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Lost in a legal battle

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Long story….my husband and I have been parties to family law dispute on and off for 8 years. Two primary school aged children. Their mother unilaterally moved 4 hours away in the middle of the night with the children without my husbands consent, or his knowledge. We we're unaware where they lived and were forced to file for recovery order & care agreement through the FCC. Eventually orders made by consent, kids & mother returned & shared care arrangement in place. Then we again were in a position where we had to get the courts back involved for contravention proceedings following her not allowing access despite court orders & for no apparent reason. Mother found guilty with serious disregard and entered into good behaviour bond. Mother filed for relocation. Did not fulfil application requirements & we requested for current orders to stand. Undefended hearing with judge promising "final orders" but when we attended for final orders we received "part heard, interim orders" with a "final trial" listed in two years time. Interim orders are as before. Which is great news. But we are emotionally and financially exhausted due to proceedings to date & can not see any way that we can participate in further litigation. We have a baby on the way & we have spent all of our savings just to be able to maintain a significant role in these kids lives. We have the option for an appeal due to judicial error & have consulted a QC who suggests we have strong merit, but you can't get blood from a stone. We also have grounds to have the current judge removed from our matter due to judicial bias as his order reads that he has already decided to allow relocation so that the mother no longer puts her anxieties or anger onto the kids or involves them in her vendetta against their dad. He has acknowledged that she is prone to histrionic behaviour that is negatively affecting both children but suggests that if she gets what she wants that this will cease & the children will be able to return to just being kids. He also acknowledges that their father is a great dad and that he has the ability to put their needs before his own and will therefore make the effort to maintain a relationship with them despite a significant disruption in his time with them. So our dilemma is that we can't let the kids  move and lose our ability to provide stability, an age appropriate lifestyle &  a safe environment for at least half of their lives. We can't risk the reduction in time because she will be able to alienate them against their dad (so far she has been fairly unsuccessful in doing so do to our significant role in their lives) there are truancy issues, she will not support their extracurricular activity wishes, our time will eventually dissolve into nothing and they will be two more kids that grow up without a dad.
We can not afford (financially) to continue with the litigation.
But we can not afford (emotionally or morally) to lose our significant care and time with these kids.
What do people suggest we do?
Any experience would be great.
We will try a family dispute resolution or private mediation in the mean time although we know it will be a waste of our time. But we are willing to try anything. We can not move to follow her either as we are part of my husbands family business and he has no qualifications or other job experience & his family will have to sell or lease the business to someone else if my husband leaves.

Thanks in advance for any advice or experience
We feel so lost in this litigation & forever putting our lives on hold with no end in sight


Some points require clarification. You stated that you currently have Interim Orders which maintain the status quo and that a final hearing will be in two years. What is the purpose for you wanting to appeal? Is it because the judge promised Final Orders and you only got Interim Orders? Did the judge Order a Family Report before the Final Hearing? My ex relocated some years ago without my approval which made the existing Orders inoperable. I took her straight to court without mediation and obtained an Interim Order whereby care of our child was granted to me and the judge Ordered a Family Report before the Final Hearing where the merits of her case could be tested. I was self represented. It is quite normal to have Interim Orders in relocation cases before a Final Hearing.

I understand your frustrations with the system, it is draining both emotionally and financially, and the longer it goes on for the greater the toll it takes on you. Does your husbands ex have legal aid? If she does I suggest you contact Legal Aids Investigations Section and give them the details of her past failure to relocate and the bond she was placed on. It worked for me, I managed to get the ex's Legal Aid cancelled on a recent case, that forced her into negotiations with me and agreeing to Orders by Consent.

If the judge has Ordered a Family Report and the Final Hearing is two years way I suggest you attend the sessions for the Family Report and go fully prepared. If the report is favourable to you, your husband's ex will most probably want to settle for Orders by Consent or not relocate at all and withdraw her application, unless she has lots of money and wants to waste it.

Hang in there for the benefit of kids and hope that your husbands ex will get sick and tired of all this turmoil as well.
DarlingHeart, I know a little bit of time has passed since you posted. But consider this, the mother and children returned, and you currently have a shared care arrangement in place. Your next date in court isn't for two years. That's the important bit. It's TWO YEARS away. That's two more years of shared care. By the time the court date comes around, the children will have had two more years of shared care with you and their father, rather than there being a distance between you and them if the mother had been allowed to stay where she had relocated to.

A lot can happen in two years. You said yourself that she is on a good behaviour bond. Two years could seem like a lifetime to the mother, you never know.

Concentrate on the children, both the ones that are already here, and the soon to be little one. Build up their 'emotional bank' as this will serve them well, and can help build resilience in the children.

In the meantime, learn all you can about self representing. Keep records of everything, just in case. Good luck.
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