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Court again? Mediation first, this time...

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Unfortunately, as per the title, it appears as though my ex wants to head to court again.  This time though, she is going through mediation first (the first time she alleged violence to get a fast track).

I had hoped I had put all this behind me 3 years ago, when I managed to convince her to sign consent orders giving me the lion's share of time with the kids.  Time and space have proved this to be the correct course of action, as over the years since the orders were made, the ex has only managed to adhere to the full content of the orders for a few months at a time.  For the majority of the past 3 years, the ex has been unable to put herself into a living position that would allow her to even take advantage of the "every other weekend, half school holidays" that make up the meat of our consent orders.  She has moved around constantly, including spending approximately a year interstate, had several major health problems (heart attack, stroke etc) and even now, isn't in a position to even have the kids overnight!  I do what I can to encourage the kids to look forward to their time with their mum and I always tell them that they will only ever have one mum.  I don't try to alienate them from her in any way.  I truly believe in the rights of the kids to have meaningful relationships with BOTH parents.  But I cannot believe that what she proposes is in their best interests.

Yet she still has gone to mediation in an attempt to have our roles reversed.  She wants the kids to live with her and "spend time" with me in the arrangement as is currently meant for her.  I find it incomprehensible.  Even for the 3 years _before_ we had consent orders signed, the kids lived with me and only "spent time" with her on some weekends.  So the kids have lived with me as their only live in parent, for the majority of their lives - over half for my eldest and around 3/4 for my youngest.

However, to be honest (I usually am), I am still scared.  The system makes me scared that somehow she will hoodwink everyone and manage to pull it off.  As I have never been to mediation before, I am scurrying like mad to find out as much as I can about the whole process and what it entails.  I am trying to forsee any potential problems or issues, or indeed any tactics she might use.  If I were thinking logically, instead of emotionally, I would conclude that there hasn't been any changes in circumstance (yet) that would pass the Rice & Asplund tests.  Unfortunately, as I love my kids so much, I am still being emotional.

I have sent an email to my solicitor seeking his advice and opinion.  Fortunately he is a very no nonsense type of practitioner and will always give it to me straight.

Am I being stupid to be worried???

M.
You don't have to agree to anything at mediation.

Have you even started the process yet, they will speak to you and her at different times before it starts, it might get to to a point where after mediation speak to you both they will conclude that they is no need for mediation as you are not willing to change arrangements because of the reasons you stated before. Which is reasonable to me.

Bring any diary's or other info you have been keeping with you, even write out a basic month by month sheet of events of when she did have the kids, didn't have the kids, different homes she has.

If she goes in wanting to go from sparodic unstable care to full time carer its just ridiculous anyone can see that.
Perhaps offer at mediation …..that IF the mother is in a more stable position in 12-18 months time and has had the children consistently when she is supposed to and the children are doing well with the arrangement that you will look at doing mediation again and consider giving the mother more time per fortnight with the children but DO NOT AGREE ON ANYTHING until you are SURE you want that change to happen.

Sounds like the Bio mum has realised that if she has the children more she will get child support, centrelink and all those perks that she wouldn't be getting now with EOW care.

Make sure you are civil and headstrong at mediation, state the facts but don't get agro and upset, have all your info in front of you and remember you don't have to agree on anything at mediation if you don't want to, its merely a process to help parents come to a compromise.

In saying that if there is anything YOU want to change at mediation then use this as your advantage, do you want to set up a routine for xmas/easter/father day/ mothers day, do you want the mother to contribute financially to the children's schooling/uniforms/medical costs etc etc.

Its natural to feel anxious, but I think you will be fine.
acacia said
Perhaps offer at mediation …..that IF the mother is in a more stable position in 12-18 months time and has had the children consistently when she is supposed to and the children are doing well with the arrangement that you will look at doing mediation again and consider giving the mother more time per fortnight with the children but DO NOT AGREE ON ANYTHING until you are SURE you want that change to happen.

In saying that if there is anything YOU want to change at mediation then use this as your advantage, do you want to set up a routine for xmas/easter/father day/ mothers day, do you want the mother to contribute financially to the children's schooling/uniforms/medical costs etc etc.

Its natural to feel anxious, but I think you will be fine.

 
Thanks for your post.  I have abbreviated the quote above, hope you don't mind.  The first point above, is precisely what I have been saying to the ex for years now.  If she can demonstrate the ability to provide a stable home life for the kids (for a decent period of time), then I will consider her request to look at the arrangements.  Until then, I can't even begin to consider it.

It's funny you should mention using it to my advantage…  I have wanted to change the kids' surnames for some time now.  Presently they have her surname, and it was the intention to change the surname when we got married (which never happened).  Assuming she marries her current fiance, her surname will change.  Her brother and mother have already changed their surnames to the mother's maiden name because no one in the family likes the father.  So if that comes to pass, the kids will be the only ones in the entire saga with that particular surname apart from their grandfather whom they rarely see!  Unfortunately, there is no way in hell she would consider that.

However, perhaps she will allow a hyphenated surname.  I originally hated the concept, however after reading something about them (on here, it might have been), I have changed my mind somewhat.

In any case, yes I am still anxious about it.  I know the mediation is, in reality, a toothless tiger and really just a prelude to the courts but it is the end game that I am fearful of.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

M.
Good luck with it all Falcon.  :thumbs:
Just a word of caution in regards mediation. The mediator will push the person who is seen to be the willing to compromise. You will feel under pressure to agree - do not. You can say you need time to think about it.

You can use mediation to see what her hand is - ask questions and take notes.

Rice and Asplund is a serious issue for your ex to get over and there is the very real danger of costs being awarded against her.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on the site (Look for the Avatars).   Be mindful what you post in the public areas. 
Okay…  Got the call back from the mediator today. 

She explained in very round about terms what this was all about.  To be honest, she didn't even seem to be aware that the ex and I already had consent orders.  When I mentioned this, she fumbled a little and said "Oh, I am sure she would have mentioned it to me." <papers.rustling>. I didn't think it was going to be worthwhile to try to explain my reservations about changing the current orders, whilst on the phone to her.  She was fairly "adamant" about me coming in for an interview.  She explained that the process is fairly lengthy and could take around 3 months.  Of course, there isn't much provision made for people who actually work for a living…  She made it abundantly clear that I will have to take time off work for this process. <sigh>

To top that off, all my leave at present is tied up waiting for my new partner's baby to be born!  I told her I could likely leave work early one day and make the trek over to see her.  Another annoyance - the mediation place is right out of the way.  It's not near where either myself or my ex live, so I am wondering why she chose that location (there are several others closer).  She also didn't seem to be that switched on about the law in these matters either, however I don't really suppose that it much of an issue.

It's such a pain in the bum to be forced to go through this tripe again.  Particularly in relation to how inconvenient it is with work etc.  And on top of that, the ex wants the kids involved in the mediation (not likely).

M.
So you write a letter to the FRC saying that you have had consent orders for the last 3 years. Also inform the FRC that your leave is used up for the birth of your future baby.

You dictate the terms, not them.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on the site (Look for the Avatars).   Be mindful what you post in the public areas. 
monteverdi said
So you write a letter to the FRC saying that you have had consent orders for the last 3 years. Also inform the FRC that your leave is used up for the birth of your future baby.

You dictate the terms, not them.
 
  I will go to this initial interview as I have already agreed to it.  However, after that there is apparently some compulsory workshop to attend prior to joint mediation.  I will definitely be putting the brakes on this once the baby comes along.  The whole point in using my leave after the birth is to be on hand to help out / look after my partner - not to be traipsing around the countryside because my ex is feeling like causing trouble.

Thanks again for all the hints and info, really appreciate it!

M.
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