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Breach of Orders - attempted abduction - advice please

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Hi All,
I have 2 kids that I have orders for that stipulate about 45% contact - half holidays + every second weekend (Friday to Monday am) + every Tuesday. I pick kids up from school and drop back to school on my weekends.

I have relocated in the last 4 wks interstate. All contact with my ex to discuss mediate relocation issues in the 6 to 8 weeks prior to relocation were fruitless. the ex didn't even respond though it is quite evident that all messages were received (communication book is pretty hard to ignore + email + texts).  Eventually responded AFTER I had left the state to a formal mediation request. More on that lower down.

I organised a visit to see the kids on one of "my" weekends and advised other parent of same - and copied the kids school in on this too. This gave about 2 weeks effective notice of my intention to have the children. The ex promptly advised me that I could not have kids overnight as "I did not have a residential address in the relevant state". This is first of my questions - does this hold water? It seems very clear that it is up to me to make sure that the kids are well cared for - but the "residential address" thing is just a red herring and baseless. I advised her that this was baseless and I would have them as per orders - very businesslike and no nonsense approach from me.

In any event the ex is VERY difficult about contact at the best of times and I have loads of breaches minor and major that I am hanging onto for the day it all goes to court again (as will no doubt happen eventually). It was clear that the ex would try to frustrate contact even to the point of not sending the kids to school on the Friday so I could not pick them up. The ex clearly expected that I would be there Saturday and I did not clarify for this reason.

What I eventually did was call the school early on the Friday (10am) and confirmed the kids were at school. Then messaged the ex to advise that I would pick them up from school and not to attend the school (I have an AVO on her). Her response was that I could not as the kids had "prior commitments" and I had not advised a "residential address" -in effect  no-way-Jose.

I was continued a no-nonsense approach and stated that I would make sure they got to any commitments and send me details - but I would still be having the children. No more communication after this which was about 1.30pm.

Half an hour before end of school the principal rang me to inform me that the ex's mother was coming in to take the children away from school early - but she was aware from my previous email that I was going to be there. I jumped in my car and got to the school asap. It was an awful position for the school to be in so I made it easy for them. I clarified that it WAS my weekend, that the schools responsibility is to give the kids to the correct parent on the correct day, and that that meant me. The school was great considering the stress it put them under.

My main question is - Is this attempted abduction? Or is it just another breach? What can or should I do?

I cancelled the current mediation based on the clear evidence (not just this episode!) that the ex will attempt to frustrate contact at any cost and therefore mediation is a waste of time given no agreement can be reached.



Much later

This is not an abduction. Yes it is a breach - or a pattern of breaches. You are also breaching the order by not being there to collect the kids on every contact. She cannot be charged with abduction unless you have sole custody. Nor can you.

In your case (breach) you are trying to allow the kids contact with your self. In her case (breach) she is trying to prevent this. The courts would see in your favour with regard to breaches.

I suggest -
1) Retract your cancellation of mediation.

2) Personally present or by registered person to person mail - the family court order to the school principal.

3) Advise the school that they have a responsibility to ensure the children are available for collection (perhaps at the office) for you contact visits.

4) Tell the principal that you have to travel a considerable distance and if he is going to advise the mother when you are intending to collect the children then you simply will arrive without notice to collect the kids. Tell him/her that if he/she assists her to denying contact then he/she is an accomplice to contempt of a federal court order. There is nothing that you can do about this but tell them anyway. Also mention that the matter will return to court and their involvement will be documented and presented to the court.

5) Don't in any way tell the mother of your intention to collect the kids. If she has some issue then she can save it for mediation that you are now willing to attend.

6) Keep notes on contact times/events the mothers actions and the schools actions.

7) Do not accept trouble from the school. If there is an issue DO NOT allow them to hide behind word of mouth. Write to them and ask for written conformation of anything they do to cause trouble.

8) Start preparing. This situation is going to get a lot worse and I anticipate that you will HAVE TO take the matter back to court BEFORE you can re-establish a contact routine.

9) Try as much as possible to be available for contact. If the principle advises that the kids have been taken early then turn up anyway and tell them to put on signed paper what events lead up to the children's absence.

10) Remember that documentation from the school is helpful. They however may be biased and troublesome. It is better to be assertive and see the kids than it is to appease their personal biases. In other words try to be positive with them but assert that if they don't abide their responsibilities then you will take the matter further. If they don't abide their responsibilities then DO take the matter further with the department of education.
Thanks for that. I will re-institute the mediation - it seems like a good idea to not be seen as the one who terminates mediation even though it seems impossible to get a result. The ex's opening statement (as far as we got) consisted of reducing my contact by half and increasing the amount I had to pay dramatically through additional over-and-above payments. It doesn't look like there is even an attempt to give the kids good contact with me.

I still have an issue with the "residential address" in the relevant state though. I do not want to give the address as I do not want the ex turning up at my friends house uninvited when I have the children. There is an AVO on the ex for good reason, and she is unstable (putting it nicely).

I do not believe the address is required. ALSO the ex refused precisely the same information to me about a year ago when it appeared clear that she was taking the kids out of the state for a period of time. The ex also repeatedly refused to divulge who and where the kids were when it was clear they were not with her on other occasions. All this is documented. This request for a "residential address" is hypocritical and I see it as a front for non-contact when in fact there is no basis in law. The ex will find it difficult in the extreme to argue it in court given repeated refusal for the same information to me previously.

One last little gem. Some hours after I collected the children, I got a call from Police on behalf of the ex. They did not not care where the children were and said so firmly. They said they were only acting to keep the peace in asking that the kids were ok - which I replied they were. The officer interestingly said that the ex had said that "there were no concerns for the children's welfare or safety". Which then begs the question - why call police when there are no concerns? This is repeated called of law enforcement when there is no issue. All is documented except this last one.
Is this mediation a result you not being able to see the kids or is because you are heading back to court.

It looks like she is trying to make the mediation (or court) starting point for negotiation a position where you are not seeing the kids at all.

If so, remind her that the order exists and that it is (as ordered) the starting point for negotiation. let her know the order is enforceable even though I hope you don't have to go down that path as it is very ineffective and can only harm the poor parent to parent relationship that you and your ex have (I am not pointing fingers) but if it need be then it need be.

It doesn't seem at all like you want to reduce the amount of contact from the ordered times and if that is her primary objective then mediation is not likely to be helpful in this regard.

I don't think knowing where the kids are is unreasonable however you have raised a significant point with her past behaviour.

You yourself have asked where the kids are (or live) and who cares for them. As much as I agree with the reason you don't want her to know where you live, I must say that you cannot expect her to let you know the answers to the same question if you decline to answer them yourself.

As a single parent I always ask where the kids will be and who they will be with and for phone numbers etc when they want to have a night over at a friends place. I ask question such as the family structure, the ages of those there and if anyone is a drinker etc and talk to the person that will be responsible for their care.

This is normal protective behaviour and I do this for the kids benefit and safety. It would also be of benefit to your kids if they had the same level of protection (perhaps even more with two parents) however much of this may come down to your ex's willingness to agree.

As for the police - the officer knows that the police cannot act unless there is concern for the children's welfare. He probably just called you to get your ex off his case so to speak. Perhaps that is why he said upfront that he is not interested in where the kids are. He does not have the authority as a police officer to demand to know where the kids are in the situation you described so if you don't tell him then the ex can't expect him to tell her. Passing the buck. "Sorry - he didn't say where the kids are". Document it anyway, especially the fact that she had no concerns for the kids welfare.

If she is not concerned about your care for the kids and the court has ordered the contact then is no reason that you should agree to reduced contact. It may be some time before she can accept this or she may not accept this at all. Work with the school to re-establish a contact routine. Don't hurry mediation or any potential court activity unless you are not making any progress with contact as your ex needs time to adjust.(If she is able)

If you can get contact started (even if only occasionally to start with) then you have something to expand on but don't let it take forever to get it started. Lack of contact is very harmful for the kids bond with you.

My case was almost identical to yours at one stage a long time ago. The school was very unhelpful at first. Then I pointed out their responsibility through the head office of the dept of education. This took a long time but it did result in the re-writing of the principals manuals so that in future it was clear to schools what they have to do.

Unfortunately from there things got worse and the kids never attended school on contact days.

My ex was deliberately keeping the kids from me for a long time. She went a lot further with allegations of abuse etc. Eventually the court ordered that they live with me and have no contact with their mum.

A lot of mothers (and some fathers) think they can still do this. The truth is that the only cases where they get away with it are the case where the other parent gives up.

The courts don't at all like a parent being excluded so there is a lot that goes on before such a change to orders is made. They give the non-compliant parent many options along the way. If none of these options work (ie one parent will not comply) then they will transfer residence and in some cases exclude the non-compliant parent.

This is never a good thing. I have a son and daughter who have grown up (now 14, 15) without a mum. My case has extremities that I wont mention. Suffice to say that as sad as it is that my kids don't see their mum, it was the only remaining outcome due to her behaviour.

Hope all goes well for you. Keep in touch. Others can learn from your experience.
Hi Mr Guest,

Thanks for your advice. The original request for mediation abt 6 months ago was to discuss the ex's drinking problem. I have had three unsolicited reports all from responsible persons, about issues of the ex drinking to excess daily and also driving with the children under the influence.

That became a bit secondary once it became clear that I was to move interstate as a drinking problem is hard to prove in a court of law. All I have to go on is the statements of three persons and whilst they would have some impact, it is not a slam-dunk.

Mediation therefore is now to concentrate on contact issues once I had moved. As I said, the ex refused to discuss the matter prior to me leaving in any way, and only started mediation after I had moved. Even then, via phone the ex has refused to talk directly to me so mediation is all via shuttle mediation when the ex is not even in the same room as the phone. The barriers the ex has put up to mediation are almost insurmountable, and if the first session is any indication we may get beyond opening statements sometime in 2020.

I am guessing therefore that the longer mediation takes, the longer I have little contact with the children other than half holidays, as all other days in the orders are impossible interstate. This would suit the ex just fine I guess and mediation is a great way to effectively deny contact for the moment. As I said previously, the the opening statement of the ex offered only half holidays (which I already have) and nothing else in terms of contact - clearly no attempt to be reasonable or have any regard to the children's stated wishes. The younger of the children has stated catagorically to a counsellor that he wishes to live with me full time. This counsellor reports to both parents so the ex knows this too.

Another prime reason that the ex will want the children as much as possible is maintenance. The ex has proven to not work more than 10-20 hrs per week, and in fact gave up 1 of 2 part time roles voluntarily in order to play sport every weekend. The remaining part-time position is only part-time because she wants it this way and could be full time (or almost) is she so desired. This despite only having the kids abt 55% and having family locally to assist her. The ex can work 35 hrs per week very easily without affecting impacting on care at all or having to work weekends or having to have to use outside care of any sort (including family). CSA is re-assessing on this basis as we speak - but I am not hopeful of a result that favours me. They simply ignored the refusal of the ex to maximise income in the last assessment though it was raised. In essence the kids are bread and butter to the ex via maintenance. This is one of the prime reasons I believe the ex is so difficult.

I am at a loss to know how to get her to be more reasonable and think of the children first so I believe that court is inevitable. Maybe I should join the SRL group as I can no longer afford representation.
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