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Feedback on 20 Policy Recommendations

policy recommendations, feedback, property, Child Support

Forwarding with permission Rob D's comments on the 20 draft Policy Recommendations, and including my responses to him.


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."

I think this is an impossible measure because there would not be enough people left to fill the positions and also quite discriminatory - why should people be excluded because they have been victims - that may well be what prompts them to do something about the situation. I have been the victim of child abuse - so therefore I could not serve?

However I think all parties, including judges, should undergo the same type of special training that psychologists undergo to teach them to separate their own issues from the issues of the people with whom they are dealing.

Interesting point.  Don't know if I would have much faith in such courses but worth looking into.

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)."

No problem.

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 parent, 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)."

No problem but there would probably need to be some provision for people with no money.

Yes, agree.

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."

I think there are big problems with that formula. Say one partner comes into a marriage with $3mil in assets and the other partner has nothing and during the course of the marriage their total worth is still $3mil. Under this formula the one with the money in the beginning would walk away with everything. One parent would be a millionaire and the other parent would be penniless - this would seem to be a very upsetting situation for the children.

I suggest a policy of economic distribution that maintains equity of standard of living between parents up to but no more than the standard of living enjoyed before the separation for a period of 2 years after separation.

Very interesting discussion.  Assets of $3mil may imply an income of around $3,000 per week.  Let's say the partner who has not contributed receives an come of $1,500 per week plus rental of $800 per week - or $220k over two
years.  After two years I would expect that partner to undergo the same radical drop in lifestyle, no ?

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."

See 16 above.

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."

I think this contravenes sex-discrimination laws. I suggest the allowance of a hyphenated family name only.

How can it contravene sex-discrimination laws if it is based on gender equity ?

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 arbitrary discretion."

No problem.

Last edit: by OneRingRules

Coordinator, Equal Parenting Movement

Co-director, Fathers4Equality

Who is Rob D?
Forwarding with permission Rob D's comments on the 20 draft Policy Recommendations, and including my responses to him.

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