Sep 25

The men hijacking family law reforms

Tags:
The men hijacking family law reforms

Recently, I  was sent an  article  published in The Saturday Newspaper, which was titled ‘ The men hijacking family law reforms’, which then went on to say:

A coalition of men’s rights activists has captured the ear of the crossbench and is rewriting the Family Law Act by stealth.

And in the penultimate paragraph the opinion of the author

This is the language of a virulent lobby group, blindly focused on the rights of fathers. It takes serious concerns, then inflates and distorts them, putting at risk women and children. This is the language of the people who now have family law in their hands.

Having read the article, I consider it appropriate to add some balance to the discussion. As one of family lawyers in Sydney, I find that there is no shortage of serious allegations which are put before the court in child custody cases.

I have recently been involved in child custody cases where fabricated allegations have been put before the Court, by a Mother in an effort to alienate the children from the children’s father under the pretence of ‘abuse’.

In one of them reported as  Helbig & Rowe [2015] FamCA 146, the mother had an indomitable belief that my client, the Father, had sexually abused the children and posed an unacceptable risk of sexual harm to them.  Following the final hearing the children now live with my client and have spent about 18 months of limited supervised time with their mother.  Even though I am a Sydney family lawyer, this case was heard in the Newcastle Registry of the Family Court of Australia.

The final hearing was one of those child custody cases which  demonstrated to assume nothing and  expect the unexpected.

When I was cross examining one of the Mother’s witnesses, it became apparent that she was a member of one of the national associations representing  the family law interests of women. As my cross examination continued, it became clear that she had used a listening device to record, illegally, conversations between the court appointed expert and the parties and the children, at an interview the expert was conducting with them.

In child custody cases it is a shame that some parents view their children as proprietary, like chattels, and items not to be shared.

For mine, I think the article published in the Australian  Newspaper by Betina Arndt on 20 August 2016 and titled Domestic violence: data shows women are not the only victims offers a prescient insight to some of the issues experienced in child custody cases.