“Its okay to lie in Family Court”, claims AG Robert McLelland
AS LONG AS THE SAY THE MAGIC WORDS. (THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD)
Says Grandparents Apart UK.
November 17, 2010 | Category: Family Law Reform, Family Law changes
Tags: Child Custody, false allegation, Family Law, Robert McClelland, Shared Parenting
AG trying to destroy Shared Parenting laws
CHILDREN caught in violent family break-ups would be better protected under proposed changes to the Family Law Act.
But the proposals leave in place the presumption of equal shared parenting responsibility and the obligation to consider equal time with each parent, measures some critics wanted removed.
The mooted amendments were released yesterday by the federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, in response to several reports commissioned by the government on aspects of family law.
Under the draft, parents would no longer have cost orders made against them for making false allegations or statements.
”The reports illustrate that the family law system has some way to go in effectively responding to issues relating to family violence,” Mr McClelland said.
The draft Family Law Amendment (Family Violence) Bill is explained in a consultation paper that invites public submissions.
Under the proposals, family law courts would give greater weight to the protection of children from family violence above the benefit of having a meaningful relationship with both parents.
McLelland intends to encourage Parental Alienation by removing any disincentive for parent’s who poison a child’s view of the other parent.
Protection from harm and a meaningful relationship with both parents are known as the twin pillars of the family law act, but the apparent equal weighting given to each consideration has attracted criticism.
Mothers’ groups have argued that children have been forced to spend time with violent fathers, or even fathers who have been jailed for sex offences, because of the emphasis on children retaining a meaningful relationship with both parents.
The draft bill proposes a new definition of family violence that includes physical assault, harassment, emotional manipulation, financial abuse and threatening behaviour.
It also proposes a wider definition of abuse of a child.
The Attorney-General did not accept the radical change proposed by a former Family Court judge, Richard Chisholm, to allow judges to consider only what was in the best interest of the child. His report said current law ”nudged” judges towards the prescribed outcomes of awarding parents shared responsibility for major decisions, and of having to consider children spending equal time with each parent.
Other recommendations adopted in the draft bill include the deletion of the ”friendly” parent provision, which obliged judges to have regard to whether a parent encouraged the child’s relationship with the other parent. Some parents were afraid to raise claims of violence in case they were considered ”unfriendly” parents.
According to figures from the Australian Institute of Criminology, the overwhelming incidence of child abuse occurrs in single mother households.
Under the draft, parents would no longer have cost orders made against them for making false allegations or statements. This provision deterred parents from raising truthful claims in case the court did not believe them.
McLelland intends to change the definition of child abuse to include non-abusive behaviour, even if real or imagined.
Another significant change would be greater responsibility on lawyers and other advisers to encourage parents to prioritise protection of children.
Currently, they have an obligation to encourage shared parental responsibility.
Conversely, there has never been one recorded incident of child abuse of a child in a shared parenting arrangement.
A surprise is the mooted inclusion of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as a new object of the act.
The opposition have condemned these proposed changes as a surreptitious attempt to destroy Australia’s Shared Parenting laws, broadly mooted as being the most child focussed family laws amongst all Western countries.
Senator George Brandis, the opposition Attorney General, has indicated that he will not support these changes as the current Shared Parenting laws have been endorsed by the government’s own review of the changes, where 27,000 parents were interviewed, as working well and not exposing parents or children to violence.
Fathers groups have also condemned these proposed changes as gender-politics at the expense of children.
According to figures from the Australian Institute of Criminology found that the overwhelming incidence of child abuse occurred in single mother households. Conversely, there has never been one recorded incident of child abuse of a child in a shared parenting arrangement.