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Turner slams Family Court Bill

Media statement
For immediate release
Friday, 17 August 2007


Turner slams Family Court Bill

UnitedFuture deputy leader Judy Turner says the Family Court Matters Bill just introduced to Parliament fails to address any of the major problems of the Family Court.

"The inability of the Family Court to order paternity tests is an embarrassing oversight which should have been remedied in this Bill, but the Minister has chosen to continue ignoring the issue.

"I even offered my paternity testing member's bill on a plate to the Minister which would solve this anomaly and is based on a Law Commission recommendation - but he rejected it flat.

"The fact that only one in nine judgements allow for shared parenting is a major flaw in a Court that has decided it is best for children to relegate one parent to part-time visitor, despite research which tells us the opposite.

"Shared parenting should be the default position for a Court order, unless one parent is deemed unfit. But the Court has decided upon a default position that cuts one good parent - usually the father - out of a caring role for their children.

"Allowing the media further access to report this shabby Court will hopefully lead in the future to some substantive changes that are long overdue, but this Government Bill is mostly irrelevant," says Mrs Turner.

Creating a winner and a loser as the family Court system does, only encourages litigation, as the first parent to get a lawyer and head to Court is more likely to get sole custody, Mrs Turner points out.

"If shared parenting is the norm, it will take away the incentive for parents to drag their children through the Court. If the Minister wants to improve the Family Court system - that is what needs to happen."

Mrs Turner is also critical of the fact that the problems of legal aid, delays in process and abuse allegations, remain completely unaddressed by the Government.

"Our Family Court system needs an overhaul. The Minister needs to stop tinkering around the edges and review the system from the inside out," says Mrs Turner.


ENDS

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