4 Comments Family & de facto law, financial agreements, consent orders
I cannot give you a clear answer. I'm basing this on my experience with my kids and DOCs that has included two trials and numerous reports and affidavits,
Who ordered the report and why? I assume the report will make reference to information sources, which would include records DOCS keep, which are usually extremely detailed,
Assuming the report was prepared by the casworker concerned or their team lead, I think it would be reasonable to call them as a witness (or witnessss) so they can answer any questions that may arise. And if you feel you need something more, it may be you can ask to subpoena the relevant records.
However, perhaps first, It seems to me the quesiton would be. Is this a matter the court will deal with or one they will say is down to DOCs own procedures? What action did DOCs take in respect of the breach? Was the safety plan updated or reviewed as a consequence? Did you lodge any form of complaint to DOCs and if so was any action taken?
Calmar 2016-03-06 10:01:23
Thank you for replying! Sounds like you've had some experience in Family Court.
Who ordered the report and why?
The court ordered the report because it documented DOCS's investigation after my eldest daughter disclosed she had been sexually abused by my then-partner.
I assume the report will make reference to information sources, which would include records DOCS keep, which are usually extremely detailed.
Yes - the report provides a detailed timeline of DOCS's negotiations between myself, my ex who wanted visitation to my youngest daughter to whom he is the father, and my ex's sister who agreed to supervise visitation. Details include date, who the contact was with, what was discussed and agreed, etc.
The Safety Plan says it allowed overnight stays provided my daughter slept with her Aunt.
The DOCS report details this further - my daughter was allowed to stay overnight if she slept with her Aunt in her Aunt's room.
The Aunt allowed my daughter to sleep in another room with her father, however claims this was not a breach of the safety plan as she slept in the room as well.
Is this a matter the court will deal with or one they will say is down to DOCs own procedures?
The court will make a decision. The Aunt is now seeking visitation rights (50/50 parenting rights). Her brother is now in jail (guilty of 6 counts indecent assault, child under 10).
What action did DOCs take in respect of the breach? Was the safety plan updated or reviewed as a consequence? Did you lodge any form of complaint to DOCs and if so was any action taken?
I reported it to DOCS. Their advise was to speak to the Aunty however we were not on speaking terms and they closed the complaint. I took an alternative route - within 2 months he was charged and I then refused visitation while the criminal case was in progress. That's when the Aunt filed for visitation and 50/50 parenting rights. The father is now in jail.
Will the courts accept the sleeping arrangements as a breach on the report alone, or do I need to call the DOCS case worker in as a witness? I don't have any questions as such because the report says what I need it to. But I've read just because you have a report or affidavit from someone that doesn't mean the courts will accept what that report or affidavit says without them being there, esp if the other side disputes the report contents.
I guess this is partly curiosity. So you reported the abuse to DOCs who it appears did not investigate your abuse allegation. If so I'd say that's a failing on their part. Also as I understand a child as young as four can be assessed by an expert to determine whether abuse likely occurred. Clearly you did get it investigated and to be charged and convicted requires a higher level of proof than the family court needs to protect a child,
Once the father was charged, what did DOCs do then? There should be an automatic notification to them and I would have thought at that point access would have been terminated unkess supervised by an independent party. The mere fact you already had a safety plan in place suggests there we're prior concerns,
So I would have thought the issues you face are. Will the father be granted future access and under what terms? I'd have thought depending on the situation with him a court might well consider giving you sole parental responsibility if you do have it already.
Extended family is deemed important to a child. So, yes, a court as I understand will consider how a relationship could be maintained with the aunt. However, the fact the aunt clearly failed to protect the child in my view could weight as supervised access or phone contact only. I cannot comment on parental responsibility, but I cannot see it as you are available,
I assume there is an ICL involved? If not it may be worth considering asking for one.
If you get to a trial then yes I would call them. I would have thought that is also a reason for an ICL. Also DOCs ought to form inout on future risk etc,
Calmar 2016-03-06 13:00:07
DOCS investigated my eldest daughters abuse allegation and between them and JIRT it was substantiated.
After that a safety plan was put in place for my youngest daughter allowing her father access under supervision by her Aunt.
In response to the Aunt's application, I have asked the courts to grant sole custody and issue a no contact order against the Aunt and my ex partner.
The breaches to the safety plan were reported as a "risk of significant harm report" which DOCS couldn't substantiate at the time, however through the Aunt's own admissions in the Family Report and her affidavit, the breaches I reported have been admitted to.
Yes there's an ICL. He has called the Family Report writer as a witness. The family report recommends the aunt's application be refused, I be given sole custody, and a no contact order against the aunt and father. The aunt is still pursuing this and yes this is going to a final hearing / 3 day trial in May.