Warning: file_put_contents(): Only 0 of 95 bytes written, possibly out of free disk space in /home/flfl1154/git/flwg.com.au/sources/global.php on line 625
View topic: Shared Parenting Rollback: Fed Govt Reports - 2006 Shared Parenting Law Changes – Family Law Web Guide
Donate Child Support Calculator
Skip navigation

Shared Parenting Rollback: Fed Govt Reports - 2006 Shared Parenting Law Changes

Shared Parenting isn't perfect, but is there a need to change it? (Alby Shultz)

Informations about the reports released by the Attorney-General and the media reporting and responses to those reports.

Retired Family Court Judge, Professor Richard Chisholm, in his report entitled The Chisholm Report, appears to advance a certain agenda. His criticism of the friendly parent provision for instance, is not identified with adverse outcomes by the AIFS report and is dismissed as mere gossip by the Family Law Council. While identifying the twin primary focuses of shared responsibility and family violence, he takes a firm position in favour of one specific gender. His recommendation is that family violence should be effectively presumed in all parenting cases before the Courts, which apart from introducing an unhealthy suggestiveness into the process; would undo much of the efficiency achieved by the 2006 reforms.

Shared Parenting although not perfect, is there a need to change it?

Menzies House
15 February 2010

Shared Parenting although not perfect, is there a need to change it?
By Alby Shultz

Alby Schultz MP argues that there are serious flaws with existing shared parenting arrangements.

The concept of shared parenting by separated or divorced couples was a basis for family law reforms in 2006.

Recently the Rudd Labor Government commissioned a series of reports on the shared parenting law introduced by the former Howard Government.

The report was ordered in response to the shocking death of four-year-old Melbourne girl Darcey Freeman, who was thrown to her death from the West Gate Bridge a year ago.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) report is by far the most comprehensive and scientific of the three reports presented on shared parenting. Its prevailing theme is that these reforms have generally worked well and have been well received. It does, however, detect substantial room for improvement in terms of dealing with family violence, which, given the dysfunctional status of the lives of some users of the system, will probably always exist. It does not suggest, though, there is any evidence that the reforms have exposed children to a greater risk of violence or other harm.

There are a number of findings as to the beneficial effects of the reforms including the significantly reduced number of filings in childrens matters, in particular, which should result in speedier and more dedicated access for the less tractable and more worrying cases.

Retired Family Court Judge, Professor Richard Chisholm, in his report entitled The Chisholm Report, appears to advance a certain agenda. His criticism of the friendly parent provision for instance, is not identified with adverse outcomes by the AIFS report and is dismissed as mere gossip by the Family Law Council.

While identifying the twin primary focuses of shared responsibility and family violence, he takes a firm position in favour of one specific gender. His recommendation is that family violence should be effectively presumed in all parenting cases before the Courts, which apart from introducing an unhealthy suggestiveness into the process; would undo much of the efficiency achieved by the 2006 reforms.

The most concerning aspect of the Family Law Council report is the recommendation to dramatically widen the definition of family violence.

In dealing with the particular issue which Professor Chisholm addressed  that is the incidents of violence  the AIFS found that There is no evidence to suggest that family violence and highly conflictual inter-parental relationships are any greater in children with shared care time than for children with other care time arrangements.

So, there seems to be something of a difference of emphasis, if not a conflict, between Professor Chisholm and the AIFS.

I am certainly of the view that the release of these reports should not be used by the Rudd Labor Government as a pretext or an excuse to walk away from the principle that every child has a right to a meaningful relationship with both parents on the occasion of family breakdown, while always maintaining, as has never been in doubt, the paramount interests of the child as the first consideration.

The Chisholm Report has also angered mens rights groups, who believe that shared parenting works well for the majority of couples who enter into such an arrangement. That view is supported by the AIFS which found overwhelmingly that 80% of people surveyed (during the compilation of its report) said they supported shared parenting and 70% of couples who were in a shared parenting arrangement said it was working well.

I personally believe many instances of family upheaval resulting in violence against children which invariably in some cases ends up before the Courts, could be averted by a simple shake up in the child support system as administered by the Child Support Agency (CSA).

The overwhelming similarity in cases that are brought to my attention is that even though a separated couple have entered into a shared parenting agreement, there is no recognition of this fact by the CSA in calculating the maintenance that is to be payed by the paying parent.

This is evidenced by reports from paying parents that when their children visit with them, they regularly arrive with no clothes, other than those in which they arrive, and reports from the children to their father that they need these clothes for school or for sport. This triggers conflict and instability within the shared parenting agreement.

Is it not surprising then, why a father continually questions where his maintenance is going when it is plainly obvious that it is not being spent on what it is intended for and why, in some sensitive cases, the father becomes so disillusioned and distressed by the continual aggressive tactics employed by the CSA with respect to the collection of his child maintenance, that a tragedy sometimes occurs.

There is, therefore, an argument for how child maintenance is apportioned and I dare say that if the paying parent was able to direct and observe through CSA administration, a certain percentage of their payment go into a trust account specifically designed to ensure child maintenance is used for the daily and future care of the child, these extreme cases may reduce.

I hasten to add that it may also result in a significant reduction in instances of paying parents refusing to honour child maintenance payments, thereby taking much of the tension out of shared parenting.

Alby Schultz MP is the Federal Liberal Member for Hume.

The CSA are at it too

While identifying the twin primary focuses of shared responsibility and family violence, he takes a firm position in favour of one specific gender.
Yes this might be true!
This is evidenced by reports from paying parents that when their children visit with them, they regularly arrive with no clothes, other than those in which they arrive, and reports from the children to their father that they need these clothes for school or for sport. This triggers conflict and instability within the shared parenting agreement.

Is it not surprising then, why a father continually questions where his maintenance is going when it is plainly obvious that it is not being spent on what it is intended for and why, in some sensitive cases, the father becomes so disillusioned and distressed by the continual aggressive tactics employed by the CSA with respect to the collection of his child maintenance, that a tragedy sometimes occurs.
But clearly this firm position in favour of one specific gender is not at all isolated to Chisholm!

"Never, "for the sake of peace and quiet," deny your own experience or convictions". Dag Hammarskjold
I needed help with my case and couldn't afford a lawyer and found these guys invaluable  srl-resources.org

Mothers Gain

Mostly it is fathers who pay and mothers who gain (based on percentages).

No 50-50 split on time with parents - Whisler & Whisler - FamCAFC 18 17/2/2010

The Full Court of the Family Court has clarified what it means by "shared care" for children after divorce, and it isn't a 50-50 time split between parents. On the contrary, fathers who win "shared parental responsibility" of their children may find they still see them only on alternate weekends, for two hours after school on Wednesdays, and half the school holidays.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland is reviewing the law. Last month, he said fathers should never have been led to believe they were guaranteed a 50-50 time split after a divorce.
The case arose when Mr Whisler - who had been the "house-husband" and stay-at-home dad for two years before separating - appealed against a decision by a federal magistrate to scrap a "week about" arrangement for his children, aged six and four, and replace it with one in which the children lived mainly with their mother and saw their father on alternate weekends, for 2 1/2 hours on Wednesday nights, half the school holidays and on special occasions such as Fathers' Day.
"These orders are clearly for substantial and significant time between father and children," the court said, in part because they include 2 1/2 hours on a Wednesday, meaning the children see their father both on weekends and weeknights.
The Family Court of Australia (FCA), knowing the political tide is turning, apparently feels emboldened to come out in support of angry feminists and mothers' rights groups, and their dogma of presumptive maternal custody. The FCA appears to be seeking to dismiss shared parenting and to add its contribution to the rollback of shared parenting and the ongoing privileging of separating/separated mothers over and above fathers and their children. This decision highlights the FCA's gender bias, favouring women.

The FCA appears to be deliberately choosing to misrepresent the intent and operation of the legislation and to stiffle shared parenting and the notion of "substantial and significant time" - by making a mockery of both. Every second weekend, 2 1/2 hours one week night, some special days, and half school holidays, do not constitute "substantial and significant time".  That is the same one-size-fits-all, maternal custody, regime that the FCA was imposing on families before the 2006 family law changes.

Click here for discussion of the topic in this post.

Elsewhere CA noted...

The court has not fully embraced the intent of the shared parenting amendments from 2006. Instead it has maintained every second weekend and a couple of hours per week, and half the school holidays, as representative of "substantial and significant time".

The ordinary dictionary meaning of "substantial" is: considerable in quantity; significantly great.
 
The ordinary dictionary definition of "significant" is: having meaning, likely to have purpose and effect.
 
The Courts seem reluctant to take a "literal" approach to the interpretation and practice of the 2006 seem to reverted back to only marginally over the old regime of every second weekend.


No 50-50 split on time with parents

The Australian
23 February 2010

No 50-50 split on time with parents
By Caroline Overington

The Full Court of the Family Court has clarified what it means by "shared care" for children after divorce, and it isn't a 50-50 time split between parents.

On the contrary, fathers who win "shared parental responsibility" of their children may find they still see them only on alternate weekends, for two hours after school on Wednesdays, and half the school holidays.

The decision surprised men's groups, who thought new laws requiring the court to consider shared care meant more than weekends, holidays and special occasions.

"That doesn't sound like the spirit of the new law at all," said Michael Green QC, of the Shared Parenting Council. "There's no way in the world that that is shared parenting."

But Elspeth McInnes of Solo Mums said the decision "reflects reality, which is that equal time, or shared time, cannot work for all couples and shouldn't be forced on them".

The Howard government moved in 2006 to give both parents responsibility for children after divorce. Judges must now at least consider an "equal time" arrangement, and if that is not practicable, then an arrangement in which the children spend "substantial and significant" time with both parents.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland is reviewing the law. Last month, he said fathers should never have been led to believe they were guaranteed a 50-50 time split after a divorce.

The full court weighed into the debate yesterday, releasing its decision in a case known as Whisler and Whisler (2010).

The case arose when Mr Whisler - who had been the "house-husband" and stay-at-home dad for two years before separating - appealed against a decision by a federal magistrate to scrap a "week about" arrangement for his children, aged six and four, and replace it with one in which the children lived mainly with their mother and saw their father on alternate weekends, for 2 1/2 hours on Wednesday nights, half the school holidays and on special occasions such as Fathers' Day.

Mr Whisler complained that the orders did not amount to the children having "substantial and significant time" with him, but in a decision posted yesterday the Full Court said that it did.

"These orders are clearly for substantial and significant time between father and children," the court said, in part because they include 2 1/2 hours on a Wednesday, meaning the children see their father both on weekends and weeknights.

Mr Whisler's lawyer argued that the court should have considered an arrangement in which the children swapped after three or four days with one parent.

The court ruled, however, that it would not necessarily be in the children's best interests to swap around in the middle of a school week.


Whisler & Whisler [2010] FamCAFC 18 - 17/2/2010

Family Court of Australia - Full Court - New Judgments

Whisler & Whisler [2010] FamCAFC 18 - 17/2/2010

Download (90KB) Whisler & Whisler [2010] FamCAFC 18 - 17/2/2010

FAMILY LAW - APPEAL  FROM A DECISION OF A FEDERAL MAGISTRATE  Appeal against parenting and property orders  Challenge to property orders hinged upon the appeal against the parenting orders  Parties conceded that the spousal maintenance order ought be set aside

FAMILY LAW - CHALLENGE IN RELATION TO EQUAL TIME  Appellant challenged the parenting orders on the grounds that the Federal Magistrate failed to properly consider equal time, failed to order equal time when such an order should have been made and failed to give adequate reasons in respect of the decision as to equal time  A week about arrangement was considered by the Federal Magistrate and adequate reasons given for its rejection  Appellant submitted that the Federal Magistrate ought consider the concept of equal time not just a week about arrangement  No alternative proposals achieving equal time were proposed by either party

FAMILY LAW - CHALLENGE IN RELATION TO SUBSTANTIAL AND SIGNIFICANT TIME  Appellant submitted that the Federal Magistrate failed to properly consider substantial and significant time  Consideration given as to whether the orders achieved substantial and significant time with the appellant  Orders made did provide for substantial and significant time  Consideration of substantial and significant fell within the reasoning of best interests considerations  Express reasons would have been desirable  Path of reasoning is discernible and valid  Federal Magistrate is not bound to consider proposals of the Courts own creation where the parties proposals contain arrangements meeting the childs best interests

Order set aside in accordance with the parties concessions  Appeal otherwise dismissed


Attachment
Whisler & Whisler - FamCAFC 18  17/2/2010


A worthwhile explanation of how the new shared parenting legislation should be applied is set out in the paper by Dr Tom Altobelli when he was at Watts McCray family lawyers:

Some Practical Implications of the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Bill 2005

Attachment
Tom Altobelli - Some Practical Implications of the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Bill 2005

Opinion: Family law does not put children first (Nicholson)

Alastair Nicholson again misrepresents children's issues as he continues his disdain for separated fathers.

Alastair continues to misrepresent children's issues

The Age (Melbourne)
2 March 2010

Family law does not put children first
By Alastair Nicholson

The call by Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant for the law to be changed so that important matters relating to a child's welfare that have been disclosed in mediation are admissible as evidence has met with opposition from mediation circles and in the media.

I support Justice Bryant's position. Presently, a court is often required to make decisions on issues such as where and with whom a child should live with no knowledge of relevant facts that could affect such a decision.

There is, of course, no doubt about the importance of mediation in resolving family disputes - I am on record as one of its strongest supporters. There is also a public interest in encouraging mediation by protecting participants from the possibility that what occurs there can be used in evidence in subsequent court proceedings.

Common law has long recognised that it is in the public interest that discussions between litigants, with a view to settling litigation, are to be regarded as privileged.

This does not mean that mediation is sacrosanct. In family disputes, children are involved. Their best interests must be protected. The question is whether and at what point the competing public interest in protecting children should take priority over confidentiality of mediation.

Children do not usually participate in mediation. They are usually the people most affected by it. The Family Law Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child recognise that their best interests are paramount.

Our law does not recognise this principle, because it says that anything disclosed or said in mediation cannot be used as evidence in any court. The only exception is where an adult discloses that a child has been abused or a child says that he/she has been abused. This evidence is admissible, unless the court is satisfied that there is
sufficient evidence from other sources.

This exception was introduced following a 2001 case in which a child told her mother that she had been sexually abused by her father. The trial judge found that no such abuse had occurred and that the mother had improperly influenced the child to make the allegation. In fact, the father's admissions in mediation tended to support the child's complaint and that evidence was not admissible. On appeal, the Family Court held that the evidence could not be admitted, although it strongly criticised the legislation that prevented its admission.

This is a very limited exception that does not cover myriad other dangerous situations. It is in contrast with another section that, paradoxically, permits disclosure by a mediator to authorities other than a court, if the mediator reasonably believes that the disclosure is necessary for several purposes. These include protecting a child from physical or psychological harm, preventing or lessening a serious and imminent threat to life or health, or reporting the commission or preventing the likely commission of an offence involving violence to a person.

Such a disclosure may be made to police, but is inadmissible in Family Court proceedings. The practical effect is that threats to harm or kill a child or a child's parents or other family members, made in mediation, are criminal offences that are never disclosed to the court.

Regrettably, such threats are not uncommon and the fact that they have been made has an obvious bearing on the suitability of the person making them to have the care of a child. Failure to admit such evidence may well endanger the child or others, and the increased likelihood of a court making an unsatisfactory decision is obvious.

In my view, it is impossible to argue that preserving the confidentiality of mediation outweighs the public interest in protecting children and others.

Laws are certainly different elsewhere. In Britain, mediation confidentiality is qualified, in that the evidence is admissible if the judge thinks that it is in the interests of justice. A 2008 European Union directive protects mediators from giving evidence in judicial proceedings, except where this is ''required to ensure the protection of the best interests of children or to prevent harm to the physical or psychological integrity of a person''.

In the US, family law differs from state to state. Where there is statutory protection of confidentiality, there are usually exceptions. For example, in Colorado all mediation communications are protected, except those ''revealing criminal intent or threatening harm to minors or adults''.

As the 2001 case shows, we have already had examples in Australia of courts making orders that endanger children because they do not have the full picture. It is high time that this situation changed.

Alastair Nicholson is a former chief justice of the Family Court and is an honorary professorial fellow at Melbourne University.

False stereotyping of caring and loving separated fathers as abusive and violent

So-called 'family violence' is the weapon of choice of angry feminists and mothers' rights activists.

This alleged 'family violence' is a Trojan Horse issues/tactics being used to undermine and wind back the current limited shared parenting legislation.

Through the constant chanting of this family violence mantra, those who hate separated fathers are seeking to manufacture an environment that both justifies, and is conducive to, rollback of shared parenting, and that locks separated fathers out as equal parents, and relegates them to the role only of financial slaves.

The aim is to create the problem (family violence) and then provide the solution (put mothers in control and lock fathers out).

Most allegations are false allegations and are promoted (by women's groups and lawyers) and used as a tactical tool to firstly remove a father from his children and his home and then to secondly remove his money and property from him (to fund the mother and the State).

The three Trojan Horse tactics so beloved of feminists, misandrists and mothers' rights activists are:

1. Family/domestic violence and abuse allegations against separated fathers.  These are used to portray and position women and mothers as victims, and thus in need of rescue and protection (by the State and it's enforcement apparatus).

2. Stereotyping men and fathers as both intrinsically second class/rate parents, who are not as loving and caring as mothers, and who are also abusive and violent and 'naturally' threatening and harmful to women and to children.  The aim is to create a culture where all men and fathers are seen as, and believed to be, 'naturally' violent and a risk to women and to children, and thus when such allegations are falsely made by women to police, courts, counsellors, government, media, etc that they will automatically be believed and the men punished/imprisoned.

Tactics 1 and 2 are intertwined.

3. A one-track focus on only the rights of children, to both exclude the rights of fathers, while actually delivering rights to mothers (in terms of custody, income, property, habitation, location and control and power).  It is not the children the anti-shared parenting rollback proponents are concerned about, but the privileges and powers of women.

Creating the Problem and Providing the Solution

The Age (Melbourne)
6 March 2010

Court 'does not screen' for violence
By Carol Nader

The Federal Magistrates Court hears more than 80 per cent of parenting disputes that end up in court but does not routinely screen for family violence, say the authors of an evaluation of changes to family law.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies evaluation says there were 10,987 applications for orders involving children in the Federal Magistrates Court in 2008-09, compared with 2,086 in the Family Court.

It said while the Family Court conducted assessment interviews with parents that included screening for family violence, this did not happen in the Federal Magistrates Court, which had insufficient resources and heavy workloads.

But Chief Federal Magistrate John Pascoe says the court's processes were designed to identify family violence and child abuse as early as possible.

The Howard government commissioned the report to assess changes to family law introduced in 2006. The federal government released the 379-page report in January and found that the changes emphasising greater shared parental responsibility were overall working well. But this critical issue went under the radar.

"Issues relating to family violence and child abuse are brought to the attention of the [Federal Magistrates] court by the parties, or the family consultant or independent children's lawyer where these professionals are involved," the report says. "No routine screening takes place by FMC personnel, although parties have the opportunity to bring safety concerns to the attention of registry staff."

But the report notes that at the end of last year the court was allocated more resources.

Co-author of the evaluation, Dr Matthew Gray, said one reason the Federal Magistrates Court did not routinely screen for family violence was lack of resources.

"Cases with family violence are being missed throughout the family law system, including in the court, and the better and more sophisticated the screening for violence, the more likely it is that the cases will be identified and dealt with appropriately," he said.

A spokeswoman for Chief Federal Magistrate Pascoe said the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court had difference processes that took into account the different case mix and volumes.

"The Federal Magistrates Court is a high-volume court with a spectrum of matters, including complex ones," she said. "The Family Court's work is now confined to the most difficult and troublesome matters."

She said every party to an application in the Federal Magistrates Court had to file a supporting affidavit setting out family violence, substance abuse, mental illness and child abuse. In the year to June 2009, 713 Notice of Abuse forms filed were also filed in the court.

"Federal magistrates are aware that for a variety of reasons allegations may not be raised and routinely explore the presence of risk issues at the first court date," she said. Extra resources were being used to explore family violence early.

Melbourne University comes out against post-separation shared parenting

However, three years on from the most recent reforms, the scorecard on how the latest amendments are working is very mixed, according to family law expert and Melbourne Law School Professor Belinda Fehlberg. The 2006 reforms were aimed at encouraging separated parents to share care and responsibility for their children more equally and without going to court, if this was safe. In reality, shared care means more time for children with fathers, which is not instinctively a bad thing, she says. However what were now discovering is that shared parenting is sometimes being used in a way that is harmful to children.
It appears that 2010 will be something of a watershed year in the family law arena, with reports having been already released by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) and the Family Law Council, as well as a report on the Family Courts treatments of family violence by former Family Court judge Professor Richard Chisholm. Professor Fehlberg herself is in the middle of completing a three-year longitudinal study into post-separation parenting. She says given all the reports on the subject are so detailed and complex, its little surprise there are misunderstandings about what they say and what the next step is for shared parenting arrangements.
It's clear we do need to change the law. Chisholm rightly suggests that equal parental responsibility needs to be distinguished from shared time. We need to make clear that there is no one preferred parenting arrangement, and re-focus on which of the available options is in the particular childs best interests, she says.
This distinction - between 'equal parental responsibility' and shared time - is significant, with the 'equal parental responsibility' essentially just another set of cover words for default/presumptive maternal custody. The USA has long recognised it as the difference between 'joint legal custody' (shared parental responsibility) and 'joint physical custody' (shared parental custody or 'shared time').  Joint legal custody, and supposed 'equal parental responsibility', are just another set of words to describe mother custody and fatherless children.

Post-separation parenting

The University of Melbourne Voice

Issues, views, debate, University news and events, fortnightly

Vol. 6, No. 3, 8 March - 12 April 2010

News

Post-separation parenting
By David Scott

The shared parenting laws central to the 2006 Family Law reforms are in need of some fixing, says Professor Belinda Fehlberg, but there is continuing debate on how best to move forward.

Children are often at the centre of disputes between separated parents in Australia, and they were at the centre of major changes to the Family Law Reform Act of 1995, which introduced the principle that children have the right to know, be cared for, communicate and spend time with both their parents, except when contrary to their best interests.

These amendments were significantly extended by far-reaching changes in 2006, which introduced the presumption (or starting point) of equal shared parental responsibility.

Only when the presumption of equal shared responsibility applied did the court have to consider ordering equal shared time. Other changes were designed to encourage separated parents to reach agreements without recourse to the legal system.

However, three years on from the most recent reforms, the scorecard on how the latest amendments are working is very mixed, according to family law expert and Melbourne Law School Professor Belinda Fehlberg.

The 2006 reforms were aimed at encouraging separated parents to share care and responsibility for their children more equally and without going to court, if this was safe. In reality, shared care means more time for children with fathers, which is not instinctively a bad thing, she says.

However what were now discovering is that shared parenting is sometimes being used in a way that is harmful to children.

It appears that 2010 will be something of a watershed year in the family law arena, with reports having been already released by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) and the Family Law Council, as well as a report on the Family Courts treatments of family violence by former Family Court judge Professor Richard Chisholm.

Professor Fehlberg herself is in the middle of completing a three-year longitudinal study into post-separation parenting. She says given all the reports on the subject are so detailed and complex, its little surprise there are misunderstandings about what they say and what the next step is for shared parenting arrangements.

Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis claimed, after the release of the AIFS report, that there was no need for more reform, based on the AIFS broad conclusion that in general the 2006 reforms are working well. He also suggested that the AIFS findings were inconsistent with Chisholms.

His view is a vastly oversimplified summary of both reports and overlooks key consistencies between them, she says.

Professor Fehlberg says a major consistency is that fathers have been encouraged by the 2006 reforms to seek shared care and that mothers often feel pressured into it.

Shared care isn't the norm but it is increasing, especially among litigating parents - up from two per cent to 13 per cent. This is worrying as litigating parents often aren't good at managing day-to-day negotiations and interactions needed for successful shared care.

Its also clear that many people now mistakenly assume the starting point is that children should spend equal time with each parent. Parents and lawyers report fathers feeling entitled to 50-50 care and believe the reforms have favoured fathers.

The legal starting point is in fact equal shared parental responsibility for major decision-making. The current misconception of parental rights as equal time has led some fathers to seek more time with children as a way to reduce child support payments rather than out of a wish to care for them. Separated mothers are receiving less of the family property than pre-2006, worsening what is often their more disadvantaged financial position.

These reports consistently find that shared parenting reforms discourage mothers from raising family violence concerns due to the emphasis on facilitating the childs relationship with the father, and the perception that family courts will order shared care anyway, she says.

Its also clear from the reports that a more diverse group now uses shared care, including a substantial minority with high parental conflict, substance abuse and/or mental health issues and concerns for their childrens safety.

The evidence includes emotional and psychological harm in high-conflict families, as well as risks to children arising from constant disruption, parental neglect, violence, mental ill-health or substance misuse issues.

The reports consistently find that shared care is not in childrens best interests in these sorts of cases.

Shared care is inappropriate where there are real safety concerns. Yet the AIFS found that parents with safety concerns were just as likely to have shared care as parents without such concerns.

The reports clearly show that we need to change the message so the emphasis is on what works best for each child, rather than a one-size-fits-all emphasis on equal time.

For Professor Fehlberg, a more positive way forward involves careful consideration of all the available data, acknowledging the important consistencies across the recent bodies of work, and acting on these to support children.

Our data shows that children appear to fare better when shared parenting arrangements are mutually agreed to, while parents reporting less positive experiences are describing conflicted parental relationships, lack of paternal competence and greater involvement with family law system professionals.

Its clear we do need to change the law. Chisholm rightly suggests that equal parental responsibility needs to be distinguished from shared time. We need to make clear that there is no one preferred parenting arrangement, and re-focus on which of the available options is in the particular childs best interests, she says.

The question remains whether, in an election year, the political will exists to act on strong and consistent research messages to improve the lives of many of our children, says Professor Fehlberg.

Cries of child abuse bounce back on mums

The likes of Briggs and Pragnell appear to be looking for any reason to maintain a presumption of maternal custody upon separation and divorce. Typically this is because they view life through a lense of biased, anti-male, feminist ideology, and are working to advantage women at the expense of men. For such gender-feminists, feminism is not about equality but about taking from boys and men (and fathers) and giving to girls and women (and mothers).

Quote: Child sex abuse researcher Freda Briggs and child protection advocate Charles Pragnell say recent cases show the emphasis on shared parenting responsibilities is putting children in danger. Professor Briggs and Mr Pragnell are part of the Safer Family Law campaign and argue that amendments to the Family Law Act in 2006 were geared towards the rights of parents rather than those of children. Professor Briggs, from the University of South Australia, specialises in research into child sex abuse. Mr Pragnell is from the National Council for Children Post-Separation, which is part of the Safer Family Law campaign. He has been called as an expert witness in child sex abuse cases in Australia, Britain and New Zealand.

The reality is that many claims of abuse and violence ARE false and malicious.

The essence of what Briggs and Pragnell are saying is that women, but not men, should be believed, simply because they are women.  That is sexist.

Academics promote feminist sexism in order to freeze out separated fathers

The Sun-Herald (Sydney)
28 March 2010

Cries of child abuse bounce back on mums
By Alicia Wood

Child protection campaigners say women who accuse their former partners of sexually abusing their children are being unfairly labelled as mentally ill in the Family Court.

Child sex abuse researcher Freda Briggs and child protection advocate Charles Pragnell say recent cases show the emphasis on shared parenting responsibilities is putting children in danger.

Professor Briggs and Mr Pragnell are part of the Safer Family Law campaign and argue that amendments to the Family Law Act in 2006 were geared towards the rights of parents rather than those of children.

Professor Briggs, from the University of South Australia, specialises in research into child sex abuse. Mr Pragnell is from the National Council for Children Post-Separation, which is part of the Safer Family Law campaign. He has been called as an expert witness in child sex abuse cases in Australia, Britain and New Zealand.

They cite a Sydney case of a child who was allegedly put at risk of danger by being forced to live with her father.

An interim decision was made to order the six-year-old to live with her father, at whose house she was photographed in pornographic poses by one of his friends.

A court counsellor alleged the girl's mother was manipulative and might suffer from a mental illness.

"The courts should focus on the needs and wants of the child, and the rights of a child to be protected from abuse," Mr Pragnell said.

"Too often we see that a parent's right to contact is given at all costs."

Amendments to the Family Law Act in 2006 emphasised "co-operative" parenting and shared responsibilities.

In January, Attorney-General Robert McClelland released three reviews into these amendments.

A review by the Australian Institute of Family Studies accepts that some of the consequences of a focus on shared parenting responsibilities have been "less than favourable".

Child Abuse Prevention Service manager Karen Craigie said women and men contacted the service regularly after raising concerns of sexual abuse and being labelled mentally ill.

"We get lots of calls about this. It is common. Women involved are often subjected to domestic violence and are very traumatised," Ms Craigie said.

"I have heard of cases where women are so afraid of losing their children and solicitors will advise them that raising concerns of sexual abuse will make them look like they are being obstructive."

Angela Lynch, a solicitor for the Women's Legal Service in Queensland who has advised women in these situations, said the family court system was too "pro-father involvement".

"In a nice family, that is a great thing. When there are issues of abuse and domestic violence, it is a huge problem," Ms Lynch said. "If you raise sexual abuse in court, you are seen as an unfriendly parent, which is the worst thing you can be in family court."

The Federal Magistrates Court and the Family Court of Australia would not comment.

1 guest and 0 members have just viewed this.

Recent Tweets