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Govt misses chance to help children of divorce

Friday, 5 November, 2004

Turner: Govt misses chance to help children of divorce

The Government has missed a huge opportunity to help children whose parents are divorcing by failing to take note of innovative mediation approaches overseas, most notably recent Australian reforms, United Future's Judy Turner said today.

"They have also failed to consider Law Society recommendations on mediation and the startling results of a North Shore Family Court pilot scheme, where parents in custody disputes have to attend two parent education sessions before getting to court.

Mrs Turner, who has sponsored a Member's Bill backing just such a scheme, was critical of the Government's failure in debate on the Care of Children Bill in Parliament this morning.

"Four hours is not a lot for parents to give to focus on the impact on their children at a time when they often get so wrapped up in what is happening to themselves.

"It is about letting them know what their children face in the middle of a family storm. Sometimes that gets lost, even for otherwise good and well-meaning parents."

Mrs Turner, United Future's family affairs spokeswoman, said she believed that most parents would see this move as positive. Some 97 percent of those who have been through the North Shore Children in the Middle pilot scheme have since stated that it should be mandatory.

"In the end, parents love their kids and a few hours of mediation and education can make a huge difference," she said.

"The fact is that by the time a couple are standing before a Family Court judge, their children have already been damaged and they have proved that can't negotiate a healthy resolution.

"Anything that helps short-circuit this by encouraging sensible, non-legal alternatives can only benefit both parents and children," she said.

ENDS

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