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Greater Speed in Family Court Cases a Step Forward

News Release
April 24, 2008

Focus On Greater Speed in Family Court Cases One Small Step Forward Says Union Of Fathers

The Union Of Fathers welcomes the new thrust by the Family Court to hasten the progress of cases going through the Court.

But they also warn that more work is still needed to reduce the tactical use of the court systems to prevent full involvement by fathers in their children's lives.

The new focus will allow senior registrars to take over some of the administrative work of judges and non-contentious judicial work, to help speed proceedings at the Family Court.

The Union of Fathers is pleased to see recognition that this is a problem for many users of the Court.

Union Of Fathers spokesman Darrell Carlin says delays pose a serious cost with the emotional impact and the financial loss during family breakdown.

"We will be watching very closely and passing information around the country about the experiences that fathers are having under the new system," Carlin says.

Cases generally take months to get heard within a court room. This is particularly devastating for fathers as in most cases involving custody the mother keeps the children away and the father is left to fight his way back into his children's lives. Delays allow a mother to build a new 'status quo' which could involve a new school or new 'family' environment which can then be taken into account by a judge.

However, he says, hopefully the new system will take away some of that concern, particularly if decisions can be made in the early stages of separation that protect of the right of the children to have a meaningful relationship with both parents.

"Fathers, mothers and children often find this time period of the early stages, the most difficult and frustrating to navigate."

"We hope this change will ultimately prevent tactics of delay from gaining momentum."

The real concern has always been how Family Court processes encourage the development of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) where one parent is given time to work on the mind of children to disparage the other parent.

Carlin says some Protection Orders are the direct result of a frustrated parent who is expected to wait for the Family Court to make contact arrangements for them and their children. As the months go by where a father is prevented from seeing his children then he is likely to act rashly. Delay is a common tactic used by lawyers in the Family Court he says.

Statistics reflect that fathers are most often the parent asked to wait.

"Through our experience we know on average this can take up to nine or 10 months. This is too long for any parent and child, as during that waiting period a great amount of distress is laid upon the children."

Carlin says while these changes are welcomed, the dance of the Family Court still continues. Logically the law needs to change in order to solve many of these problems that are currently being 'danced around' rather than being implemented. That is equal shared custody as the starting point in the event of separation.

"It is on record that father involvement studies show children without a strong relationship with their biological father are more at risk. It is the parents that are separating from each other, not from their children."

He says the Union believes this must be a paramount consideration by the senior registrars when taking up their new positions if they are to speed things up in the Family Court.


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