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By Ammie808
I have been separated for a year now. When we separated I was working full time and my ex husband had been studying full time for many years and just completed a double degree at that point. We originally agreed that my 3 children (all in school) would spend 6 nights with me to begin with as I was working full time, and revisit that once he had a job and I could change my working times.
So at the time I was the primary earner and continued to be after our marriage fell apart. He never went back to work afterwards, so I am also paying support to him. A year later he has announced he is going back to study a diploma in a completely different field than his other degree claiming he cannot find work.
It has been really difficult and we have been into court over the children and property and there just seems no way that he will accept any offers at all and so nothing has changed. We have a final court hearing in november. But I am just wanting to move on, and keep trying to arrange a settlement. But it all seems to be getting more more and vicious the more I do.
I recently went part time, 7 days a fortnight as looking after all my kids and trying to work every day just became too stressful and I was relying on too many friends for pickups etc, and the kids were beginning to hate afterschool care. I love being able to take my kids to and from school, and also being home over the school holidays. It also lets me do the shopping, washing, cooking, and I can actually keep my house in order.
My Lawyer bills were getting too much as well, and so I stopped them representing me so I was no longer billed for every email or letter, and Im now trying to do things myself as much as possible.
I just received a letter from my husbands lawyer, saying that the parenting arrangements would have to be revisited because I have gone part time. They say that the current arrangement is unsustainable as having the children for as long as I do means I am not able to continue working full time! We only have a notation about the existing arrangement in a court document but no actual parenting orders. I think I'll be receiving some form of court order to change the arrangements, especially as our negotiations over the school holidays was really difficult. He even objected to my CSA reassessment because of my change of income now I am working reduced hours. They rejected it though thankfully, because I reduced my hours to look after my children, which of course is sensible and just part of being closer to my kids! I wish I had never agreed to fewer nights at the start as its just stayed the same, and I want to see them more, at least 50%.
I cant believe that a lawyer would make such a threat! Is this even realistic? I dont want to outsource my children's care but I am being threatened by his lawyer that if I don't continue to work full time they will make a claim to reduce my access! It just seems every letter from his lawyer contains a threat of some kind. Surely this is rubbish, and even harassment.
I am trying to respond to these things myself now to keep my bills low, but I dont know what I should say back, or just ignore it as it is so outrageous. Couldnt this be seen as attempts to bully me in some way, or can a lawyer say anything without repercussions?
I want to go part time for my kids, but I cant afford to keep paying lawyers if I do. Then I spend more time writing and responding and worrying about whether I will lose access to my kids or have to go back into court to even keep the current arrangement.
I just want some help. I earn just enough so I cannot get legal aid, but I owe $50k in lawyers already and am trying to juggle what I can. If this ended I could get on with my life.
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By Mama22
Hi there,

I'm so sorry you're going through this.

It sounds like you've been expected by these lawyers and the Courts to take on pretty much full financial and caring responsibilities, while also having to deal with the costs of lawyers on top of it all.

How can he afford lawyers if he can't get a job?

If I were you I would lodge a COA under 8a and b) stating that he can afford lawyers so he is financially better than he claims and/or has resources, and b) he could be working.

He doesn't have the same caring responsibilities you have so he could be Working.

If nothing else he will have to pay his lawyers to help him with it all. This is how men burn us out all of the time when they know we have lawyers, so do it back before he starts representing himself.

I don't know whether they would get more shared care if they take it to court, but I know that now you must show a certificate from a mediator showing mediation was attempted before any application to Court. Has he and his lawyers done that?

Let him spend his money on lawyers, but go to CoA and start an application, that will rattle him up in my humble opinion because it sounds like there's a lot more he could and should be doing.

I know it was refused the same time, but you were on the defensive - get on the offensive because he is the one that sounds like he has a lot more to explain and do for your children.
By Sz Ng
HI there,
I think reducing working hours or even stay at home fulltime will not reduce the percentage of care. it may help your case better as now you focus on your children and provide care better than after school care/child care. The kids are currently with you, so the worst case will be 50/50 if you are in same area, and good for kids' transport to school. But i don't think yr ex can handle 3 kids at the school age every morning and after school. So probably they will be with you during school days and spend time with dad on the weekend.
In the family court process, every party tries to knock out the other party or threat or dirty trick. i think you should get legal advice from community legal or legal aid. If solicitor from legal aid represents for your ex, they will have conflict of interest and will not provide legal advice to you, you need to find your local community legal centre and legal access, on the phone and face to face.
By Mum22
He is trying to rattle you through his lawyer. His logic is flawed.
If you were unable to care for the kiddies because your work hours have reduced from 10 days to 7 per fortnight, then he ought to be unable to care for them at all as he doesn't work at all!

Is it 'Sabre Rattling' - a lot of noise before a Court date designed to unnerve you - don't worry about anything his lawyer might write - his lawyer is trying to get the result for Him, not for you. Yous tick to what you know to be in the best interests of your kids. He could ask for teh moon but he won't get it .
Keep strong & believe in yourself.
Thanks for the replies,
There is a lot of background that was just too much to write in my first message. I did actually think that by going part time I would be showing my commitment to looking after the children.
I have tried a few of the suggestions which Ive mentioned later, but thought Id add a bit more about how we ended up here.

We were together for 14 years before I moved out due to the constant yelling and how scared I was when I came home each night from work. Some times were good but it got so bad I just had had enough. He immediately got a lawyer when we decided to split and things went really sour from there. On the very first evening after I moved out, the children were going to come over to see the house and setup their rooms. He actually refused to let them, saying it wasnt my night with them! They weren't even going to stay because their new beds hadn't arrived. So after a completely failed attempt at mediation I was the one that started the court process because I wanted my children back with me.

Mediation just stalled completely, he just said no to everything, I mean everything, including revisiting how many nights they spent with him. I was established, in a new home, renting while he stayed in the family home.

It was just stupid of me moving out, but I needed to get away from the yelling and attacks on my confidence and I just wanted to be away from everything about him and all the work that had gone into years of marriage. I had my own home when we first met, and eventually sold it so we could be closer to his family. He had been working as a chef and had nothing when we fell pregnant. I went back to work and he continued to study, while doing a bit of part time chefing and did actually look after the children, but I still did everything when I came home, and often worked from home. We had two more children and I was always the one that kept working while he just kept bounced between different studying options and eventually finished a degree through open universities not long before we split up.

Now though I am the one that is still working to pay my rent, paying HIM childsupport, and I am now being threatened of having my time with the children reduced because Ive gone part time!

When I informed DHS of my reduced income it was him that objected to DHS using the COA. His objection was eventually rejected a few days ago which was a relief. He had pages and pages in his COA document saying how I could still work full time by putting the children in child care, work from home etc, and that I was an abusive mother and wife etc. It was just horrible, and I was really upset and worried that it might be taken seriously. Thankfully, I just supplied my payslips, and made it clear that I reduced my hours so I could look after my children and refused to respond to the other stuff.
I asked about raising a COA against him, but was told pretty honestly that because he was studying at the time we split there was no precedent for him working and therefore, even though he can work, it wouldn't pass the first few basic criteria they assess against.
If I did raise one it would only be to hassle him back, which is more emotional energy and time I have, and Im just not the type of person that tries to emotionally wear someone down either.

Now I just received a subpoena going to my employer asking for all my pay slips, timesheets, change of contract, and other useless things, that he already has. That was sent on my birthday too. He just wont stop. Last year he sent a 20 page affidavit full of abuse on the day of my fathers funeral.

We've been to court twice and all that achieved was notations to say everything stayed the same! even the child arrangements. I spent thousands trying to change things and nothing happened because he just said no to everything. Even during the conciliation session we had at the end of last year, he just refused to negotiate.

As far as how he can afford his lawyer, well he took $40k out of the redraw account and left nothing in there just before I moved out. Then suddenly his ex high school girlfriend appears a few weeks later and is introduced to the children as a family friend. I had never met her once in all our time together. I had noticed her on facebook a few times though and it always worried me. She was only a year or two out of her own divorce and is really well off and has no issues with money, so I expect she is helping him. Hes very charming, but under that he is basically a pathological liar.

We had an investment property as well, and I applied for hardship through the bank and so now its mortgage just doesn't get paid. In revenge he stopped paying the mortgage on the home he is still in! His Lawyer said, as you are having a holiday from paying the investment property he deserves a holiday from paying the other mortgage! Its no holiday, I still pay rent each month, and have gone through a proper process to get hardship, hes just avoiding paying.
And now the new girlfriend has moved into our old home full time! One of my childrens bedrooms was converted for her children. So now neither him or his girlfriend pay the mortgage or any rent each month, its just disgusting.
All I wanted was my children for an equal amount of time, not even trying for more! and for the property to split fairly. But even that seems hopeless.
Im so far in debt because of the lawyer fees, but legal aid wont provide anything because I earn a living (and anything I earn disappears as soon as it appears). I cant afford more lawyers to just read emails and letters and end up with no change and just to be ignored by his lawyer. I need to do something to stop this, I cant afford to keep paying off debts without a settlement and my children are asking for more time with me.
I just want equal care, and a settlement so I can get on with my life and am happy to keep working, just not full time. Even my attempt of a relationship last year fell apart because of the stress and constant harassment, he even included derogatory comments in one affidavit about the person I was seeing, and it all became too much.
I feel so low.