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How easy to lose parental responsibility?

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My former partner is claiming all sorts of things and going for sole responsibility.  What are her chances? Do mother's mostly get this or is ti something difficult?
Unless she can show the court that you are a high risk and the child/ren should not see you at all and that you have no say or make any decisions for them, it is difficult for a parent to achieve when the other parent shows the court they wish to be part of their child's.
The mother would need to successfully rebut the presumption of shared parental responsibility.

Not much else I can say in response because your post was impossibly short on information.


Misc questions

Thanks for the reply.  I was just being careful given the public nature of the forum….

She is claiming I emotionally abused the children by telling them I was not allowed in the house to see them and all sorts of made up rubbish.  She has stated that they were never abused but she was which is absolutely lies.  She has held them from me for many months now based on no evidence other than her claims which are just baseless fear-mongering and a very spurious report.

Lets put it this way: If a child take a toy from another child and that child then gets upset, just for a few seconds, is that evidence the child has witnessed abuse? Or: if the father points something out to a child whist they are looking at something else, is that evidence the father is manipulating the child (in a way it is as is all communication between people if that's the case although it could be called helpful in some instances)?

All her evidence is hearsay laced with fabricated conversations. It was her that was the abusive partner and I can show in her affidavits that she is fabricating and exaggerating.  She was always very bad tempered and prone to unprovoked violent outbursts and extremely controlling to the point of ridiculousness and obsessiveness. She came to court acting the downtrodden partner. I saw her the day before and at the hearing two weeks earlier and she looked fine and well groomed but at the following hearing she look very distraught and wore old clothes with her hair unwashed. Are the judges swayed by this or is it something they have seen before and so easily recognisable? Do the court recognise that women are capable of domestic abuse or do they err on the side of caution and just give the children to the mother because statistically the children would be safer and so they are off the hook?

I have not put in an affidavit with hearsay evidence as yet but I can and detail all the abusive outbursts over the years and there were many in all sorts of places.  Should I go down this road or should not buy into claims that are without any objective evidence? I dont want to appear vindictive because I am not, I just want to see my kids and get her to stop creating all the conflict to justify restricting access. Should I detail her history of aggression and obsession or will this been seen in a bad light? I know this is about the children but in order to spend time with my children should I rebuff her allegations or will they be dismissed?

Any idea statistically the percentage of sole responsibility requests that are granted by the court? Is it 50%, higher, lower?

Will I get a chance to defend myself at the final hearing? I understand the affidavits is evidence-in-chief but will there be cross-examinations at any stage? I have been through the social services mill and was treated appallingly. There seemed to be a presumption of guilt that did not even require them to ask me at all.I am worried I will be treated the same by the Court.

How much weight does hearsay evidence get?  Surely more solid evidence as well as showing the contradictions, exaggerations, fabrications and spuriousness of the statements would be listened to first?
Hearsay evidence is not admissible.

Trust that your Judge/Magistrate will deal with issues around evidence appropriately.

You have the opportunity to object to hearsay materials included in affidavits before the hearing commences.

In respect of the mothers allegations - you did not recorded anything in your posts of any significance or concern.

In respect of 'shared parental responsibility' - the successful rebuttal of this presumption is often around issues relating to 'parental conflict' and 'parental communications' - poor or lack of.

A parent seeking 'sole parent responsibility' may attempt to create or manufacture parental conflict by making false allegations. Lawyers acting for such a party might try to inflame the other party - drawing them into arguments before the court - that are mostly irrelevant to matters relating to the 'needs of the child'

The best strategy against this 'conflict strategy' is not to react and not get involved in arguments/debates/issues/matters/discussions that are not directly to the 'needs of the child'.

She or her lawyer say something to draw you into conflict - you don't react. You ignore them.

Stay focussed on the needs of the child. Bring discussions back to the 'needs of the child'.

Let the mother or her lawyer attack you. The more, the better! You stay calm, respectful, relaxed, reasonable and child focussed.

I tend to agree with 4md - you should not be drawn into her games. None of what you have mentioned regarding her affidavits sounds even near enough to rebut the presumption, and if she has absolutely no corroborated evidence of any wrong-doing on your behalf, you have nothing to answer for. I believe this is clearly a tactic to either sway you into agreeing to her terms rather than be dragged through court, or failing that, to create an illusion of a high conflict situation.

I don't think it's a matter of judges simply giving children to the mother because it's statistically safer, it's more to do with the fact that if both parents cannot get along and every issue surrounding the children becomes an argument, there is a perceived need to reduce potentially conflictual situations in keeping with the best interests of the children. I.e, if the hearing demonstrates that indeed neither parent can agree/communicate/move past their own issues, the judge may feel that having one parent make all decisions will reduce the opportunity for arguments and save the children significant emotional distress. Now if your ex is already the parent who has a majority of time with/responsibility for the kids, the status quo would likely be maintained by awarding SR to her. I'm not suggesting that she could simply achieve this in the absence of evidence, but if all the "evidence" is her word against yours, and then you come back with a bunch of the same, it only serves to to complicate matters.

Again, if she has no evidence, witnesses or any way to corroborate her story - and you know you have done nothing untoward - you have little to worry about. I believe your best defence is to simply deny, deny, deny. Keep it simple and stay calm, respectable and honest. Answer each statement on her affidavit with a denial that the event occured or was as she claimed it to be, if need be a brief, simple correction of the situation, and an affirmation that you would never wish to cause distress to your children and are appalled at the suggestion that you have done so. When you are on the stand stick to the same principal. Straightforward answers. Cool and calm at all times. Do not allow yourself to be drawn into any kind of argument. If her legal rep. suggests that you are in fact the devil incarnate, simply respond with "no, that's not true." Don't get flustered. Don't argue. Don't try to have your say about how much of a nut your ex is. She will likely demonstrate that all by herself if you can just remain calm and keep it simple. That way you make it easier for the judge to see who is really causing the conflict here. And often they've seen it a million times before and are quite good at figuring things out for themselves!

My main concern is that this is only the beginning. She doesn't have a stronger angle, so she's looking for an opening, and if she gets SR, she will then look for her next opportunity - likely false allegations and an AVO. She may not have anything solid now, but there are a plethora of ways for a manipulative and driven woman to create a "paper trail" of small allegations that can amass to create an illusion of ongoing issues. At the very least this can create delays in accessing your kids, and the longer she can delay things, the more likely she is to be considered the primary carer. Ultimately, she's probably looking to remove you from the children's lives altogether.

In the meanwhile, avoid interaction with her altogether if possible. If it can't be avoided, ALWAYS have a witness present (family member, friend etc). Document every single conversation/meeting with her in a journal including dates, times, contents of conversation, transcribe text messages. She is probably on a mission to take you down one way or another -take it seriously and act NOW to prevent any potential allegations that could cause further delays in your access to the kids.

Of course, all this is only opinion based on my own experiences, so certainly take advice from some of the more senior members, particularly with the legal technicalities. :)

Do you have a current court order, and if so, what are the terms of your access? 

Misc questions

I really appreciate your reply and the focus. I have been but its good to hear it and I can always do better.

But I need clarification on hearsay evidence because her affidavit is 150 pages of hearsay.  Are you saying all that is not admissable? That it was just giant waste of time, a paper exercise? I can just thumb my nose at it? Surely the judges would look down on their affidavit because isnt it just wasting their time too? And I am sure I have read here that it was, or maybe that was under certain circumstances?

i did not react to her first affidavit because I want to get on with life for all our sake. I really do. I consider this to be wasted precious time that should be spent with the children. Its crazy whats been happening and my ex in her head thinks she is protecting the children but she's not all and causing them pain.  I just want somebody to say 'Please stop now. That's enough now' because she never listens to me. That might sound condescending but everything else has been tried.

Its like she has been on another planet.  I only hope she runs out of energy soon because she was fuelled by solicitors and so-called social workers who never had their minds on the children but on me. They never even contacted me they just believed everything she said. I may publish some of the 60-odd letters and hundreds of pages of communications with social service so people can see exactly how they work, well sometimes. I will publsih somethinmg here on FRC shortly.

As a male and father dealing with social services, who i actually went to first, out of the dozens I have contacted only two have been males.  How can social services represent children and families when there are not father to give input? The treatment I received was not of this era but of another some 70 years ago.

So their strategy is to draw me into argument with their affidavit in the court in final hearing? I don't even know how long a final hearing is? Is there cross-examination at a final heaing? Maybe its enough just to show the rotten low-hanging fruit and discredit a report which I can do easily but only if I am listened to and I am not confident I will get a chance to be heard and thats my worst fear.


Thanks rabbit. Thats basically it, creation of conflict to restrict access. In other words she can just continue to scream like a irrational lunatic and she will get the kids.  It doesnt matter what I say, whether I can prove she is liar or not. Sounds just like our relationship but a bigger scale.

I can't believe she can do this to the children who love me without question.  But of course there's always jealousy.

I don't feel like dignifying her barrage of slime with a response. Is that Ok or if I don't will I be up against it in Court?
Guest said
But I need clarification on hearsay evidence because her affidavit is 150 pages of hearsay.
What you are saying is contradictory, if you need clarification on hearsay how do you know her Affidavit contains 150 pages of it?

Cleverly rewritten hearsay can be admissible and the rules of hearsay are different in the Family Courts. Hearsay regarding children's statements is occasionally allowed in.

You really need to get her Affidavit checked over professionally and 'marked up' as to what can be challenged.

Guest said
So their strategy is to draw me into argument with their affidavit in the court in final hearing? I don't even know how long a final hearing is? Is there cross-examination at a final heaing? Maybe its enough just to show the rotten low-hanging fruit and discredit a report which I can do easily but only if I am listened to and I am not confident I will get a chance to be heard and thats my worst fear.
  The Court estimated duration of the Final Hearing would have been dealt with at previous hearings. FMC up to 3 days, FCoA pick a number.

If you are represented it is up to your solicitor and the other side whether you will be called. If you are an SRL you are controlling your side of the case and you will be heard. The Court can of course shut you down if you waste time and deviate into non legal (soapbox) argument.

mother's health

Ok, thanks.

But there's something plaguing me and that is; if a mother is capable of showing she can act with the lowest standards in fabricating and blatantly lying profusely, and if she has a blinding temper and withholding and obsessively controlling the children for months, how is she possibly a suitable mother?  This is my concern, I am worried about her influence on my children.  She has serious issues and always had. Her strictness borders on cruelty and exceeds it sometimes.

How can the court award sole responsibility to a mother who is not very well? Does the court listen to this if her history is detailed in response to the hanging threads left in her affidavit. There's no way she can hide it.

Surely obsessiveness and capacity for anger should not be allowed near the children.  Makes me feel like going for SR myself but I dont want my children effectively motherless.  She looks after welfare except on an emotinal level which appears not to be taken seriously. Yet I am not allowed to say 'I miss you too' in response to my children saying it to me.
Guest, I feel for you. She sounds very much like somebody we have had to deal with. I'm going to post a link on personality disorders that you might benefit from. It won't help you in court, but I think it pays to "know thy enemy". These types are extremely good at playing the victim, and very convincing, which is why they are so often taken at face value by social workers, FDR etc. I have seen the exact behaviour you describe (deliberate attempt to look dishevelled and downtrodden). They also like to play scared - asking to be hidden away from you in the court house, faking panic attacks when you arrive, etc. They believe their own BS by nature, and they are driven by obsession and the need to regain control, making them very dangerous and difficult adversaries. But they don't tend to hold up so well under cross examination; they tend to grandstand and I've even seen one attempt to question the judge! That's why it's best to keep it concise and simple, and let her go ahead and irritate the judge with her 150 pages of nothing. If you're lucky she'll be her own undoing.

Obsessiveness, anger, strictness, manipulation… they are all somewhat subjective. Even if it's blatantly obvious that she's got issues, proving her an unfit parent is a very tough and rocky road, with a small success rate. You need solid evidence of the children being negatively affected by her behaviour, usually from a non-biased third party, before you will get anywhere with that. I don't believe it's worth stooping to her level and asking for SR. You need to be seens as the rational parent, who understands the need for children to have both parents in their lives and just wants to get on with things.

Example - I know of a mother with schizophrenia, bipolar, likely borderline personality disorder, had numerous psychotic breaks requiring involuntary hopitalisation. Child was removed from her care by DHS for 3mths after one incident. She has claimed sexual molestation (disproven) and attempted 3 AVO's (none granted.) Makes bogus police reports, using very distraught child as a pawn. Yet she is still considered primary carer, and father was advised that the minute she's out of hospital, the child goes back to her care. He was advised that the condition is treatable, therefore once treatment is under control, it is deemed a non-issue. Also advised the only avenue is to get a counselor or teacher to make a mandatory report. Mother found out child was seeing a counselor, and lets just say child is now too frightned to talk, so counseling is over. So even though you must be just screaming out for somebody to stand up and take notice of what's really happening here, it's not that easy when it comes to proving it. Believe me, I feel your frustration.

Your best chance of helping to negate her negative influence is to continue to spend significant time with your kids. If you can keep them out of it, you'll be be a sanctuary for them and your very presence will have a balancing effect on their lives. My partner has had to accept this of his situation. It's so unlikely he'll ever get full custody, he has resigned to simply be a pillar of strength and avoid ALL interaction with her, thereby reducing her opportunities to take him down (she's still trying 9 years later). The problem with the delaying tactics is it doesn't matter how she's gone about about it - if she can delay your access and retain sole custody for long enough, it can then be claimed that the kids no longer have a bond with you and it would be in their best interest to only have supervised access, for example. Read this story and you'll see what I mean:

Sorry I can't help much with the legal aspect, I can only tell you what I've learned from very similar experience. But I really feel that having a legal rep would be your best chance of nipping this in the bud before it goes any further. If you can't afford it, consider applying for legal aid. Good luck!
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