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Family Forum: Restricted Child Access

Mother is devastated at restricted child access.

QUESTION:

My daughter is having issues with a lying ex and we really don’t know how to deal with it. Can you help? They have a teenaged daughter. For the first half of this child’s life, she lived with her mother. The father visited and took the child one weeknight and every second weekend. This worked. My daughter married another man, bought a home and had more children. Then her ex went to Court for sole custody and the lies started. The judge ordered the child to live with the father and the Court orders were reversed. After two years the orders were changed again due to more lies in Court. Weeknight access was out. This left the mother to see her child every second weekend from Friday after school to Monday start of school. Now the Courts have listened to the father, again, who stated that in the best interest of the child, she should only see her mother every second Saturday and Sunday. The mother is devastated.She has no criminal record, does not drink or smoke. But every two weeks she travels four hours one-way to see her child.  The child is depressed, sad, crying and not sleeping well, saying she hates her father for doing this. The mother is concerned for her child but doesn’t know who can help her.

ANSWER:

It is very unusual for the Courts to change the care arrangements for your granddaughter in the way that you have described.

Given her age, your granddaughter’s own wishes may be considered by the Court in relation to any changes.

It appears there have been many changes for your daughter and your granddaughter and it would be understandable if you and your daughter were struggling to deal with all of those changes. At any time, your daughter can reapply to the Court to have the matter reheard. She can obtain legal advice from the Legal Services Commission and the Court has the power to appoint a lawyer to represent your granddaughter.

A lawyer can seek from the Court to have a child psychologist to meet with your granddaughter and a report can be provided to the Court, so that the Court can assess your granddaughter’s current wellbeing and any want for change in her living situation or access with your daughter.

The panel has noted that your daughter has to travel four hours to see her daughter, making an eight hour round trip. Given that distance, it may now be that it is not practical for your daughter to see your granddaughter mid-week.

You and your daughter should obtain legal advice and you can apply to the Court to change the arrangements again.

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Family Forum is a panel of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it. The panel is appointed by Relationships Australia SA.

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Fill out the form below or send questions to Family Forum, The Advertiser, 31 Waymouth St, Adelaide 5000.

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