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Warring parents 'to quick to court' says top judge

By Kim Arlington

May 09, 2008 12:00am

MOST warring parents had no idea of the damage they were doing to their children, the Chief Justice of the Family Court said yesterday.

In a rare interview, Chief Justice Diana Bryant said some parents lose perspective when they were involved in a custody battle and put their own interests ahead of their children.

"It's all about the pain and hurt that comes from separation," she said.

"Most parents don't realise the damage that they do to children by the conflict."

Ms Bryant spoke to The Daily Telegraph after it exclusively revealed the Family Court had ruled on a disagreement involving a girl's seventh birthday party.

The girl had a fragile relationship with her father, who wanted to celebrate at McDonald's with his relatives, his new partner and their seventh-month-old baby. Because of the girl's anxiety, her mother wanted the party held on familiar territory at her usual play centre.

Justice Linda Dessau ruled that the father could see his daughter on her birthday at the local childcare centre but without introducing her to new family members.

Ms Bryant said the case involved difficult family dynamics and it was "only in the most complex and dysfunctional families that these kinds of issues have to be sorted out by judges".

"We don't get these sorts of disputes just coming to court about a birthday party," she said.

"I have to give credit to most parents - even when they are fighting about their children, most of them do manage to sort out things like birthdays and Christmas.

"In the more complex cases these issues do arise because they're the kinds of cases where people aren't able to work things out for themselves.

"Sometimes they very much do need some intervention."

She said legislation required people to work at resolving disputes before they came to the Family Court, with family consultants encouraging them to consider what was best for the children.

The process was "designed to try and focus parents on their children, rather than on their own disputes", she said.

But the judge said there were unquestionably times when parents overlooked their children's interests because they were too busy battling.

While acknowledging that it was difficult for parents to put aside their own hurt and distress, she pointed out that research showed conflict was one of the worst things for children to be exposed to.

She encouraged parents to talk to counsellors, make use of family relationship centres and "see how much damage it does to children to continue conflict between parents".

Adding the URL,22049,23669273-5001021,00.html -

The judgement link on FLWG

The following was returned when Chief Justice Bryant was searched on the Australians website:

Federal Magistrates Court doomed (25/3/08)

Reference source: The Australian

Family Court in 'father friendly' push

Reference source:

Reforms may worsen couples' battles (23/9/05)

Reference source:

(This is old dated September 23, 2005)
We all pay so banks profit (7/5/08)

Reference source: Daily telegraph

Last edit: by OneRingRules

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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