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Parents can't agree on schooling of 6yo


I haven't been on for a while because my matter was finalised in FMC December 2009 (50% shared care).

Shared care has been working (albeit with the odd hiccup) but we couldn't agree on schooling!

One of the Orders made was that if the parents can't agree on a major issue such as schooling, we were to attend the nearest Family Relationship Centre (FRC) nearest to X town.  The schooling issue has now come up, and both parents enrolled the Child into different schools.  By coincidence, the Mother had care of the Child on the date of school starting.  Hence she got the Child enrolled in the school she wants.

Prior to this, we attempted to go the the FRC to decide the schooling issue, and neither parent could agree on which was the nearest FRC to X town (WTF??)

An urgent determination about the Child's schooling was lodged with the FMC last December.  The earliest date given was 28/3/2011.  I thought I had representation, however this has now fallen through.

Sorry to bring this back to FLWG at such short notice, but friends, can anyone assist me with the following:

  • the family report writer described our separation as one of the most complex he had observed
  • it is my belief that the Mother has undiagnosed Schizophrenia and is in denial of this
  • the Mother claims that the Child has a speech disorder (I call this Munchaussen's by proxy)
  • the school the Mother has enrolled the Child in does not offer speech therapy
  • co-incidentally the school that I proposed does have a speech therapy screening process (the "speech disorder" could help here)
  • the Mother enrolled the Child at "her school" and did not provide the school with the relevant Court Orders
  • the Mother has received Legal Aid funding and lodged a response affidavit to my simple schooling determination request.
  • the Mother's response affidavit includes considerable change to contact (eg only 2 hours supervised contact each Saturday)
This matter is now up for mention.  Is it possible that I can get an urgent determination about schooling at a mention date? I have considerable affidavit evidence available to be served on the other party "by leave" (letters from respective schools, Specialist Doctors' reports and speech assessments obtained by the Mother) which discredits the Mother's choice of school.

Any ideas as to how to bring this matter back to just the simple matter of schooling would be most appreciated.    I dearly do not want this to snowball into another protracted trial.

Another tactic that has been suggested to me is to approach the Legal Aid Appeal's Tribunal and have her Legal Aid funding (obtained by deception) withdrawn.

The mother also wishes for an ICL to be appointed which I sincerely think is a waste of taxpayers' money.

Oh, and by the way, I just had my 2nd AVO from the Mother dismissed at trial - AGAIN.  Interestingly, just about everything she said in cross examination at the AVO trial, repeatedly contradicts what is her response affidavit (filed at the same time).

I thank anyone for their opinion.

Just briefly, I can't see how you can suggest munchhaussen's in one breath, and then use the "speech disorder" as an excuse to have the child enrolled at your own choice of school. You are entirely contradicting yourself. If this speech disorder really is a figment of the mother's imagination, there would obviously be no medical evidence to back it up, right? If indeed there IS some form of medical evidence supporting the mother's claim, that negates your argument of munchhausen by proxy. I'm not sure how you intend to use that, but I think you'll have to be very careful what you say.

You need to have pretty solid evidence that the school you prefer can offer some essential service that the current school can't. Otherwise (from what I've been advised) you will have a hard time getting a judge to agree to uproot a child who has already settled into her school and been attending for 2-3 months. If her current school is adequate there's a good chance the status quo will be retained, which is why people like your ex use this tactic of enrolling first, asking questions later. Because they know that the time it takes to get a hearing on the matter will work in their favour.

As far as the ICL, if your family report writer has stated this was one of the most complex breakups they've ever seen, you are alleging things like munchhausen's and undiagnosed schizophrenia, and there have been two AVO applications, it does sound like a very complex situation, and just the kind that might need unravelling by an unbiased party who is on the side of the child. I guess I would be worried that unless you're quite certain you can prove it's in the best interest of the child to attend your chosen school, you may be opening yourself up to much worse outcomes for very little gain. I mean, as you've touched on, your application gives her an opportunity to suggest reduced contact for you and your child, quite possibly on the grounds that there is too much conflict under th current arrangement and your child is suffering for it. From my understanding, this is a difficult situation to rectify. We had a similar situation with schooling, and had to make the decision that it wasn't worth the associated risks when there was so little chance we'd get anywhere. Good luck.

More information offered

Hi Rabbit and thanks for your reply.

More info about my claim of Munchhausen's by proxy is probably relevant here.  The Mother has dragged my Child from Doctor, to Community Health, to psychologists, occupational therapists, paediatricians, autism screening specialists, psychiatrists, trauma counsellors……. and that is only what I know about!  I recently received a letter from Centrelink to state that the Mother's request for a Carer's Allowance (for the Child) was declined.  2 years ago, the day care centre he attended suggested to me there may have been a problem with the (then 4yo) Child's hearing - so I made an appointment with an Audiologist.  The Mother's answer to this was "(Child's name) is quite psychic, and it is well known that psychics are deaf" OMG!

Put simply - my child did have a considerable regression with language skills since separation (messy location and recovery orders were involved), however this has markedly improved with Speech Therapy. And yes - there is a recent report to suggest that there is still a slight problem - but nothing like it used to be.

Now this may not sit comfortably with some on this site - and it pains me to remember that I told the absolute truth throughout the entire original legal process (and if it is not obvious by now - we are still going through what's best described as a "high conflict" separation) but I have decided to play the game. If the Mother asserts an 'apparent' speech disorder - then the best interests of the child would be to be enrolled at the school that offers speech therapy - the one I propose.

Yes this would mean uprooting a child who has started at a new school.  The fact, though,  is that the majority of the children from the day care centre the Child attended for 3 years attended all transitioned to the school I proposed.  The Mother enrolled the Child into a school in another town 30 kms away from his friends, family and support network.  This also coincided with the 2nd AVO - as the Mother constantly claims that she is in fear of me and says to Police "when can I walk down the road and not have to look over my shoulder all the time"  (The entire Mother's family support me and are disgusted in what she has done and continues to do btw)

Your mention of a third party to act in the best interest of the child does sound credible.  My experience with the ICL that was appointed for my children was quite negative.  The ICL altered the psychologist's report (Yes this is serious! - the psychologist wrote a report and the ICL submitted a different version).  I have affidavit versions of both reports and the ICL's version was not as favoured towards me - but as you allude to - pick your battles.  I could seek to have the ICL disbarred for her inappropriate actions - but at the end of the day I got 50% care and this is acceptable.  Why damage this? Once again - our separation is complex!

Sorry Rabbit - just thought I needed to further clarify my original post.

The outstanding questions I do have are (and once again I apologise for my last minute plea for help):

I have a short but succinct affidavit that explains my rational reasons for schooling options.  This is accompanied with letters from both schools, a paediatrician report (obtained by the mother) that favours my cause, and a fraudulent school enrolment form by the Mother.  Can I serve this on the Mother's Solicitor tomorrow morning "by leave" and try to have this introduced at a mention in the FMC.

Can I have the Mother's competing proposal (or response affidavit) adjourned - which includes her request for another ICL to be appointed, until the 2nd AVO transcript becomes available?  The majority of the Mother's affidavit will be contradicted in the evidence she gave whilst being cross-examined in another jurisdiction.

Thanks for the courtesy of your reply rabbit - I wish you well in your journey:)

rippedoff said
The ICL altered the psychologist's report (Yes this is serious! - the psychologistwrote a report and the ICL submitted a different version). I have affidavit versions of both reports and the ICL's version was not asfavoured towards me- but as you allude to - pick your battles.

This seems like an odd claim. The 'Psychologists Report' would have been an affidavit, would it not? How does an ICL change such report (an affidavit) without the deponent knowing about it?

In any event, you state that there is a mention hearing coming up. How is the mention before? Registrar? Judge? FM?

If you want the matter expedited - and it would seem reasonable to do so - you need to get an 'order' for the matter to be heard on an expedited basis. A registrar may be able to make such an order. A judge or FM certainly could.

Regarding alleged 'munchhausen by proxy' (now referred to a as 'fictitious disorder by proxy' and 'undiagnosed schizophrenia' - you're unlikely to get a diagnosis from anyone to support this your assertions in this regard. I'd keep these thoughts to yourself.

The Mother enrolled the Child into a school in another town 30 kms away from his friends, family and support network.

An action like this - taken unilaterally - does not reflect well on the mother.


Ok - some more clarification

Hi 4mydaughter,

Thanks again for some feedback on this site,

I remember you and your post made some 2 years ago - If I recall correctly, you went through the ugly process of Magellan which almost occurred to me.

Yes - so you don't get the impression I'm abusing this service, I just want to further clarify the facts again - the ICL did file the psychologist's 14 page report in affidavit format "by leave" in the Brisbane FMC outside the Court prior to the original directions hearing.  The subsequent affidavit lodged in affidavit format clearly had 1 (relevant) page altered and reprinted in a different font and without page numbering that reflected a different version of the Psychologist's original report.  Sadly - this was not detected until after final orders were made.

I only learnt that this occurred after the final orders were made and subsequently filed a notice of appeal within ?28 days.  It was only when I learnt the cost of obtaining transcripts etc that I discontinued the appeal.  I did subsequently speak to the Report Writer and he did confirm that he never altered, nor reworded, nor reprinted his original report.  Once again - pick your battles!

I did make an application for an urgent determination in mid-December 2010 for a schooling determination.  I was "offered the first available date" of 28/03/11.  I subsequently made an "appeal of a Registrar's decision" within 7 days on a more urgent basis however this was declined. I even tried to approach the Magistrates clerk, to try to have this heard on a more urgent basis.  Btw - my matter is now before Magistrates Coates (wonderful - the most appealed FMC - at least up this way anyhow).

I sincerely do thank you for your feedback.

Can anyone answer my question about serving an affidavit on the other party's legal team outside the Court?


That dopes certainly shed some light on the situation, and I do feel very sad for your child. Possibly the best thing for him in this situation is for you to retain that 50% of care, because he will need that balancing relationship to help correct his view of the world by example, particularly if the mother persists with absurd notions like you've mentioned above. I guess like you've clearly said, it's a a matter of picking your battles, and I agree with 4md - it's obviously best to keep the munchhaussen's and schizophrenia aspects aside at this time.

Sorry I can't help you with the other questions, but I'm sure some of the SRL's can weigh in some more. I hope your situation works out better than ours did, admittedly you've got more better grounds for a change. :)
rippedoff said
…it is my belief that the Mother has undiagnosed Schizophrenia and is in denial of this…
4mydaughter said
…Regarding alleged 'munchhausen by proxy' (now referred to a as 'fictitious disorder by proxy' and 'undiagnosed schizophrenia' - you're unlikely to get a diagnosis from anyone to support this your assertions in this regard. I'd keep these thoughts to yourself…
I've had reason to talk to our family psych about broadly similar mental health issues.  Some of the things he said that seemed important were:
- clinical psychologist/psychiatrists cannot accurately diagnose unwilling or duplicitous patients.
- there are forensic mental health specialists who can diagnose a non-complying patient, but I'd need a court order to make it happen.
- courts want convincing and compelling reasons to invade someone's privacy by ordering medical examination.
- I could describe events and behaviour if I was seeking a medical order, but I could never, ever, EVER even imply someone has illness XYZ disorder to a court, because I am not qualified to say so.
- strange disorders like Munchhausen by proxy are so incredibly rare that it's more damaging to me if I mention it than to the other person,
- even if the other person gets diagnosed with a mental illness, it won't necessarily affect court decisions
- manipulative and illogical behaviour in humans is not an illness - it is common and normal.

It sounds like you're having a tough time, good luck.
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