Anti-shared parenting article: 'Ping-pong' kids of divorce in hell
16 July 2009
'Ping-pong' kids of divorce in hell
By Jill Singer
How many more disastrous decisions does the Family Court have to make before the Rudd Government's promised review of the Family Law Act is completed and acted on?
Several recent cases highlight the disaster the Howard government's patriarchal ideology foisted upon Australian families by introducing shared parenting laws in 1996.
The idea behind shared parenting is based on the notion that children benefit by having frequent contact with both parents, preferably 50/50.
It works for some separated couples.
But as Prof John Wade, chairman of the Family Law Council sees it, the law is flawed and has led to some horrible decisions.
One Melbourne mother is defying a Family Court order to hand over her 19-month-old daughter to the baby's father, who lives in Darwin.
The baby has always been in the primary care of Ms A but is to be ripped from her and sent back to the father in Darwin.
Ms A incurred the wrath of the court because she left Darwin without the father's permission.
Originally from Melbourne, she met him in 2006 after taking up a teaching job.
They split in May this year, whereupon Ms A decided to come back to Melbourne with their baby.
She is now working two days a week and studying, while living with her mother, who helps with child care.
The court decreed Ms A did the wrong thing by not staying in Darwin and striving to share parenting equally.
Never mind that she's from Melbourne and has done the lion's share of parenting, that the father won't move from Darwin to spend time with his child, or that the baby has extended family here.
Shared parenting laws effectively shackle women to the fathers of their children.
A woman from Bendigo, for example, could get pregnant after a quick fling on a visit to Kalgoorlie – and be forced to stay there to share parenting.
Mrs B is another Melbourne mother hit by the changes.
Part of a large Italian family, she moved to Sydney in 2001 with her husband and their two children, now six and eight.
In 2005 the marriage fell apart and Mr B set up home with his personal assistant, whom he's now planning to have more children with.
Mrs B also wants to move on by returning to Melbourne with her children, but the court won't permit it.
If Mrs B wants to see her children regularly, she must suffer living near her happy ex-husband and his new girlfriend as they make a brand new family.
Then there's Mr and Mrs R, who lived together in Sydney for many years before their daughter was born in 2002.
In early 2007 he got a job in northwest Queensland and his wife and daughter moved with him.
The marriage broke up soon after and Mrs R returned to Sydney with their daughter.
Even though he could find suitable work in Sydney, Mr R doesn't want to move back home to share parenting, because, as he told the court, he just loves his job in outback Queensland – it's important to him and interesting.
Meanwhile, Mrs R claims to have felt emotionally and physically isolated living up north.
The legal upshot is that the daughter, aged seven, must go and live in northwest Queensland with her busy father.
Unless Mrs R returns there, she will rarely get to see her daughter.
There will always be bad mothers and good fathers, but this is not the point.
The good parent has their child's best interests at heart, and the same applies to good family laws.
I'm reminded of the biblical judgment of Solomon in which two women come before Solomon claiming to be the mother of the same baby.
How to decide the real mother?
Solomon suggests a 50/50 split between the women, to be achieved by slicing the baby in half with a sword.
Rather than see her baby die, the real mother immediately reveals herself by offering to relinquish her child to the lying woman.
Solomon, of course, gives custody to the genuine mother.
Before the law was changed, it was generally seen as being in the child's best interests to have a primary home with one or other parent.
The shift towards a 50/50 split between separated parents is seeing too many children's lives dangerously disrupted.
We're now seeing children under the age of two being shared week about and often forced to travel long distances, colloquially known as ping-pong kids - shuttled back and forth between homes.
Children this young are highly dependent little creatures who thrive on stability and routine - some are still breast-fed, but being denied primary care by their mothers.
The old rules might well have seen some fathers hard done by, but the pendulum has swung too far the other way.
Any father who could deny his baby a loving mother because of the location of his job or his new girlfriend is as bad as Solomon's lying mother - prepared to destroy a child's life for her own selfish needs.
And any law that condones it is even worse.
Jill Singer: another nasty father-hating, misandrist feminist.
Quote #1: How many more disastrous decisions does the Family Court have to make before the Rudd Government's promised review of the Family Law Act is completed and acted on? Several recent cases highlight the disaster the Howard government's patriarchal ideology foisted upon Australian families by introducing shared parenting laws in 1996.
Quote #2: Shared parenting laws effectively shackle women to the fathers of their children.
Quote #3: Any father who could deny his baby a loving mother because of the location of his job or his new girlfriend is as bad as Solomon's lying mother - prepared to destroy a child's life for her own selfish needs. And any law that condones it is even worse.