Monday, October 20, 2003

Fatherless Society "80-20 rule Vs 50-50 rule" family law

A Federal Parliamentary inquiry has heard that more children will grow up without fathers unless changes are made to family law. The committee is considering whether separated parents should share equal custody of their children.

Chief Justice of the Family Court, Justice Alistair Nicholson, last week told the inquiry shared custody would not work for most families and could have a detrimental impact on children.

But I would have thought that there were already detrimental impacts on children and parents hence the need for an inquiry.

Lone Fathers' Association spokesman, Jim Carter, says the Family Court has some old-fashioned ideas about the best interests of children. Mr Carter says surveys have repeatedly shown children want equal time with parents.

"The system appears to be leading in many cases something like a fatherless society, which cannot be in the best interests of the children," Mr Carter said.

"So our assessment of that is that there is a need for change. The rules and the administration of the rules in this whole area must change."

But the inquiry is being told that 50-50 custody may hurt children. [?]

How could equality hurt any form of rule?

A federal parliamentary inquiry has heard presumed joint child custody after a separation could be damaging to a young child's development. [Heard by who? If they're not willing to say who says what, then why do they have a right to say it? Because that person has not shown themselves or any biases.]

The inquiry is again taking evidence in Canberra, looking at an idea raised by the Prime Minister for automatic equal custody.

Liberal backbencher Peter Dutton says presumed 50-50 child custody could be needed because the Family Court system is failing separated families.

"We've got this template at the moment which is an 80-20 situation," he said.

But clinical psychologist Dr Jennifer McIntosh has argued against the 50-50 presumption when conflict is evident between parents. She says that occurs two thirds of the time.

"Presumption is unsafe if we're looking statistically at that population," She said.

[But the conflicts usually occur from something? What about child access?]

GKCNN spoke to Justice Action's caseworker Mr Gregory Kable, "Clinical psychologists involved in family law benefit from the 80-20 situation because of the additional tension created by the rule.

For instances when judges order psychologists to interview the family including the children of the marriage and report to the court. These people are worse than the pharmaceutical companies," he said.

Professor Lawrie Moloney, from La Trobe University, says the assumption of joint custody is offensive.

"You don't treat the child as an object," he said.

Mr Kable said, "Professor Lawrie Moloney is not helping anyone understand the issue, because the court is deciding on the breakdown of a family into parts in the first place, because their parents don't get on."

"It is my understanding that they're deciding where each part should be satisfied equally."

The inquiry is in its second month and it will report back by the end of the year.

By Dear Old Dad 20 October 2003


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