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Judges fail to report families in court to win custody and property battles

The Family Court has not referred any allegations of perjury to the Australian Federal Police for the past three years.

Secretary Spca said
We told the parliamentary inquiry at the time that removing mandatory penalties for false allegations in s117AB was an extremely bad move.

Section 117AB of the Family Law Act required a court to make a costs order against a person who ‘knowingly made a false allegation or statement in the proceedings’. This section was included to address ‘concerns expressed, in particular, that allegations of family violence and abuse can be easily made and may be taken into account in family law proceedings.

There is no specific provision in the Family Law Act to deal with false denials of family violence.

The Professor Chisholm Review at the time raised concerns that this provision could impede the disclosure of family violence in cases where a vulnerable parent’s allegations of family violence cannot be corroborated by reliable evidence. The Chisholm review recommended that the costs order provision in s 117AB of the Family Law Act should be repealed and suggested that consideration should instead be given to amending the general costs provision in s 117 of the Act to direct a court to have regard to whether any person knowingly gave false evidence in the proceedings.

The fact that the Family Court has not referred one single allegation of perjury to the Australian Federal Police for the past three years speaks for itself.
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The Family Court has not referred any allegations of perjury to the Australian Federal Police for the past three years.

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter is now considering calls by the House of Representatives Legal Affairs Committee to toughen penalties for lying in family law cases.
Liberal MP Sarah Henderson, who chaired the committee’s recent inquiry into family law, yesterday called for more “vigilance’’ in punishing perjury.

“Given the number of concerns raised in our parliamentary inquiry, perjury is a big issue in family law proceedings,’’ she said.
Judges fail to report families lying in court to win custody and property battles | The Courier-Mail
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

“Given the number of concerns raised in our parliamentary inquiry, perjury is a big issue in family law proceedings,’’ she said.
Judges fail to report families lying in court to win custody and property battles | The Courier-Mail
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The inquiry found the family law system “does not respond sufficiently’’ to perjury and false allegations, and recommended stronger penalties for “abuse of process, perjury and noncompliance with court orders’’.

Ms Henderson said she trusted that the Australian Law Reform Commission, which is reviewing the family law system for the Federal Government, would be “examining this issue very closely’’.

The Caxton Legal Centre in Brisbane has told the ALRC review that some parents have lied about domestic violence to gain custody of children. “Parties who have been accused, usually on multiple occasions, of abusing their child, and later found to not have, lament that this is an abuse of process,’’ it said.

Federal Circuit Court judge Terry McGuire ruled last June that a husband had been a “dishonest witness’’ in a property settlement trial, and awarded the wife 57.5 per cent of the property pool.
“He admitted perjuring himself in his affidavits and in his evidence,’’ the judge wrote.

Judge McGuire said he would consider referring the man for prosecution on perjury charges. But a Family Court spokeswoman said yesterday that there had been no further action in the matter.
“In the last three years we have received no referrals from the Family Court relating to perjury,” an AFP spokesman said yesterday.

Attachment
We told the parliamentary inquiry at the time that removing mandatory penalties for false allegations in s117AB was an extremely bad move.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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