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Shared care of children reviewed

Critics of the current law say it is creating a generation of "ping-pong" children who have to shuttle between both parents. "High-conflict families should not have shared care because the children end up going back and forth," the chairman of the Famil

The Age (Melbourne)
14 July 2009

Shared care of children reviewed
By Stephanie Peatling

Controversial Family Court requirements that it considers giving children equal time with both parents will be reviewed.

Critics of the current law say it is creating a generation of "ping-pong" children who have to shuttle between both parents.

"High-conflict families should not have shared care because the children end up going back and forth," the chairman of the Family Law Council, John Wade, said.

The Howard government introduced changes to the Family Law Act in 2006 which required the Family Court to consider shared care where it is deemed to be in the children's best interests.

The changes included requiring a resident parent, usually the mother, to make sure children had a meaningful relationship with the non-resident parent.

The changes saw a near doubling of the number of families with equal, or near-equal, time arrangements.

Of all new cases registered with the Child Support Agency in the year to June, 17 per cent were shared or near-equal time arrangements. In the year to June 2003, only 9 per cent of cases were in that category.

Supporters say the current law means children have a better chance of an ongoing relationship with both parents.

Critics say it forces mothers to stop breastfeeding because they no longer have their babies living with them for a majority of the time, and leads to parents being unable to take up career opportunities in other cities or countries.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the Federal Government would consider the shared-care requirements as part of a review of the Family Law Act.

The Government would continue to place the best interests of children at the heart of its approach to family law, the spokesman said.

The review will be done by the Australian Institute of Family Studies and presented to the Government later this year.

The institute is also doing separate research on what effect the 2006 changes have had on rates of child abuse.

Meanwhile, Professor Wade has criticised a suggestion by the shadow minister for families, Tony Abbott, that couples should be given the option of being married under a law which included fault-based grounds for divorce, such as adultery, cruelty, insanity and habitual drunkenness.

Professor Wade said such a system would be costly and complicated, requiring a new court or tribunal.
AJ44 on the Shared care of children reviewed by Stephanie Peatling said
Shared care of children reviewed Stephanie Peatling
July 14, 2009
CONTROVERSIAL Family Court requirements that it considers giving children equal time with both parents will be reviewed.

Critics of the current law say it is creating a generation of "ping-pong" children who have to shuttle between both parents. High-conflict families should not have shared care because the children end up  going back and forth," the chairman of the Family Law Council, John Wade, said.
Thanks very much to AJ44 in getting this article up so promptly. I had heard from Canberra today that it and others are circulating.

When I read bizzare headlines like this I wonder where these reporters come from. What is the Family Court requirement to give children equal time with both parents and where is this being reviewed? Are you talking about 65DAA? What are you talking about? When you ask this question of reporters and the like, these people have no idea what they are talking about and blindly write like lemmings to the cliff. In our experience generally High conflict families are not going back and forth and the courts seem to deal with many of these cases adequately.

The law says quite specifically:

61DA Presumption of equal shared parental responsibility when making parenting orders
(1) When making a parenting order in relation to a child, the court must apply a presumption that it is in the best interests of the child for the childs parents to have equal shared parental responsibility for the child.

Note: The presumption provided for in this subsection is a presumption that relates solely to the allocation of parental responsibility for a child as defined in section 61B. It does not provide for a presumption about the amount of time the child spends with each of the parents (this issue is dealt with in section 65DAA).

(2) The presumption does not apply if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a parent of the child (or a person who lives with a parent of the child) has engaged in:
(a) abuse of the child or another child who, at the time, was a member of the parents family (or that other persons family); or
(b) family violence

I wonder if Barbara has read this bit

and when we get to 65DAA we see

Court to consider child spending equal time or substantial and significant time with each parent in certain circumstances. I want to stress CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES.

There are a number of circumstances defined. It is not automatic and there are two levels of time. They can look at equal time OR they can look at substantial and significant time. Show me anywhere they talk about shared care. First of all the very premise of shared care suggests equal time but few and far between ask for equal time. Many applications are a measure of time between 0 and 50% with , I suggest, the vast majority in the 25 - 45% bracket. In fact to look into "Shared Care" when it is not even mentioned in the Act seems to be a waste of time. Here we have some authority from the Family Law Council telling us there is shared care. I challenge this bozo to point out in the Act where the courts are directed to find "Shared Care" arrangements or in fact where "Shared Care" is even defined to give any guidance notes.
AJ44 on the Shared care of children reviewed by Stephanie Peatling said
The Howard government introduced changes to the Family Law Act in 2006 which required the Family Court to consider shared care where it is deemed to be in the children's best interests.

The changes included requiring a resident parent, usually the mother, to make sure children had a meaningful relationship with the non-resident parent.
AND … That is a problem ? Shouldn't children be entitled to a significant and substantial relationship with the other parent.

It is quite frustrating dealing with mindless reporters that write in such a manner as to ridicule and put down what is a fundamental right of any child. I wonder what would happen if these provisions were not in the Act… If it wasn't for the Howard Government introducing a BI PARTISAN and extremely carefully thought out set of amendments (and by the way supported by both sides of parliament except for Roxan…) then we would be back in the dark ages where children were ripped apart from one parent or the other. There are many damaged children out there who have never known one parent simply because of the way the Act was administered prior to the substantial (and what is clearly, as it turns out, a substantial improvement for children)  re-write passed in 2006.

We make no apology for the significant and substantial changes to the Act that brought many wayward parents to an abrupt halt from the nasty business of relocating children out of perfectly good environs where the kids had settled school and friendship groups and relatively close parents.

Detractors to the Act need to look at the bigger picture and the Family Law arena as a whole. That is… the many OTHER pieces and measures that have slowly been implemented to support the Act which is just one part of the puzzle. It would take pages of review to list all of those but suffice to say Family Law Act is just one part of the picture.
AJ44 on the Shared care of children reviewed by Stephanie Peatling said
The changes saw a near doubling of the number of families with equal, or near-equal, time arrangements.

Of all new cases registered with the Child Support Agency in the year to June, 17 per cent were shared or near-equal time arrangements. In the year to June 2003, only 9 per cent of cases were in that category.

Supporters say the current law means children have a better chance of an ongoing relationship with both parents.

Critics say it forces mothers to stop breastfeeding because they no longer have their babies living with them for a majority of the time, and leads to parents being unable to take up career opportunities in other cities or countries.
How many mothers are we talking about here and is this simply an extreme view of a reality that is far from the truth. It is the sort of extremist talk you would expect from the last bastion of father haters who can no longer have it their way. The facts are very different and many mothers are cooperating with many fathers to ensure children have substantial time with both parents. The courts, since the advent of the amendments to the Act and excluding WA (Which is yet to be dealt with) seem to work out, in the main, reasonable determinations on most cases.
AJ44 on the Shared care of children reviewed by Stephanie Peatling said
A spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the Federal Government would consider the shared-care requirements as part of a review of the Family Law Act.

The Government would continue to place the best interests of children at the heart of its approach to family law, the spokesman said.
I will get our Secretariat to make enquiries to see what shared-care requirements are being looked at as part of a review of the Family Law Act

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
It was recently magnified by the US President with overwhelming statistics that Children do better in all facets of life, that is, exponential better by having both Parents in their lives.

It is not only a right for Children to Know both Parents, most importantly, it is the 'NEED' to know both of them

Taking one Parent away from a Child is a proven certainty that the Child's greater interests have been neglected !

Forum topic seems to be well covered. However, after reading comments by former Family Court Justice Fogarty, and Professor Wade, and pollie Tony Abott, I disagree with each of them, and offer an alternative.

Fault Divorce as far back as the turn of the previous century, one hundred years ago meant that "fault divorcees" had to invent a fault. This apparently sometimes meant that lawyers had to falsify to a Court, usually feigning adultery in order to gain the divorce. (falsifying by family court lawyers, I wonder if there is any correlation to what happened later?). No fault divorce entered, but those where serious fault existed proved hard done by.

Surely by now most people have heard of at least one sad tale. So, how about one chooses between lodging on the basis of either fault, or no fault? Two choices in the current court system. Now, possibly professor Wade was referring to a higher standard of evidence, investigation, judging standards in stating a new court would be needed? Certainly such levels of care are already often talked about Australia wide. To take Tony Abotts approach as described by media would mean that current marriages could not apply for fault divorce. This is unfair.

Serious fault often involves unlawful activity, and/or gross breaches of trust and finances. Particularly, in relation to unlawful activity, it is unfair to continue to make people victims of the era they live in. In relation to trust and finances, non-family lawcontracted partiesmay seek compensation, and/or fairness from a Court. So, it appears that married persons are being discriminated against. Now, some well off gentlemen who give up their wife for a new existence, perhaps with their young secretary have paid of their own accord generous sums of money to their ex wife alike a compensation package. Now, I do not propose this become the norm, I make no choice, but point out that the law of past and present in contested cases is not as thoughtful.

I will mention a different case, wherein one parent for reasons undisclosed by that parent begins to assault the higher wage earner demanding unrealistic sums of money that will hinder the running of the household, and failing to be successful, then begins to regularly assault the child,leading to the child being ambulanced etc..In Court, the victim parent is told they cannot claim fault divorce.That case failed. As for costs, that case cost the parties and the govt incalculable costs, possibly in the millions. From that case, many others of similarity became apparent.

Perhaps I have overlooked something? Can anyone assist?
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