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This video drama provides guidance on how and where to get support and information when you have separated from your spouse or partner. It continues to follow Chris and Michelle as they adapt to living separately while providing their children with support and a stable home environment.
TEXT: Planning for the future—moving forward after separation and divorce.
TEXT: When separating. A guide for doing what's best for you and your family after separation.
LOGO: Legal Aid Queensland
TEXT: Some of the scenes in this film may be confronting, however, it is also a story of hope.
The story is not based on any particular family, and reflects the experience of thousands of Australian women, men and children affected by separation.
Daytime on a suburban street as Michelle walks towards the front door of Chris’ apartment. Hayley is in school uniform and Dylan is shouldering a backpack as Chris opens the door.
CHRIS: Hey, guys.
DYLAN: Hi, Dad.
MICHELLE: Here you go. OK, kids I’ll see you Sunday afternoon. Be good.
I’ll be over later to pick up Jasper.
CHRIS: Actually, Michelle, instead of dropping off Hayley and Dylan on Sunday I was thinking I could keep them till Tuesday morning. I could drop them off at school on the way to work.
MICHELLE: Chris, you can’t just spring this on me at the last minute. You haven’t given me any notice. I don’t want Hayley and Dylan to be disrupted during the school week.
CHRIS: Come on, Michelle. I want to spend some proper time with them. I wanna be involved in their school stuff too. I don’t wanna just hang out with them at the weekends.
MICHELLE: Chris, this is not the time to discuss this. I’m not saying I don’t think it should ever happen, I just think we need to find a better time to talk about it properly.
CHRIS: Alright, fine, Michelle. I’ll drop them off around 4:00, as usual. But I wanna sort this out. I’m sick of just spending time with the kids only on the weekends.
MICHELLE: Alright, four suits me. Thanks, Chris.
[GENTLE PIANO MUSIC PLAYS]
Vision shows Chris sitting against a black background and addressing the camera.
CHRIS: I was so desperate to spend time with the kids that I’d just badger Michelle. I never sat down to talk about it with her properly. We actually didn’t realise what help we needed. It took a while for Michelle and me to sort out arrangements that we were both happy with. It was worth seeing a lawyer.
Vision shows Michelle sitting against a black background and addressing the camera.
MICHELLE: I got a lot of well–meaning opinions from friends and family about how to resolve our problems but [INHALES] but I realise now, a lot of it was misguided. The help I got from experts was really worth it. The more information you have, the better decisions you can make. Whatever arrangements we make, we need to be prepared to be flexible. Their needs are gonna change.
The scene changes to Michelle sitting at an office cubicle with a headset on.
[COMPUTER KEYBOARD CLACKS]
Michelle picks up her mobile phone and walks away from the desk, into an office corridor.
MICHELLE: Hi, Mum. Hi. Yeah, I’m just checking you’re still OK to pick Dylan up from school today. Yeah, I’ve got that parent–teacher thing. OK, thanks so much, Mum. Bye.
The scene changes to a classroom where a disgruntled Chris sits at a student desk in front of a young teacher. Michelle walks through the door in her work clothes.
MICHELLE: Sorry I’m late.
MR GRAY: No worries, Michelle. Thanks for coming in.
Michelle takes a seat beside Chris.
MR GRAY: OK, Hayley’s last two assignments have been well below the standard of work she was producing at the beginning of the year. I understand the two of you separated a few months ago.
CHRIS: Ah, hang on, sorry, I didn’t realise you’d been told.
MICHELLE: Someone had to tell them, Chris.
CHRIS: Did you know Hayley was failing.
MR GRAY: Just to be clear—she’s not failing.
MICHELLE: She’s just not doing as well as she could.
CHRIS: Why didn’t you tell me?
MICHELLE: You’ve never been that involved in what’s happening at school. I’ve always been the one in touch with the teachers.
CHRIS: But I’m supposed to know about important stuff like this.
MICHELLE: Well, nothing’s stopping you from calling the school.
Mr Gray rolls his eyes and looks futilely around the room.
CHRIS: Michelle, you missing the point. It’s not about who rings who, it’s about me knowing what’s going on with the kids.
Michelle and Chris stop arguing to realise they are being silently watched by Mr Gray.
The scene changes to Michelle’s kitchen where she is chopping food while Hayley sits on the couch with a laptop.
MICHELLE: I spoke to your teachers tonight.
MICHELLE: Mr Gray showed me your last two essays. I’m disappointed, Hayley. It doesn’t look like you put much effort in.
HAYLEY: Yeah, they were really hard.
MICHELLE: Hayley, is there anything you wanna talk about?
Hayley closes the laptop and walks away.
Vision shows Hayley sitting at an outdoor setting. Shannon walks out with two mugs and sits down at the table, handing one of the mugs to Hayley.
HAYLEY: Grandpa’s reading Dylan his bedtime story.
HAYLEY: Thanks, Nanna.
SHANNON: So, how’s everything been?
HAYLEY: I’m fine.
SHANNON: Must be pretty hard at the moment.
HAYLEY: Mum just doesn’t understand. Like, she went off at me the other day about some dumb school stuff. She has no idea how hard this is. I feel like I’m packing up and moving all the time. You get to Mum’s and you’ve left stuff at Dad’s, you get to Dad’s and you’ve got stuff at Mum’s. It’s so frustrating.
I miss doing stuff with Mum and Dad together. It’s weird with them not being in the same house. I hate that they’ve separated.
Vision shows Chris and Michelle sitting in front of a young teacher in an empty classroom.
TEACHER: OK, Dylan was being bullied by a kid called Jack and Dylan retaliated and pushed him over the wooden railings outside and he hit his head.
CHRIS: Is Jack OK?
TEACHER: Yeah, he’s fine. Look, the school’s got pretty good procedures in place around bullying and I’ve let the rest of the staff know. I will try to keep an eye on Dylan.
CHRIS: Well, he’s had a pretty rough last six months.
Michelle gives Chris an understanding look.
TEACHER: I spoke to him a while back and he told me about what’s been happening. I’ve noticed he’s been acting out a bit, just generally being more aggressive towards other students. It’s not like him.
MICHELLE: Is there anything you think we should do?
TEACHER: Absolutely. You might consider arranging for him to speak to someone.
TEACHER: Ah, we could tee up a meeting with the school counsellor.
Vision shows Chris and Michelle walking through the school car park.
MICHELLE: We need to catch up and go through a few things. There’s a few big expenses coming up for the kids at school. We need to talk about how we’re going handle them.
CHRIS: OK, no problems. I’ll give you a call next week.
CHRISS: See ya.
Vision shows a shot of a suburban house as dance music plays. Shannon opens the front door with a concerned look on her face. The living–room floor is littered with bedding and junk–food wrappers. Hayley and her friend Sarah sit at the kitchen bench looking at a laptop screen. Sarah notices Shannon and taps Hayley on the head.
SHANNON: Hayley, I thought you were supposed to be at your dad’s.
Get into that room right now and clean it up!
The scene changes to Shannon knocking on Chris’ door with Hayley in tow.
CHRIS: Hi, Shannon. What’s going on?
SHANNON: Well, I went over to Michelle’s to do some watering and Hayley and Sarah were there.
CHRIS: You told me you were staying at Sarah’s place. Go to your room. I’ll talk to you in a minute.
I should have checked with Sarah’s parents what was going on.
SHANNON: Oh, don’t be so hard on yourself. I don’t think there was any alcohol involved.
Vision shows Chris approaching Hayley in a dark room. He has a disappointed look on his face.
CHRIS: I just got off the phone with your mum. We’re gonna ground you for two weeks. No phone, no TV and no computer.
HAYLEY: I’ve stuffed up, haven’t I?
CHRIS: Yeah, you have. Don’t ever lie to us again. I know you’ve been struggling with things lately but that’s no excuse.
HAYLEY: Yeah, I know, Dad.
CHRIS: Well, you’re still my favourite daughter.
Hayley grins sheepishly.
The scene changes to Michelle getting home as Hayley mops the floor.
MICHELLE: Come here, beautiful.
Vision shows Michelle hugging Hayley.
The scene changes to Chris’ apartment. Michelle knocks on the door and Chris opens it amicably.
MICHELLE: Hi, Chris.
CHRIS: Hi, Michelle. Come in.
MICHELLE: Thanks. The apartment looks good.
CHRIS: Yeah, yeah, it’s getting there. Ah, do you want a cup of tea or coffee? I just boiled the kettle.
MICHELLE: No thanks, I’m OK.
CHRIS: So, what do we need to talk about?
Chris leans against the kitchen bench and indicates for Michelle to take a seat.
MICHELLE: There’s some extra expenses next month. The kids’ school fees are coming up and I’ve got their book lists for the new year. Also, Dylan needs some new school shoes and a few shirts.
CHRIS: OK. Just let me know what you think you need and I’ll transfer it into your account.
MICHELLE: Great. Thanks Chris. I’ll give you copies of the receipts after.
CHRIS: Yeah, that’s fine.
MICHELLE: At some point we’ll need to discuss what we’re going to do about the house.
Vision shows Michelle sitting in her car and buckling her seatbelt as a relieved smile spreads across her face.
The scene changes to Chris standing against a black background, addressing the camera. As he speaks, footage of him and Dylan playing basketball appear on screen.
CHRIS: I hoped in the future the kids look back on their childhood as a good time in their lives.
Vision shows Michelle standing against a black background, addressing the camera. As she speaks, footage of Sarah and Hayley walking happily down a footpath appears on screen.
MICHELLE: The future? [INHALES] I know our kids can have great experiences growing up. I’ve really struggled. I thought Chris was my life partner but he’s not.
Footage shows on screen of Shannon and Michelle laughing with the children around an outdoor setting.
MICHELLE: It’s been hard. From here, I’m gonna try harder not to let it get in the way of me being a good parent. Hopefully in the future they’ll be able to see we tried to be the best parents we could.
Footage shows on screen of Chris and the children watching a movie and happily eating pizza on the couch.
Footage shows on screen of Chris in sportswear running along a beach.
CHRIS: I hope they look back knowing they were loved by both of us.
TEXT: This video is intended to provide you with information only. If you have a legal problem, you should get legal advice from a lawyer.
TEXT: If you need help or a referral. Legal Aid Queensland, phone 1300 65 11 88 or visit www.legalaid.qld.gov.au. Community legal centres, phone 07 3392 0092 or visit www.qails.org.au or look under “community legal centres” in your local phone book. Family Relationship Advice Line, phone 1800 050 321.
TEXT: Copyright 2012 Legal Aid Western Australia. This film had been adapted by Legal Aid Queensland from resources produced by the Legal Aid WA When separating project.
Legal Aid Queensland thanks Legal Aid WA for permission to reproduce this content. This information is copyright. All persons or organisations wanting to reproduce this material should get permission from Legal Aid Western Australia.
LOGO: Legal Aid Queensland, www.legalaid.qld.gov.au, 1300 65 11 88.