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I am helping my daughter through the myriad of Family law.(I am her father) I was self represented years ago when I had to challenge for custody of my children and to end access by my wife. I got custody on the grounds of her unreasonable behaviour (very hard work!)but terminating her contact was a difficult affair that took me 6 long years (having to supeona her police and medical records and fighting not only her lawyers but the police commisioner as well!

The final descision was made only after my ex-wife (she suffered from alcohol and violence issues) tried to strangle my daughter (in front of the police, she thought my daughter possessed evil spirits)and then only after a psychologist reccomended to to the court that she not have any contact at all not even supervised contact because there was a real risk of harm to the children.

Why mention this? My daughter was in a defacto relationship with a man who has mental health drug and alcohol issues. He has been arrested by the police for holding a replica pistol (my daughter did not know at the time it was only a replica) whilst in the bath threatening to kill himself. He also attempted to take his 6 month old son on the back of his motorbike and after my daughter left made several threats of violence including burning her home down in the middle of the night.

Now all these threats may be nothing to many people and indeed they may come to nothing but my daughter has a real belief that he will do something so she wants only to grant supervised contact (which was agreed in mediation but the father would only come on a Saturday morning and that was not possible for my daughter.

The upshot of this is that whilst he is legally represented because my daughter would like to leave WA (she is engaged to a Briton). Legal aid will not give her assistance (she works full time and receives $1.00 a week in assistance from the father because he is on disability pension due to his mental illness). So she has to battle on her own against her ex partner of whom she is frightened and his lawyer that tried to browbeat her at the arbitration conference.

What I do not understand is that he can have a lawyer but she can not. Even if I could go through the process with her and speak (she is very timid after the trauma of her childhood) on her behalf this would help but I am not permitted to do so.

It would seem that the court has forgotten that our legal system is based on a litigant being able to get someone better placed to speak on thier behalf. Isn't this where lawyers began? In those days someone representing you could not be paid but wasn't the pocket on the shoulder of the gownfor a 'gratuity to be inserted? Perhaps I am wrong but I beleive that centuries ago ANYONE could speak on behalf of another.
Although I understand that you wish only the best for your daughter and grandchild-ren I am not sure that the cause is so noble.

For what ever reason this person has become an addict may well be due to deep seated problems from his early life or his mental illness.

This does not mean he is beyond change or with the right help could deal with his problems.

I'm not sure why an attempt has not been made to negotiate a variation on the contact date neither am I sure why your daughter could not arrange for the child-ren to be taken to the contact centre for a visit with dad.

All parents have an obligation to promote a relationship with the other parent and with contact centres this can be done in a controlled environment where the person suspected of abuse can be monitored. This then can be presented in court with regards to how the accused reacts in this situation and if there are any fears for the child-ren that can be perceived. There are also other options open to validate the other parents parenting skills etc as well possible avenues to deal with addictions and such. This may take some time to validate and conclude about the childs safety but the child has a right to see both parents in a meaningful way.

As he is receiving benefits and meets the criterion of legal aid he will be entitled to receive it, as would your daughter if she also met the same financial criterion but this aid is not limitless and is subject to re-application as the process progresses. The government could not afford to provide representation to every person needing legal assistance and with the assistance it does give it puts emphases into resolution before court is required.

I'm afraid your addressing the issues in a very personal way rather than with a legal view and this will muddy the water when it comes to understanding the legal process of the current times, this person may well deserve a second chance, by all you have said he has not been violent but rather made threats because of substance abuse and perhaps events leading up to a physiological episode that could be associated with the lead up to separation and the separation itself. As the police and such have not been concerned with the situation it can only be assumed that they do not consider him a risk.

Child support is an irrelevant factor and should not be associated with access to children unless you wish to manipulate a parents time with the child which is an abomination.

Although I understand where you are coming from with what you are saying and as I have you seem only to want to protect your daughter and her child-ren you will need to get your head around the fact that this person is not your daughters mother and your grandchild-ren has a right to have both parents in their life unless their is proven cause for a judge to decide this is not viable. With what you have described this is going to be hard to prove and what will happen is your daughter will be perceived to be manipulating contact for self benefit and the judge will make an age appropriate decision with regards to contact with the father which could be every second weekend and half the school holidays plus mid week contact.

I could be misunderstanding what you are trying to say so I'm happy for you to rip me a new one and tell us the points you are trying to make.

All best D4E


Hi There

Thanks for your reply perhaps I muddied what I was trying to say so let me try and get to the point this time :-)

My daughter offered ANY othertime for supervised contact, she even offered to take the child to whereever the father wanted to have contact.  Her only stipulation was that contact could not take place whilst she was at work and not on a Saturday morning that is being as flexible as possible I would think.

My daughter was not refused legal aid on the grounds that she did not qualify financially as she too receives centrelink payments she was refused because the applicant is seeking an order for the 3 year old son not to be taken out of the country (My daughter asked him to sign a passport application so she could travel to the UK with her fiancee) and legal aid is not generally awarded when removing a child is an issue (legal aid refusal letter)

If it had been for fiscal reasons there was an arguement that could have been put forward ((inspite of the father earning undeclared $1,000 a week income as a mechanic in his garden shed.)  Sorry that was frustration coming out!))

My daughter is a traumatised 21 year old, she goes to work full time, she lives with her son and pays her rent and bills on time.  She has an inordinate fear of the legal system (perhaps the trauma of having to give evidence at her mothers trial when she was just 11 years old).  She has a real fear of harm to her son should the father be given unsupervised access. (there are too many examples to go into here of evidence of that).

The Father is a 35 year old diagnosed schizophrenic who drops out of his medicinal regime and abuses alcohol and drugs.  He has the support of care workers, his mother and a lawyer.

So my main point of the post was (finally!)

Where is the fairness of a hearing where the support is weighed so heavily in favour of one party?

How can the childs best interest be determined without the full facts being presented, or at worst points raised by the mother to be investigated and considered by a judge.

I agree with you 100% that these matter are best decided by an independent learned person but only after hearing all sides of the argument.  She has no money for a lawyer.  I have no money for a lawyer.  I could present her case without emotion and with a level of detachment, because I did so before and that was with my own childrens welfare at stake, but I am not permitted to do so
By the sounds of things the main thing that is being questioned is the child leaving the country. I understand why legal aid will not come to the fore as they will be aware the conditions of the case will not be favourable in establishing a valid reason for this to happen as the court will not consider such a move in the best interest of the child and the childs right to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents.

By the sound of things supervised visit situation has been accepted and the contention is simply when they can take place. I expect in time this may be able to be negotiated.

One thing that you need to do is step outside your daughters situation and look at the system as it operates.

The People who have the rights in the family court are the children and the parents are incidental because of emotional conflict it is simply too hard to sort out and de tangle the problems of the parents and the courts are not therapists. Because of this the court reasoning comes from evaluating the capacity of each parent to hold the best interest of the child in fore and how their case is presented. Again we then look at what influence other parties can have on the parents, influences can degrade into control that effects a persons ability to make educated choices for their child. Because of this a Mackenzie's friend can assist and support but not voice their opinion after all it's up the parent to best decide how they wish to present their argument and when to negotiate points, otherwise they may simply become obstructive or manipulated.

I understand that you daughter may have problems in voicing her opinion but if everyone was allowed to have a free for all nothing would get sorted  and more conflict would arise.

The main sticking point is that she wants to take the child out of the country and it would be doubtful that any institute would support this because it's not in the childs best interests.

The argument that this new partner would give the child a better life is one that no-longer hold credos in a more educated society, we now know the importance for the child to know the other parent and the need to encourage a relationship with that other parent warts and all.

The system has a responsibility to investigate any situation that they feel has credit regarding the abuse of children, by the sounds of things you have not reached the point where this may be tested.

With the support the father has you may find that he will indeed qualify for home supervised visits while the carer or his mother is there, the positives is that the carer will be able to assist him with bonding with the child.

I can understand the frustration of a person who does not pay child support but you need to simply put that in a box for now.

At the end of the day if this is just a visit overseas for a holiday and she can prove and give guarantee that she will return the child to this country a judge may allow this to happen, but I would suggest she would need to be very convincing even for a simple holiday.

If she intends to live there for an undetermined time I'm fairly doubtful there would be success.

It does not always appear as it might seem. Often those with legal representation have someone to speak as they hide behind that person. The courts in my observation tend to see that the better parent has custody.
Your daughters wanting to travel abroad is more about her wants than those of the child's needs.
From your experiences it would be apparent that if the preparation is done and the case well conceived a favourable outcome is arrived at.
If the father has the mental health concerns then these will be known through an expert witness's report.
The experience will be character building for your daughter as itis for us all.
Framing the case in the best interests of the children is what the court wants to hear. It also is a goodroute to being a better parent.

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
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