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Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2011

Has Bill been passed now 100%??

I am a mother of two and have been battling in court to protect my son for the past 12mths as his father is violent and irresponsible. I have been dealt with quite harshly by the Magistrate and ICL in my matter thus far and all attempts to protect my son have been labelled as an indication of me 'not supporting my child having a meaningful relationship with his father'.

I read the news last night that the bill had been passed, and then read the amendments involved. I have spent the last 24 hours absolutely ecstatic that finally there may be some empathy and understanding for people who are caught up in domestic violence and then seek to protect their children as their primary consideration regarding the child's contact with the violent party. As it stands, the father in my matter is still having only supervised contact, which I feel is in the best interests of my son, aged now 3 and a half.

Now, on Monday 28th I have a hearing regarding an application in case that I have brought before the court, and this was filed with the court on the 15th November, just one week prior to the bill being passed. In this application I have asked for an order that sees the father getting unsupervised contact when my child reaches 4 and under the assumption that he first completes parenting and anger management courses. I struggled to decide to put this into my application fearing my son's safety, however, under the biased and oppressive criticisms of the Magistrate and particularly the ICL, I felt I had no other choice than to jeopardise my son's safety and well-being, to in a sense "curry favour" with the magistrate and ICL as it has so far been their view that my son's safety has been a secondary concern to that of "my son's right to engage in a meaningful relationship with his father".

Given the recent events, being the bill passing last night in the Senate, it has now struck me that I should have stuck to my guns and continued to fight for on-going supervised visits and not made concessions to try to lighten the Magistrate's View of me. ( The background here is that I have had the book thrown at me because I relocated unilaterally to leave the state where the father and I resided together. The father hadn't had contact with the child for a period of 11mths due to his inability to comply with mediation outcomes that I was pushing to ensure my son's safety and well-being during a period of re-introduction after non-contact due to his violent and manipulative nature) So after no contact for 11mths I made the decision to relocate in support of my partner, who at the same time was battling his own family law matter with regards to his daughter (aged 10mths younger than my son). I supported my partner and relocated because he IS a wonderful father and a caring and supportive partner.

So.. now I am faced with the issue of deciding, do I attend the hearing on Monday and try to revoke my proposal of unsupervised visits upon my son reaching 4, and quote the recently passed bill as my reason for doing so, and perhaps even explain that the Magistrate and ICL's views of me and my conduct, (which in my mind has been of a caring and protective mother trying to ensure her son's safety during periods of contact, and conversely in their minds has been of a mother who left the state without permission impacting on the father's ability to have a meaningful relationship with the child) have forced me to compromise my objective in this matter-which has until this point been to protect my son at all costs, and which on occasion I have spent periods of weekends at a time crying because I have been so conflicted about whether to follow the court order or to do what I know is right for my son. (To date I have followed the court order to the detriment of my son's health and well-being as the main interim order is that I travel with my son from Tasmania back to Adelaide fortnightly so he can attend supervised visits with his father). So do I explain to them that the pressure of the system, and their requirement that I do all things possible to support and facilitate a meaningful relationship between my son and his father has in event caused me to feel as though I have needed to bend to their will irrespective of my burning desire not to fuel by maternal instincts to protect my child.

Does anyone have any advice for me..?

Also, just to state it quite clearly, although I support the bill in terms of its benefits for those truly affected by family violence, I at the same time, am gravely concerned with the fact that it opens the doors for women to lie and use family violence as a cop out and justification for with holding a child from its father. My partner and I have felt both edges of the sword and although I have lived with and am still fighting against family violence, it would be a terrible outcome for father's everywhere if the bill has been completely passed as it is with there being no reasonable evidence of family violence necessary. Even psychological abuse can be proven where the victim seeks help from at least one other person in society. And this person should then be scutinised as to their postition and stake in the outcome of the matter before a judgement of family violence is made.

Another quick question, has the bill actually been completely passed as of last night?? Or are there more stages of scrutiny and development ahead? And if it has, or even if it hasn't, can I refer to it at my hearing on Monday as the majority of stakeholders have agreed the majority of the amendments as the bill currently stands..?

A supporter of 'Family Violence is NOT O.K.' and equally of 'Fight for Good Father's Rights'.
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