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Overseas father relocating back to Australia

We separated when she was 3 months old, I stayed in australia until she was 1 year and 4 months.

Hi all,

I live in France, I have a 3 and 1/2 year old girl who lives with my ex in Sydney. We separated when she was 3 months old, I stayed in australia until she was 1 year and 4 months. My ex overprotected her all the time. She was breastfeed until she was 2, she still sleeps with her, she wanted a constant supervision when I was there for no reason (no violence, drug, etc). I went to mediation a few times and got more time but it was still very difficult to see my daughter without her supervision so I left to France for 2 years. I went to court last year in April to be able to visit my child without my ex's supervision during my visits in australia. I visited my child twice last year for 3 weeks each time without her supervision, we have skype calls every week and we have shared parental responsabilities (that's the court orders). My ex wanted sole parental responsabilities and giving me supervised time with our daughter.

My daughter has kept asking me to come back to australia and my ex is being difficult on the orders that are in place, so I am going back to australia next month to live permanantly there (I have my permanent residency). My ex refuses to tell me in which conditions I will spend time with our daughter but she says that we'll go to mediation. I asked her to go to mediation twice for the last 5 months to speak about my arrival to australia but she refused (I have certificates from the mediators). She said that she will come this time but she wants to change the mediators and she refuses to plan the mediation now so it will delay the first appointments.

Some requests from my ex: She asks me to add her name after my name on our daughter's name (I don't have any problem with that), and she wants to travel to the states for 2 weeks at the end of the year where she has the citizenship (I would miss my daughter's birthday). Also she put my name on the airport watch list not to take our daughter overseas but I never said that I would take her to France.

Well, a lot happened and I would be happy to have some advices about my situation. I would like to avoid going to court, but is there any law that would force my ex to give me access to our child? What do you think about her travel overseas?

Thanks for your help!
Asking if there is a law that would force your ex to facilitate care is too much to expect however considering that you have been living overseas it sounds like mediation has been successful and you should continue down this path. When you get settled in Australia you could easily get court orders so your daughter can live with you for every 2nd weekend and half of school holidays. You could get more care if you are willing to be involved in her education, as she will be staring school soon and day to day life.

Thanks for your reply
pema_sydney said
…., but is there any law that would force my ex to give me access to our child?
The Family Law Act is extensive but there is nothing that forces anyone to give contact when they don't want to (in some cases unfortunate as that is). That is unless there are orders made at a Family Court. That is when you get certainty and parents are then obligated to do what they are instructed to do through the orders made. What some don't realise is that sometimes you don't get what you think you will get.

I have been an avid supporter of the mediation system and they do seem to have a pretty reasonable success rate. You can get private mediation and or partially Government funded mediation through Family relationship Centres. I was heartened last evening at a conference in Parramatta put on by the Family Law Pathways Network that covered "Reflections on the 2006 Family Law Reforms". The mediators there, certainly showed they were a dedicated bunch who were interested in getting good outcomes for children. When you are permanently here in Australia you will be able to get a better result than trying to do things remotely.
pema_sydney said
What do you think about her travel overseas?
Thanks for your help!
Look overseas travel is definitely a plus for children. The experience is wholly worth while. What is a problem is that some don't return. A two week holiday seems reasonable but we are too far removed to have a detailed understanding of what other issues might be going in. Is there a relationship going on with someone in the US? She is a US citizen which sounds a cautionary warning bell to me. It may be just that she is going back to see the parents at the end of the year for Christmas. She clearly refuses to allow you to travel anywhere through the airport watch order although one would want to investigate how it got there and why it remains when you have court orders in place. I assume you will relocate to somewhere near the child to allow you to facilitate the arrangements you are looking for.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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From memory the US has a poor record with the return of children. Be careful.

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. 
She has grown in the US and she is going there on holidays with her family who live in Australia.

I am willing to relocate where she lives and be involved in her education. We'll go to mediation and see how it goes.

Be very careful about letting her leave Australia. Seems a little strange that as soon as you propose to come to Australia she wants to leave.
monteverdi said
From memory the US has a poor record with the return of children. Be careful.
From my research I have to agree with Monteverdi. The UK and New Zealand have a good record whereas many other countries do not. Recoveries from Overseas are very poorly reported by the Courts and little information provided, there is a Black Hole of information that even Stephen Hawking could not explain.

If the Mother has US citizenship  does the daughter? This could cause a recovery problem.

Is the child entitled to French citizenship and therefore an EU passport, this would cause the Mother some concerns as there are 800 million people and dozens of countries to disappear amongst.

Our daughter is french/australian and because her mother is also american, she is untitled to US citizenship. We'll speak about it during mediation an see what the best solution is. I am happy to keep my name on the watch list if it helps her to be more confident.
Do not allow the child to leave if at all possible.
Thanks for your help.

Also, we have court orders for my visits in australia for 4 weeks each time I come. As I will be in australia to live permanently, do you think these orders can still be used for the first 4 weeks?
Current orders state 4 weeks when you arrive in Australia, so technically can not see why you can not have 4 weeks, especially as you have probably had no time for a while.
Other party may not agree.
I am now back in australia and my ex partner isn't following the court orders that apply for the first 4 weeks. I would like to fill in a contravention application and I am also seeking changes of orders based a change of circumstances (I moved to australia). How long does the contravention process take? Can I insert the change of orders inside the contravention application? or should I make 2 applications (change of orders and contravention application)?
I only can tell you through personal experience but you can lodge an Application - Contravention and also an Application in a Case for the change of orders.  that might be heard more quickly.  I don't think there is an answer as to how long a contravention case might take to be heard.  there are a number of steps you have to go through before it gets to a final hearing.  you may need to try and attend mediation first before lodging the application or they may accept it without the certificate required.  once it goes to court you will probably have to attend court mediation.  it depends on how urgent the FM or Judge thinks it is.  Mine has been in the court for 18 months but it wasn't seen as urgent (because it isn't urgent) and everyone except the actual applicant, my ex, wants it to go away.

Yours is different.  you could call up the helpline and ask them what to do and how long it would take, you may get some help with it.  there are also free legal advice lines that you can phone up.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
I went to see legal aid and they said that I should lodge an application - contravention and ask new orders. Then I called the advice line to asked some questions and they said that technically I can lodge two applications but the court doesn't like that. So i am not sure what to do.
You do what I said, lodge a Contravention Application and then after that - i think you can do it as soon as you want - lodge an Application in a Case for new orders.  They will hear the contravention first (if it gets that far) and then the new orders but will take into account what happens with the contravention.  sometimes I think they make new orders even without the application in a case.  You need to read up on other contravention cases on the Austlii website.  You can get some good information there.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
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