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Old 10.11.2019, 20:02
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A few questions in relation to child access

Hello everyone,

I am new to the forum and need some help in terms of gaining access to my child.

I got divorced in 2017 in Canton Vaud. Since then I have been struggling with child alienation, visitation issues, manipulation etc. I got into depression since the beginning of the divorce in 2015 and eventually left Switzerland in Mar, 2017 to be with my family. With this move out my ex stopped all contact between me and my child who has now turned 8.

I filed for a review in Feb, 2018. My lawyer told me it would take 6 months and CHF 10,000. Needless to say it went grossly overboard and the final hearing took place on 27th Aug, 2019. During all this time my ex has kept on violating provisional order by refusing/cancelling Skype sessions and even tried to stop me from seeing my child in Switzerland (in the provisional order I am only allowed to see my child for 2 weeks in a year and that too inside Switzerland).

My situation is very desperate as I am not sure what relief I will be provided in the final order and whether my ex will respect it. I am seriously considering to move back just to see my children and have better access. I have a Swiss C permit which is extended till March, 2021. My ex and child is also on C permit.

Based on my situation I have the following questions:

1) I know Swiss law doesn't criminalize child alienation but are there any penalties for stopping child visitation. In the final hearing I have requested a fine attached to missed Skype sessions (part of visitation) but is it something practically enforced by courts? Is mediation through Federal Department of Justice and Police effective?

2) If I relocate back to Switzerland based on my C permit will I be offered any social help (pension, language or professional classes etc) till I find a job? Is there a timeline associated with this situation? Will there be any issue with my C permit renewal if I am on social help? I am just afraid of a situation if my child is still in CH and I am asked to leave.

3) As most jobs are in German part I would like to learn German to have a better chance to get a job but I have gathered that French speaking communes don't offer German language classes. Is this true?

4) I have lost a fair bit of money in the move and on legal costs so I am very low on funds. Once I am back here will I be eligible for pro bono advice and/or legal loan?

5) Based on this change of financial situation do I have the possibility to re-negotiate the financial settlement in the original divorce decree?

6) If I am in Switzerland will it be possible for my spouse to relocate? I heard that the courts favour Switzerland if the parents can't agree on a move.

Whoever can share any similar experience and relevant information it will be most appreciated.

Kind regards
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Old 10.11.2019, 20:52
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Re: A few questions in relation to child access

I could probably make a pretty good guess on who your ex is .. If i'm correct, she's not a personal friend but friend of wife's friend type thing..

Soo might not be a great idea to put specifics on here :-)
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Old 10.11.2019, 20:54
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Re: A few questions in relation to child access

Are you sure your C permit is still valid? Normally it expires when you are abroad for more than 6 months
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Old 10.11.2019, 21:02
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Re: A few questions in relation to child access

EDIT: My post, herebelow, was written before I saw roegner's very good question, and just assuming that you're right, OP, that your C permit is still valid.

Without going into your specific questions, I'd say that you have a much, much, much better chance of gaining access to your child if you live in Switzerland.

You seem to be fairly sure that you will not be able to get employment if you return. Why is that? Do you have any skills or working experience? Did you work when you were in Switzerland, before (it must have been several years, for you to have obtained a C permit).

My brief advice would be to improve your language skills asap, right now, where you are. Look for work anywhere in the country - irrespective of whether a French-speaking, German-speaking or Italian-speaking canton. You can always take a train from where you live to where the child lives, to take him/her out. Where you live now, save as much as possible. Similarly, upon arrival in Switzerland, be ready to live as frugally as possible, so that you can get by even if you don't yet have a full-time professional job.

The reason I say look anywhere in the country has to do with the steps towards gaining access to your child. They are, more or less:
  1. Be in Switzerland.
  2. Prove yourself to be reasonable, employed, sane, fair, clean, up-to-date with all payments, i.e. legitimate, proper, in order, in good standing.
  3. Fulfil the child access allowance as now permitted by the Court Order. Do not default on what the Order says, and take all steps in your power to ensure that you stick to what is arranged between you and your ex, for hand-over. Return the child punctually, well and clean, with all his/her things, and without emotional fuss.
  4. If the collection and the return of the child are likely to cause trouble, when you and your ex see each other again, enlist the aid of a social-worker (or similar) to accompany you for those moments.

Your being allowed to see the child more frequently, will most likely be dependent on demontrating that all of the above are working smoothly, because you do your part to make them so. That's going to take a while, so you can, in that time, really work anywhere in the country.

Remember that, in Swiss law, the deciding factor is not "parental rights" or even "parental access" but whether or not a course of action is in the best interests of the child. Therefore, the "rights" are those of the child, to have access to both parents.

Sometimes, when the contact has been interrupted, it is not deemed in the child's best interests to suddenly have to leave the parent it now knows well and sees daily, and suddenly have to go off and spend a day or weekend or week with the other parent who has become somewhat estranged.

Therefore, and especially if there are significant trust issues, it could be that a social worker suggests that the first few visits are accompanied, i.e. in the presence of a social worker, or at a playground or club where certain officially approved staff work. To many parents, this can feel like a snub, as an insult to their parenting, etc. However, agreeing to see the child, as a temporary measure for the first four or six times, in such a setting, can prove that you're reasonable and accommodating, and you will then have witnesses of the same.
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