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Care of Children Bill - A Glimmer of Hope?

Care of Children Bill - A Glimmer of Hope?

Friday 5 Dec 2003 Dr Muriel Newman Speeches -- Social Welfare

Extract of Speech to ACT Whangarei Electorate Meeting, 22 Second Avenue, Whangarei, Friday, 5 December 2003

As we face the festive season we should spare a thought for the tens of thousands of New Zealand children who will be denied the opportunity to spend time with their fathers on Christmas Day because of the Family Court and the Domestic Purposes Benefit.

The DPB encourages couples who are experiencing relationship difficulties to pack it in: the mother gets a stable income, the father gets child support liabilities and the children face a future with their dad largely missing. I must hasten to add that it sometimes works the other way round with the mother being excluded from her children's lives, but in New Zealand it is usually their dads that children lose.

The Family Court, in awarding sole custody of children to mothers as standard procedure, denies these children their right to have their fathers actively involved in their lives. More children lose a father every three months through the Family Court here in New Zealand than lost a father during the entire period of the Second World War.

What is even worse is that the use of the false allegations of domestic violence is now rife - assertions are made against fathers, with no burden of proof or testing of evidence. Because of the dysfunctional nature of the court process, disproving such charges is drawn out, costly and virtually impossible. That compounds the problem because right now we have tens of thousands of fathers who are only allowed to see their children for an hour every fortnight in a supervised setting, making it almost impossible to maintain any sort of worthwhile relationship.

Is it little wonder that many of these fathers walk away?

The only glimmer of hope on the horizon to change what has become a real nightmare in this country - one which by the way is largely hidden from public view because of the secret nature of Family Court procedures and the threat of imprisonment for anyone who breaks censorship rules - is the Care of Children Bill that is currently before Parliament.

If Shared Parenting was introduced as standard procedure to ensure that in the event of parents separating, then both parents would remain equally responsible for their children. This would ensure that children would be guaranteed the support of not only both their mother and their father, but their grandparents and extended family as well. This is a system that works in many other countries, where concerns over the plight of children and the damage that occurs when their dads are excluded from their lives, has overridden the feminist ideology that undermines the value of fathers and the importance of fatherhood.

Further, if the Bill introduced a provision to open up the Family Court so that the media could report on the outrageous destruction of families that occurs on a daily basis - with identities well protected by name suppression - then the public would rise up and protest against the inhumanity of our present family law.

If the Government were to support these two changes to the Care of Children Bill, then more children whose families have broken up could look forward to a brighter Christmas than they can today.


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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