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Advice Please - I'm at a loss of how to represent myself in the final hearing.

Hi everyoneI'm at a loss of how to represent myself in the final hearing. I will outline the circumstances in my matter and seek advice on how to best apply the law to my case. My ex and I separated Feb 2015, We have a 4 year old daughter born September 2011
  • March 2012,  My partner and daughter travel 3.5 hours to visit her sister for a week, A week had passed my partner told me over the phone that she and my daughter will not be returning home. A few days later I received an application For a IVO initiated by my partner. My partner did not attend court  her application was struck out.
  • 2 days later My partner agreed to me having care of my daughter for 1 week and we met for the exchange.  2 days into my daughter and I week together I was served another application for IVO initiated by my partners brother in law whom she was staying with. 2 days later I was served with a recovery order initiated by my,  partner. I had to return my daughter 9am the next morning which I did.  The matter was listed for hearing at the FCC July 2012, 2 weeks later my partner and daughter return home.
  • April 2012 The brother in law did not attend court his application was struck out.
  • July 2012 My daughter, partner and I were living together and we did not pursue the matter in the FCC.
  • September 2012 My partner takes my daughter to her sisters 3,5 hours away for a week, for the next 3 months  My partner claims that my daughter is very ill and they can not return. My partner and I make arrangements that she ignores. I initiated mediation that my partner ignores also.
  • December 2012 I travel to see my daughter for 3 -4 days  once a month, I estimate my partner facilitated these arrangements 50% of the time.
  • September 2013 I decide to move so i can be closer to my daughter eventually My partner. Daughter and I moved in to a rental property together we signed a 2  year lease.
  • I did not work for 12 months so I could spend time with my daughter.
  • July 2014 I received a bill from child support for the previous year, and my percentage of care was less than 10% I contacted child support to say this was incorrect my partner also spoke with them and she said to them we all live together.
  • November 2014 I got a full time job, My Partner and daughter were  spending a lot of at her sisters 5 km away while I was at work.
  • 27th Dec 2014 I was at home with my daughter, my Partner returned home with her sister and forcefully took my daughter from our home. 2 days Later i was served with an application for IVO initiated by my partner, I also was the applicant on a cross IVO both were made on 13th Jan 2015. 2 days before court on the 11th Jan my partner returned my daughter home to my care. On the 12th Jan 9:30pm my partner returned home with her sister and 2 police officers, 30 min later my partner took our daughter out of her bed while asleep and ran out of the house.
  • My partner and daughter were still at her sisters and I had no contact with my daughter my partner was refusing this and making allegations of family violence. I sought to vary my IVO to stop the mother harassing me this was made on 27th Jan 2015
  • 24th Feb 2015 I still was refused any contact with my daughter. I was the applicant on a recovery order, the Magistrate ordered that  the mother had to return our daughter home 7pm that night. The magistrate also made interim Family law orders For me to have care of our daughter for 1 week and the mother to have care each alternate week the matter was listed June 15 2015 at the FCC. The mother and I split up and move out of our rental property.
  • March 2015 The mother attended her doctor with our daughter with claims of injuries to her caused by father, the doctors report found nothing. The mother makes an application to vary her IVO to include a clause of not allowing me to approach or remain with in 5 meters of her or my daughter, this was struck out due to the ambiguity of the family law orders in place.
  • April 2015 The mother again applies to vary her IVO at a different magistrate this was granted. there after the mother does not deliver the child for the week about care set out in the interim family law orders.
  • April 2015 My lawyer makes an application for contravention
  • June 15 2015 The FM orders a Family consultant report, My lawyer had not filed the contravention correctly. The FM makes interim orders that the child live with the mother, I am to spend time with the child  as follows 11am to 5pm every sunday and the exchange to be at local police station.
  • August 2015 8 pm Saturday the mother sends me a text saying that her and child are not at home, could I meet them at her mothers in the morning 3.5 hours drive away  from our local police station. The same occurred for the next 2 sundays. My daughter told me while in my care that her mother got into a big fight with auntie and uncle and they were kicked out of their place.
  • September 2015 The mother agreed to me having my daughter for 3 days just following her birthday. Despite this arrangement the mother initiated a recovery order.
  • October 2015 The mother again with holds my daughter and  calls police when I attend to collect my daughter claiming that i made threats.
  • December my lawyer withdraws as my council.
  • Feb 24 Trial at the FCC
  My overwhelming concerns now are
  • The mother has 3 affidavits in relation to these proceedings that all contradict each other. The time of us living together, Family violence and physical abuse are all vastly different in each.
  • All of the mothers affidavits strongly state that I never cared for our daughter and that I have only seen her 2 or 3 times since March 2012.
  • The child is on record to DHS stated that she is scared of her father.
  • The mother has used IVO as a sword not a shield to sway the Family Law orders.
  • The mother her sister and Brother in law have made 10 police statements in relation to this matter that contradict one another.
Hi Jaspervine - I read your post and thought that you would do OK as you seem to know what you are doing by the way you have put the timeline together. The number 1 concern will be in having to decide if shared care is viable or not for your daughter if this is what you are seeking. The end result will depend on the orders you and mother are seeking and if the Judge can find a workable compromise so if you can put a proposal together along these lines then you should do OK. The contradictions, lies etc… will be seen for what they are and will probably go in your favour so make sure you are respectful at all times showing the sort or father you are and that you can work with others etc…and don't over emphasise these issues. As a SRL your conduct will be on trial and the way you dealt with the issues (not so much the issues themselves) is what the Judge will be looking at. You need to make sure the Judge does not see your conduct as abusive. Everything needs to be framed "in the best interests of the child" and must be reasonable and practical. The word 'care' is more appropriate than 'contact' when describing when you care for your daughter. I hope this info gets you started. I had a 4 day trial back in 2008 and know what you are going through. Good luck!

Thank you for your response, and I am sincerely grateful for your input in this matter. I am seeking full custody and have done from the beginning. . My daughter has primarily been in her mothers care for the last 12 months.  The family report recommends the child live with the mother and by all reports the  Judge will make orders for my daughter to live with the mother. I am trying to make the strongest case possible for my daughter to live with me, applying the law to these matters, without denigrating the mother. If you know of any other correspondence or post  that might be helpful please advise me.

                                                                                                                                                                        Regards Jaspervine
Hi Jaspervine - I guess you need to look at cases where the father has been successful at gaining sole care from the mother. Given your timeline of events I don't think you will succeed at getting sole care at all. I think you might have a good chance of getting shared care which could be anything from every second weekend to week about, but not anymore care than 50%.
The term custody is not used in the Australia Family Law processes. You cannot assume to achieve anything by "applying the law" as the Judge's interpretation of how to apply the law will be different to your interpretation. You need to go away and think of situations where a Judge might exclude a mother from her young daughter's life and then see if they fit with your scenario.

 Thank you so much!!  :thumbs:

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