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Legal matters with Turner Freeman Family Law Claims with Catherine Parks –14 March 2017


Tuesday, 14 March 2017 


CS – Chris Smith/CP – Catherine Parks /C1,2,3, etc – Callers 



Announcer     And now, Legal Matters with Turner Freeman Lawyers: great people; great results; great value.

CS       19 to 2pm and 19 to 1pm in Queensland. Time for some free legal advice but you’re going to have to get in quick today. It’s on family law, specifically children’s right to spend time with both their parents and both their grandparents on a regular basis. Now I’ve got a $100 Westfield voucher thanks to Turner Freeman Lawyers to give away. One lucky caller will receive that. Don’t forget Turner Freeman Lawyers provide a range of specialised legal services,  compensation and negligence law, asbestos litigation, superannuation and disability claims, family and employment law Wills and estate and property law. New South Wales offices: in Sydney, Parramatta, Campbelltown, Newcastle, Penrith, Wollongong and Gloucester. Queensland: in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Ipswich, Southport, Cairns, Logan Central, Maroochydore and Northlakes and of course in South Australia and WA as well. Catherine Parks is an accredited specialist in family law, she wants your calls right now and happy to help and she’s based at our Turner Freeman Parramatta office and also sees clients across the metro area and she’s on the line right now. Catherine, thank you very much for your time.

CP      Thank you

CS       You’re in between sittings in court I understand?

CP      I am and I apologise I couldn’t be there in the studio with you

CS       That’s okay. We’ll grab calls in just a second. Children have a right to spend time with both their parents and grandparents regularly, what entitlements do grandparents in particular have to children when parents separate?

CP      Look, it’s a really interesting and growing area. Grandparents are in a lot of ways more involved in the care of children than they have been for a long time. Both parents are often working and grandparents are supplementing-

CS       Yeah good point

CP       -childcare and the other thing is that the grandparents often assist with is when parents are in difficulties if they’re you know if one parents is using drugs or there is some family violence and they need assistance. So there’s not a right of grandparents to spend time with children so much as a growing interest of grandparents to be involved

CS       I guess you could change orders for instance or initiate orders in the event of separation or divorce to allow grandparents certain time

CP      Absolutely and it happens because sometimes when parties separate, grandparents don’t have the pivotal role they use to have in the children’s lives because this tension between family members. Sometimes there has been a significant breakdown and one parent is really struggling and grandparents say you know what I might be in a better position for a while at least to look after the children and take over the care but certainly it is a growing area that we’re looking at in the family court

CS       Okay Adam, you have a question for Catherine, go right ahead

C1       Good afternoon, thank you for taking my call. I just had a query with respect to how the system works and whether it does work in a level of equality between the different parents and it’s instruct

CP      Are you talking between mothers and fathers, Adam?

C1       Yes, I’m in a situation where my ex partner has taken, my, our child. He’s an infant, he’s a baby and I even have court orders, court orders have been issued in place, for me to get access to him, or he can come with me and because she withheld him from me for a period, a significant period, they said there has to be a reintroduction process-

CP      Yep

C1       -a graduating process. She is now breaching those orders and I don’t get to see him, I show up to pick him up each time and there is just no answer. But I have been told by multiple different people that I have had legal advice from that I should only ever expect that I’ll get a maximum of 18% although it says I should have equal-

CS       18%? 18?

C1       Yes, they’re saying that she is the mother so the system is unfortunately gender prejudice and she will automatically get more.

CS       Catherine?

CP      Look, my experience is not that the system is gender prejudice, but our society tends to be one where particularly when children are infants, they spend more time with their mother for all kinds of reasons, including the way we set up our society. The difficulty with small children is that they really need a primary attachment is what psychology will tell us, who that primary attachment is certainly can be fathers and I run cases all the time where the primary attachment is to the father because mums are working more and more but if the primary attachment is with the mother  it’s a really complicated situation to work out how much time children should be spending with the other parent and the concern of the courts is always with the best interest of the children, it’s not the father’s rights, it’s not the mother’s rights, it’s the rights of the children so we use a lot of previous court decisions but also social science to work out what that might look like and it’s very case statistic. I’ve never given any advice to anyone that 18% is the number, I’ve never even heard that to be honest

CS       But Catherine, to be fair, you’re saying that it tends to be naturally biased towards women because they do the majority of the caring in families that haven’t been separated so doesn’t it follow that because that is the case, men get the rough end of the pineapple too often?

CP      I don’t think it’s about getting the rough end of the pineapple though, I think it’s more just about who has been the primary carer and look just going back to what we were talking about before there are cases now before the court where grandparents have been the primary carer of a child for a whole raft of reasons. It’s whoever is the primary carer and it’s about making sure that you know listening to what psychologists say about child development and attachment and a whole lot of things. It also changes as kids get older-

CS       Sure

CP      A five year old doesn’t have the same need to be with the primary carer and certainly a ten year old can spend you know a couple of weeks happily away from a primary carer and spend time with grandparents and the other parent, other family members

CS       But if they’ve spent a long time, a significant amount, the majority of their upbringing with their mother, gee it makes it tough for dad

CP      Yeah it does and there is no obvious way about that because the dads that I see who accept that it’s difficult, also accept that you don’t want to distress a child, you don’t want to make them agitated, most parents really love their children and want to do the best for them. So dancing around that particularly when the mum can be very anxious about time with the father and we don’t want mum to be too distressed because that can impact the child. It’s certainly a very difficult thing to do but I don’t think there is a bias and I think that people are very aware that it’s really important for both parents to spend a lot of time with a child.

CS       Okay, Catherine Parks from Turner Freeman will take your calls and we’ve got that $100 Westfield voucher to give away, we’ll do that right after the break. We’re here for Turner Freeman and if you’ve got a question 131 873, Catherine Parks is on the line, talking family law today and Susanne from Redcliffe has a question for Catherine. Go right ahead, Susanne

C2       Hello Susanne-

CS       Catherine

CP      Hi Susanne, how are you?

C2       Good thank you. My daughter and son in law, I have two daughters but both are married, each with a child. One of the daughters and her husband, they’re happily married and I do have a four year old granddaughter and I’ve never seen her or held her and my other daughter has never seen her or held her either, this daughter is very spirited, she say “I’ll wait till she’s eighteen” do you think?

CS       Well can grandparents apply for orders under the family law act, Catherine?

CP      They can, look, I don’t want to pretend though that it’s easy in certain cases where you haven’t had any time with your granddaughter, it’s not by right of law that you would be able to see her but the test is the best interest of the child. So it would be a matter of if you did apply, having a look at why your daughter and her partner were choosing to keep her away from you and looking at her best interest. Is it going to be in her best interest to spend time with you if there is some difficulties. It’s a really complicated and a very individual thing that you need to have a look at very carefully

C2       So do you think that waiting until she is eighteen would be a more sensible approach? I’m junking off a child here

CP      Yeah, and look sometimes it is and one of the other sad realities is that is the practicality is often starting this kind of litigation can be expensive and difficult, time consuming, and you might not necessarily get the result you want if there has been some difficulties between you and your daughter and it sounds like there potentially has been

C2       Yeah she’s very, very spirited unfortunately

CP      Yeah it’s a terrible situation and it might assist to do some more practical things if you can, write cards or send presents

C2       Yeah, it’d be exhausted

CP      Oh you’ve done that?

C2       Over five years

CP      Oh I’m very sorry to hear that

C2       That’s okay, that’s okay. I think I will wait fourteen years yeah

CS       Just make sure that she knows that you think about her and you’re there

CP      I think that’s right.

CS       Whenever she needs you

C2       Thank you Chris, I’m doing that I have a little box for her

CS       That’s great and I have a $100 Westfield voucher for you too Susanne

C2       Oh have you?

CS       I have

C2       Oh thank you

CS       Alright that’s okay. Stay on the line, we’ll get all your details and we’ll get that $100 and that voucher to you at Redcliffe. Thank you very much for calling in, I’ve just run out of time. One question that came from Neville on the open line that we won’t have time to take, he was asking what time can grandparents have their grandkids for? I presume he’s saying can you make an application to the court and what kind of times can you have, you can’t have it at the same time as the parent

CP      Look, you can have anything which is in the best interest of the child, you can potentially be the one who makes all the parenting decisions if the parents are incapable. It can be short periods of time, once a month, a bit of school holiday time, it really depends on the individual circumstances.

CS       I’ll let you get back into court. Thank you so much for your time this afternoon Catherine-

CP      Thank you

CS       -Catherine Parks, a specialist in family law at Turner Freeman, she’s at the Parramatta office also sees clients in Sydney, Campbelltown and Penrith. Look, get hold of Turner Freeman and have your questions answered, your queries answered either here or through their offices in Sydney and Brisbane




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