Be aware if you are a working mother before separation
Hi, I just wanted to introduce myself. I am an Australian mother of 2 beautiful children. I have recently gone through a separation (12 months ago) and am currently going through a divorce.
I wanted to start this blog to share my story and hopefully warn other working mothers out there about what could happen with child custody and the court's attitude to working mothers.
At separation just over 12 months ago I applied for interim court orders, thinking that being the mother I would automatically receive the majority time of custody for the children. I applied for 9 out of 14 days.
I was wrong! Being a mother does not automatically give you any rights in the eyes of the law. It is all about who is the primary caregiver. And if you are a working mother and your husband doesn't work as much or in my case currently doesn't work at all, you are not looked upon as the favourable parent to have majority custody of the children. I was shocked and dismayed to discover this was the case and am still fighting to have majority custody of my children.
I never once factored in that being the breadwinner would play a major role in the courts decision because clearly I am the mum with a successful career.
By way of background - I always had an aupair since my eldest was 8 months old and later on a live in nannies to care for my children and household work when I was at work. My estranged husband worked on and off but took no responsibility for the caring of the children nor anything in the house, although in court defined himself as the 'primary carer'. He was great at sleeping all day and outsourcing the pick up and drop off of both our kids schooling! We lived with his paternal uncle and his sister - a spinster who moved in 12 months prior to our separation. We moved in with his uncle as a trial, Bob didn't want his bachelor uncle to live on his own. The trial became 5 years.....
The courts decision was that the children should be with their mum when she is available and not working. There was no consideration made for the nanny and because we lived with his family members, ( despite my live in nanny caring for them also), awarded him the children during the school week as they felt they should stay in familiar surroundings and not move out.
The courts have granted me access to my children the minority of the time - every weekend, Friday afternoon from 3pm to Sunday night 7.30pm, and 100% of school holidays if I am available. I have taken every school holiday time off this year, to be with my children.
I was in shock... he has been irresponsible throughout our 19 year marriage and the courts focused on my husband and his family network we lived with as they felt this is what the children were use to. There attachment outside the children's parents was first with the nanny. My children are 4 and 7. The courts value his extended family over my proposed use of nannies (even though they loved their nanny - that's who they were attached too! ). His spinster sister is now the 'substitute nanny' who does the cooking, cleaning etc. The court orders say that he must reside at the address his uncle and sister live in
My daughter doesn't understand why she has to go to dad's on Sunday night. She wants more time with her mum
The courts have no emotions. They have made no allowances that he is irresponsible, lacks being a role model etc. He now claims that his occupation is 'dad'... he even outsources the pick up from day care to his sister 2 days a week. He now claims he cant work!! I have started paying spouse maintenance
I pay child maintenance and continue paying day care fees, school fees (which I would do anyway ) because he is so unreliable.. I also pay for all their sporting and extra activities. I would do this anyhow because they are my children..
I wanted to share a snapshot with you all - if you separate and work full time do not think being a mum gives you automatic rights - I struggle every day without them