But the kids don’t want to go….

Article written by Nardine Collier
Family Lawyer Cairns & Alice Springs

So what do you do, if you have an agreement/court order which says the children will spend time with the other parent, and they just DO NOT want to go?

I have had many a parent tell me that “the kids don’t want to go”.  It ranges from kids saying they don’t want to go and then being fine about it once they have actually gone, to the other end of the scale where children are crying hysterically, simply refusing to get into the car/ get on the plane/get on the phone… Then of course there are the teenagers who just look at Mum/Dad and say “whatever, you can’t make me”.  And of course, they are right.

Then there is the other side of the story and the parent who is told “the kids don’t want to come” and who has a hard time accepting this to be true.

Children love both parents. They will pick up on one parent’s reluctance for them to see the other parent if it exists.  If you are the ‘lives with’ parent then you have an obligation to encourage the children’s relationship with the other parent. You actually have to be REALLY encouraging, like you would be if they had to go to the dentist  – you’d be trying (desperately) to make it OK for them.

The other thing that might help a parent struggling with feeling as if they are forcing their kids to see the other parent, is to know that just like daycare or school, once they are there, they probably are OK and might just even enjoy themselves! Of course, they are not going to tell you that, if they sense  –  or know – you don’t want to hear it!

My suggestion is to first try the idea of being supportive of the child’s time with the other parent. Have an honest think about whether there is a chance your child is picking up your cues. If however, hand on heart you can say that you honestly want your child to spend time with the other parent, then it is time to look at what else might be going on for your child.

If your child says ” But I don’t want to go”  – by all means ask why. But please try to do so in a way that isn’t critical of the other parent. For example ” Why is that? You had a great time last week” rather than ” Well I’m not surprised you don’t want to go when all your (other parent) does is sit on the couch..”

If your child is willing to tell you, just take a moment to process what they say. Are they possibly exaggerating a bit? Can you see that maybe there was a misunderstanding that has caused the problem? Maybe it really isn’t a good reason at all? You might be able to deal with it by saying that they should still go and you will sort it out with (other parent).

If at all possible encourage your child to go. If there is a genuine problem it would be good to raise that with the other parent in a non-critical non-confrontational way ( easier said than done); perhaps waiting until after your child has returned back to your care if it can wait.

If you feel your child is genuinely at risk and should not attend you must let the other parent know why, and see what can be done to resolve it.

You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel an inkling of satisfaction when your child indicates they prefer your company to the other parent but do try to imagine how it would feel if it was the other way around. I am sure you would be expecting the other parent to be doing what they can to ensure agreed arrangements or court orders are followed.

What is Child-Inclusive Mediation? 

Sometimes it is hard for parents to accept that what one parent is saying ( about why a child doesn’t want to go to the other parent) is genuine.  The other parent will want to question the child to get to the truth. This has great potential to cause distress to the child and in my view, should not be done by parents. A much better outcome would be to look at expert assistance by way of a Child-Inclusive mediation. This is a process whereby the child talks to a counsellor ( not with the parents in the room) and the counsellor relays back to the parents what the child has said, with the parents them reflecting on this in a mediation.

For more information on what a Child Inclusive Mediation involves, and whether it might be right for you, see my Blog “What do the kids want?” – Child Inclusive Mediation.

FAMILY TIES: How to have a happy family – even after separation!

Even though the family unit is no longer, it is still possible to have a happy ‘family’ after separation (it might even be a happier one!). The key to a happy family, after separation- is good CO-PARENTING. I also think these tips apply to any family because as any parent/carer reading this article knows, it’s hard enough to parent at times, separated or not.

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Run Towards The Roar

I credit this blog to two amazing women I am lucky to know at the moment. Lucy Stokes who nags me to write blogs and then has the tedious task of posting them for me; and Laurie Pritchard who runs Small World Adventure Tours and who sits on the Cairns Business Women’s Club Board with me.

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What Are Consent Orders For Property?

Article written by Nardine Collier
Family Lawyer Cairns & Alice Springs

What are consent orders for property? Is this something I need to consider?

Yes. If you have reached agreement with your former partner or spouse about your property, you most definitely should finalise it by way of consent orders. So – what are consent orders and what do you need to do?

What are “Consent Orders”?

When we say “Consent orders” we are talking about an application that is made to the Family Court asking the court to make orders in relation to property. There are two forms that are submitted. One is the Application itself, where you set out your details, list your property, and give the court information about relevant matters and what the division of property is going to be. The second document is what we call “Minutes of Consent Orders”. This document contains the actual orders you are asking the court to make – for example, “that the Husband transfer to the Wife his right title and interest in the former matrimonial home at 1 Brown Street..etc. “

But we agree – do I really need to bother with this process? I don’t want to go to court.

YES! You do!! Firstly, you don’t actually go to court, the orders are filed in the court but the Registrar will consider them in chambers without you having to attend. The Registrar will make the orders if he or she considers them to be “just and equitable” – i.e. a fair outcome taking into account the facts of your particular case.

By filing an application for consent orders, if the court approves them the orders become orders of the court just as if you went to court and the Judge decided after hearing your case. Once you have final court orders in place, in theory, no-one can come back for another go! As with everything there are exceptions to the rule of finality which I won’t go into here – you are fairly safe to assume that the final orders are just that and there will be no future attempts made by anyone, to alter the division of property. This means you can now get on with your life financially knowing that your future earnings and property are protected from any further claims.

The next good reason to have consent orders is that you can enforce the orders if necessary. For example, your ex refuses to sign the transfer of title for the house. You can ask the Registrar of the Family Court to do so, if you have those orders in place. If your ex is supposed to pay you money for your share of the house and they default, court orders allow you to have the property put on the market and sold.

The other advantage is that if you have a court order, you are exempt from stamp duty if you are taking over the title in the house.

Can I prepare a consent order myself?

You can certainly download the form from the Family Court website – it’s called an Application for Consent Orders. You will be able to fill in a lot of the form yourself, and the form has a very helpful section at the start which explains the form and how to fill it in.  However, just about everyone I speak to tells me that there are sections of the form that they are just not sure about. If the form is wrong, the Registrar will often not make the orders sought, so you have to get it right. Then there is the second document, the actual orders themselves. It is VERY important to get this right and to ensure that you have all the necessary orders to protect your interests. You will struggle to find a precedent online and every case is different, so the precedent you might find, may not suit your case.

It really is best to get some legal advice. At Collier Family Law we are happy to work with you as a “DIY…WOH” 😊 DIY – as in, you fill in as much of the form as you can to save our time (which is your money) but “with our help” – we check the form for accuracy and make sure all the necessary orders are in there, correctly worded.

What does it cost?  

There is a court filing fee of $165. You may be exempt if you hold certain government concession cards or can demonstrate hardship. The legal fees for preparation can vary depending on how complex the document is and how much of it we do for you, but we will give you that estimate at an appointment.

Can I get a final agreement any other way?

Yes, you can enter into a financial agreement. The process is quite different however and you must obtain legal advice before thinking about a financial agreement, as to whether the consent orders process is a better option.

Nardine Collier is a Nationally Accredited mediator and has been mediating family law disputes for 20 years. She is a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, a Family Law Arbitrator, a panel mediator for various Australia wide organisations and for courts and tribunals, and regularly mediates at legal aid conferences in family law, in Cairns and the Northern Territory. She is also the Cairns representative of the Queensland Chapter of the Resolution Institute of Australia.

Divorce Hotel

I thought this was an interesting idea…
The Sydney Morning Herald recently published an article (12/9/18) entitled “Divorce hotels are coming to Australia”. That article states:
“The premise is simple: couples check in to a hotel in two separate rooms for two nights, where they undergo mediation processes behind closed doors and away from outside responsibilities.
The idea is that, over the course of a 48-hour hotel stay, all divorce arrangements can be made.”

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Do It For The Kids

Another role I have is what is called an Independent Childrens Lawyer (ICL). The job of the ICL is to present an independent view to the court as to what is in a child’s best interests, and one of the best things about the role is that you can talk to children who are involved.

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The workplace has greatly changed since I started work at age 16. What was tolerated or considered “just good fun” might now get you into some trouble! Bullying and discrimination in the workplace is now almost ‘zero tolerance’ and Employers need to know what it is, what it isn’t, and take steps to deal with allegations properly if made in their workplace.
So what is bullying? The Fair Work website defines it as follows.

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A Bit More About Mediation In Family Law

Your relationship ends. You want to sort out arrangements for your children and your property. You have tried talking to you ex, but it just ends up in shouting and tears. You just can’t seem to make them understand why you feel the way you do; why you can’t agree to what they want. Maybe you don’t even know what that is! What can you do?

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Joan (not her real name of course) HATES her job. All was well, until she plucked up the courage to ask for a pay-rise. Her boss was abrupt with her and just said no. She was very embarrassed and upset. She felt she wasn’t well regarded, so since then she has only done the bare minimum her job requires.

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Family Law Arbitration

Last month I wrote about mediation and how effective it is as a means to resolve disputes quickly and cost effectively.
There is another process in the Family Lawyers toolkit, called Arbitration.

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