Australia's Men's Rights Association
A Non-Profit Association Promoting Gender Equality for Men and Their Children
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Media Release - July 2009  Men's Rights Agency

Men’s Rights: ‘No Fault’ Divorce Should be Reviewed

IMPORTANT POLICY REVIEW SLAMS THE DOOR

The Australian Institute of Family Studies is currently undertaking research into the effects of important changes to family law which, in 2006, introduced shared parental responsibility and focused on a child’s right to be raised by both parents.

The Attorney General says he will be guided by the report from AIFS which, disturbingly, is only taking submissions from a select and ‘anointed’ group of organisations – rather than the broader community.

From a father’s perspective “no fault” divorce has been singularly unattractive. 70-percent of separations are initiated by women. At least 75 percent of fathers seeking assistance from Men’s Rights Agency report their wives are engaging in affairs, often started on the internet; have serious problems including abuse of alcohol and drugs, mental health issues, gambling, violence towards their family and a total disregard for any promises made for a long term commitment to each other and their children.

Many in the community still do not realise that far from fault being removed from divorce it was just transferred to decisions made by the judiciary about where the child would live and how the family assets would be divided.

Deprived of regular contact with their children and the majority of the family assets, fathers could be forgiven for thinking they had been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, as if they were indeed guilty of wrongdoing, to say nothing of damage to the child in losing regular contact with one of their parents.

Federal MP Tony Abbott has raised a proposal for “fault” to be reintroduced into family law proceedings with the expectation the number of divorcing couples might reduce, and warring parents would stay together with the help of a little counselling to sort out their problems.

It may not be the whole answer, but the AIFS should include the proposal in its inquiry. Recognition of wrong doing in marriage / defacto relationships may help to curb bad behaviour.

Few social policy researchers have been able to come to terms with a wife/mother’s abusive nature, with most preferring to protect the caring image of women by ignoring or manipulating statistics.

Over the years the judiciary has overwhelmingly supported maternal preference, and the now discredited ‘tender years doctrine’, losing sight of the need to assess the suitability of each parent and the benefits to be gained by a child still having both parents in their life.

Paul Kendle, a journalist writing a series of articles for the UK Daily Telegraph reports a senior UK Judge, Mr Justice Coleridge told their Parliament “mothers and fathers who have failed to commit to each other and engaged in a game of “pass the partner” have left millions of children “scarred for life”. He has called for a national commission to establish marriage as the “gold standard for relationships”. A new report due this week from the Social Justice Policy Group, a think tank committed to tackling poverty has drawn similar conclusions.” Kendle suggests in his article “Broken Britain – Can we fix It?” that many voters believe “family breakdown is directly related to the rise in thuggery, drug abuse and street violence”.

Circumstances are no different in Australia. Tony Abbott’s proposal needs a fair hearing, but we doubt this will occur as the Australian Institute of Family Studies will not, according to researcher Lawrie Moloney, be extending an invitation to men’s/fathers’ groups to contribute to the research. The rights of hundreds-of-thousands of men, not to mention their children, have been cruelly struck down.

Sue Price
Director, Men’s Rights Agency
Mob: 0409 269 621