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Family Court Has Damaged Families For 20 Years

28 September 2001

"The Family Court, which celebrates its 20th birthday on 1 October, has little chance of restoring its tarnished public image", says Darryl Ward, spokesperson for Families Apart Require Equality (FARE).

"Since the Family Court started operation in 1981, a large part of the community has lost faith in the Family Court."

"The signs of public discontent are everywhere. Public protests outside Family Courts are now a regular occurrence. Media criticism of the Family Court has escalated in recent years. Calls have been made to hold a Royal Commission to investigate the Family Court. MP's report that family law problems are one of the major concerns that bring people come to their electorate offices seeking help."

"It is the Family Court's consistent gender bias and double standards that cause the most concern. Most men find it almost impossible to keep a meaningful relationship with their children after divorce, because the Family Court almost invariably gives mothers sole custody of the children. Further, accusations of domestic violence can be used by women to make ordinary fathers into instant criminals, yet violence by women seems to be ignored by the Judges."

"Claims that the Family Court puts children first simply aren't borne out by experience. Gender politics overrule the welfare of the children and the questions that get real attention are which parent is going to get possession of the children, and hence the family home and the Domestic Purposes Benefit."

"The Family Court has been further damaged by the Government's recent refusal to accept the very popular Shared Parenting Bill which would have solved many of the Courts problems by making mothers and fathers more equal as parents. On top of this, the Government ignored loud calls from the media and general public to remove the secrecy that accompanies all proceedings in the Family Court. Instead the Government passed the controversial Property (Relationships) Act which from next year will greatly intensify battles in the Family Court by giving even more assets to the parent who gets exclusive control and possession of the children."

"The Family Court and family law must be reformed, and quickly, if the Family Court is to ever reestablish the respect and confidence of the public. The needs of children and families must come before the earnings of lawyers and bureaucrats", concluded Ward.

ENDS

Inquires - Darryl Ward 025 230 1667


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