CHILDREN AND FAMILY LAW: WHAT IF YOU DON'T LIKE YOUR EX'S NEW PARTNER?
A woman’s new partner had a criminal record for drug offences. When he started living with the woman and her children, their father took legal action because he believed that his ex-wife’s new partner was a threat to his younger child.
This case shows that there’s nothing easy about separation and divorce, especially when there are kids involved. When a former spouse moves in with a new partner, things can get complicated. If you don’t approve of the new partner, what can you do?
Background - What can be done if you don't like your ex's new partner?
The father and mother separated in 2013. They had two children. The older child was born in 2000 and the younger was born in 2009. (When the case started, the older child was aged 15 years and the younger child was aged 6 years.)
When they first separated, the parents had agreed that the children would live with the father and they would stay with the mother on alternate weekends and Thursday nights.
In 2014 the mother started a new relationship with a man and then in 2015 she began living with him.
The man had a criminal record for possession of heroin and for supplying drugs. He had served a prison term of almost six and a half years.
The father objected to his younger child spending time with the man because of his criminal history (the older child wasn’t part of the legal case). Because of this, the mother agreed to stay at the maternal grandmother’s house with the child when it was her turn to spend time with the child.
Eventually, the mother applied to the Court to make orders that the child could stay with her at her own home on alternate weekends and Thursday nights, where she lived with the man. The father applied to the Court for orders to stop this from happening.
When the Court heard the case, the father said that the man posed an unacceptable risk of “physical or psychological harm” to the child, although he didn’t provide details about what that meant.
The man said that he had never used heroin but had pleaded guilty to charges of possession to protect his former partner. He admitted to regularly using cannabis but said that he hadn’t used it since starting his prison sentence. He also said that he had undertaken drug and alcohol rehabilitation, had counselling since his release and worked in full time employment. He had no current drug or alcohol issues. Upon release from prison, his own children were returned to his care.
The Court found that the man didn’t pose a risk to the child and that if the child spent time at the mother’s house, that would “enhance and maintain” his relationship with her.
The father appealed the decision.
On appeal, the father said that that the Court should have adopted a more conservative approach when making its decision, as other cases had done. That was the best way of avoiding harm to the child.
The Court disagreed, saying that there wasn’t enough evidence of risk to the child. The Court did take note of the child’s comments that he would “feel weird” if he had to continue to spend time with the mother at his grandmother’s house.
The Court considered the man’s criminal history, his reformed ways, his employment record, the preservation of the child’s relationship with the mother and the lack of evidence about any real risk to the child. It dismissed the father’s appeal.
What does it mean?
This case demonstrates how the Family Court will undertake a balancing act to ensure the best interests of the child. Whilst it is understandable that a parent may have legitimate concerns about a new partner’s criminal record, there are many other issues to consider.
If you are concerned about your children spending time with your ex’s new partner, or if your ex is objecting to your children being around your new partner, the best thing to do is to get urgent legal advice. Whilst in some situations children may be at risk, there may be many other situations that threaten the parent-child relationship if the child can’t spend time with a parent.
Whatever the situation, a good family lawyer can assess the evidence and provide you with advice. Sometimes it may be necessary to seek orders in the Family Court, as the father in this case did. On other occasions, the parties may be able to resolve the case without the Court’s intervention.
This case demonstrates the need to consider carefully all options. There was not enough evidence to support the father’s allegations. This worked against him because not only was he unsuccessful in the first hearing and then on appeal, the Court ordered him to pay the mother’s legal costs because his appeal was “entirely unsuccessful.” He would have been significantly out of pocket as a result. Ouch.
FREE FIRST INTERVIEW
NO WIN NO FEE
LOCAL LAWYERS FOR LOCAL NEEDS
GET THE RIGHT LAWYER FIRST
Having such a short time frame I was very impressed with the outcome made by [my solicitor]. Excellent and timely manner
Very professional mannerism and overall great outcome was delivered by Websters Lawyers.
West Ryde NSW
Helpful, explained fully, patient, excellent service.
Patient and helpful in explaining the process.
Call Websters Lawyers for a most professional and friendly service. All understanding with [my solicitors] and the reception staff. Thank you so much.
Making my will was effortless on my part, with everything explained clearly. Well done to all.
Great service, professional, explains things clearly, definitely recommend Websters Lawyers.
Patient, professional, good communication about procedures and probable outcomes.
Thank you for all your work over the course of the case. You [both] were always very approachable and I appreciated your understanding and professionalism in all areas.
All in all my experience was great. Thank you for your time and expertise.
My matter was dealt with efficiently and was explained in an understandable language. A pleasant experience.
Practical and very helpful. Reasons and explanations given where needed
I stumbled across Websters in the Yellow Pages and I rang, explained my situation and immediately they took my case on. Greatly appreciate their services.
The service from Websters Lawyers was outstanding. [My solicitor] was caring, had patience and was very professional. Wonderful personality.
[My solicitor] made everything so simple to understand. [The receptionist] was wicked too, would recommend them anytime. Level of entire service was outstanding.
I had dealings with Websters over 20 years ago. They were my first choice when I recently needed legal advice. Both legal and office staff were professional, courteous and accessible at all times. Everything was explained up front in a clear and concise manner. I would not hesitate to recommend their services.
It has truly been a pleasure communicating with you throughout the process. I really appreciate your patient and speedy replies to my questions and requests. You were always able to provide an easily understood response and this helped me deal with the process. Your friendly and positive manner encouraged me to seek your advice.
Battery Hill QLD
[My lawyer's] service was prompt and efficient with all questions explained clearly with all our requests carried out within the laws. Overall service was very satisfactory.
[My lawyer] was excellent.
Excellent service. Professional. Clear advice and instructions. Prompt actions. Overall 10/10!
Overall, I was happy with my outcome and my lawyer, would definitely recommend [my lawyer].
[My solicitor] was excellent at helping us through preparing our wills which were particularly challenging as they involved assets in multiple countries. She was professional and knowledgeable and spent time tailoring the wills to our needs.
[My solicitor] was very helpful, respectful and polite. She made sure I understood the process and documentation of our wills.
Professional. Smooth Transaction.
I found the whole experience from Receptionist to Solicitor excellent. They completely put us at our ease.
This was a new experience for us and didn’t have a clue what to do. [Our solicitor] on our first visit put us at ease, explained what will happen, pointed out there was a strong case. [Our solicitor] was genuine in her approach, kept us well informed, explained actions several times with patience and understanding. Overall very happy with the service we received.
[My lawyer] was very reassuring in her approach to my case. I felt that every possibility in terms of evidence to provide and possible outcomes were explained to me, The result of the case was the best possible outcome I could have expected.
With no previous dealing with the criminal justice system, [our solicitor] gave us excellent advice and guided us through a nightmare to achieve a just and correct outcome. [Our lawyer] was both forthright and compassionate in her handling of our case.
[My lawyer] explained all the legal terms in language I could understand – she was very easy to talk to.
Cameron, Munno Para
I felt confident knowing my matter was in good hands. Very professional!
Shravan, Christie Downs
Initial phone call was fantastic and the role of an executor was fully explained.
Penny, Henley Beach
The service I received was efficient and promptly finalised. The solicitor clearly explained the details and I was happy with how easy it was.
Dale, Fairview Park
[My lawyer] was exactly the lawyer I needed in a serious matter. The outcome was as predicted which was a fantastic result. I received prompt professional and personal service at all times. Capable and supportive in a very stressful period.
Jason, Munno Para West
I had any of my concerns answered to my satisfaction and understanding.
Valda, Ingle Farm
[My lawyer] is an excellent professional lawyer who assisted in achieving a great positive outcome/result. I sincerely thank you and your great staff for your assistance and guidance throughout my claim. Would highly recommend [my lawyer], staff and Websters Lawyers. Kept fully informed and guided, professionally throughout the matter.
Our work was dealt with very efficiently and speedily. Our lawyer was very professional, at the same time as being approachable. Communication was great.
My experience with Websters Lawyers was far beyond what I expected. From the moment I spoke to [my lawyer] she made me feel very comfortable and eased my stress. In my case I had a court appearance the day before we were scheduled to fly to Spain, Considering my first appointment with her was only 2 weeks before the court hearing, she was able to obtain the police statement and thoroughly work on my case within that limited time frame. She was very knowledgeable, understanding and confident which greatly relieved so much pressure from me and my family. At court, she explained everything thoroughly and advised me of all the possible outcomes. Price, service and result, very highly recommended. Thank you Websters Lawyers.
Rafael, Davoren Park
I have high expectations and they were met. Websters service was swift, courteous, professional and met the agreed budget. I will recommend Websters to my family, friends and colleagues. Thank you.
I would recommend Websters Lawyers, especially for [my lawyer's] dedication and exemplary attitude and advice. She is the epitome of a good lawyer. The service was impeccable.
Pamela, West Lakes
[My lawyer] was very professional and I was made comfortable to understand.
I was very pleased with the end result and how well [my lawyer] conducted herself.
Jesse, Morphett Vale
[My lawyer] has been very prompt , reliable and provided a high level of communication.
My experience at Websters was very positive. The stress was taken from me and I could not be happier with the outcome. [My lawyer] at Websters was professional, personable, available and caring. Thank you for making the experience stress free.
Magda, Holden Hill
Found my lawyer upfront and reliable – I would highly recommend Websters Lawyers.
Lee, Evanston Park
Top bunch of solicitors and admin staff. Very friendly and to the point service.
Bradley, Hallett Cove
Websters Lawyers were very professional in their service, I would be happy to recommend them.
Carole, Tea Tree Gully
We would not hesitate in recommending Websters for any legal matter. They are professional and courteous at all times and call back when they say they will.
David and Dianne, Lockleys
I fully recommend Websters Lawyers. This was the 3rd time myself & my family have used Websters Lawyers. In these stressful times we have found them to answer and guide us through the process needed to accomplish the legal requirements in a timely and courteous manner.
Solid, to the point, no hustle. Highly recommend.
George, Windsor Gardens