court to rule on where her party should be held and who should be invited.

It took a judge, three barristers, three solicitors and a day in court at an estimated $30,000 to work out where the girl should celebrate her seventh birthday.

"It is clear to me that there are enormous complexities for this little girl," Justice Linda Dessau said.

The parents have been before the court "a number of times" since they split up early last year.

It was just four days before Christmas when they were last before the court and Justice Dessau ordered they both undergo "therapeutic counselling".

Three months later they were back, having done no counselling and at odds over the birthday party. Her dad wanted to celebrate at McDonald's with gifts, balloons, his relatives, his new partner - and their seven-month-old baby girl.

Her mum wanted it to be on familiar ground at her daughter's usual play centre, with no relatives.

Justice Dessau said if they had undergone counselling, they could have sorted this out there.

"Instead the parties find themselves at court yet again today; another frustration and expense for both of them," the judge said.

A family report prepared for the court showed the girl was extremely resistant to seeing her father. The father blames the mother and her family for influencing her.

"I have a completely open mind about that," Justice Dessau said. "And in due course, if, sadly for the child, her parents are not able to reach some sensible … arrangements for her, then I will hear the case and I will hear evidence to try and unravel those complexities."

The judge ruled the father could be with his daughter between 3pm and 5pm on her birthday at the local childcare centre - alone. She said the girl should meet her half-sister sooner rather than later but in an orderly and sensitive way and not at a birthday party.

"It is essential to the mother's case that she is stressed and completely overwhelmed by these returns to court," said Justice Dessau.

"It is equally essential to the father's case that he is frustrated by the returns to court and the fact that he is progressing so slowly towards a normal relationship with this daughter."

Family law experts yesterday slammed parents who tie up valuable court time with "trivial" matters. Michael Taussig QC said if somebody came to him asking to run a case in court about a birthday, he would tell them to see a psychiatrist.

"Unfortunately the Family Court has to deal with dysfunctional people constantly and this is just one example," he said.

His suggestion would have been two birthday parties - one with mum, the other with dad.

"Most people would work it out that way," he said.


When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
I am only making an assumption but it seems grosly obvious that the parents are only interested in their own agenda, not in the best interest of their daughter.  How trivial can parents be, what child would not jump at the chance of having two birthday parties.

In cases like these I believe that the courts should come down hard on the parents, like in the form of increased court fees etc.  Something to give the parents a wake up call, to think of their children not themselves.



Not right, but I keep on thinking that perhaps the court should have ruled, that unless an agreed upon resolution is put forward, that the daughter's birthday be celebrated with the most responsible parent, that parent being the court that the both natural parent's have asked to be responsible.

An eloquent solution

MikeT said
Not right, but I keep on thinking that perhaps the court should have ruled, that unless an agreed upon resolution is put forward, that the daughter's birthday be celebrated with the most responsible parent, that parent being the court that the both natural parent's have asked to be responsible.
  Truly inspired MikeT!

One also has to wonder at the wisdom of the respective legal teams - but perhaps the $s get in the road of common sense.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
The judge has already said in limited words that he accepts there is alienation against the father which is slowing down the fathers relationship with the child, the alienation appears to be not only from the mother but her whole family.

If the judge is concerned about the introduction of a sibling being done separate from the birthday date should he not have ruled specific times for this to occur prior to this date so the childs sibling could attend with dad as well ??

I could translate the situation into once again a father is attempting to make head way integrating his child into his life and the mother rather than negotiate has said a flat " NO ". The judge has done little but affirm the mothers position by not dividing the day and allowing two parties to occur in differing locations with two separate extended families. He further affirms the mothers position by not allowing time away from the local child care center.

An alienated child would not jump at the chance of having two birthday parties and I think in essence this is whats being described especially to have such a resistance to seeing dad at such a young age.

But I don't know the case just reading between the lines.

It is of concern too that the siblings have yet to meet when the baby is 7 months old - surely it is also important for them to bond and have a relationship? It appears that nothing was done to enforce the counselling.

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
Key phrases in the reported text include, and I paraphrase "the father's frustration at this slow progress through the system" that the child has not yet met their new half-sibling and the mother insisting on "the familiar environment of daycare and no relatives" sounds like the mother is shutting the father out.  I agree with D4E. There is no way to mediate or negotiate with people who refuse to permit another parent into the child's life.

So there is a need for court intervention. I do not believe this would be the only issue, but definitely the one picked up on by the media.

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