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Getting back into his life

Information for a father wanting to be allowed back into his sons life

Hi All
Im trying to find out some information for my partner about getting back into his sons life, but Im not entirely sure where to go, who to contact, or who handles this sort of thing.

My partner and his ex had a son when he has 16 and he tried his hardest to see his son but the break up was quite messy and he was bullied into believing he had no rights. Im not displacing all of the blame, he could have made more of an effort, but he was young and didn't have any support. He lost contact when he was 3, and his son is now 6 (turning 7). Late last year he started making contact again, and now speaks to his son on the phone about once a week. We live on the other side of Australia because of his work (army) and will be visiting again for the second time since contact was reintroduced.

Out ultimate goal is to be able to have him visit with my partner, and when we move back to be able to see him often (every second weekend) but for know we understand that it is a big transition going from not knowing he existed to having his father in his life. We're taking baby steps so the son and his mother can learn to trust my partner. The trouble we are having is that the childs mother is being very inconsistent. My partner has been very reasonable this whole time, saying he will accept the level of contact she is happy with. But she constantly doesnt answer calls, doesnt pass on mail, doesnt share information about his sons life, resists suggestions to create some kind of regularity (eg calling on the same day/s every week)… Most recently the problem is that she has changed plans that were made over a month ago in regards to our visit. We want to have some kind of consistency but without her co-operation it's hard.

We really want to sort this out between ourselves (us, the mother and her partner) without getting nasty or involving the courts, and we havent given up hope that this can be sorted out between us, but I would like to know what my partners rights are just in case it does come to that.

He hasn't been paying child support for a very long time, he was at the start but eventually she chose not to accept his payments, so that she would be able to have more power over his contact with the child. Im not sure if this is correct or not but he was told that if she didnt accept his child support it was the same as if he didnt pay it, and if he didn't pay child support he had no rights to see his son. I'm worried that if he pushes to get more rights we will be hit with the child support support bill for all those years - we would be more than happy to start paying now if it meant more access to his son but there is no way we could afford to pay all that money back. Especially because she was the one who said she didnt want it.

I am also worried about how bad it will look that he hasnt had contact for so long - he has matured a lot now and his ex and her parents bullying him into not seeing the child. I know there is no excuse for his lack of presence his childs life but it was an extremely distressing experience for him - he would make plans to see his son, take time off work, drive an hour to get there and arrive to be told that the mother had gone out with the baby and that he couldn't see him that day - maybe next fortnight.

Im getting sidetracked here, and I understand that I have only heard one side of the story, but the whole process seems a litt daunting and there is little information available for our situation. Could anyone tell us how to get started, just to get a little solid information so he knows what his rights and obligations are?
the child has the right to spend time with his father and you should seek mediation first if unable to gain reasonable results independantly with the mother.
Time with the child and child support are 2 separate issues and one does not guarrantee the other.
Guest said
…. he tried his hardest to see his son but the break up was quite messy and he was bullied into believing he had no rights.
The child has a fundamental right enshrined in the Family Law Act to have contact with and to know his father also Paragraph 60CC (3) (c ) has some impact

(c ) the willingness and ability of each of the childs parents to facilitate, and encourage, a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent; is taken into any court matters
Guest said
…We live on the other side of Australia because of his work (army) and will be visiting again for the second time since contact was reintroduced.
The Army have a number of assistance services for their members as do all the services and the chaplains are also a good source of information. They may even assist payments towards any mediation. You would need to make enquiries.
Guest said
.. ..my partner has been very reasonable this whole time, saying he will accept the level of contact she is happy with. But she constantly doesnt answer calls, doesnt pass on mail, doesnt share information about his sons life, resists suggestions to create some kind of regularity (eg calling on the same day/s every week)… Most recently the problem is that she has changed plans that were made over a month ago in regards to our visit. We want to have some kind of consistency but without her co-operation it's hard.
Yes this is a common complaint. Perseverance, keep a good record of all arrangements entered into, dates times and and places in case that is required later at any court matter
Guest said
…We really want to sort this out between ourselves (us, the mother and her partner) without getting nasty or involving the courts, and we haven't given up hope that this can be sorted out between us, but I would like to know what my partners rights are just in case it does come to that.
Your partner has few rights if any. Rights are all the child's when it comes to Family Law and in fact many judicial officers make that very clear at the outset when the parties walk into court.
Guest said
He hasn't been paying child support for a very long time, he was at the start but eventually she chose not to accept his payments, so that she would be able to have more power over his contact with the child. Im not sure if this is correct or not but he was told that if she didnt accept his child support it was the same as if he didnt pay it, and if he didn't pay child support he had no rights to see his son.
Contact and child support are completely separate and related only for purposes of the formula calculations. It is complete nonsense to say if he doesn't pay child support he cannot see the child. The mother needs to get some advice from someone that knows what they are talking about!
Guest said
I'm worried that if he pushes to get more rights we will be hit with the child support support bill for all those years - we would be more than happy to start paying now if it meant more access to his son but there is no way we could afford to pay all that money back. Especially because she was the one who said she didn't want it.
You will be looking at paying from the time the application is made or a new agreement is made. As hard as it is to say it out loud there is sometimes a view that money does buy contact time.
Guest said
I am also worried about how bad it will look that he hasnt had contact for so long - he has matured a lot now and his ex and her parents bullying him into not seeing the child. I know there is no excuse for his lack of presence his childs life but it was an extremely distressing experience for him - he would make plans to see his son, take time off work, drive an hour to get there and arrive to be told that the mother had gone out with the baby and that he couldn't see him that day - maybe next fortnight.<
I don't see this as a problem in fact some reasons there why should be a new parenting plan or some more formal new arrangements that need to be put in place.

The answer to start with is arranging some mediation, which may also be done by video conference and I would most certainly approach the Army Chaplains Services to get some ideas on what the service can or cannot assist with.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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