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Draft policy suggestions

Draft policy suggestions to implement a Presumption of Equal Parenting Time in the Family Law Act, and other policies to support this and to support mediation processes in Family Relationship Centres

Hi all, Here is the lastest draft of policy recommendations for Family Law reform and the†operation of the Family Relationship Centres.† Please feel free to comment, make your own suggestions !† Many people have made suggestions, some of which have been incorporated, and some haven't.† I have also attached the document.†† Cheers, Geoff

DRAFT†† †31 †MAY† 2007

Policy Recommendations
For
Family Law Reform
And the implementation of
Family Relationship Centres (FRCs)


POLICY 1

PRESUMPTION OF EQUAL PARENTING TIME

Parenting is a natural right of both the father and the mother.† Therefore in the absence of any child abuse, or intractable practical problems such as living in different cities, mediation and other processes in both the Family Court system and the Family Relationship Centres should begin with a Presumption of Equal Parenting Time. While judges continue to feel that they need to decide a 40/60 split or a 55/45 split or a 33/67 split in residency, cases will continue to be dragged through the Family Court system.† This very process tends to amplify conflict which itself is very damaging to children. The Family Relationship Centres FRCs are unlikely to be effective until there is a Presumption of Equal Parenting Time incorporated into the Family Law Act because there will be no incentive to mediate if the either parent (usually the mum) believes they can get majority residency in the Family Court system. The Family Court system must abandon the policy of excluding the prospect of equal parenting time where there is conflict between the parents, as this policy can encourage conflict.† Also, the child is penalised with this policy by having access to one of their parents restricted.† Instead, offending parents must be directly penalised with fines, community service, or jail in acute cases.



POLICY 2

No unilateral summary exclusion

That it be illegal for either parent to be able to unilaterally exclude the child from the life of the other parent based on unsubstantiated allegations.† The argument that one parent would "shut down emotionally" should the child have contact with the†accused parent†does not constitute justification for denying access.† Access can only be denied or restricted after thorough and professional independent investigations into both parents and child find evidence of child abuse.



POLICY 3

Neither parent can† move away with the children

Neither parent can move away a significant distance from the other parent with the children without their consent as this constitutes parental alienation.† The point of reference is the original family home.† If a parent moves more than 20 minutes driving time away, they shall be responsible for all pick ups and drop offs.† A parent shall not be allowed to move more than 45 minutes driving time from the location of the original family home.† The school selected will be one within 20 minutes of the parent closer to the location of the original family home (unless otherwise agreed by both parents).



POLICY 4

Mandatory mediation

Neither parent can use the excuse that they wish to be exempt from mediation on the basis that the other partner is too violent or has been abusive to the children. The issue of child abuse needs to be taken up with Child Protection who need to ensure child safety - by restricting access if necessary. †If required, mediation can take place via an online video-conference with parents in separate locations.



POLICY 5

Public access to proceedings

Should an initial mediation session in the Family Relationship Centre fail to reach agreement on all issues, a further public mediation should take place, public in the sense that it should be recorded and made publicly available on podcasts, so that public scrutiny is not lost.† Public access to court processes has been a fundamental principal of courts and this should not be lost when processes move to Family Relationship Centres.



POLICY 6

Exclusivity of FRCs

Every couple should be obliged to attend an FRC, and no other mediation service (especially those run by Family Law solicitors), because we need to do precise studies on the effectiveness of policies, and we cannot do these studies if mediation is being carried out by a huge variety of organisations.† Limiting mandatory mediation to the FRCs gives far better prospects for quality control.



POLICY 7

Transparency in evaluation

The FRCs need to present statistics and evaluation of outcomes on a regular basis and these need to be made available to the public.



POLICY 8

Courses

FRCs need to be adequately funded to run courses in Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Advanced Parenting, The Harm of Parental Alienation, Anger Management et al. (Participants can pay part of the cost, say $15 per session).



POLICY 9

Case workers

FRCs need to be adequately funded to assign qualified case workers to couples where there are accusations of violence or sex abuse, to ascertain the veracity, and to trigger remedial action where cases are verified, ranging from attending courses, for mild instances, to removal of the child in serious cases. †Case workers should be able to interact regularly with children where there is suspicion of parental abuse, but case workers should scrutinise both parents even-handedly. †Courses should be available for groups of children to teach them about signs of physical or sexual abuse, and how to alert the case-worker, or school counsellor, as well as teach them how abusive parents might ask them to keep a secret, and why it is important not to keep such secrets.



POLICY 10

Attending courses - authority

FRCs need to be given the authority to oblige parents to attend courses (Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Advanced Parenting, The Harm of Parental Alienation, Anger Management) and to make recommendations to a court to impose penalties (community service, fines, daytime jail, extended jail) for chronic antisocial behaviour including lack of cooperation, communication, and consultation regarding parenting, violent attitudes, physical or emotional/psychological violent behaviour, parental alienation, and sexual abuse.



POLICY 11

Process Parental Agreements

FRCs need the authority to fully process Consent Orders, and the authority to lodge them with the Family Court to help minimise parents' contact with the courts.



POLICY 12

Opportunity for review

Either parent should be able to review Consent Orders agreed to at an FRC by calling for another mediation session at an FRC. †Mediators and case workers who see a parent acting vexatiously by calling for excessive mediation sessions can refer the case to the Family Court system.



POLICY 13

FRC Complaints Investigation Service (CIS)

That an independent FRC Complaints Investigation Service be established to investigate claims of bias, non-professionalism, or mistakes etc for clients of the FRCs. This CIS should also be transparent and accountable to prevent it from being captured by the FRC industry.



POLICY 14

Screening of FRC mediators and case workers

That FRC mediators and case workers are not only thoroughly screened to ensure they have no history of perpetrating child abuse, or domestic violence, but that they are also screened to ensure that they have never been victims of child abuse or domestic violence.



POLICY 15

Support person

No solicitor can be present at the mediation sessions. However, either parent can bring along a support person who is a close friend or relative (but not a professional).



POLICY 16

Review of past Orders

Given that the Family Court has recognised the inappropriateness of Family Court policy prior to the changes in July 2006 by denying children adequate contact with their fathers / non-custodial parents, parents should have the opportunity to have their situation reviewed.† They should be able to pay for a mediation session at an FRC (eg say $300 for three hours mediation) to renegotiate contact arrangements with the other parent.† Failing agreement, the mediator can forward a report to the Family Court system, and the parent seeking review can submit a document to the judge (no more than four pages) outlining their reasons for a review and what they are seeking.† The judge can then decide whether to hear the case by speaking to the parents directly (without solicitors present and without affidavits).† Such hearings would be recorded and recordings made available to both parents.† In the absence of child abuse or insurmountable practical problems the judge would have to consider "why not equal parenting ?" (or the amount of parenting less than 50% that the parent seeking review is asking).



POLICY 17

Divide property evenly

That property division be based on a formula of returning assets contributed by each partner at the beginning of the relationship (plus a moderate interest based on the CPI), and that the balance be divided equally.† In the case where one parent is unable or unwilling to assume 50% residency of the child, half of the assets belonging to that person can be placed in an independent interest-bearing account from which Child Support can be withdrawn and paid on a regular basis to the resident parent.



POLICY 18

Fixed Child Support

That the policy of setting Child Support to the rate of income of the non-resident parent be abolished, replacing it with a fixed rate - for example $150 per week for the first child and $75 for each other child assuming the non-resident parent has absolutely no contact with the child, and reduced pro-rata according to the proportion of time the child spends with the non-resident parent.† There would be no Child Support for either parent with equal parenting time regardless of respective incomes.† Child Support would automatically be adjusted each year in line with the CPI.



POLICY 19

Changing child family names

That neither parent can unilaterally change the family name and other names of the child following separation.† However, following attempted mediation, where parents cannot agree on the names of the child, first names and middle names must remain the same as per the birth certificate.† The family name can be changed to the original family name of the mother (but not to a new married name) in the case of daughters, and can be changes to the original family name of the father in the case of sons.† In the case of the daughter, the father's original family name can be included as the last middle name of the daughter, and in the case of the son, the mother's original family name can be included as the last middle name of the son.



POLICY 20

Recordings made available

That both the Family Court system and the Family Relationship Centres make available recordings of hearings and mediation sessions on CD for an affordable fee - such as $10, rather than the current process of charging $100 per hour of hearing transcript, or deciding who and who should not be allowed to have a copy of the recording based on a Family Court manager's discretion.

Attachment
Draft Policy Recommendations for Presumption of Equal Parenting Time and operation of the FRCs



Coordinator, Equal Parenting Movement

Co-director, Fathers4Equality

Is this the same policy as posted in View topic: How do I find it - Family Law Web Guide on 21st and 22nd as guest? If it is can I edit this over a few days and format it to look the same where each of the policy items is in its own wrapper and use the text from this topic as the authoritive text.

Site Director

Draft policy recommendations

OneRingRules said
Is this the same policy as posted in http://www.familylawwe...=284&start=0/#post_845 on 21st and 22nd as guest? If it is can I edit this over a few days and format it to look the same where each of the policy items is in its own wrapper and use the text from this topic as the authoritive text.


It is an updated version of the previous one you mention.† You can remove the previous one if you like.† If you want to also break it up so that there can be†a discussion thread on each policy suggestion, fine.† Perhaps it would be better to wait and see if people respond first ?

Cheers, Geoff


Coordinator, Equal Parenting Movement

Co-director, Fathers4Equality

I think some of these policy advisments have merit but I noticed you have Child Support Policy in here as well as Family Relationship Center Policy as well as Property Policy. Would it be better to break these up into seperate areas rather than try and deal with the unlike policy areas in one place.

Just as a very quick aside in relation to 15. Personally I can't see why you need a support person at the FRC either legal or othewise apart from the mediator who should be appropriately credentialed. When you had the children did you have a support person then? The issues at the mediation center are about resolving issues that cannot be resolved between the parental parties… The parents should be sat down outside and behind soundproof glass wondows and the children should be with the mediator to see how much time they want to spend with the parents.. They at least love both parents equally and probably want to see both parents a lot not one parent a little and the other a lot..  (That is until one parent poisons the children into hating the other parent).

At least we can thank the Shared Parenting Council for the changes they made in this new legislation to ensure that one of the primary legal requirements is for the parent the children live with to facilitate a proper and continuing relationship with the other.    

See from explanatory memorandum …. Importantly however, in cases where family violence or child abuse are not issues, the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents, now becomes the most significant factor that the court must take into account when determining "best interests" and this leads to the making of orders through the "Rebutable Presumption (61DA (New) of shared parental responsibility".

It then follows on to section 65DAA (New) ordering that the court MUST consider the child spending equal or substantially equal time

And

60CC Attitude of Parents

-   Again it is reinforced that willingness for each parent to facilitate and encourage a close relationship with children for the other parent is now a major item in determining factors.

-   The Court must consider the attitude of the parents where they have taken or failed to take, the opportunity to spend time with the child etc and facilitate the other parent doing these things.

-   Primary sections defined "the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents"

support person, children's views,

DrJohn said
I think some of these policy advisments have merit but I noticed you have Child Support Policy in here as well as Family Relationship Center Policy as well as Property Policy. Would it be better to break these up into seperate areas rather than try and deal with the unlike policy areas in one place.

† Thanks for your feedback Dr John.

Yes, perhaps it would be a good idea to group the policies under various headings.†† But there are only 20 - does it make much difference ?† They are all interrelated in my view.† However, we will most likely take up your suggestion - thanks.

DrJohn said
Just as a very quick aside in relation to 15. Personally I can't see why you need a support person at the FRC either legal or othewise apart from the mediator who should be appropriately credentialed. When you had the children did you have a support person then? The issues at the mediation center are about resolving issues that cannot be resolved between the parental parties…

† The reason a support person was suggested is that some people may feel intimidated in a negotiation session, and a support person can counter this.† Perhaps more important, a support person can think of aspects and angles that the negotiating parent might not have considered, particularly if they feel under pressure.† To refer to your analogy, in my experience, all mums I can think of who were giving birth had at least one support person with them, usually more.† When you do pre-natal training they emphasise the importance of having a support person.

DrJohn said
The parents should be sat down outside and behind soundproof glass wondows and the children should be with the mediator to see how much time they want to spend with the parents.. They at least love both parents equally and probably want to see both parents a lot not one parent a little and the other a lot.. †(That is until one parent poisons the children into hating the other parent).

† I disagree with the idea about having parents behind soundproof glass.† I think children should be listened to, but I don't think we should depart from the policy of 50/50 residency (assuming both parents want at least half time) until children are 12 years old.† There are situations where a child has been alienated from a parent and there needs to be a chance for the relationship and bond to heal.

If we have a Presumption of Equal Parenting Time, we don't need children to demonstrate that they want to be with both parents equally.

DrJohn said
At least we can thank the Shared Parenting Council for the changes they made in this new legislation to ensure that one of the primary legal requirements is for the parent the children live with to facilitate a proper and continuing relationship with the other. †††

See from explanatory memorandum …. Importantly however, in cases where family violence or child abuse are not issues, the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents, now becomes the most significant factor that the court must take into account when determining "best interests" and this leads to the making of orders through the "Rebutable Presumption (61DA (New) of shared parental responsibility".

It then follows on to section 65DAA (New) ordering that the court MUST consider the child spending equal or substantially equal time

And

60CC Attitude of Parents

-†††Again it is reinforced that willingness for each parent to facilitate and encourage a close relationship with children for the other parent is now a major item in determining factors.

-†††The Court must consider the attitude of the parents where they have taken or failed to take, the opportunity to spend time with the child etc and facilitate the other parent doing these things.

-†††Primary sections defined "the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents"

† In my view we have Clayton's changes.† We now have a Presumption of Equal Parenting Responsibility.† But we already had this.† As a†senior Family Court official said to me, it is "just a repackaged brief".† I thank SPCA, Lone Fathers, DiDs†and everyone else who brought pressure to bear during the critical years 2003 and 2004 (I know Lone Fathers has been at if for over 30 years).† But the complacency over what we have supposed to have won worries me.

It is difficult to say whether the SPCA and all were weak for backing down from the real goal in 2003/04, or astute for being able to compromise and accept the gains we were able to make.

I believe there has been a shift in the Family Court culture toward granting equal parenting time, but there is no legislation to back it up.† A Labor goverment in office could see the Family Court culture and judge's discretion swing back to the anti-father prejudice of†a year ago.† I suggest judges are chosen because of their leanings.† I believe new judges and magistrates have been chosen because they lean more toward equal parenting.† It is easy to imagine the selection bias change in the future.

Don't bother anyone to try to lecture on how the courts are independent of politics.† It's all political.

Thanks for your specific references to changes in the Family Law Act.† We all need ongoing education in this.

I ask - what are we going to do for cases prior to July 2006 ?† Why can't they be revisited ?† (in FRCs preferably, or directly before†a judge and without solicitors).† Just because the court system feels it would not be able to handle the load ?† Surely such a reason must be considered immoral.† The changes acknowledge previous legislation was inappropriate - inappropriate†in terms of†the best interests of children.

Cheers, Geoff†


Coordinator, Equal Parenting Movement

Co-director, Fathers4Equality

Geoff Holland said
†In my view we have Clayton's changes.† We now have a Presumption of Equal Parenting Responsibility.† But we already had this.† As a†senior Family Court official said to me, it is "just a repackaged brief".†
Geoff I had thought your famous quote was "repackaged Brie" as that was what we (Director SPCA Ed Dabrowski) had sent on to the Attorney General some time ago when this came up… Certainly if you speak to any of teh legislators and the drafting people in the AG's there is absolutely no way they accept it is either repackaged Brie or Brief… In fact anyone suggesting that had better read the 220 amendments in a lot more detail. If you want a list of 20 of the top amendments I am happy to provide but give me a break and put me in touch with the guy who told you it was repacked anything. My collegues and I, the LFAA and many others didnt work their hearts out for three years and more just to get repackaged anything. :dry:

Geoff Holland said
I thank SPCA, Lone Fathers, DiDs†and everyone else who brought pressure to bear during the critical years 2003 and 2004 (I know Lone Fathers has been at if for over 30 years).† But the complacency over what we have supposed to have won worries me.
I think you must be in the wrong forums Geoff or living to far North because I can absolutely assure you that there is any complacency in the Shared Parenting Council. There are many additional†initiatives being worked on that are on the AG's list as well and that were "Unfinished Business" after the HORISP report. It would take me†hours to list all that is going on but there is still a lot of work to be done and there is still a lot of work going on.††Much of it is being formulated and discussed behind closed forums. I think we published a work list on this site under groups†general forum topic "What are the groups working on" some time ago. Did you get to read that?

Geoff Holland said
It is difficult to say whether the SPCA and all were weak for backing down from the real goal in 2003/04, or astute for being able to compromise and accept the gains we were able to make.
Personally I cannot even count the†minutes, hours,†days, weeks and months that went into submissions and meetings both within our organisation and the numerous Government agencies involved. It is all history now. What we got was hard fought. It was not easy and we almost didnt get that. The list of what we gained from where we started in 2001/2002 is so vast if you sat down and went through the gains line by line and paragraph by paragraph you would not for one moment suggest that all of us did not make a major change. Also straight from the horses mouth.. We were not weak. We had some extremly difficult and vigorous engagements with Government departments and legislative writers. There were many times we thought it was easier to give up.. Lesser people would have given up and we would be in†a dire predicament today. ††

Geoff Holland said
I believe there has been a shift in the Family Court culture toward granting equal parenting time, but there is no legislation to back it up.†
I think you must be on some other page Geoff because in this Portal site there are many judgements that show Shared Parenting Outcomes. Look at the appeal Goode and Goode. and tell me there is no legislation to support the appeal judges in their decision to allow teh appeal.†Judges do not do anything except rule on the law. If we are not getting as many judgements as we want then we need to look at what aspects of teh current law are not working and†fix those. There are many more orders now with substantial time. There are many more settlemements being made under the shadow of the court through the FRC and Mediation centers that before would not have been made.

What do you say about 60CC and 65DAA are these new ? do they support shared parenting?

Geoff Holland said
A Labor goverment in office could see the Family Court culture and judge's discretion swing back to the anti-father prejudice of†a year ago.† I suggest judges are chosen because of their leanings.† I believe new judges and magistrates have been chosen because they lean more toward equal parenting.† It is easy to imagine the selection bias change in the future.

Don't bother anyone to try to lecture on how the courts are independent of politics.† It's all political.
Labor brought the Family Law Act of 1975 into being†in†the first place. It took us until 2006 to get the first round of major changes. The whole thing needs to be re written and abridged anyway and we are heading there. Labor also gave us the abomination of the Child Support Agency and it has taken us until 2007 to get major changes made†there. Things are heading in the right direction we feel…Ask Labor what their family policies are … To my knowledeg our Director has not yet had a reply to our repeated requests for a policy statement and where do dads fit in. We clearly know that† Labor favours including "Entrenched Conflict" back in the Act as a means most likley to exclude all shared parneting options… I for one will stick with the good old tried and true Libs again this time around.
Geoff Holland said
I ask - what are we going to do for cases prior to July 2006 ?† Why can't they be revisited ?† (in FRCs preferably, or directly before†a judge and without solicitors).† Just because the court system feels it would not be able to handle the load ?† Surely such a reason must be considered immoral.† The changes acknowledge previous legislation was inappropriate - inappropriate†in terms of†the best interests of children.

Cheers, Geoff†
There are some threads running in different public posts around the†forums†about this. I will prepare a proper formal reply over the next week or so because I have had discussions last year with Justice "John" Faulks about this very issue. He made some very valuble points for this debate and the general view is that they were intending to†allow all cases that have merit to go up and wanted to read teh applications rather than exclude any by too hard and fast rules on this. The SRL-R's are much closer to this than we are but I will get a proper response done for this extremly important question. :thumbs:



Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
†Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
I think the initial issue of 'revisiting' has been dealt with here. How about letting 'face to face negotiation' deal with it rather than put up the backs of everyone by a blatant attack on the wrong target

One very important thing to bear in mind is that under 12A and Practice Direction No 2 of 2006 - new cases†can be dealt with without the legal profession†- unles of course you want to pay them to sit on their backsides when the Judge is speaking to the Parents. There is a posting elsewhere about a 12A hearing and the Judge ignoring 'Counsel' that were present

An intersting point about the current debate is that the FCoA remains a 'target' whereas more cases are actually being judged in the FMC - but for some reason these seem to be ignored.

Bryant was the first Chief Magistrate and created the FMC as a fast moving and practical alternative to the FCoA. Now she is Chief Justice it appears she is trying the same experiment with the FCoA - because 'some' of its procedures are more 'advanced' than the FMC

People would do well to read 'New Directions'. Make no mistake - this is where the Family Court is going. And the FMC - who knows. Pascoe keeps very quiet and lets Bryant take the flak


Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas.†

lobby work agenda, HORISP agenda, statistics now

Secretary_SPCA said
Geoff I had thought your famous quote was "repackaged Brie" as that was what we (Director SPCA Ed Dabrowski) had sent on to the Attorney General some time ago when this came up… Certainly if you speak to any of teh legislators and the drafting people in the AG's there is absolutely no way they accept it is either repackaged Brie or Brief… In fact anyone suggesting that had better read the 220 amendments in a lot more detail. If you want a list of 20 of the top amendments I am happy to provide but give me a break and put me in touch with the guy who told you it was repacked anything. My collegues and I, the LFAA and many others didnt work their hearts out for three years and more just to get repackaged anything. :dry:
  Yes unfortunately the "f" got left off the original quote.† "Repackaged brief" is the correct quote.† I won't reveal the identity of the official.† He is probably not going to speak to me again as it is.

I have been following Ozydads, Fathers4Equality and MRA forums amongst others†for several years now.† What is exciting is that here at last we can interact with key people in the movement.† As I mentioned before I think it would be great to have AG staff intereact on this site.† Also Barry Williams from Lone Fathers.† I see Tony Miller chiming in from time to time which is great.† Sue Price I think is happy just to focus on MRA activities.

I am beginning to appreciate more the work that you guys have been putting in.† I think that communication between you (SPCA), and the forums I was on anyway, wasn't as good as it could have been.† Maybe this website will offer, as you suggest, some much needed cohesion to the movement.

Secretary_SPCA said
There are many additional†initiatives being worked on that are on the AG's list as well and that were "Unfinished Business" after the HORISP report. It would take me†hours to list all that is going on but there is still a lot of work to be done and there is still a lot of work going on.††Much of it is being formulated and discussed behind closed forums. I think we published a work list on this site under groups†general forum topic "What are the groups working on" some time ago. Did you get to read that?
  No I didn't read that.† I'll look for it.


Secretary_SPCA said
Personally I cannot even count the†minutes, hours,†days, weeks and months that went into submissions and meetings both within our organisation and the numerous Government agencies involved. It is all history now. What we got was hard fought. It was not easy and we almost didnt get that. The list of what we gained from where we started in 2001/2002 is so vast if you sat down and went through the gains line by line and paragraph by paragraph you would not for one moment suggest that all of us did not make a major change. Also straight from the horses mouth.. We were not weak. We had some extremly difficult and vigorous engagements with Government departments and legislative writers. There were many times we thought it was easier to give up.. Lesser people would have given up and we would be in†a dire predicament today.†††
  It's great that you make us aware of this.

Secretary_SPCA said
Judges do not do anything except rule on the law. If we are not getting as many judgements as we want then we need to look at what aspects of the current law are not working and†fix those. There are many more orders now with substantial time. There are many more settlemements being made under the shadow of the court through the FRC and Mediation centers that before would not have been made.

What do you say about 60CC and 65DAA are these new ? do they support shared parenting?
  Yes they do but I am afraid I remain sceptical.† Perhaps we should focus on getting the AG's Dept to make publicly available statistics on outcomes both in the Family Court system and in the FRCs and other mediation services that people are using.

For example, the AGs Dept could publish on its website outcomes by 01 Aug 2007 on outcomes for the period July 2006 to Apr 2007.† It could upload outcomes for each month within two months.† We live in the age of electronic communications.† It could be automated.† The proof of the pudding is in the eating.† The AG's Dept will delay the figures and present selected figures to show their policies are working.† We would like fresh unadulterated statistics please.


Secretary_SPCA said
Labor brought the Family Law Act of 1975 into being†in†the first place. It took us until 2006 to get the first round of major changes. The whole thing needs to be re written and abridged anyway and we are heading there. Labor also gave us the abomination of the Child Support Agency and it has taken us until 2007 to get major changes made†there. Things are heading in the right direction we feel…Ask Labor what their family policies are … To my knowledeg our Director has not yet had a reply to our repeated requests for a policy statement and where do dads fit in. We clearly know that† Labor favours including "Entrenched Conflict" back in the Act as a means most likley to exclude all shared parneting options… I for one will stick with the good old tried and true Libs again this time around.

  As a matter of coincidence I received a general†e-mail from Senator Jan McLucas' office†asking if I was intersted in receiving Labor Party policies.† I sent a detailed reply e-mail asking for Labor policy on Family Law.† Jan and I have talked about the issues face to face on a previous occasion.

I will be encouraging voters to vote for any candidate who explicitly endorses a Presumption of Equal Parenting Time.† We have at least one such candidate in my electorate.

Secretary_SPCA said
Geoff Holland said:

"I ask - what are we going to do for cases prior to July 2006 ?† Why can't they be revisited ?† (in FRCs preferably, or directly before†a judge and without solicitors).† Just because the court system feels it would not be able to handle the load ?† Surely such a reason must be considered immoral.† The changes acknowledge previous legislation was inappropriate - inappropriate†in terms of†the best interests of children".

There are some threads running in different public posts around the†forums†about this. I will prepare a proper formal reply over the next week or so because I have had discussions last year with Justice "John" Faulks about this very issue. He made some very valuble points for this debate and the general view is that they were intending to†allow all cases that have merit to go up and wanted to read teh applications rather than exclude any by too hard and fast rules on this. The SRL-R's are much closer to this than we are but I will get a proper response done for this extremly important question. :thumbs:



You generate much†hope, and I hope you are right !† I very much look forward to your full response on the issue of revisiting cases in the light of the changes.

I would also encourage you and Ed, and others at SPCA etc to comment on the policy suggestions I have posted, (or any policy suggestions people may post) because you may have greater insights than us (mere mortals) - so we could move the process along a bit better.

Cheers, Geoff


Coordinator, Equal Parenting Movement

Co-director, Fathers4Equality

Geoff
Following up your comments that life has not changed and your general view that "The changes will make no difference to the situation of fathers and that they are only symbolic…".. I got this statement off the Attorney General and I think it is reflective of where the Government is heading.

If the courts are not delivering then we will need to (and will most certainly) make further changes to legislative instruments.

I also agree with a comment you made in this topic relating to "stats" and we are already on that. John Gerimin at FLRA has already been working on a funding proposal with the†SPCA to monitor the court outcomes. More later as things develop and once we hear more from AG's about our thoughts.

Philip Ruddock the Attorney General said
The changes to the family law system are real and far-reaching. They are a reflection of the Government's commitment to change the culture of dealing with family relationship issues and separation.

The law now has a presumption of equal shared parenting responsibility (except where there is violence or child abuse involved). Where there is equal shared responsibility, the courts must also consider equal time with both parents. If that is not reasonably practicable or in the best interests of the child, the court must consider substantial and significant time. The changes strengthen the focus on placing the interests of the children first and recognise that parenting is a responsibility that should be equally shared provided this does not put children at risk.

The Family Relationship Centres, the Family Relationship Advice Line (1800 050 321), the Family Relationships Online website www.familyrelationships.gov.au†and other expanded services are designed to help fathers, as well as mothers and other family members, to deal with separation as a relationship issue rather than as an adversarial legal issue.

The expanded early intervention services include services specifically tailored to meet the needs of men and their families. 27 additional men and family relationships services were established this year and further services will be established in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 financial years.

The Australian Government has also increased funding to Mensline Australia, a national 24 hour family relationship telephone information, counselling and referral service available for the cost of a local call on landline telephone services throughout Australia. Mensline Australia can be contacted on 1300 789 978 or http://www.menslineaus.org.au/
The best thing we can probably do at the moment is to encourage many of the smaller more fragmented groups into the Portal site where the site Admins will host and enhance their web sites and give them access to closed forums and executive forums, Editor areas for posting news items etc.

The list of†tools†coming appears†extensive. :offtopic:I know you do not favour technology for bells and whistles sake but most certainly if we all operated in one place it would be a huge step forward for the movement and definitely advance the possibilities for shared parenting outcomes… That deserves some consideration I would think. :o†There is certainly no thought that the SPCA is "taking over" in fact completely to the contrary the SPCA is interested in working with any group that wants shared parenting outcomes in†the many†forms†that takes, appropriate for†the†circumstances of the parties. The Council supports this Portal development in the sincere hope it will allow many more groups to have a voice. :thumbs:

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
†Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity

de facto Presumption of Equal Parenting Time ?

Secretary_SPCA said
Geoff
Following up your comments that life has not changed and your general view that "The changes will make no difference to the situation of fathers and that they are only symbolic…".. I got this statement off the Attorney General and I think it is reflective of where the Government is heading.

If the courts are not delivering then we will need to (and will most certainly) make further changes to legislative instruments.

I also agree with a comment you made in this topic relating to "stats" and we are already on that. John Gerimin at FLRA has already been working on a funding proposal with the SPCA to monitor the court outcomes. More later as things develop and once we hear more from AG's about our thoughts.

Philip Ruddock the Attorney General said
The changes to the family law system are real and far-reaching. They are a reflection of the Government's commitment to change the culture of dealing with family relationship issues and separation.

The law now has a presumption of equal shared parenting responsibility (except where there is violence or child abuse involved). Where there is equal shared responsibility, the courts must also consider equal time with both parents. If that is not reasonably practicable or in the best interests of the child, the court must consider substantial and significant time. The changes strengthen the focus on placing the interests of the children first and recognise that parenting is a responsibility that should be equally shared provided this does not put children at risk.


The Family Relationship Centres, the Family Relationship Advice Line (1800 050 321), the Family Relationships Online website www.familyrelationships.gov.au and other expanded services are designed to help fathers, as well as mothers and other family members, to deal with separation as a relationship issue rather than as an adversarial legal issue.

The expanded early intervention services include services specifically tailored to meet the needs of men and their families. 27 additional men and family relationships services were established this year and further services will be established in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 financial years.

The Australian Government has also increased funding to Mensline Australia, a national 24 hour family relationship telephone information, counselling and referral service available for the cost of a local call on landline telephone services throughout Australia. Mensline Australia can be contacted on
1300 789 978 or http://www.menslineaus.org.au/
The best thing we can probably do at the moment is to encourage many of the smaller more fragmented groups into the Portal site where the site Admins will host and enhance their web sites and give them access to closed forums and executive forums, Editor areas for posting news items etc.

The list of tools coming appears extensive. I know you do not favour technology for bells and whistles sake but most certainly if we all operated in one place it would be a huge step forward for the movement and definitely advance the possibilities for shared parenting outcomes… That deserves some consideration I would think. †There is certainly no thought that the SPCA is "taking over" in fact completely to the contrary the SPCA is interested in working with any group that wants shared parenting outcomes in the many forms that takes, appropriate for the circumstances of the parties. The Council supports this Portal development in the sincere hope it will allow many more groups to have a voice.


If that is in the legislation (I am looking for a copy of 65DAA if anyone has one), then maybe it is not a case of where we are heading, but that we are already there ? A (De facto Presumption of Equal Parenting Time). If this is the case, I think we need to commend the Attorney General's Dept.

Also

Do you have a URL for this quote ? I had a look on the Attorney Generals Dept website, and also ran a search, but didn't find it.

Also, can someone send me Section 65DAA ? (prism@optusnet.com.au) Again, I have run a Google search but so far not hit the mark.

We must then consider (assuming it to be true):

1. whether it is being implemented

2. how it can be negated.

For example, it has often been said "if there is any evidence of conflict this rules out equal parenting". Conflict can be defined as almost anything. Parents who have reached a Final Hearing are almost certainly in conflict in some sense. And then there are the cases of mums who unilaterally create conflict to demonstrate conflict exists (and many times they are rewarded for it).

What other ways might there be for judges and magistrates to avoid having to consider equal time with both parents? Since the AG's Dept is not releasing statistics (not yet, anyway), we always have the option of going along to Final Hearings in the FCoA and FMC and doing a sample monitor. I know SRL-R get feedback from cases - maybe a dozen cases a month ? But since they have been involved in these cases, success rates may be distorted.

Secretary_SPCA said
The best thing we can probably do at the moment is to encourage many of the smaller more fragmented groups into the Portal site where the site Admins will host and enhance their web sites and give them access to closed forums and executive forums, Editor areas for posting news items etc. I know you do not favour technology for bells and whistles sake but most certainly if we all operated in one place it would be a huge step forward for the movement and definitely advance the possibilities for shared parenting outcomes… That deserves some consideration I would think.
Yes I agree entirely !

Secretary_SPCA said
There is certainly no thought that the SPCA is "taking over" in fact completely to the contrary the SPCA is interested in working with any group that wants shared parenting outcomes in the many forms that takes, appropriate for the circumstances of the parties. The Council supports this Portal development in the sincere hope it will allow many more groups to have a voice.
I don't feel the SPCA is taking over. I feel the SPCA could have been communicating better in the past, but it appears you are more than making up for this now ! And showing some good leadership.Well done ! :thumbs:

Mensline, varying orders
BTW I rang Mensline Australia on 1 300 789 978 following your post, and the fellow was very nice and friendly but I didn't get the impression he knew much about the changes !

He feels certain "Final Orders" can be revisited. He said they now call them "Parenting Plans"; (When I tried to get him to confirm that, he retreated). He particularly wanted to know if my Final Orders specified "Sole Custody" "Shared Custody" Well despite the fact that it is refered to "Residency" now, I think he may have been leading me up the garden path anyway. We checked out my Final Orders and it doesn't specify anyway. At 4.5 days and 4 nights per fortnight, I think it is categorised as shared care.

Anyway, he refered me to Legal Hotline 1 800 050 321, but I have a feeling I know what they are going to say. One thing for certain - there is a lot of confusion out there. :'(†For example the Cairns Community Legal Centre told me one thing (yes you can apply to vary the Orders) only to have the coordinator later ring me at home to backtrack. :(

Are Lone Fathers and MRA and DiDs on board with www.familylawwebguide.com.au website ? Are they encouraging their members to go check it out ? :thumbs:
Cheers, Geoff

(formatting changes made - using†the "quote" function to quote posters text - Admin)

Last edit: by OneRingRules


Coordinator, Equal Parenting Movement

Co-director, Fathers4Equality

Geoff,

I think that now you get the message - "Must consider equal time" is unambigious

I think we should also thank the SPCA (and others) for their tireless efforts - hammering for this legislation. No - is was not the desired wording - but†the best compromise available at the time.

It is the wording 'must consider' that that has the radical Feminst groups up in arms - over their claims that violent Dads are getting contact.

Section 65 is part of the Amended Act available on this site - top bar under "Web Guide" and then go to "Acts" (Actually part of the sites name)

The web guide section is still under considerable development, some of us have seen its incredible† potential under the ISYS 8.2†search engine (all $35k of it) this site has. Wait a few months before its switched on - no more searching anywhere else -it will be here - the 'one stop' shop for Family Law


Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas.†
Geoff Also consider 63DA†† (3)† For the purposes of paragraph†(2)(b), a child will be taken to spend substantial and significant time with a parent only if:

†††††††††††††††††††† (a)† the time the child spends with the parent includes both:

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (i)† days that fall on weekends and holidays; and

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (ii)† days that do not fall on weekends or holidays; and

†††††††††††††††††††† (b)† the time the child spends with the parent allows the parent to be involved in:

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (i)† the child's daily routine; and

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (ii)† occasions and events that are of particular significance to the child; and

†††††††††††††††††††† ©† the time the child spends with the parent allows the child to be involved in occasions and events that are of special significance to the parent.


†††††††††††† (4)† Subsection†(3) does not limit the other matters to which regard may be had in determining whether the time a child spends with a parent would be substantial and significant.

The SPCA absolutely insisted that there was to be a clear definition of what substantial time meant. This area of change has been quite impacting and far reaching. I will also comment on "Entrenched Conflict" because you have talked about that as a reason†for excluding contact arrangements.

It is important you have raised this issues because in the first draft of the†amendment Bill this was a factor.

We (SPCA) sat in numerous meetings with the legislative drafters†and†argued that we would not accept "Entrenched Conflict" as a reason to exclude proper contact and we argued that almost all cases where the mother or one parent party has withheld contact of the child(ren) from the other parent was a reason†(and often the only reason) in most cases for any conflict at all.

Often this witholding of contact led to violence.. Getting rid of those words "Entrenced Conflict" was a mighty win for us and has reduced the possibility for violence even further.

Two reasons for this:

1.†Once a wayward parent, the "lives with parent", recognnised that they could no longer get away with witholding contact†and that there were penalties now then generally this type of activity has no reason to succeeed and be advantageous at court as it was in the past.

2. Once the seperated parent recognised that they had a decent chance of getting contact through the major changes in the new laws then things calmed a lot, as it was no longer a completely hopless situation.†

There is clearly NO REASON now for entrenched†conflict cases to be denied equal or substantially equal time wheras before there most certainly was. :|




Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
†Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity

Review in the FRC - PROPOSAL

Secretary_SPCA said
The SPCA absolutely insisted that there was to be a clear definition of what substantial time meant. This area of change has been quite impacting and far reaching. I will also comment on "Entrenched Conflict" because you have talked about that as a reason†for excluding contact arrangements.

It is important you have raised this issues because in the first draft of the†amendment Bill this was a factor.

We (SPCA) sat in numerous meetings with the legislative drafters†and†argued that we would not accept "Entrenched Conflict" as a reason to exclude proper contact and we argued that almost all cases where the mother or one parent party has withheld contact of the child(ren) from the other parent was a reason†(and often the only reason) in most cases for any conflict at all.

Often this witholding of contact led to violence.. Getting rid of those words "Entrenced Conflict" was a mighty win for us and has reduced the possibility for violence even further.

[cut]




Thanks for your responses.† I would like to post this message on F4E and Ozydads, to inform and to encourage people onto this forum.† Is that ok ?

I am still not sure what the priorities are for the SPCA at the moment (and maybe they cannot be made public knowledge ?)

But I would think they would include:

1. monitoring and statistics to ensure the changes are being implemented (as we have previously discussed)

2. having a mechanism whereby dads who received a raw deal prior to July 2006 can have it reviewed.† I discussed this with Philip Ruddock and he said - "give me a comprehensive proposal and we'll have a look at it"††

I suggest it may take the following form:

The applicant parent†fills out a form giving reference to their case, stating†brief description of situation, confirming that there are no complicated issues, stating what reasons the other†parent may object to equal (or increased) time, that they live within reasonable commuting distance, current contact patterns and current involvement in the child's life.

The†judge/magistrate can take a†look at this two-page application and give the nod, or not.

Given the nod, the†applicant parent†then invites the†respondent parent to FRC mediation where the mediators explain the changes in the legislation and advise the†respondent†parent that since the judge/magistrate has given the nod, there is a strong chance that 50/50 (or whatever is asked) will be granted, and that if it has to go before the judge/magistrate - in a 12A Hearing (direct dialogue, no affidavits, no solicitors) - and they make the requested changes, then the†respondent parent may have to pay court costs and the FRC costs.

The applicant parent pays for the mediation session at the FRC (up to three hours at $80 per hour) but the fee may be waived for low income earners and pensioners.

Comments please !!!

Cheers, Geoff


Coordinator, Equal Parenting Movement

Co-director, Fathers4Equality

Policy 17 as suggested in the original posting would not conform with the current Act which has evolved as a result of experiential observations.

A possible way to progress mattersin respect to changing the Act and the Rules could involve a procative use of selectively placed advertisements.

When a part sells a property in a foreign jurisdiction it does affect the capacity of parties to fulfill their responsibilities in the best interest of children.
For instance two matters before the court this week were observed to be schemes by parties to diminish the capacity of the other party to satisfy orders.
Should advertisements in other jurisdictions be put to our employees in Canberra as an option to either formalise those schemes or act to modify the legislation to counter them?

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
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