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The ill treatment of children by family law

An opinion piece by Charles Pragnell, National Secretary National Child Protection Alliance reported on 6 June 2012 the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

OPINION: reported in the Herald Sun June 6th 2012

Charles Pragnell, National Secretary National Child Protection Alliance said
Although the Australian Government signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, it has been little more than a token gesture, as those rights have never wholly been embodied in the laws of Australia and are given little regard in legal proceedings such as the Family Courts.

The most important of the rights of children and young people are that they can have their say in judicial and administrative proceedings, and for their views to be given serious consideration when determinations are made regarding their future care and wellbeing, and who they will live with.

They also have the right to be protected from abuse and exploitation, and whilst State laws reflect this, it is given little heed in family law proceedings.

When considerations are being made under the Family Law Act to the future lives of children, the primary consideration is that the child must have a `meaningful relationship with both parents.

It is of no consequence that the parent may previously not have had a meaningful relationship with their child, or that the child may not want a meaningful relationship with that parent  the child or young person is ordered to do so.

And how can any law create, maintain, and enforce a relationship between any two people especially when one of those persons may not wish to have such a relationship?

If a Family Court judge decides to take into account the views of a child or young person in determining the childs future care and welfare, and very few choose to do so, then the judge will usually appoint an independent childrens lawyer [ICL] to put to the court what the lawyer considers to be in the childs best interests.

The lawyer is not required to speak with the child, and very few do so and even if they do so, it is merely a 15-minute office interview.  The lawyer will then report to the court what the lawyer believes is best for the child, although lawyers are not trained in child development and the physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of children, and most have little experience in speaking with children.

If they have taken the time to obtain the childs views, they can dismiss such views if they consider the child to be of insufficient age and understanding to hold such views, or have not been forceful enough in presenting their views to the lawyer or consultant.

If a child or young person discloses or reports that they have been abused by one of their parents, then it is common practice that the judge will appoint a court reporter or consultant, usually a psychologist or psychiatrist to give an opinion regarding the childs disclosures.

Only rarely are such reports of child abuse reported to the state child protection authorities in accordance with state laws and to be competently investigated, and such consultants have neither the powers nor the expertise to carry out investigations of allegations of child abuse.

The consultant will usually talk with the child for little more than an hour in an office interview and will then give an opinion to the court regarding the abuse allegations.

Most commonly, the opinion is that the abuse has not taken place and that the child has fabricated the allegations or has been coached by the other parent.

That parent who has reported the childs disclosures to the Court will then be labelled as delusional or to be diagnosed as mentally ill and be seen as being obstructive to the other parents inalienable right to contact with the child.

Yet research has shown that in 96 per cent of instances, children are truthful in their reports of being abused.

If a child or young person refuses to go for contact with a parent after being ordered by a court to do so, and may scream and protest not to have to, the resident parent is expected to make them attend, by force if necessary.

If that parent does not do so, they are viewed by the court as an unfriendly parent and can ultimately be punished by having the child removed from their care and placed with the other parent.

Children and young people often report that they have been abused during contact with some parents and causing them extreme pain and distress, especially when it involves overnight stays, but the resident parent is ordered by the court that they must not report their childs abuse allegations to the statutory authorities and must not take their child for psychological counselling if they are suffering extreme stress and behavioural problems as a consequence of the abuse.

In effect the abusive parent can continue to abuse their child with complete impunity and the protection of the law.

Parents are refused contact with their children in only 0.8 per cent of cases which come before the family courts, yet such cases are those which most commonly involve childrens allegations of abuse and serious intimate partner violence by one of those parents.

In effect, the current family law places the rights of parents as the paramount consideration, and regardless of how toxic, dangerous, or indifferent they may be to the child or young person.

Children are treated merely as inanimate objects and parental possessions, to be shared out as the parents may agree between them or by a family court if they are unable to do so.

Children and young people have no right to a say in those matters, and yet their future lives are so highly dependent on the outcomes.

Charles Pragnell, National Secretary National Child Protection Alliance
The Herald Sun

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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So how do we distinguish between a child that has been coached, and a child who genuinely has no rapport and desires none with the other parent?
Children are easily influenced by those that have the most contact with them ( & by x-box / PS3 / & other gifts etc).

Are non-lives with parents still entitled to try and build a relationship with their child or do we all just wait until the child grows to an adult and the penny drops?

I believe that not having the love of both parents can be to a childs detriment. Abuse etc is another kettle of fish of course.
B-Double, sadly only the parents of the children know if those children are going to be coached by them whether it is an act to be despiteful to the other parent or not.

To withhold children from having contact with the other parent is an act of being despiteful this should be a crime in itself. To coach with gifts is also an act, which if thought about carefully it is an act of a parent bringing harm and destroying their own child in their demonstration of bad parenting to influence and manipulate a child.

Again only that parent can be good or bad and be accountable for their actions?

Certainly children need both parents no matter what, and without any constraints to their daily living arrangements as they still need to be guided through their growing and developing stages.

Keeping in mind children need Love above all, stability and security to feel safe and be happy.

Children do not have choices and as long as parents have conflict they are the ones being hurt.

If violence or any form of abuse is present then it is shame upon that parent bringing this upon their own child and it requires urgent and proactive measures put in place to protect the children.

This has been my anguish amongst many thousands of parents who have experienced the disappointing experiences from the family law trade of cold ruthless idiots and self riches solicitors and ICLs who play god and do not do the right thing by the children only representing their own financial gain.

It is difficult to distinguish a child who is being coached or not without medical reports which ultimately lead in many cases costing thousands of dollars and varying and contradicting evidence that ultimately leads to the children being exposed to tormenting medical abuse by the many expert reports ordered by the court and requested by the ICL.

What type of parent would put their children through hell, what type of parent would hurt a child in the first place?

A parent who wants to build a relationship with a child or maintain a relationship they should never be questioned in the first instance no person has the right to intervene or alter. (As long as there is no abuse or violence)

Adults should focus on making adjustments in their lives to accommodate equal practical times that they will spend time with their children while the children continue their usual and normal day to day routine.

A difficult parent always stands out, they should be held accountable and dealt with proactively and accordingly.?

Last edit: by StGeorge

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