Wednesday, 9th July 2003, By Dr Muriel Newman MP
ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today called on the Government to make provision for shared parenting in its Care of Children Bill - to avoid New Zealand mirroring Australia, where family law is driving many fathers to suicide.
"According to Australian statistics, males aged 25-44 are most at risk of suicide. Research shows that relationship breakdown - exacerbated by experiences with the family law system - have been identified as major trigger factors," Dr Newman said.
"In New Zealand, our latest statistics show that the group most at risk of suicide is also males aged 25-44, with 192 males committing suicide - 82 percent higher than any other group. Since the median age for male divorce in 1999 was 41, it is obvious that men in the 25-44 age bracket are most at risk from the highly traumatic ordeal of family breakdown.
"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realise that, with sole maternal custody being the predominant outcome of Family Court custody battles, many of these fathers - faced with losing all effective contact with their children - find it all too difficult to handle and take their lives.
"The Australian Government is addressing the tragic problem of father suicide, by looking at introducing shared-parenting into law. Shared parenting would ensure that separated fathers could retain a proper relationship with their children. Our Government should do the same.
"I am currently drafting amendments to the Care of Children Bill, to introduce shared parenting into New Zealand family law. New Zealand cannot afford to retain our current laws, which tears a parent away from their child and drives them to take their own life," Dr Newman said.
Dr Muriel Newman MP
Phone: 04 470 6633 / 027 477 4834
Fax: 04 473 3532