Parents Behaving BadlyGeorgina Dalton
Parents Behaving Badly
Children rely on their parents for food, shelter, emotional support and love. However, during divorce proceedings, parents often need some support of their own.
If you are going through a relationship breakdown, remember that Courts smile upon parents who act in the ‘best interests of the child.’ Of course, this is easier said than done when your former partner is acting increasingly childish about your parenting arrangements.
Disagreements can be reduced through very careful drafting of parenting plans or Court orders, (which is why it is best to get a lawyer to help you). Regardless, problems can arise no matter how detailed you think your agreement is.
Read on to find out issues you may face during a relationship breakdown involving children, when your former partner is behaving badly.
1. Disagreements over drop-off/pick-ups
It is very common for parents to run into problems when dropping off, or picking up their children from time spent with the other parent. Issues can involve things like parents running late and disagreements between parents in front of the children at the handovers. Disagreements about the exact drop off location, (in the car park of McDonalds, or inside the restaurant?) can also occur.
The best thing to do in these situations is to allow your former partner some leeway. There’s no point in trying to rush back to Court over a few late drop offs. However, if your former partner is consistently quite late, is being deliberately evasive with the area of a drop off, or is causing an unreasonable amount of inconvenience for you, then you need to have a chat with your lawyer.
Usually a letter will be written to your partner or their lawyers, and if need be an application can be made to the Court.
2. The timing and regularity of calls
This is another common issue. Skype sessions may be cut short. Phone calls may be placed at a time inconvenient to the other party or when the children are sick, tired or have birthday parties to attend.
In these situations you need to look carefully at your parenting agreement, if you have one. If you missed your scheduled call for whatever reason, is there scope in your agreement to call at another time? If not, your former partner is unlikely to pick up your call later on.
You do need to expect that the calls will not always go as smoothly as the plan has suggested. However, if there are reoccurring disagreements on this issue then talk to your lawyer.
3. Bad-mouthing the other parent to the children
It’s hard not to let the occasional negative comment about your former partner slip out when your children are around. Courts, however, look unfavorably on parents who appear to be ‘poisoning’ children against the other parties. Try to unload these issues on your family and friends, and not in the presence of the children. Remember that many things come ‘out of the mouths of babes’. Your casual jibes can easily work their way back to your former partner!
4. Re-location issues
Matters can be more complex if your former partner wants to move with the children to another area. Parents can’t simply take their children overseas and cut off the access of the other parent.
If your children live in Australia, and you or your partner takes them out of the country in breach of Court orders, this is a breach of the Hague Convention. This is also an offence under the Family Law Act.
You can apply to the Court to have your child’s name put on the Family Law Watch List, which will prevent your child from being able to leave the country without the permission of the Court.
What if you live in Australia and wish to seek access to a child who is overseas? You may need a lawyer’s assistance to apply for orders in the country in which your child is living.