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Lawyers attack shared parenting; say fathers have unrealistic expectations

Lawyers have criticised family law changes, saying they give parents a false belief they are entitled to 50-50 shared custody.

Yet another attack on shared parenting.  It's as though there is a concerted campaign … And there is!

Lawyers have not previously raised similar concerns (to those in the article below), under the former regime of presumptive maternal custody and residency, about the expectations of mothers to cookie-cutter template custody and residency being false and unrealistic.  One key reason is that those maternal expectations weren't false; separating women know there is an almost certainty of 'securing' the children, and that governments, courts, lawyers, media and society support them in this.

The title of this article is misleading; it is not a "rethink" but a slander, designed to minimise (diminish and dismiss) shared parenting.
Accredited family law specialist David Schetzer said good progress had been made in recent years in giving parents, particularly fathers, better access to their children. This was in response to social changes that saw male parents more active in raising children. "But we certainly haven't got to a 7-7 arrangement," he said, referring to some parents belief that children could live alternative weeks with each parent.
This view, of gradual social change, is erroneous and misleading.  If accepted it would result only in the maintenance of the status quo of maternal custody and residency.  It is not social changes that has brought about the changes Schetzer is commenting on but the legislative changes that the SPCA worked on and that were introduced in 2006 by the Howard government.
"It (the laws) was foisted upon the previous government after pressure from the men's groups. "I don't necessarily think it's been a good thing for the child. Sometimes the rights of the parent have been upheld above the rights of the child. "Imagine six or seven nights in one parent's home, then six or seven nights with the other parent? "A lot of male parents have looked at what is in their best interests, not the best interests of the child."
So fathers are to blame and we don't have our children's best interests at heart!  Tell that to all the children desperately missing their Dads and their loving fathers who just want to love, care and be with their children!
Mr Schetzer said people misunderstood their finances if they thought having more time with their children meant it would cost them less.
Having participated in week-about shared parenting, I can rebut Schetzer's misleading statement and say that one result of more time together was that less money was lost to 'child support' and thus to the mother (as a spousal maintenance [aka alimony] separation subsidy).  But that was the least of concerns; the best thing about shared parenting is being there to love and care for my children, and seeing that benefit them.
"Some people are effectively using children as a means to a financial advantage." Mr Schetzer said those people were "absolutely" more likely to try to use the new laws to increase custody time as a way of cutting their financial commitment.
Schetzer mentions financial gain but avoids mentioning that in many cases it is the mother, seeking to the use the children to ensure her own financial security, who is the one seeking to gain financially.  Instead, Schetzer misleadingly implicates fathers as the ones focussed on money.
She (Caroline Counsel) said men had been badly treated, when access to their children was restricted to alternate weekends and half of school holidays, but that was changing. "Children do not think in terms of hours and days; they do not divide up the weeks in terms of mummy and daddy," she said. "They need to be loved and mummy and daddy to stop fighting."
Again we are treated to the misleading social change mantra (that sounds nice and plausible but that leads to no real change).  Then Counsel talks, in the same sought of 'non-prescriptive' language that results in presumptive maternal custody, about "mummy and daddy", and wants everybody to just love each other and get along.  She conveniently forgets the fact that in approximately 70% (and higher) it is "mummy" who is doing the "fighting".
Law Institute of Victoria family law division chairman Stephen Winspear said people were "fixating" on the idea that they would have equal access, which was "distracting and inflammatory".
Fathers seeking a better life for their children and themselves are mischaracterised and demeaned and dismissed by Winspear as "distracting and inflammatory"! What an inflammatory thing to say.

Rethink on family law

Herald Sun (Melbourne)
14 December 2008

Rethink on family law
By Ellen Whinnett

Lawyers have criticised family law changes, saying they give parents a false belief they are entitled to 50-50 shared custody.

The laws were introduced two years ago by the Howard government and dubbed father-friendly as they emphasised shared parenting responsibilities.

But the laws have given people a belief they are automatically entitled to share their children equally with their former partner - and so reduce child support payments.

Experienced family lawyers said this week they had serious worries about the changes.

Accredited family law specialist David Schetzer said good progress had been made in recent years in giving parents, particularly fathers, better access to their children.

This was in response to social changes that saw male parents more active in raising children.

"But we certainly haven't got to a 7-7 arrangement," he said, referring to some parents belief that children could live alternative weeks with each parent.

"It (the laws) was foisted upon the previous government after pressure from the men's groups.

"I don't necessarily think it's been a good thing for the child. Sometimes the rights of the parent have been upheld above the rights of the child.

"Imagine six or seven nights in one parent's home, then six or seven nights with the other parent?

"A lot of male parents have looked at what is in their best interests, not the best interests of the child."

Mr Schetzer said people misunderstood their finances if they thought having more time with their children meant it would cost them less.

"It's probably true to say some people are using children to maximise their property entitlements.

"Some people are effectively using children as a means to a financial advantage."

Mr Schetzer said those people were "absolutely" more likely to try to use the new laws to increase custody time as a way of cutting their financial commitment.

Another accredited family law specialist, Caroline Counsel, said the laws set up a debate about the rights of the parents to share custody, rather than focusing on the best interests of the child.

"The moment you start being prescriptive in your legislation and building in phrases such as 'the court must consider whether equal time is appropriate', you are immediately setting up an expectation in the minds of the client that may not be in the best interests of children," Ms Counsel said.

She said men had been badly treated, when access to their children was restricted to alternate weekends and half of school holidays, but that was changing.

"Children do not think in terms of hours and days; they do not divide up the weeks in terms of mummy and daddy," she said.

"They need to be loved and mummy and daddy to stop fighting."

Law Institute of Victoria family law division chairman Stephen Winspear said people were "fixating" on the idea that they would have equal access, which was "distracting and inflammatory".


It (the laws) was foisted upon the previous government after pressure from the men's groups. "I don't necessarily think it's been a good thing for the child. Sometimes the rights of the parent have been upheld above the rights of the child. "Imagine six or seven nights in one parent's home, then six or seven nights with the other parent? "A lot of male parents have looked at what is in their best interests, not the best interests of the child."
I don't necessarily think it's been a bad thing for the child either! Imagine every second weekend with the sane, stable parent and the remaining 11-12 days withthe abusive, manipulative, narcistic parent?

A lot of money hungry lawyer's create the circumstances where they give false hope and advice to a parent to spur them on!

This is in lawyers' best interests, not the best interest of the child!

Of course these people will say this because they dont want anything to affect their chances of fleecing thousands of $$$ from everyday folk by actually causing and promoting conflict.

Why rock the boat of the cash cow they have, with sensible suggestons, like children having the right to spend time with both parents as they grow up?

I wonder how they would feel if it was THEIR children? I have nothing but contempt for MOST of the lawyers I have dealt with… not all but MOST. They only want $$$. They dont care about the parties. They will do everything they can to milk people of all that they have.

Just imagine a world without lawyers.

It's lucky they don't make the laws, hey?

They must find it difficult, those who have taken authority as the truth, rather than truth as the authority

I am not sure, who is more to blame, the journalists' blatant biased line, or the madness that is being quoted as coming out of the lawyers' mouths.

As an Accredited Family Law Specialist, one wonders upon the commitment to a child's best interest, which is a well worn used phrase, but no seemingly understanding of what it entails by the speakers in this case.

If the presumption of equal care means that there is also no financial obligation for payment from one household to another, due to the parents taking 'equal time and care' of their children, then I don't think there will be as much angst between separated parents today. Short of the usual array of problems associated with problem parenting (eg. violence, abuse), and the parents live in proximity to each other, I cannot see why week about arrangements should not be the first option to call upon. Parenting is about loving, caring and nuturing one's child in the home environment. Unfortuntately, that fades into obscurity due to money issues and how much one parent can pay to the other parent.

I wonder how many resident parents would gladly deliver the children over for week about contact, if told that there is no obligation to pay child support by the non resident parent.

Moot
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