In a number of Federal Magistrates Court judgements recently, Federal Magistrate Janet Terry has shown she has an extremely good grasp of the revisions to the Family Law Act that were made in 2006 and has made a number of outstanding determinations, interim and final orders.
In a recent relocation case in Newcastle, it was reported that she showed a great deal of foresight, got to the bottom of "things" in a clear and concise manner and was able to outline a summary of events to both parties that made the situation plainly clear.
In that case, Federal Magistrate Janet Terry dealt with a number of allegations in a fair and reasonable manner and laid out in concise terms the considerations for a meaningful relationship and a range of other factors in 60CC and s65DAA in relation to substantial time parenting arrangements.
What is meritorious is that Federal Magistrate Janet has only recently been appointed to the court and has quickly gained a reputation as an agile and innovative no-nonsense Federal Magistrate, making some good determinations that are allowing a number of children to continue their relationship with both parents.
She was appointed to the Federal Magistrates Court on 10 April 2007 as the Northern Territories first Federal Magistrate. Federal Magistrate Janet Terry has had many years of experience as a practitioner in Darwin, including working as a sole practitioner in both general and family law. In her first period as a Federal Magistrate she served the entire Northern Territory and sat in Darwin and Alice Springs. Federal Magistrate Terry also serviced Alice Springs via video link and by attending to hearings in person as matters required.
Federal Magistrate Janet Terry participated in a range of activities with communities in 2008-09. She made presentations in the National Judicial College Seminar, Darwin 8th September 2008 and in an Industrial Relations Seminar, Darwin, 18 September 2008.
In early 2009 she was invited by the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commision to launch a DVD on family violence and child protection. The launch took place on Wednesday 4 June at Tennant Creek, at the the Nyinkka Nyunyu Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre. Over 200 community members attended the launch. The Federal Magistrates report continues, It was a great honour for Federal Magistrate Terry to be invited to this occasion and clearly demonstrates the high level of regard the community has for federal magistrates.
On the 3rd June 2009 Federal Magistrate Terry conducted a professional development workshop with local practitioners in Alice Springs to improve their understanding of current family law practice. Further workshops on general federal law were held in Darwin and Alice Springs.
In 2009 Federal Magistrate Janet Terry came to our attention in a case reported in our news item Daughter to live with father after mother abducted her
Other published material
Heart of the Nation
THE Family Court has ruled that married men who regularly visit prostitutes – or massage parlours that offer a "happy ending" – are not necessarily bad parents and should not be refused access to their children.
The court made the ruling after a wife, known in court files as Mrs Digg, claimed her husband's "dark and seedy habit" of paying for what he called "sexual relief" and she described as "prostitution" should disqualify him as the primary carer of their three children, particularly their two daughters.
She said his use of such services suggested a poor attitude to women and a dishonest character.
The court heard the marriage suffered a "catastrophic blow" in 2007 when Mrs Digg discovered her husband had been visiting massage parlours for eight years.
Mr Digg admitted he "regularly had massages . . . the end result of which was sexual relief" but denied having intercourse. He said he kept the activities secret from his wife but she found out when she checked his phone bill and found numbers for sexual services.
The court heard Mrs Digg "unshakeably believes the father had sexual intercourse with prostitutes". For his part, Mr Digg "quietly and sincerely expressed his regret" about his behaviour and said he had kept his promise to the mother not to engage in similar behaviour since then.
Mrs Digg left the marriage after counselling failed, taking the children with her. They were ordered back to the marital home by the courts.
Mrs Digg, who has since found a new partner, said she took the children because she was seeking a "fresh start" in a town more than five hours away, where the father's "addiction to prostitutes" was not known.
But the father argued it was better for the children to stay in the town where they had lived all their lives, and the court agreed.
Federal magistrate Janet Terry said it would seem a "cruel twist of fate" to the wife that she discover her husband's infidelity, and then lose her role as primary carer of the children. But she said the wife harboured "considerable bitterness and anger" towards the father and was unable to consider his value to the children, who would inevitably be exposed to the mother's "totally negative view" of him if they lived with her.