Support for son is taking toll on parents

We are supporting our son emotionally and financially through a bitter custody dispute that is currently going through the Family Court.


This last year has been 12 months of anger, frustration and sleepless nights, putting a strain on our marriage of more than 40 years. As caring parents, we are paying the legal fees to help, making quite a dent in our super.
I wish I could wave a magic wand and it would all be over. I know we cannot both go on for much longer. We are at the aged pension stage and certainly don’t need this. We love our son and will continue to help him as much as we can.
An assault charge was dismissed due to lack of evidence but needed a barrister to stand up for our son, an honest, hardworking, caring and loving dad. He does not deserve this.
How can we best support our son while also maintaining our own relationship?


One of the great things about families is the support they can provide when it is most needed. However, it is important that any help you give your son doesn’t have an undue negative impact on your health, finances or relationship.
It is timely to encourage your son to be more self reliant and to stand on his own two feet. Services exist to assist people on low incomes, including the Legal Services Commission, where an application for legal aid can be made.
Family Court proceedings take their toll on everyone, and although your son’s case is under way and much money has probably already been spent, at any time you can formally cease using lawyers, although it is always best to do this in writing.
There are booklets available online to assist people to represent themselves in the Family Court. Your son could represent himself, and although this could place him at a disadvantage if the other party is represented by a lawyer, it is a course of action well worth considering.
It is important that you do not drain your retirement savings, and also important that your son takes responsibility for fighting his own battles. That said, the panel is not advocating ‘battling” as the way to resolve issues.
Family mediation may have already been tried early in the proceedings but it may be possible to request another attempt.
As your son’s children get older, their views on having contact with him will be increasingly listened to. It may be the case that for a few years your son has to accept having less contact with them.
Grandparents also have rights to have contact with their grandchildren and you may wish to explore this as a separate matter.
You and your husband may benefit from speaking with a counsellor who could assist you to establish a healthy degree of separation from your adult son.
If your son is struggling during this stressful time, it may be very beneficial for him to seek counselling independently.

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