Long Term Care Welfare and Development? Yeah right!

A word of warning for any fathers out there who find themselves negotiating Orders for their child to live primarily with the mother, due to distance etc. A standard clause used in such arrangements is this:

That the (ex)husband and (ex)wife have joint responsibility for the long term care, welfare and development of the child “…”.

Such a clause means absolutely nothing and is unenforceable. I recently discovered that my 10 yr old daughter has been being referred to a child psychologist for the previous 12 months. The mother has actively kept this information from me. Obviously this was a matter of great concern for a father who wants the best for his child, especially when he already feels cut out of her life by the mother’s choice to move. Upon discovery I immediately requested the name of the psychologist and any reports done.

After 3 months of unsuccessfully trying to obtain these details I lodged a Contravention Application under the mother’s responsibility to me under the subject Clause. I can’t afford lawyers anymore so I had no option but to add to my stress by representing myself. Most reasonable people would agree that regular referral to a psychologist for a ten year old would be a matter of “long term welfare and development” for the child.

Unfortunately this is not how our so-called justice system sees it. The magistrate in Sydney stated that trying to get this information through a Contravention Application was “risky” and likely to fail and have costs awarded against me. I managed to settle with a Consent Order that the mother would finally (after 5 years of asking) participate in professional mediation.

So now I am trying to arrange mediation. Of course there’s no guarantee she will do so in good faith. So as well as missing my daughter dearly, I now officially have no right as a father to help look after her and that’s a horrible painful feeling.

I have been advised that if I get nowhere in mediation I will have to apply for a new Order which specifically states the information relating to my daughter’s long term welfare that I would like. In the meantime I guess I just feel helpless and even more cut off from her than is necessary. How can this possibly be in my daughter’s interests? Just another disgrace in how our laws treat disenfranchised dads.

Posted to another site by me on 29/5/08

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