When someone goes through a nasty divorce it occasionally happens that one partner takes the children and won’t allow the other to see them at all. Unless there is violence involved, this is not legal. Courts these days recognise the rights of both parents to see their children so long as there is no threat to them physically or emotionally.
The parents must agree to go and meet with a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner to see if mediation can resolve the conflict. It an agreement is reached a parenting agreement should be drafted out and made into Court Orders to ensure it is legally binding.
If an agreement cannot be reached even after mediation, the matter must go to court. The parents will have been given a Certificate to confirm that mediation has been tried.
Having that Certificate will enable either party to present the matter at court. It is the law that mediation must be tried first.
The Application can be an interim Order that will allow the parent who is not spending time with the children to have visiting rights. The court can get the matter attended to on an urgent basis, rather than the long, slow process that is often seen in criminal court appearances.
It is important for children to be able to see both parents if there is no danger to them in doing so. Even if they don’t particularly care to see the other parent, it is still considered the parent’s legal right to see them. Their opinion cannot be given much weight because it is quite possible that the parent who has them has manipulated them to his or her own advantage.
The parent who has applied for visiting rights may have to go to a Case Assessment Conference where a Family Court psychologist is in attendance. This person will then make recommendations to do with the proposed care arrangements to the court.
While this may all seem like a lot of trouble, it is really worthwhile to ensure you get to see your children. Children go through a grieving process when they are suddenly deprived of one parent, much like they would if one of their parents suddenly died.
This can have very negative repercussions for them both in the present and into their future. They may even believe that the parent they don’t see doesn’t care about them anymore. This can cause behavioural problems as they grow up and impact their ability to do well in school. Therefore, it is essential for the health of the child and their future that they see both parents regularly.