My prepared statement for the Court relating to the mother’s AVO charge against me. (Never accepted – never given a chance to read)
It has been exactly 579 days since I have seen my daughter. Its been longer than that since Sophie has seen her much loved grandmother – and longer still since she has seen any others on the paternal side of her family.
In all that time, in fact – in her whole life, Sophie has never expressed to me that she wants no contact with me. I have also never seen anything to this effect written by Sophie. I am told she has signed various statements purporting such sentiments for third parties but Sophie has never ever expressed such to me. I am extremely wary of statements that she makes to her mother because she has tended to tell us both opposite stories. She has only ever expressed love to me – and she did so as recently as August 2012.
Sophie and I have never had any problems whatsoever. We have barely argued about anything. I have been well aware of the pressures Sophie has been under in being unable to be two places at once for contact when she has been presented with alternate options. Accordingly, after heartbreaking phone calls, I always relented for her.
The phrase “In the best interests of the child” is used a great deal. There are different interpretations on exactly what comprises “best interests’. As a devoted father standing here today, I can tell you with absolute certainty what is not in Sophie’s best interests. It is not in my daughter’s best interests to place even more barriers between Sophie and her Dad.
My daughter is entitled to a viable loving relationship with her father without hindrance by others and she is entitled to expect her father to be working for her to see that she can have that without her feeling its all too much. There is no-one more committed to my daughter’s welfare than me. I have suffered a great deal trying to protect her.
I am a devoted father who has faced enormous obstacles in my efforts to maintain a loving relationship with my daughter. Many fathers in situations where there is a lack of goodwill around contact find the relentless difficulties too much, especially when there is distance involved. And they walk away. I value the amazing bond I have always had with my daughter too much to be a father who can walk away. I believe the other party has wanted me to walk away for some time. Her actions today in refusing mediation and taking Civil Court action to seek the restraint of a concerned parent rather than review current Orders through the Family Court only confirm my belief.
I did step back a little 2 years ago to try to ease the pressure I felt my daughter was experiencing whilst under the mother’s roof. Within months, and despite Family Court Orders, her school was changed, her address changed, her living circumstances changed, and her name changed –all without any attempt by the mother to notify me. My only child was hidden from me. Understandably I do not wish to step back again.
My daughter is not, and has never been, in any way scared or frightened of me.
My daughter does not have, and has never had, any cause to feel unsafe or at risk with me.
There have been absolutely no incidents, ever, that could suggest there is any justification for restraining me from contact with my daughter by way of a Court Order.
If Sophie has requested such measures, I would be in shock because it would be totally out of character and mark a new and extremely worrying new development in the climate of parental alienation I believe she has been subtly subjected to over the last 9 years.
I believe this matter should be immediately dismissed and referred for review to the Family Court where existing Orders are in place.