"There were no big bust ups, no violence. I’d sent three emails in one year. A legal letter said, “our client is intimidated by the amount of messages”. That’s when it started… A temporary protection order was put in place. After the order, the next step is jail. Can you even imagine how that feels when you’ve done nothing wrong? It was then she accused me of sexual and physical abuse of our son. Her lies started to unravel. I was asked on the stand how I felt. I couldn’t speak. I’d waiting for six years… but I couldn’t speak. I was sobbing. Both legal teams wanted the child removed from his mother. She withdrew all allegations. I said I wanted 50/50."
Jason is a dad in his 40's living in SA. This is his story in his words. Alterations have been made solely to preserve confidentiality.
“I met my ex-partner around 2007. We started dating.
I got a job closer to her, bought myself a house and asked her to move in the following year.
For a few years, it was all really good.
Early on I took her to Europe for six weeks. We hired a car, travelled around and had a great time.
A year after that, we started trying for a baby.
We didn’t have any luck so started IVF.
It was successful on our first attempt.
During the process of IVF we’d started to drift apart.
I kept telling myself she was going through a lot and things would get better.
I was working away in the mines. I’d be away for a couple of weeks, and then home for a stretch on R&R.
When she was heavily pregnant she said if we didn’t get married she wouldn’t put my name on the birth certificate.
I was shocked.
I proposed on the spot.
After our son was born we still weren’t close.
We got married.
By this time things really weren’t great.
We weren’t a couple who argued much.
There were no big bust ups and certainly no violence.
I kept telling myself it was first time parent stress.
She started giving my family a hard time. They felt nervous going round to visit my son when I was away working.
Tension was building.
I thought a fresh start; somewhere less remote may help, so we moved.
Things got worse.
One time, we had a big argument in the morning before I was heading away for work for two weeks.
She was angry about the way my mum had carried our child. My mum is a professional nanny.
I went away to work.
I struggled to get hold of her.
She only took one call in 10 days.
I drove home.
When I arrived the house was empty. Everything was gone.
That’s when it really started…
She moved in with her family and wouldn’t take my calls. She sent a text saying if I wanted to see our son I’d have to go and visit.
It was quite haunting. She wouldn’t look me in the eye.
Our son was not even two and still breastfeeding.
I got a legal letter saying she felt intimidated.
I was devastated. The reality of what I was up against really started to kick in.
She constantly cancelled my time with him, saying he was too sick.
I’d sent three emails in one year. A legal letter said, “our client is feeling intimidated by the amount of messages you are sending.”
I tried Relationships Australia. The waiting list to get an interview was 6 months.
I found a private mediator.
Then I got a letter from her lawyer saying she felt intimidated by the mediator and wouldn’t attend.
I received a letter they’d filed in Federal Circuit Court for final orders. She suggested I have every second weekend.
I wanted shared parental responsibility. I didn’t want to be a “Dreamworld Dad”.
I quit my job. It was too hard dealing with it all.
In 2013 we didn’t have orders in place; my access to him was determined by her, via her lawyer.
She’d repeatedly say he was sick.
She wanted me to pay $400 p/week on top of child support. I paid $10,000 to defend that. She lost.
One visit I accidentally left my wallet in one of my son’s bags.
I dropped him off, went to get fuel, realised I didn’t have my wallet, she ignored my call, I drove round, she gave me my wallet.
Eight days later the police came round and told me I had to be in court the next day.
She’d put in an application for an intervention order.
They said I shouldn’t have gone to her house to collect my wallet without permission.
Just days before she’d invited me into the house.
A temporary protection order was put in place.
It took a year to defend.
I’d spent so much money in Family Court; I was defending myself in domestic violence trial.
I got wiped.
An intervention order was put in place for two years. So I had one year of temporary order, then 2 years of an actual intervention order.
Within that first year, every single day I checked the court portal to see if the judge had filed the decision.
Every single day.
It was court ordered that I would see my son every second weekend, then one night every other week when my son started Grade 1.
My ex held him back in Kindy to give herself another year of not having to give me access.
My son was just over a year old when we separated. I didn’t have him overnight until he was four-years-old.
I was allowed to see him for a few hours during that day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. I worked on the other days.
Then she put him in kindy on a Tuesday and Wednesday so I lost that time too.
It was horrendous. I was desperate to see him more, but I was seeing him less and less.
Parental alienation got worse over time.
In the beginning he’d run to me shouting, “Daddy, daddy…” but over time he’d started to cry saying he didn’t want to be with me.
It was awful.
I recorded every change over for years. I was terrified.
She had all the power.
After an intervention order, the next step is jail.
Can you even imagine how that feels when you’ve done nothing wrong?
In all those years I slept around two hours per night.
I withdrew from my friends. I didn’t go out.
I spent around $120,000 on lawyers and mediation.
At one point we had a mediation agreement. Our lawyers had signed, she signed, I signed.
Then her side reneged on the agreement.
They wanted to go to trial.
She constantly cancelled my time with him.
In 2017 I said, “Enough is enough”.
I tried to suggest mediation.
She had the very best lawyers. I’d spent all the money I had by this point and was representing myself.
It was then that she accused me of sexual and physical abuse of our son.
I can’t… it’s hard to explain what that feels like.
To be accused of that.
A date was set for trial.
Everyone was involved; domestic violence services, child services, police investigations, family court writers.
All of her lies started to unravel.
It came out she had been seeing six psychologists and lying to them all.
She had been doctor shopping to pretend our son was seriously sick.
He wasn’t. I had to get specialists to reveal all of her lies.
When it all came out, I was asked on the stand how I felt.
I couldn’t speak.
I’d waiting for six years for this moment… but I couldn’t speak.
I was sobbing.
Both legal teams wanted the child to be removed from his mother after all she had done.
I said no.
I knew that would be too traumatic for our child.
I couldn’t put him through it.
I said I wanted 50/50.
I have control of all medical decisions because of all of her lies.
My son is now seven. He is so happy - he’s brilliant!
I was so worried about how all of this would affect him.
I have sole parental responsibility.
She withdrew all allegations.
My son’s school had told me I wasn’t welcome there. I missed all of his sports, events, celebrations. Now, it’s in the orders.
I found it hard listening to other people’s stories at the DIDS meeting but I know talking about it is important.”