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Issues with Contravention of Orders

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As a frequent visitor to this forum, I have found it a useful guide to my current situation. However my current situation has come to a point where I need to get some advice.  I have been in and out of the Federal Magistrates Court trying to get reasonable access to my children, and it is come to the point where I need to think hard about what my options  are.




  I have been separated for six years with four children. There a two girls and two boys, and are school age.  The mother has relocated to a small rural town that is over an hour drive away. This was a compromise I made five years ago when I was granted every second weekend and half of the school holidays. Since then I can no longer drive and public transport is limited. But I did manage to travel out to collect the children, but over time the mother grew tired of this arrangement for a number of reasons. Consequently, during 2009-10, there was a period when I did not see my daughters for 10 months.




I was successful in getting a contravention recorded against the mother. The magistrate ruled that the breaches were serious and ordered her to pay half the costs. A sentencing hearing was set down for a later date to include a Family Report. The interviews were conducted in the morning and the sentencing in the afternoon. The Report Writer presented her findings in Court. Her main finding was that the girls were aligned with the mother and that my relationship with my daughters had significantly diminished to the point where compensatory time was not recommended. Further more,  I was given one  weekend din four to re-establish my relationship with my daughters. I should also add that my relationship with my two sons was still there, but it too was diminishing.




The magistrate did not pass a sentence, only to warn the mother that if she contravened again, she will go to prison.  I had legal representation on the day, but I still found it bewildering and I felt very confused as the hearing did not finish rill 4.30PM. The magistrate ordered a report from a Family Consultant and the report to be available for a subsequent hearing.




There were four contact visits before the interviews with the Family Consultant. During these visits I tried hard to connect with my daughters by having general conversations with them and going out to the beach , shows  and seeing my extended family. But it seemed no matter how nard I tried, or what I did was not enough. I could not get to the reason as to why they did not want to visit. Because if I knew,  I would then address the issue. But out of frustration, I gave them my version of events, which did upset them.




The Family Consultant did record this in the report,  and consequently gave me a very negative assessment,  and recommended that contact be reduced to one day in every two months. It seems to me that is is OK for mothers to involve children, but if a father does it, it is a mortal sin. However, at the following Court Mention, I was granted nine days over Xmas - New Year, and the mother was to make an application fon for change of orders with a supporting affidavit. I was to respond with my application and supporting affidavit. Both applications were to be made available for a Family Report for a final hearing.




I have since learned the reason why the children did not want to visit. The mother has said to them that if they did not go to my place, Daddy will send her to prison. So the children have been aligned with the mother. The Xmas - New Year visit went well and we did get on and enjoyed ourselves.




To date the mother has yet to file her application for change of orders and is a month over due. I have taken further legal advice ,and I have come to the conclusion that I may as well just walk away. The fact that the mother has not filed her application is not a breach of orders, and if I were to proceed it will require the services of a barrister. In all this is going to cost me another $6,000 or more. In the end it not likely that I will succeed in getting reasonable contact with my children In other words, I have lost.




Secondly, if I were to pursue the matter, I would only further entrench the children towards the mother. So my best option is to walk away and hope that sometime in the future that they will realize that I am not the person they think I am.




For me there are no other options, but I really question the role of Family Consultants, and how do fathers get a fair hearing with them. I also question the sentencing provisions when orders have been contravened; it has given the mother an excuse to alienate the children further away from their father.




I wlcome constructive advice.
Why did you not see your children for 10 months?

4MYDAUGHTER
I did not see my two daughters for 10 months because the mother withheld them from me. Her excuses at the contravention hearing were mainly because they did not want to visit their Dad. But in the end, the Court was satisfied that she had no reasonable excuse.
However during the 10 months I did not see my daughters, saw my two sons on most contact times, and the mother had tried all methods to get a reasonable excuse. I will not go into the details as the events were proven to be false. During that time ignored all legal advice, which is why she was refused Legal Aid. I maintained a diary of events which formed the basis of ny application and supporting affidavit.


Extremely bad idea to discuss sensitive issues with the children in front of the Family Consultant.

That type of behaviour raises all kinds of questions about you. Lack of impulse control? Lack of parental insight?

If I were the family consultant I'd be thinking, "God. If he can do that in my presence, what would he be like with the children in a private setting, away from me?"

So how do you counter that perception your've created?




4MYDAUGHTER
4mydaughter,
I am not sure where you are coming from with your comments. I was not present when the Family Consultant was interviewing the children. I was interviewed on a one to one basis.
 What happens is the consultant will open the session with general questions and I can then raise the issues I feel that are relevant, or give my interpretation of events.

To me the system fails when the consultant fails to recognize that the children are presentenced by the mother, who has had the opportunity to get the children to follow the script. This evident in the individual interviews as well as the group interviews. But this only one issue.

The bigger issue is that the consultant had acknowledged that the children have been aligned with the mother, and had decided that the relationship between the mother and the children has priority. The fact that I have alienated, was not an issue, and when I tried to tell them my version of events, I was given a very negative assessment. There is no manual or protocol on how these interviews are conducted, and you do not know how the the interview is going to be reported. It is all very arbitrary and there is no appeal. The fathers relationships with their children is not deemed to be equal as to the mothers.

I would like any Family Consultants who use this forum to explain the process and if there are any protocols, how are they to use them.
But out of frustration, I gave them my version of events, which did upset them. The Family Consultant did record this in the report,  and consequently gave me a very negative assessment,  and recommended that contact be reduced to one day in every two months. It seems to me that is is OK for mothers to involve children, but if a father does it, it is a mortal sin.

Sorry. Perhaps I misread read this bit. I read it to mean that you had questioned your daughters about this stuff in front of the family consultant.

Family Consultants are only witnesses. yes their views can carry weight. But like any witness their assumptions and findings can be tested during cross-examination.

Judges and Magistrates don't necessarily always follow recommendations contained therein.

Also, some Expert Witness Reports and Family Reports can appear really negative and bias against a party but often aren't as bad as they seem.

I'd need to read you Family Report to get a handle on the situation.

4MYDAUGHTER
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