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Family Court Has Blood On Its Hands – Yet Again!


17 January 2014: For immediate release.


Family Court Has Blood On Its Hands – Yet Again!

"The Family Court has been a major contributor to a succession of child murders in New Zealand over recent years", Bruce Tichbon, spokesperson for Families Apart Require Equality (FARE), stated today.

"As a nation we are deeply saddened by the tragic deaths in Dunedin this week of Bradley and Ellen Livingstone, and their father Edward Livingstone.  The Dunedin children were just nine and six years old respectively.

Yet there has been a sickening succession of such incidents in New Zealand in recent years. In 2000 in Nelson, Alice, Maria and Cherie Perkin, were murdered by their mother, Rosemary Perkin, who also killed herself. The Nelson girls were just eight, six and 23 months old respectively.  In 1995 Tiffany, Holly and Claudia Bristol were murdered by their father, who also killed himself at the same time during acrimonious litigation. The Bristol children were just nine, five and two when they died.

The Livingstone, Perkin and Bristol children were young, healthy, and in the prime of life, till they died at the hands of one of their parents who was locked in a destructive Court battle.

In these cases the problem is the Family Court system, which almost invariably encourages separating parents to compete with each other in a winner-takes-all battle to have control of the children. It is the custodial parent who will get effective ownership and control of the children, and all the benefits that come with them. The Family Court imposes a win-lose outcome. In this environment parents are driven to fight over the most precious thing in their lives, their children.
Parents become so desperate they become irrational, and faced with potentially losing their children (or control of their children), the parents can and are driven to the extreme of murdering themselves, and their children.

The Family Court urgently needs to change its procedures to prevent more children dying in this way. In the USA, and many other countries, a far better system known as ’shared parenting’ has been adopted.

Instead of the parents being forced to compete with each other to be the ‘winner’ or sole physical custodian of the children, they are both made physical custodians. The parents are encouraged to work together instead of competing with each other. If one parent is uncooperative, they stand to have the Court remove their joint custodial status. Thus, instead of parents being forced to fight, they are encouraged to cooperate.

The benefits of shared parenting are dramatic. The number of ongoing court cases is halved, as arguing between parents is greatly reduced.
The divorce rate is dramatically reduced, as is the uptake of social welfare benefits. The only negative outcome is reduced earnings for lawyers, psychologists and others who profit from the suffering endured by children caused by the current regime.

Under current New Zealand family law the Family Court could more often exercise effective shared parenting, but the Judges for some inexplicable reason will not consider shared parenting as the preferred outcome to protect the welfare of children. In 2000, MP Muriel Newman introduced a Private Member’s Bill that aimed to reduce the tensions between parents by favoring the shared parenting model that has been so successful overseas. The Government rejected Newman’s Bill outright, and would not even allow it to go to a select committee.

In Dunedin this week children died once again because the Family Court, and the Government, are not fulfilling their responsibilities to the community, and refuse to use up-to-date and non-adversarial techniques to resolve child custody and access disputes. The Family Court is breaking the fundamental principles of the laws it is supposed to administer by consistently not acting in the best interests of children.

FARE calls on the Principal Family Court Judge, and the Government, to publicly state what they are doing to eliminate the tensions between divorcing parents and reduce the risk of this latest tragedy in Dunedin being repeated yet again, and again, which will most certainly happen again if nothing is done", concluded Tichbon.


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