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Fathers Are Not Optional

The Australian, 2003-05-07, by Janet Albrechtsen

In the photograph, the father is holding a tiny baby, a few weeks old, maybe less.

The father is looking down at the baby in wonder. His first child. He is oblivious to the camera. I didn't notice how much love was in that photo until I had a child. That photo of my father is on my fridge as a daily reminder of his love.

Fatherhood is like that. So often the deep bond between father and child goes unnoticed. It is underestimated and sadly misunderstood. How else do you explain a society where fatherlessness is so common?

In Australia upwards of 1 million children live separate from their fathers. More than one third of children who still see their dads never spend the night with him. These children and their fathers never experience typical family life together - being kissed goodnight, waking up together, starting the day over breakfast, being more than a "visitor" in each other's lives. These are the distressing findings of Bruce Smyth and Anna Ferro, from the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Here's a flash. Parenting is in the doing. It's not babysitting. It's the whole bedevilling, demanding, riveting and privileged experience of raising children. Given the chance, most fathers are eager to embrace that because, like mothers, fathers have the same need to be with and near their child.

Imagine if 1 million Australian children lived apart from their mothers, and study after study showed that these children were generally worse off than those who enjoyed meaningful relationships with both parents. Voices would be raised, forums convened, radical solutions pushed.

Just look at the attention devoted to motherhood. Yesterday, high- profile American feminist and author Naomi Wolf was in Melbourne to give the motherhood cause a kick along at a forum with Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward. As the hype around Wolf shows, motherhood and its woes are fashionable. And we're moving in a forward direction trying to make it easier for mothers.

Last week on Andrew Denton's Enough Rope, Wolf said that society's reluctance to pay mothers to care for children revealed a contempt for motherhood. The child's unconditional love is not payback enough; mothers deserve more, said Wolf. At least, Wolf says men should also be paid. "It's Stalinist to designate one gender to be responsible for child-rearing," she says.

Yet that is where we're at. Fatherhood is still grappling to find a voice, let alone a foothold, in the national conscience. Too often fathers are optional extras in children's lives. That's contempt.

A small upward blip in the percentage of fathers granted residence - formerly called custody - orders by the Family Court in the year 2000- 2001 was recently hailed by one academic as a "massive cultural shift in favour of fathers".

Yes, residence orders now favour fathers in almost 20 per cent of cases - up from 15.3 per cent in 1994-95. But in an extensive study of contested parenting cases from 1988 to May 2000, Lawrie Moloney, senior lecturer at Melbourne's La Trobe University, found that fathers tend to succeed only where the mother is judged inadequate - they win by "default" - not because of their own capacity as parents. Hardly a cultural shift.

And thousands of children still go to bed each night unable to say goodnight to their dad. The only cultural shift they know is fatherlessness, which David Popenoe, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, describes as "the most basic, unexpected, and extraordinary social trend of our time". Says Popenoe in his book Life Without Father: "Father absence is a major force lying behind many of the attention-grabbing issues that dominate the news: crime and delinquency; premature sexuality and out-of-wedlock teen births; deteriorating educational achievement; depression, substance abuse, and alienation among teenagers; and the growing number of women and children in poverty."

There is something profoundly wrong when, in full knowledge of these costs, society does little to protect the love and intimacy between father and child.

Unfortunately, the Family Court remains captive to the more illogical parts of feminist thinking that stakes out a paradoxical, myth-like power over children-rearing upon divorce. Shared responsibility may be the theme song during the marriage, but when it collapses the holiness of motherhood is resurrected to deny father and child the right to a meaningful relationship.

A detailed study last year by Robert Bauserman in the American Journal of Family Psychology found children in joint custody enjoy higher self-esteem, better family relationships and higher school performance than those in sole custody (usually maternal).

The Family Court has ignored that message. Of the 13,194 orders made by the Family Court in 2000-01, there were only 329 shared parenting orders.

Opponents point to domestic violence as reason enough why shared parenting is not an option. But what they suggest is that the domestic violence tail should wag the Family Court dog. Domestic violence is not the norm in family breakdown. Basing policy on the worst-case family severs relationships for tens of thousands of children for no good reason.

Has the fatherless child become the inevitable consequence of the new order of no-fault, drive-through divorce? I look at the black and white photograph on the fridge and wonder why the falling in love with baby that is so central to most women's being, and the obvious value of that love, is so easily dismissed in the case of fathers.

For all the progress, in other ways society has changed inexorably for the worse.

";"In the photograph, the father is holding a tiny baby, a few weeks old, maybe less.
The father is looking down at the baby in wonder. His first child. He is oblivious to the camera. I didn't notice how much love was in that photo
"; "2";"sup";"Alan Jones Replies:";"The Today Show/Alan Jones Breakfast Show 2GB";"2003-05-05";"Alan Jones";;"Look, I normally answer all my correspondence personally. You won’t believe this, but in light of the editorial I did on Channel Nine, which I repeated on Radio 2GB, I have been inundated with letters on this issue. All saying the same thing. You want a fairer system where Dads are included in their children’s lives.

Many of you have talked about the fact that when you do get access to your children, it is for three or four weeks at a time and yet you still have to pay child support to the mother even when you are providing for them. That also is a nonsense.

One of you said the comments were like the first rains after a long drought. Comments like that move me enormously. Another talked about it being "music to the ears of myself and countless other victim fathers."

Others mentioned the blockage of reform by the Labor Party and the Democrats who would be the first people to try to pretend to you that they are on side.

Others of you mentioned Larry Anthony and I will be speaking to him. He is aware of my concern.

Another talked about trying to "stem the flood of male suicides" and a shiver went down my spine. That marriage and parenthood could do this to people is a scandal.

Another said, "I can quite understand how fathers walk away. Not because they are bad fathers, but just because the pain is too great."

Another said to me "I’m a female and I agree that the laws need to be changed in all regards to family law. I feel that each case has to be decided individually as each case is different. I feel the reason we don’t hear about the mothers committing suicide is that quite often we don’t…..if you walk out on the marriage… you need to know you will lose a lot of your rights. It needs to be said you walk out, you lose". That was from a lady. And, I have to say to you, I know of men, and I have interviewed them, who didn’t walk out on the marriage. The wife/mother did. But they get the children and the mother. I agree with that correspondent who said each case had to be individually addressed. We are trying to do that.

Others just simply thanked me on behalf of "all the Dads out there battling to see their kids regularly but being ripped off by the Child Support Agency".

Another said, "With five divorces an hour in Australia and three DVOs/AVOs a day, is it any wonder there is so much suicide."

Another said, "Thank you for using your forum to make this gross injustice known to the public. This injustice should be yelled from the rooftops until the lawmakers change the law".

Another said "In that cohort of men subject to the Family Court and the Child Support Agency, more men commit suicide than the total number of deaths to drug overdose and road toll ..... however those figures aren’t published. The current policies are creating another stolen generation and this nation will pay dearly in the decades to come".

Another said, "Your simple and succinct commentary on non-custodial fathers really hit home. I’m a non-custodial father and have had the very rude awakening of how unjust the system is towards divorced fathers".

Another said, "The legislation has been "amended" over the years so the Child Support Agency has such wide discretion. They have become almost untouchable. Neither do they, nor the politicians, seem to care about the effect their decision making is having on the people forced to be part of the Agency’s horrendous system."

Another said, "I’m a serving soldier in the Australian Army. I heard your comments this morning about non-custodial fathers. I was interested to hear that there are fathers out there in the same boat as me. I have been at my wit’s end many times due to my treatment by the Child Support Agency and can say that I did consider doing away with myself at least twice as a direct result of my situation".

Another, "To your comments this morning about the CSA! Bringing this secretive agency into the spotlight is certainly long overdue and with high profile attention from respected persons such as yourself, you may help thousands of fathers in the same predicament."

Another, "I don’t for one minute think we should not pay for our children. But I believe in fairness and equality and there is none in the division of hard earned assets. And then try living on two-thirds of your wage for what is usually the last 20 years of your working life…..the CSA treat you like a second class citizen from the word dot."

Another said, "If they make an error in their assessment, they say they are unable to change the assessment under current legislation without you taking a Court order to stop the payments while the incorrect amount is in dispute".

Another said, "Thank you for your comments this morning on the Today Show. It actually brought a tear to my eye to hear someone such as yourself speak out against the injustice Child Support pushes down the throats of Dads who both want to do the right thing by their children but have a fair go in rebuilding their own lives."

Another, "Mate, thank you very much for airing this subject. As you know, the whole situation is appalling."

Another, "In the first instance, a father paying the CSA has absolutely no power whatsoever to ensure that the payments are used for the purpose of providing for the child. In the second instance, I, for one, am often precluded from contact with the child by the actions of his mother. My ex-wife ended the marriage and admitted when she did so that the way the "system" was set up, there was an incentive for her to do so."

Another, "I’m not surprised at the suicide rate….when I was unemployed some years ago, I was advised that the payments would continue to accrue and that I would have to catch up on the back payments. I can understand why some men give up the fight and let their lives go."

Another, "I am a retired police officer who has fought a long lonely hand regarding the matters raised this morning. In my small suburb, in a one-week period, two non-custodial parents committed suicide in 1997/98."

Another, "I have to fight to see my daughter and have found it difficult emotionally and financially to stick it out in the Courts and with the CSA, who don’t seem to listen to the father at all……I don’t seem to be the only one with issues with the system and it seems any criticism of the system is belittled and guilt or threats put on the father if he cannot pay."

Another, "It’s not just non-custodial fathers who are getting ripped off. I’m a non-custodial mother – long story – my ex is working cash in hand, is on the pension and co-inhabiting with another person that is on a benefit payment. He hasn’t put in a tax return for two years. No matter how much I earn I can’t get ahead. Even if I get a tax return, they take that as well. The system stinks".

Another, "Alan Jones is a bloody hero to all men and some women going through the trauma of separation and who have kids they love. Internet chat rooms and user groups are flooded with commentary after this morning’s program."

Another, "Alan, you are absolutely right; the Family Law Court is totally biased against hard-working men".

I want to assure you that the volume is massive. I have tried to cover some of the points that have been raised. Please forgive me if I haven’t alluded to your particular communication. I’m sending this out as a block email.

I am going to see Larry Anthony. I hope we can get somewhere. I will keep in touch. My thoughts are with you.

With best wishes,

Alan Jones

";"Look, I normally answer all my correspondence personally. You won’t believe this, but in light of the editorial I did on Channel Nine, which I repeated on Radio 2GB, I have been inundated with letters on this issue. All saying the same thing. You want a f"; "3";"sup";"Father's Life Rocked by Boys' DNA Tests";"The West Australian";"2003-04-12";"Julie Butler";;"Beefy Perth tradesman "Len" wanted to lie down and die when he found out this year his two boys were not his biological sons.

The DNA test results didn't stop his love for them, but Len, not his real name, says it felt like his heart was ripped out.

"I've lost two friends to suicide but nothing prepared me for that," he said. "It seemed everything I'd lived and worked for went down the gurgler."

And had his own father not paid the $1180 upfront test fee he might never have been able to afford to find out.

Len had a stormy relationship with the boys' mother and, after a relationship of more than a decade, they separated. He said a relative then sat him down and said: "Mate, get your eldest boy DNA'd."

But it took Len about four years to do so. He said he could not believe the boys might not be his.

The oldest, now a teenager, resembles Len's beloved late grandfather. His younger brother has Len's build and gift for sport.

But feeling the pinch when he got into arrears with child support, Len said he obtained the mother's consent for the tests. The results showed he was not the boys' biological father.

He said the repercussions rippled throughout his family: "My parents were devastated and my aunts and uncles are all upset."

Len said he was yet to see the boys since the tests but understood they knew the result. A family friend told him the oldest was in shock, believed the tests were wrong and wanted new ones.

This week Len was freed from having to pay child support for the boys. But he said he still had the right to see them.

He claims to have spent tens of thousands of dollars raising the boys and in child support. But he had decided not to sue the mother for a child

maintenance refund because he could not face the rigamarole.

Len, now happily remarried, said he wanted to speak out because his story was not a one-off. "It's amazing how many men have doubts," he said.

But many might not be able to afford testing, let alone first get the consent needed, he said. The system needed to be changed so men did not have to pay maintenance for children which might not be theirs.

DNA tests should be done on demand and men given financial, emotional and

legal support. "There are too many people getting hurt," he said.

A Child Support Agency spokesman said the agency did not record the reason for cases ending but anecdotal evidence suggested those due to DNA test results were "only in the tens each year".

Beefy Perth tradesman "Len" wanted to lie down and die when he found out this year his two boys were not his biological sons. The DNA test results didn't stop his love for them.

,"; "5";"shd";"Matilda Bawden - President Shared Parenting Council of Australia";"Dads On The Air";"2003-04-28";"Sydney 2GLF FM 89.3 9am-12.00";;"The creation of the Shared Parenting Council of Australia, a loose alliance of over 20 family law and fathers groups, has been a significant step forward for the many people campaigning for family law reform.

Here's some of President Matilda Bawden has to say:

I grew up knowing who my father is. I grew up knowing of his love for me and having had the benefit of learning under his guidance, supervision and above all love. I am proud to say my dad is here with us today.

Unfortunately, tens of thousands of children in Australia every year will never know what it is like to hug or kiss their father. They will never know what his family origins were or even what his profession or trade was. They will never know what it feels like to kick a ball with him, go to a theatre or concert with him or what its like just to play rough and tumble.

To strengthen child protection, we must challenge the mythologies about males.

For those who don't know, I am a Social Worker. My first experience in dealing with so-called "men's issues", happened when (as a new graduate) I was approached for an independent opinion by a father who maintained that he had been falsely accused of seven rape and incest charges against his then 5 year old daughter by the then SA Department of Community Welfare (now Family and Youth Services or FAYS).

Like most Social Workers, I too believed that if he was accused, he must surely be guilty, afterall - first and foremost - he was a man. Besides, how could a team of social workers, police, doctors, Crown lawyers and psychologists get it so wrong???

Well, if not for his desperate pleadings, persistent phone calls and he insistence that he was innocent of the charges over some two weeks, I would probably have read his file once or twice and concurred with the opinion of all the other professionals.

So what changed my mind? Each time I read the file, I read it from the presumption of his absolute and irrefutable guilt. Then I tried a different approach - I began to ask myself, "Could he possibly be innocent?", "Could there have been a mistake by the prosecution's team?", "If so, could a guilty man walk because of sloppy investigative work by the government's team?" and "Was the so-called evidence of the man's guilt as contained in his file the fruit off a poisonous tree?".

When I read his file from the position of his possible innocence, the holes in the prosecution's case became so massive, one could drive a fleet of buses and several jumbo jets through it! So much so, it would be another 5 years later before the father would be exonerated by a front-page Sunday mail story.

This was the first of many cases for me in which the father would face false allegations of abuse and then been subjected to endless and relentless persecution by Crown lawyers. Often the Crown's case would be buoyed by stories fabricated by departmental Social Workers themselves and I can say this as I am a witness to some of those occasions when the false allegations would later emerge.

Identical practices have been exposed in many cities overseas around the mid-1980's, including England and Miami, Florida. We know from the practices we have observed that the verballing and interrogation of children under the age of five by our authorities, is common-place. Your child could be brought in for questioning on something entirely unrelated, but two or three hours later make disclosures you could never have imagined possible, much less plausible.

So my next burning question became, "What ideological, procedural, legislative or organisational culture could lead an entire team of professionals to behave like a lynch-mob?".

To answer the question, I had to start with myself, as I too would have succumbed to the same mentality.

Retrospectively, as I stand here today, I can attribute a range of factors and causes for why we have, as a community accepted a very indifferent and casual attitude to the separation of children from their families.

As a woman, I know how in Social Work the feminist agenda is possibly the single most dominant perspective which is taught to impressionable and perhaps disillusioned women, like myself at the time. With over 90% of Social Work students being female, it is hardly surprising that many are prepared to absorb such doctrines like a sponge; as if preaching to the converted.

With no "male liberationist" perspective to counter-balance this equation, new Social Workers are ill-placed for de-programming themselves. This is particularly so in a public sector culture where professional de-skilling is the order of the day and independent thought is rendered impossible if one is not to be the subject of professional suicide or reprisal for challenging the elite.

Then we have the gender-feminists who have naturally found themselves careers working in such areas as child protection, DV services and women's shelters, just to name a few. In these roles, the community has accepted them as champions not of oppressed, disadvantaged and down-trodden women, but almost always of all children!

But, just ask those battered, oppressed and down-trodden women how much their lives have been changed for the better because of the feminist movement, when to this day they cannot access income support, housing, health care, respite, police protection, legal representation and other goods and services after they are forced to flee the family home.

If we could conduct a survey of the profile of senior employees who enters this line of work, I suspect we would find that many who believe they had been abused by men would eventually find themselves working within this industry.

But should we be developing social policy on the basis of people's pathology?

";"The creation of the Shared Parenting Council of Australia, a loose alliance of over 20 family law and fathers groups, has been a significant step forward for the many people campaigning for family law reform.

Here's some of President Matil"; "6";"edb";"The boys who will be gentlemen";"The Sun-Herald";"2003-07-06";"Andrew West";;"http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/07/05/1057179204769.html

One of the great educational theories of the past 30 years is being turned on its head. It seems boys perform better academically, and become more sensitive men, if they attend all-male schools.

Findings to be presented at a major conference on boys' education, beginning in Sydney today, show that boys educated without the company of girls have greater self-esteem.

They are also more likely to pursue subjects such as art, drama and music, to get involved in debating and school leadership and enjoy reading.

Principal of The Southport School on the Gold Coast Bruce Cook said the conventional wisdom of the past three decades - that girls have a civilising impact on boys - is old-fashioned.

"That relates to the concepts of teaching and learning, in vogue from the 1950s to the 1980s, that learning was only good if people sat still, shut up and read their books," Dr Cook said. "But boys don't learn that way.

"They learn by being active, by competing, by moving around. In boys' schools we can construct different ways of learning that concentrate on their learning style."

Even more compelling is Dr Cook's conclusion that boys educated separately end up being more confident around girls.

"In co-ed, boys tend to adopt a quasi-masculine attitude because girls are there," he said. "They feel they have to demonstrate their emerging

masculinity by gross macho over-reaction.

"Boys in single sex schools don't have the constant presence of girls reminding them of how they look. You know, 'Am I looking OK for the girls?' "

In co-educational environments, he said, he found boys were more reluctant to become involved in what their male classmates might dismiss as "feminine" activities, such as choirs, orchestras and debating.

They even feared their classmates would question their sexuality.

"In boys' schools, they can participate in anything irrespective of any perceived gender bias," Dr Cook said, "whereas in co-ed schools you get boys who don't even try moving into those areas, the choir or debating, because they're fearful of being labelled gay or a sissy."

The conference of the International Boys' Schools Coalition, to be held at the Shore School in North Sydney, will also hear from leading US educator George Lewis, who teaches at the elite Fairfield Country Day School in Connecticut.

Mr Lewis said it was important the curriculum in all-boys schools included material that explored women's experiences.

He said anecdotal evidence suggested boys from single-sex schools were also more polite.

While almost all state US schools are co-educational, more single-sex schools are opening in the private sector. ";"http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/07/05/1057179204769.html

One of the great educational theories of the past 30 years is being turned on its head. It seems boys perform better academically, and become more sensitiv"; "7";"sup";"Legal Minefield for Deceived Fathers";"The Sydney Morning Herald";"2003-03-29";"Leonie Lamont";;"During an interstate access visit, and a trip to the Melbourne Show, Bill told his 14-year-old son he was going to take him for an allergy test.

The test was in reality a DNA parentage test, to establish the likelihood of Bill being the boy's biological father. The fallout is set to force the Federal Government to amend the Family Law Act so that men who prove they are not the biological fathers can recover child maintenance payments.

The case of Bill, whose identity is confidential, which went before the Chief Federal Magistrate, Diana Bryant, last year, has revealed that the court has no jurisdiction to order repayments to "biological strangers" in the same position as this man. The legislative gap applies to married couples who separated, and had child maintenance orders for children born before 1989.

Since then, the Child Support (Assessment) Act allows courts to order repayments where a presumed parent is later found not to be the biological parent. In the case of Bill, Ms Bryant said his only recourse was civil action to recover the $28,700 he had paid in child maintenance since 1987. Under the Family Law Act she only had power regarding "biological parents, step-parents, adoptive parents ... parents as a result of artificial conception procedures ... the applicant is, effectively, a biological 'stranger' [to the boy]".

Geoffrey Greene, the federal director of the Shared Parenting Council of Australia, said more of these cases would emerge with the widespread access to DNA testing. "It's awfully late in the day to be finding this out," he said. "It needs to be fixed. You can't start treating families different because of the legislation they fall under."

Robert Benjamin, chairman of the family law committee with the NSW Law Society, said: "It clearly needs a change to the law because the only option you then have left is an action for deceit at common law - but you have to show active deceit, and deceit may well be difficult to prove."

In a precedent last year in Victoria, Liam Magill successfully sued his ex-wife for $70,000 in damages and economic loss after DNA testing proved she had deceived him by telling him her lovers' children were his own.

After the Herald brought Bill's case to government attention, a spokeswoman for the Attorney-General said the need for amendment was being considered by the department, pending consultation with the child support agency.

The Australian Law Reform Commission this week completed its report on safeguarding human genetic material. The commission's chairman, Professor David Weisbrot, said privacy, consent, quality assurance and counselling had been issues in parentage testing. While the Family Court documented 103 parentage testing orders in 2000-01, many more were taking place in other courts, and others were occurring either by consent, or without, outside the legal system.

Judging from the inquiry's public meetings and submission, he did not see a nexus between the requirement to pay child support and the use of DNA tests.

"I don't think most people want to prove that the child isn't theirs," he said. "They are not doing it to get out of payments, generally speaking ... I don't think it's anything to do with the child - it is still the continuing anger with the other partner."

The commission proposes there be no DNA testing without the consent of all involved, with a court order necessary if one party refuses. ";"During an interstate access visit, and a trip to the Melbourne Show, Bill told his 14-year-old son he was going to take him for an allergy test.

The test was in reality a DNA parentage test, to establish the likelihood of Bill being the bo"; "8";"shd";"Children of Divorce Fight Stereotypes";"Brigham Young University NewsNet";"2003-04-04";"Laura Cantera";;"Twenty-year-old Emily Johnson recognizes the stigma associated with children of divorce, and said she thinks people often wonder how well she can handle relationships and whether she's a stable person.

"When I tell people my parents are divorced, I get a shocked look and normally people get really quiet and I then have to explain the situation," said Emily Johnson, 22, a sophomore from Chicago majoring in political science.

The dominant culture's emphasis on marriage and family tends to cast a shadow on children who come from broken homes, she said.

"If the guy is going to think so little of me, then I wouldn't want to waste my time there anyway," Johnson said.

Similarly, Jake Larsen, 23, a senior from Orem, said he used to hide the fact that his parents were divorced, but he now uses his dates' reaction to the news as a measuring tool.

He thinks people assume children of divorce "come into relationships with some type of emotional baggage."

But that's not always true.

"They assume because your parents didn't have a successful marriage you will have more difficulty in forming a successful marriage," said Mandy Beckstrom, a 19-year-old political science major. "People should be less judgmental of students from divorced parents."

Nicholas H. Wolfinger, assistant professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah, has studied the effects of divorce on children for more than three decades.

The most recent research suggests children with divorced parents are one-and-a-half times more likely to divorce as compared to children with an intact family.

The good news is that rate is decreasing. In 1973, children with divorced parents were three times more likely to divorce.

Wolfinger believes society is shaping this trend.

Fifty years ago the divorce rate was much lower, so if a child's parents divorced he received a much stronger message about marital stability and marital commitment, Wolfinger said, because he was the "only one in (his) neighborhood" with divorced parents.

Today, divorce is more accepted and common so divorce doesn't affect children quite as drastically.

Despite the decline in divorce among children from broken homes, Wolfinger does not expect the trend to continue indefinitely.

Barbara Morrell, licensed psychologist in the Counseling and Career Center, said for many students whose parents are divorced, eventually divorce themselves is a real fear.

"I think students whose parents are divorced feel as if their family has failed somehow or everyone else's family is perfect," Morrell said, adding that it is sometimes harder for children of divorce to know what a healthy marriage is like but they can learn by getting close to married couples, such as siblings or other relatives.

Students should also realize their parent's divorce is not their fault and it is not "a personal failure," she said.

Marriage and family expert and Religion Professor Douglas Brinley, said divorce is a factor in successful relationships, but shouldn't be an overriding consideration.

"I think it's a red flag, but that doesn't mean you can't take it down," he said.

When Jen Berger first breaks the news that her parents are divorced, she said most people expect her to have a sob story about her life. She said people are surprised she's not different.

Surprisingly, students with divorced parents claim they know more about marriage and dating than people might expect.

Larsen, a Spanish and French major, said he is more "realistic." He said he won't run away the first time a problem arises, because he understands that problems in marriage are normal.

Berger realizes marriage isn't a "fairy tale," and goes into relationships with "eyes wide open."

"People believe in love at first sight. I don't believe in that at all," she said.

Beckstrom is conservative in matters of love too.

"I'm not as quick to give my heart away," said Beckstrom, a senior from Santa Monica, Calif. "I know how much it hurts when it fails and how much work it takes to make a marriage successful."

The increased commitment and caution Johnson has toward dating is a result of not wanting to go through what she saw her parents go through.

This is the most common and heartfelt sentiment among students of divorce. They don't want to expose their children to the kind of pain they experienced and are motivated to work even harder. As a result, Berger vows, "there's no backing out."

This practical attitude leads most children of divorce to decry the all-too-common quick courtships so prevalent in Provo.

"You've been hurt and saw the pain and struggles," Beckstrom said. "The best marriages come between best friends. Quick marriages are dangerous. You're going to spend eternity with this person."

Larsen said he feels less hurried in courtship because he's seen that it is easier to get married than to actually stay married.

Whether it's been a month or five years since the divorce, the challenges never end.

Morrell said the real trouble with divorce begins when people feel the issues in their family get in the way of their own relationships, but said books, classes and counseling can help overcome barriers.

She said students should also realize they're not alone in their family problems, develop healthy friendships with all types of people as a means of increasing their relationship skills and work through relationship fears as they arise.

Wolfinger said on average, students with divorced parents don't complete as much education as those with married parents. They're more likely to get pregnant out of wedlock, have smoking problems and even die sooner.

But some students with divorce in their family's past are determined to not make it part of the future.

"I'm trying to make myself a complete person-the kind of person I want to marry," Beckstrom said. "Rather than looking for the one, I become the one."

Berger said although she misses having her parents as a "unified, decision making team," she said she doesn't use her unsure support system as an excuse. Rather, it's a motivation to prove she can make her way regardless of her parents.

Copyright ©2003 BYU NewsNet ";"Twenty-year-old Emily Johnson recognizes the stigma associated with children of divorce, and said she thinks people often wonder how well she can handle relationships and whether she's a stable person.

"When I tell people my parents are di"

"; "9";;"The Turning of the Tide: With Special Guest Rod Hardwick, President of DADs Australia.";"Dads On The Air";"2003-05-12";"Sydney 2GLF FM 89.3 9am-12.00";;"This week it's impossible to ignore the efforts of one of the country's leading broadcasters, Alan Jones at 2GB. The number one breakfast show host has taken up the plight of non-custodial parents and child support payers with a vengeance, describing the situation as a "social scandal". As a result he has been swamped with hundreds upon hundreds of emails.

He says he has never had a response like it on any issue after raising it on his radio show and on television at the Today Show.

He read an email from one of his listeners who he says was driven to penury and total despair by the unconscionable way he had been treated by the Family Court and the Child Support Agency.

Alan Jones normally likes to answer his emails individually but has been unable to do so in this case. Here's a small sample of them which he has distributed:

One young man wrote and said, "I heard your Today Show last week about non-custodial males... it made me cry. I am in the same position... I last saw my two little men on the 28/12/01. I pay $1,400 per month in child support. I gave up a fully paid off house, car and furniture. I gave up my job, as my ex-wife's affair went public... I want to support my boys and I, too, contemplated giving up."

Another said, "In that cohort of men subject to the Family Court and the Child Support Agency, more men commit suicide than the total number of deaths to drug overdose, and the road toll, yet governments panic whenever those figures are published. The current policies are creating another stolen generation".

Another said, "I find myself in a similar position to the Harry you referred to in your editorial. In fact, as I sat on the lounge watching the Today Show program, I turned to my girlfriend and said 'this is me he's talking about', so frighteningly close were the similarities".

Alan Jones said these were just a very small sample of the hundreds upon hundreds of people who had written to him. "There is something dramatically wrong with a system that provokes those sentiments," he said.

We'll also with Rod Hardwick be taking a look at Dads Australia's plans. It is a non-profit community organisation that provides support and assistance to both men and women, affected by Divorce, Separation, Child Residency and Contact, C$A (Child $upport Agency), Domestic Violence and Suicide.

DADs Australia provides support through our meetings and resources to assist people to deal with the above issues.

Rod Hardwick says DADs Australia is operated by both men and women for the benefit of our children. It is concerned with the deliberate degrading of families and marginalising of Fathers in children’s lives by the feminist movement and unreasonable interference by Government Departments in our personal lives.

"When you go to bed tonight think of the 1,000,000 Australian children who are forced to live apart from their dads. Up to 5 dads who are separated from the children, commit suicide each day. These dads see suicide as the only way of relieving the pain inflicted by Government policies that use children as the tools of their trade. "The past three decades, various governments have ignored what is best for children in order to appease the small letterhead and self interest groups that supposedly represent the community." ";"This week it's impossible to ignore the efforts of one of the country's leading broadcasters, Alan Jones at 2GB. The number one breakfast show host has taken up the plight of non-custodial parents and child support payers with a vengeance, describing the"; "10";"gdr";"The Lace Curtain: The Warren Farrell interview";"Dads On The Air";"2003-04-21";"Sydney 2GLF FM 89.3 9am-12.00";;"Edited extract: Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say:

Studies are done when studies are funded. If the area is gender, the funding is feminist.

Lace Curtain Research and the Funding It Finds.

Now that men are in the minority in college (45%), and doing worse in almost all subjects except math and science in high school, and dropping out, committing suicide, and suffering learning disabilities at much higher rates, we would expect special financial aid to be available to boys - perhaps even more than to girls. Not the case.

Although women dominate the humanities, grants to study male-female issues given by the National Endowment for the Humanities are given almost exclusively to study only women, and from only a feminist perspective. The pattern is the same with the National Endowment for the Arts...

Other studies are conducted more directly by the government, such as the Census Bureau. Let's look...

Remember the headlines we read telling us how little men pay in child support, based on Census Bureau figures? All these Census Bureau's figures are based on the reports of women. And only women.

Only recently did the government commission a special survey including men. The men reported paying almost 40% more than the women reported receiving (between 80% and 93% of what the court had ordered), plus more payments in full and on time.

Why haven't we seen any "Men Pay 80%-93%" headlines? Because as soon as the men's perspective was discovered to be so different, the Family Support Administration had the study discontinued - it was not released. Which is another way of saying "censored."

Another example. The National Longitudinal Survey provides the basis for thousands of articles about women every year. It is perhaps the most important study of how Americans' lives change during our lifetimes. Well, no longer. Since 1983, men have been dropped from the study. It is now the most important study about how women's lives change.

How was the dropping of men justified? Men are harder to study. Wasn't that was one of the reasons the medical community gave to feminists when feminists asked why women had been left out of many medical studies? The feminists rightly protested, "Go the extra mile - we have the right to know what does and doesn't apply to us." The feminists were right, but the men are silent. The government can't hear what men don't say.

The Murder of All Justice

In the chapter on domestic violence, much of the censorship I discussed emanated from the US Department of Justice. It was the Department of Justice that censored abuse by women from a 1979 poll. Finally some professors discovered the data on the original computer tape. The Bureau of Justice Statistics' "Murder In Families" stressed women-as-victims although its own raw data showed 55.5% male and 44.5% female victims of family murder. Similarly, it issued a report on Violence Against Women, but none on Violence Against Men - despite the fact that two-thirds of the violence is against men. We saw also how the FBI hides the female method of killing by contract by calling it a multiple-offender killing.

I am unaware of a single government source with a focus on family or gender that does not now have a strong feminist bias. Some are bureaus of feminist bias...

There is no misuse of the lace curtain that is killing our fathers and their sons more than its misuse in the area of men's and women's health. We all benefit from more research on both sexes' health. So why have we been focusing on women's health during the past three decades to such a degree that we have an Office of Research on Women's Health but none on men's health? ...

The result? Most of the world assumes women just "naturally" live longer than men. They are unaware that in 1920, for example, American men died only one year sooner than women; today, they die seven years sooner. While dozens of studies are being done on the possible damage of silicone breast implants, the causes of men dying seven years sooner are virtually ignored. Nor are most of us aware of how quickly men's health is deteriorating. When I wrote The Myth of Male Power in 1993, the gap between male and female suicide was 3.9 to 1; now it is 4.5 to 1 (see table). In Great Britain, there is a recent 339% increase in male suicides by hanging alone. ";"Edited extract: Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say:

Studies are done when studies are funded. If the area is gender, the funding is feminist.

Lace Curtain Research and the Funding It Finds.

Now "; "11";"ftl";"The Forgotten Parent?";"The Age";"2003-04-17";"Mark Mordue";;"I once asked Tom Waits if he felt fatherhood had affected his songwriting in any way?

"Well," he said, pausing to consider the full weight of the question, "it's harder to find the ashtrays."

It's as good an observation as any on the mysterious rites of fatherhood. For though I'm a non-smoker, I can easily sympathise with Waits's predicament. My baby boy is now a full year grown, and as he graduates from crawling to walking and on into a whole new world of reaching, I am finding our entire house is also on the move.

When I look for anything these days, it is either chaotically below the ankles (this is his world: plastic, battery operated, relentlessly tuneful, jigsaw scattered, surprisingly bookish and marked by delicate thuggery) or safely above the waist (our world: full of glass and poisons, precarious, haphazard piles and a toilet I really wish he stop throwing things into).

My partner is meanwhile trying to find some time to look into the mirror again. After losing so much of her hair (a common experience) because of the physical trauma of birth, she finally feels as if it is growing back towards its natural state. It was always one of the most beautiful and distinct things about her (it's true, men can fall in love with a woman because of her hair), and I understood why it grieved and upset her to see it fall out by the handful while she battled our baby boy's sleeping and feeding problems and this new and not always perfect ideal of herself as a mother.

I, too, examine myself in battle-weary terms: the mid-life gut, the back problems from lifting my son, the less-than-stylish, food-flecked, sleep- deprived way I am appearing. Vanity may not be killed off with parenthood, but it is certainly given a battering. And with it some sense of whom one is or was, and the self worth that this "originality" previously involved. As a parent, you now live for another, but, you fear, sometimes, that you may have lost yourself into the bargain.

How all this love and pain and struggle and rage measure out into some modern concept of fatherhood is no easy task to pin down. I know the magic of my son's kiss on my neck as he nuzzles into me (and mostly fails to bite me with the four teeth he is now blessed with); the way he can literally glow like a saint when he sees me walking in the door. I know the crushing weight of sitting alone in a park, sobbing, thinking I am not going to make it, hoping no one sees me and finds out how hollowed out and broken I really am. That if I don't recover my family will be lost and everything my life might be worth along with them.

It seems to me modern fatherhood is this half-hidden thing, subsumed in glib and not especially flattering television images, our own strangely male inclinations to deep silence, and those private relationships with our fathers and mothers that shadow whatever we might like to be (or not be) as a parent.

Certainly, the story of fatherhood is the story of the father as a son, as well as the father of a son or a daughter. Every one of us has a story like this that we are trying to carry on and yet change in some vital way, I guess.

When the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) in the United States reviewed prime-time television on the five major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, WB) a few years ago, they found that fathers were rarely portrayed, and that when they were it "was usually either as a competent man yet uninvolved father or as an involved father yet incompetent man".

Much as I love Homer Simpson, perhaps something decent and intelligent and confessional from the horse's mouth is needed to update our image of ourselves, to clear the decks. Slowly, but surely, I'm beginning to believe, this "something" is emerging.

Ian Sansom's The Truth About Babies from A-Z, while owing some debts to Nick Hornby's writing, is a small attempt to fill in the gaps - combining a diary, a philosophical reference guide, a compendium of wise words and witticisms and interesting facts, and a literary attempt to grapple with modern fatherhood from the banal to the sublime.

He passes through a series of alphabetically arranged chapters that have a mock-reference authority to them: headings such as Baby Monitor, Depression, Friends, Hate, Motherese, Shit, Sleep, Touch, Truth and, finally, Zero, which consists entirely of this brief note: "A cup of tea and a slice of cake, spotted with wax, and the year's gone. Like snow in the hand. You're one."

Every now and then Sansom also hits you with something harder, like his chapter titled Violence, in which he details trying to calm his child at night and its absolute refusal to be calmed. Very quickly, the scene escalates to him shaking the baby.

"I stop shaking. I lay you down in your cot and walk out of the room. I am ashamed. I don't tell anyone."

Given its diary nature, the book is inevitably Sansom's dialogue with himself as he grapples with fatherhood and what it means. Since the book addresses his son in the first person throughout, it is also a prolonged love letter and time-capsule for his child. It is, in this way, about the deep, mucky, contradictory material of real love, the highs and the lows of fatherhood that are never entirely resolved.

One sees, though, that writing itself can be an act of selfishness. I read with cautionary distress Sansom's contrasting use of Bertrand Russell's pleased notes on fatherhood in his Autobiography (1967-69) with his daughter Katherine Tait's observations later in My Father Bertrand Russell (1975): "He played at being a father ... and he acted the part to perfection, but his heart was elsewhere and his combination of inner detachment and outer affection caused me much muddled suffering."

Like many working fathers, my own father was often not around while I was growing up. Sometimes, I worry about this tendency myself, about the pressures I feel to be a provider, a wage earner. At the same time, I ponder any hint of selfishness masked within that drive, that in some way I might be putting my career before my family and excusing it with a false feeling of sacrifice. The best I can do is be aware of that duplicity, to try and find some democracy of action in the home as well as contribute some love that adds up to dishes done, garbage out, nappies changed, and a closeness that never ends up withering into what Paul Kelly once sang: "I've lost my tenderness. I've taken bad care of this." (Careless).

I well remember my father's burning words to me on his hard labours and my blossoming education as a young man: how he didn't want me to "end up" like him. As a working-class man, he saw education as a way of lifting me up and out of the struggles he felt condemned to. When I reflect on his efforts and my mother's - and in many ways I belong more to my mother and even my grandmother's influence than my father's - I feel a profound debt towards and sorrow over my privileges, my luck, and an obligation to somehow convert all that into something of worth for my own son, to help propel him forwards. At the same time I want to avoid laying any burden of expectation upon his shoulders. Amid all those conflicting hopes and fears, I find that becoming a father is sending me back to my own family, to my parents, my sisters and my brother, to heal some distances I've allowed to grow in.

Every time fatherhood gets hard, even impossible, moments and then whole days of joy arrive. It's usually the simple things, like when my little boy and I are having a bath together or I am chasing him up the stairs, step by step, laughing. Or when we are watching early-morning television and it's the weekend and Rage is on and a clip for Eminem or Holly Valance appears (my son's current favourites) and we turn the volume up and all dance to the lullabies of the moment, he, his beautiful mother and me, raging along, making a noise and punching our arms in the air shouting "hey". It feels to me right then and there that the family who dances together stays together, and that's about as wise and happy I can be as a father for today ";"I once asked Tom Waits if he felt fatherhood had affected his songwriting in any way?

"Well," he said, pausing to consider the full weight of the question, "it's harder to find the ashtrays."

It's as good an observation as"; "12";"ftl";"Time To Look At The Bigger Picture";"ACT New Zealand";"2003-04-11";"Dr Muriel Newman";;"Chief Youth Court Judge Andrew Beecroft yesterday identified six characteristics of serious youth offenders: 85 percent are male, the majority have no contact with their father, 80 percent do not go to school and have chronic drug or alcohol addictions, most have psychological or psychiatric issues, and 50 percent - up to 90 percent in some courts - are Maori.

He went on to explain that many of these boys have no adult male role model: "14, 15, and 16 year-old boys seek out role models like 'heat seeking missiles'. It's either the leader of the Mongrel Mob or it's a sports coach or it's Dad. But an overwhelming majority of boys who I see in the Youth Court have lost contact with their father. What I'm saying is that I'm dealing in the Youth Court with boys for whom their Dad is simply not there, never has been, gone, vanished and disappeared".

The Judge also went on make a devastating comment: "every single young boy that we have dealt with has been abused as a child".

This is why I am so passionately opposed to public policy and practice that incentivises family breakdown, and excludes fathers from the lives of their children - especially when the evidence is clear that children being brought up in families headed by a sole mother are at far more risk of child abuse than children raised by married parents.

The issue of fatherless children has been in the public eye this week, after revelations that the number of women on the Domestic Purposes Benefit who cannot - or will not - name the father of their children had grown to a record 16,500 this year from just under 14,000 when Labour took office.

In fact, the figures are much worse than that. An update I just received from the Minister shows that the number has grown to 17,117 - or one in six of the women on the DPB. Of those, 50 percent were Maori and 30 percent European.

The reasons why these women have not named the father of their children fall into three basic categories: women who are colluding with the father to avoid the child support system, women who cannot get the father to agree to be named on the child's birth certificate, and women at risk who have been the victims of abuse or attack.

Women who are victims should clearly be protected not penalised, and those violent and abusive fathers punished for their crime.

Nor should the women be penalised who cannot get the fathers to agree to be named on their child's birth certificate. Instead, those fathers should - subject to paternity testing - be made to pay. Any claiming they did not agree to the pregnancy should think again - it takes two to have a baby, and each must take full responsibility.

For the majority of the women who refuse to name the fathers of their children, the sanctions must be even handed: if - having reached a mutually agreeable financial arrangement - a woman shields the father from his child support liability, then she should accept responsibility for becoming the breadwinner herself. It is simply unacceptable for an able-bodied couple to abrogate the full financial support of their children to the taxpayer. Either the father should be made to pay up, or the mother should get a job - and DPB eligibility should be based on the naming of the father.

Inherent in all of this should be the absolute right for named fathers to require paternity testing. At present, a liable father can request paternity testing, but it requires the mother's agreement. In spite of overseas evidence showing 10-20 percent of liable fathers are not the biological father of a child they are providing financial support for, in New Zealand men cannot have the test done as of right.

Where a couple colludes to avoid child support, fathers must be required to either pay their contribution, or engage in community work to help repay taxpayers who are carrying their burden. Those who refuse should face imprisonment. But central to these changes is a thorough review of the Child Support Act. New Zealand's child support system is an anachronism and needs urgent reform. This was called for as early as 1994 by Judge Trapsky, who undertook a comprehensive review and proposed far-reaching changes, which were steadfastly ignored by successive governments. Central to a revamped child support system is the need to take each parent's full financial situation into account, rather than just that of the non-custodial parent. Further, allowance should be made for the time each parent spends with their child. But, most importantly, shared parenting - rather than maternal sole custody - should be introduced as the norm when a couple separates. Shared Parenting is a system that is not only far better for children - giving them the support of both parents, and extended family - but in those countries where it is the law, child support non-compliance is extremely rare. The Labour Government is now talking tough on this issue, but must be careful that the law changes that they are proposing are well informed, balanced and fair. If they follow the plan outlined above then, not only will they be addressing an area of law in urgent need of reform but, they will also be protecting the fundamental right of New Zealand children to know who their father is. --- Dr Muriel Newman, MP for ACT New Zealand, writes a weekly opinion piece on topical issues for a number of community newspapers. You are welcome to forward this column to anyone you think may be interested View the archive of columns at: http://www.act.org.nz/action/murielnewman.html Visit ACT New Zealand's web site: http://www.act.org.nz If you no longer wish to remain on our mailing list please advise by return email Muriel appreciates the opportunity to keep you informed and thanks you for your continued interest in ACT New Zealand. If you are interested in the Shared Parenting Campaign you may like to visit the website: http://www.xoasis.com/~sharedparents/ KATH BELL EXECUTIVE SECRETARY TO DR MURIEL NEWMAN MP BOWEN HOUSE ROOM 10.07 PHONE 64 4 470 6633 FAX 64 4 473 3532 EMAIL kath.bell@parliament.govt.nz ";"Chief Youth Court Judge Andrew Beecroft yesterday identified six characteristics of serious youth offenders: 85 percent are male, the majority have no contact with their father, 80 percent do not go to school and have chronic drug or alcohol addictions, m"; "13";"sup";"The Despised Child Support Agency: A Social Disaster";"Dads On The Air";"2003-03-31";"Sydney 2GLF FM 89.3 9am-12.00";;"Child Support Agencies were first created by the Bolsheviks after the Russian revolution of 1917 as a way of funding the Bolshevik attack on the nuclear family. The Bolsheviks regarded the family as a fundamental unit of capitalism to be destroyed. The Russian child support schemes were one of the main reasons for their massive black economy.

Similar percentages that now operate in the Australian scheme still persist in the Russian family code to this day. Child support schemes never worked in a controlled economy like Russia, and they have never worked in the West either.

Introduced into this country with the help of left wing academics and feminist advocates after Bob Hawke's statement that "no child will live in poverty", the Child Support Scheme has been a complete disaster in Australia. It was one of Bob Hawke's single worst decisions.

The Child Support Agency has driven hundreds of thousands of fathers on to the dole, destroyed the lives of tens upon tens of thousands of parents, and has ultimately failed to deliver. It is as hated by mothers as it is by fathers. The children of separated parents now get less per child than they did prior to the creation of this utterly despised bureaucracy.

This government has done nothing to reform the appallingly managed Agency. Indeed, this government passed legislation exempting the Agency from the Family Law Act. Now it doesn't even have to pretend to be acting in the best interests of children. This government also increased the Agency's contempt towards fathers by reducing them to mere numbers. Thanks to this government's disgraceful conduct the Agency, always one to treat fathers with hostility and contempt, will no longer speak to any father who doesn't provide a tax file number or similar number as an identifier.

Instead of reforming the hated "Collection and Suicide Agency", this government has begun arresting fathers fleeing the country in search of a better life.

This is the same government that refuses to look at the death rate associated with the Agency.

Although child support schemes are associated with high death rates amongst separated men wherever they operate, the Agency has refused to release figures on how many of its clients die each day, claiming it is under no legislative obligation to do so. The Agency that is telling parents how to "manage their responsibilities" cannot even be bothered to count its own dead!!!

Fathers groups have consistently claimed for years that at least three of the Agency's clients suicide every day.

The government's reaction? The responsible Minister Larry Anthony has acknowledged that he doesn't know how many of the Agency's clients die each day. But what is worse, he has no apparent plans to find out!! Critics regard this lackadaisical approach as both morally reprehensible and nothing short of criminal negligence.

Wayne Miller says: "I had been divorced only 18 months yet I was tearing my hair out! I still have a reasonably good relationship with my ex-wife, yet I felt I was still getting on the wrong side of the CSA. For example, when we agreed that I would pay a lesser amount due to being off work from illness, she rang to advise the CSA and was stunned to hear the woman say: 'Do you want us to go after him? You don't have to agree to this you know.' "

Worse still, I started to get paranoid about even checking the letterbox, for fear there would be another CSA letter telling me I owed someone even more money. I started feeling like a second-class citizen, always at the beck and call of some faceless bureaucrat on the end of a telephone line. Conversations with CSA staff were not entered onto their computer system; information given by one CSA staff member would be completely contradicted or dismissed by another.

And I have a number of women friends who benefit from the CSA system, with one even telling me (she has two children), "It's ridiculous really. I get more than I need. It's really very, very good for me."

By September last year, after a week of living on home-made vegetable soup for dinner, I'd had enough. Rather than whinge about the CSA, I decided to do something about it. I built a website with a questionnaire with a view to testing the water. Was I the only one who felt like this - worthless, unimportant, living (financially) from day to day?

Six months on, there have been over 100 responses to my questionnaire - from men, their second wives, their children, their parents. And I've found I'm one of the lucky ones.

For example: One response:

"The stress my partner & I have been put under is unbelievable. Sometimes I cannot believe we have lasted. I have had threats from debt collectors and one guy even said to my wife - 'Can't YOU make any contributions to the Child Support debt, you do make more money than your husband.' He then told my wife - they don't really care where the money comes from, as long as they get it".

Another response: "I have tried to commit suicide a few occasions because of work and CSA depressions and I felt that there is no way out and I do not like the way the way CSA is designed. I am in arrears of $15,000.00 since January 2001."

An alarming number of men are on anti-depressants or have attempted suicide. Many say they live on or under the poverty line. And nobody has any praise whatsoever for the CSA or the system it operates under.

What stuns me is that nobody seems to take into account that the non-custodial parent, who quite often walks out of the matrimonial home with very little, suffering the strain of no longer having regular contact with his or her children, is expected to start from scratch with this heavy burden placed upon them. How do you start again when it's impossible to save? It's extremely difficult to buy goods for your new home and buying clothes for work is a luxury. And a holiday.what's that?

What I don't understand is how one formula can fit all situations. Time and time again people complain that they are going out backwards while the custodial parent remarries, works, with her new spouse has two incomes and still gets generous maintenance payments. Surely there should some type of means testing. Or even better, some fairness.

Check out the website at www.god.net.au/divorce and have your say. I'm certainly going to have mine.

Under the auspices of the Mens Rights Agency Bill Rogan, one of the country's many outraged fathers, has been documenting the activities of the Child Support Agency and has recently filed his third report. These can be found at their site www.australianmensrights.com under the child support button.

He says it is interesting to note one case of CSA's treatment of one our Service Personnel as this Government takes us down the path to War. A soldier doesn't have to go to war in order to have his life destroyed.

Bill Rogan says: "The MRA hereby advises the Minister for Family and Community Services, that they hold him responsible for the activities of the CSA. That staff acting as agents of the Government are in breach of a number of Federal Parliamentary Acts and Operational Guidelines and Procedures."

One of the most serious acts that has come to our attention and one that deserves special consideration is a breach of the Crimes Act where CSA staff have used blackmail and threats of retaliation against a payer should he exercise his legislated right to lodge a request for reassessment. These are serious issues and evidence of a lack of accountability by the Child Support Agency in its execution of duty on behalf of the Government and hence voting Public of Australia.

Please note that we will continue to report on and raise public awareness of the activities of the CSA and hold it accountable for its actions and objectionable treatment of the Voting Public at large.

Below is an example with which the CSA treats fathers, in this case a man who served for many years protecting his country. Now, like so many other soldiers maltreated by government, he wonders exactly what he was protecting!

Bill Rogan and MRA identify the following breaches in this case: Failure to accept documentary evidence as presented.Failure to act without bias. Failure of Duty of Care. Breaches under the Public Service Act Code of Conduct by not acting in impartial and consistent manner. Failure of process to act in consistent and correct manner. Breach of C$A Charter. Incorrectly collecting monies. Misappropriating funds. Lack of competence. Lack of integrity of CSA staff.

"When he was 16 he joined the Navy and for the next 14 years of his life served the call of the Australian Government on Oberon Submarines. During his time he entered a marriage and through this he was lucky enough to become a father of two beautiful children. Little did he realise for if he ever fell out of marriage he would be segregated from the rest of society and then treated so harshly by what can only be called a dictatorship regime which seems to be fully supported by both parties of parliament. This agency he refers to and I am sure most politicians' cringe when they receive letters about it, is called the Child Support Agency (C$A). He left the Navy to spend more time with his children, then his marriage broke up and he has now had the unpleasant task of being forced to deal with the C$A, which until separated he didn't even know existed. In the next few short paragraphs (believe me these are short) we will explain his not insignificant story to you. Even as I write this he is still experiencing significant problems with this agency, which goes under the banner 'Helping parents manage their responsibilities'".

"He separated from his partner after 13 years of marriage. The Ex partner falsified her divorce papers to the Family Court to try to have the 12-month separation date brought forward. When he told the Family Court the truth, they believed his version and cancelled her application for divorce until the 12 months had past. This period started in Feb 2002. Yet the C$A as expected are only too happy to believe the Mother and assume the date is Sept 2001 His Ex partner and two children resided in WA at the time of separation and in March 2000 his Ex partner tried to sneak out of the state and move to NSW. He prevented this through the Family Court until proper contact orders were drawn up and agreed to by both the children's mother and father. The consent Orders were properly registered in the Family Court. Prior to this agreement and still now the C$A have him paying approx $880.00 per month in Child Support."

"When his children did leave to move to NSW in March 2002 and knowing it was only two weeks until the Easter holidays when the father could have contact with his children it was decided that he would fly to NSW for that contact to avoid excessive travel for the children on this occasion. The contact orders allow for the father to see the children each school term holiday. He filled in and sent off a request for change to Child Support as he now had contact costs associated with his children. These were and are approx. $6000.00 per year mainly comprising airfares. His claim wasn't excessive and he didn't include phone calls and hotels and car hire even though he could. He thought he was doing the right thing by his children."

"The C$A disagreed and wouldn't lower child support even by a small amount, because they said he couldn't show a past history of visiting the children or them coming to him in WA. Because of this decision he had could not afford to see his children for the Easter holidays. When he explained to C$A about the time frames, the C$A reviewing Officer (Susan Mellor's) said it was unfortunate and she could see that he did want contact with his children but they wouldn't help. He also explained he had debts from the marriage and he was spending more each month than making in income and her answer was he should have had better financial advice prior to separation. God bless her I wish I had that wisdom and hindsight."

"After receiving her final and official response to his request for change where every reason he had asked for had been rejected, he then submitted a report with the CSA's Objections Unit. (an internal review panel supposedly offering a cost effective way of delivering a just outcome) It would be laughable thinking that justice will be served by an internal CSA Objection Review process if the result of their deliberations were not so tragic."

"Self regulation rarely works and in this instance it is unlikely to deliver justice for those who are forced to operate under the CSA mandate. Work colleagues would be naturally reluctant to find other colleague's decisions biased or lacking in informed judgement. The objection took over 90 days to deliver a decision that amounted to bad luck and we look forward to seeing you go bankrupt.Through his last two reviews with the C$A, they say they make their decisions based on evidence before them. Both times they send off to the Mother asking for her input and each time she fails to even bother to reply, but somehow through government supported legislation they always find some reason to not decrease the amount of money he pays each month so that he can afford the travel to see his children.He has also produced court documents showing he has his children for approximately 11 weeks of the year and even still they fail to believe he has any contact, as he hasn't shown enough past history. In the very near future he will have his children for 4 weeks of the Christmas holiday period. For this pleasure he is still required to pay the Mother the full $880.00 for this month. But yet still cover all expenses of gaining contact and supporting the children over this month."

"As he says, it makes it so hard to have a happy Christmas but we all manage to always smile for the sake of our children.CSA make suggestions that if he works overtime and he would certainly like to so to assist with paying for his children's airfares and to be able to provide for things when he does have contact with his children and get out of debt. Yet, if he does, the tax man takes his cut, C4A takes theirs and not much left in the wallet after all of that. So he keeps going further and further into debt and is now on the verge on Bankruptcy and quitting his job and then looking towards Social Security payments. All this with the blessing of the C$A. There have been many studies conducted into the cost of raising children and these come up with figures like $384.00 per month for one child and a certain amount for two and yet in some miraculous way the amount that is required to support and raise children rises to unsustainable levels under the child support formula."

"After 13 years on Oberon Submarines he has seen and experienced many things, but nothing compares to the hardship that is placed upon people like himself and thousands of others all around Australia and what appears to have the full support of most of our elected Members of Parliament. He has never seen a more protected and uncaring group of people until he came in contact with the Child Support Agency. When looking back now on his past and holding the Australian Service Medal he was awarded, he wonders just what he was protecting while on a Submarine. He truly hopes it was not these laws and this legislation that C$A uses to control and exchange maximum payments from one party to the other as if money was their only interest."

And for another example of how the government treats its soldiers, take a look at a recent judgement in the Federal Magistrates Service:

E&R(2003)FMCAfam55 which can be found under New Judgements at their website www.fms.gov.au

This soldier lost his bid to stop his ex-wife moving with the children to Darwin. The FMS saw fit to deny him what many would regard as any significant relationship with his children, and to create a situation where any contact would be enormously expensive, all because the mother declared she wouldn't be happy in Sydney. The Federal Magistrates Service has totally failed to differentiate itself from the Family Court. The poor quality of its judgements are now up on line for all to see. It goes without saying that the last thing the beleagured taxpayers of Australia needed was a replica of the Family Court, but that's what they've got, at the cost of many tens of millions of dollars. The FMS is a failed experiment and is already in urgent need of reform or abolition.

";"Child Support Agencies were first created by the Bolsheviks after the Russian revolution of 1917 as a way of funding the Bolshevik attack on the nuclear family. The Bolsheviks regarded the family as a fundamental unit of capitalism to be destroyed. The Ru"; "14";"pas";"


The Parental Alienation Syndrome: An Analysis of Sixteen Selected Cases

JOURNAL OF DIVORCE & REMARRIAGE, Vol. 21, p 21-38";"1994-01-01";"John Dunne & Marsha Hedrick";;"ABSTRACT.

This study analyzed sixteen cases which appeared to meet Dr. Richard Gardner's criteria for parental alienation syndrome as set forth in his 1987 book. These cases showed a wide diversity of characteristics but Gardner's criteria were useful in differentiating these cases from other post-divorce difficulties. Traditional interventions were ineffective in altering the alienation.

Gardner (1985) has described cases of intense rejection of a parent by children after divorce which he referred to as "parental alienation syndrome" (PAS). He defined this syndrome as a disturbance occurring in children who are preoccupied with depreciation and criticism of a parent and denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated (Gardner, 1987). He describes these children as "obsessed with hatred of a parent."

The "parental alienation syndrome" has rapidly become a focus of controversy within the mental health and the legal profession. It has been raised, as well as attacked, in cases involving allegations of domestic violence, parental substance abuse, and child sexual abuse, often strongly polarizing various mental health professionals involved in the cases. Advocacy groups for mothers, fathers, and sexual abuse victims have often been recruited into the conflict.

Very little is described in the literature about children who reject parents following marital separation. Jacobs (1988)describes a case in which five children rejected their father, apparently in response to their mother's extreme narcissistic rage. Wallerstein (1984) noted one child at the ten year follow-up, who rejected her mother, with whom she was living, after her father's attempt to change custody failed. Fidler (1988) also noted one case of a child who refused to see the noncustodial parent among the sample of 76 children referred to a family court clinic.

More common in the literature is the failure to mention a child's rejection of a parent as one of the outcomes of divorce. Pearson and Thoennes (1990) noted a relatively high frequency of no or sporadic overnight visits with a non-residential parent. In 40% of the maternal sole custody and 30% of the paternal sole custody, the children had no overnight visits with a non-residential parent. In joint legal custody, 7% of the children living with their mothers and 20% of the children living with their fathers reported no overnights with the other parent. Although this is a relatively high frequency, the authors made no mention of the children's attitudes about their parents or the reason for no visits. Kalter et al. (1989) did not report any cases of the child rejecting a parent in their sample of 56 recruited pairs of children and mothers. Similarly, Oppenheimer et al. (1990) noted no cases in their sample of 46 elementary aged children, all living with their mothers, who rejected either parent. Review articles by Zaslow (1988) and by Heatherington et at. (1989) make no reference to parent alienation or to children rejecting a parent as an outcome following divorce.

Rather than specifically identifying children's rejection of a parent, several authors made reference to difficulties arising when a child aligns with a parent or attempts to step into the role of protecting a vulnerable parent. For example, Johnston et at. (1989) noted that large numbers of children attempt to align with one or both angry parents which simultaneously helps the child feel more important and more vulnerable. They indicated that the "typical" response of an older child was to be negative toward the other parent to some degree and to perhaps reject that parent or refuse to visit. In another paper, Johnston and her colleagues (Johnston et al. 1987) noted a tendency of children to become protective toward a fragile parent, the frequency of role reversals, and a tendency to take responsibility in the parental disputes. Jacobs (1988) and Wallerstein (1985) refer to the intense rage of the narcissistically injured parent as being critical in the child's attitudes about the other parent. Wallerstein also refers to the pathological dependence of a parent on a child to protect against feelings of loss as being important in the child's emerging need to protect that parent from intolerable feelings. Oppenheimer and colleagues (1990) concluded that the child's perceptions of parental attitudes and their own beliefs about the divorce have a significant influence on their post-separation adjustment, presumably also including the degree of hostility they felt toward one or both parents.

The authors have been unable to locate any studies systematically analyzing the children and their families when one or more of the children in the family have rejected a parent after divorce. Such an analysis would be a necessary first step in attempting to validate Gardner's "parental alienation syndrome" and his hypothesis about etiology. This study was undertaken to explore characteristics of cases which appeared to meet Gardner's criteria, to search for commonalities among the cases, and to alert mental health professional to this infrequent but serious outcome in children after divorce.

All cases presented here were referred to one or both of the authors for forensic evaluation or treatment of a seemingly intractable situation, Cases were selected for the study on the basis of at least one child in the family having intensely rejected one of the parents on the basis of trivial or unsubstantiated accusations, apparently meeting Gardner's criteria for "parental alienation syndrome," There was no attempt to match these cases with a control group of children whose parents had also separated and/or divorced.

METHOD

The sixteen cases in this study were taken from the caseloads of basis that they met the majority of the criteria set forth by Gardner, (1985, 1987), in his description of the parental alienation syndrome. Those criteria are as follows.

Child is preoccupied with depreciation and criticism of the parent that is unjustified and/or exaggerated.

Conscious, subconscious, and unconscious factors within the alienating parent contribute to the child's alienation from the other.

Denigration of the parent has the quality of a litany, a rehearsed quality. There is phraseology not usually used by the child.

Child justifies the alienation with memories of minor altercations experienced in die relationship with the parent which are trivial and which most children would have forgotten. When asked, the children are unable to give more compelling reasons.

The alienating parent will concur with the children and support their belief that these reasons justify the alienation.

Hatred of the parent is most incense when the alienating parent and the child are in the presence of the alienated parent. However, when the child is alone with the alienated parent, the child may exhibit hatred, neutrality, or expressions of affection.

If the child begins to enjoy him/herself with the alienated parent, there may be episodes of "stiffening up" and resuming withdrawal and animosity, as though they have done something wrong. Alternatively, the child may ask the alienated parent not to reveal his/her affection to the other parent.

The degree of animosity in the child's behavior and verbalizations may vary with the degree of proximity to the alienating parent.

Hatred of the parent often extends to include die alienated parent's extended family, with even less justification by the child.

The alienating parent is generally unconcerned with the psychological effects on the child of the rejection of parent and extended family.

The child's hatred of the alienated parent is often impervious to evidence which contradicts his/her position.

The child's position seemingly lacks ambivalence. The alienated parent is "all bad," the alienating parent is "all good."

The child is apt to exhibit a guiltless disregard for the feelings of the alienated parent.

The child fears the loss of the love of the alienating parent.

By choosing cases which met the majority of these criteria, the authors were selecting for situations which embodied severe parental alienation, rather than the more common and more moderate instances of loyalty conflicts which are widely evident in the children of conflictual divorcing parents.

In an effort to better understand the sub-population of divorcing families who manifest an alienation of one parent, these cases were analyzed and data obtained regarding the following variables:

length of the relationship or marriage prior to separation.

the age of the children at separation.

the length of time' between separation and the onset of the alienation.

the number of children in each family constellation who exhibited the dynamic.

the sex of the alienating parent.

the sex of the children.

the effectiveness of various interventions in remedying the alienation.

Case #1

A had just turned six years old when she was referred for treatment by her Guardian Ad Litem. She was an only child from the father's second marriage and the mother's first marriage. She attended the first grade at a private school for gifted children and seemed to get along well with peers.

The parents had separated one and a half years prior to the referral for treatment, initially the parents agreed that A would live with her mother and be with her father on alternate weekends from Saturday morning until Sunday evening, as well as holiday and vacation time. However, A almost immediately became resistant to leaving her mother and going with her father. At times the father had to pick her up and carry her to the car kicking and screaming. These difficulties paralleled an increase in the mother's accusations about the father's harassment and alcohol abuse. There were several court attempts to increasingly supervise the contacts between the parents and the visitation time with the father. Eventually, each of the parents was ordered into individual therapy, as was A. In addition, a GAL was appointed and a supervisor for the visitations was assigned.

None of these efforts seemed to alter the progressive rejection of the father by A in clinical sessions. She was initially guarded and resistant, her affect flat and joyless. It was reported by the supervisor that during her visits with her father she was relaxed and playful, although she seemed to most enjoy spending time with her father's live-in girlfriend. However, when it came time to return to her mother, she became quite panicked aid insisted on taking off any makeup or clothes that might indicate that she had had fun at her father's. When she returned to her mother, she consistently complained about each visit. Her play themes in therapy excluded any reference to men or fathers.

A's mother was a forty-two year old medical professional who had not worked since A's birth. She was supported by a large stipend from her ex-husband and devoted all her energies to A. She claimed that A became very upset whenever she talked about the possibility of going back to work and used this as a rationalization for not returning to work. Despite her intense hostility and her many accusations toward the father, the mother confided that she continued to love him and was quite jealous of the father's new relationship. She insisted that A have nothing to do with the father's girlfriend and forbade the therapist to talk with the girlfriend. This mother viewed her daughter as unique and special, frequently insisting on special treatment or considerations. She had no insight into her role in alienating her daughter from her father and blamed everything on the father's aberrant behavior.

The father was a well-paid physician and accomplished outdoorsman who was highly thought of in both his profession and avocation. Although very angered by his ex-wife's accusations, he tended to respond passively and did not want to challenge her directly At times, however, his anger would erupt during confrontations by her. He saw his ex-wife as obsessed with their daughter and deluded by her own fantasies. He described his daughter as having two personalities, one when she was under the influence of her mother, when she acted like an extension of her mother's ego, and another when she was with him, a happy and playful child. At one point the father was allowed to take his daughter on an extended vacation where they reportedly had a very good time together. However, difficulties re-emerged immediately upon the daughter returning to her mother's home.

Two years after the separation and with no progress evident despite treatment for all three individuals, the father agreed to have no further contact with his daughter. This was viewed as preferable to continuing the conflict which appeared to have no resolution for her. He continued to make voluntary contributions to a trust fund for her and sent her letters occasionally, which he hoped she would mad after she became an adult.

Case #2

F was a twelve year old girl and G a ten year old boy at the time of this evaluation. They had been placed together in foster care following their detailed descriptions of sexual and physical abuse by their father and physical abuse by their step-mother, with whom they primarily resided. Despite the children's statements and wishes, the court did not place them with the mother because of allegations that she had instigated their statements against the father. The children had only supervised contact with both parents during this evaluation.

The mother had initiated the marital separation six years prior and the father had resisted the divorce. Following the separation, the mother made accusations of physical abuse of herself by the father and on the day prior to the commencement of the divorce trial, the mother made allegations of sexual abuse of the children by the father. The trial was postponed and several professionals evaluated the children. Those evaluations substantiated that the daughter had been sexually abused by the mother's boyfriend's (now husband's) son but did not substantiate sexual abuse by the father. The custody of the children was subsequently awarded to the father. A year following the divorce, the mother made another report to CPS alleging physical abuse and possible sexual abuse of the children by the father. After investigation the allegations were dismissed as unsubstantiated. One year later the mother attempted to modify custody but this request was denied. in the same year, approximately three years after the separation, both parents remarried and all four parties were ordered to participate together in an attempt at counseling.

Approximately one year after the counseling, the daughter was interviewed by a CPS worker after she reported to her school that she was afraid to return to her father's home following a weekend visitation with the mother. After investigation, the case was again closed. Two months later, during a visit with their mother, the children made die statements to neighbors and later to the CPS caseworker which prompted this evaluation with one of the authors.

Psychological testing of the mother produced clinical scares elevated beyond the normal range. The clinical pattern suggested that she was immature, narcissistic, self-indulgent as well as passive-dependent. The testing also suggested that she was likely to be suspicious of the motivations of others, avoidant of deep emotional involvement, angry, argumentative, stubborn, and prone to externalization. Psychological testing of the father was not elevated beyond die normal range. His normal range profile suggested that he was apt to be naive, hopeful, optimistic, and suggestible with a persistent need to be liked by others and a tendency to avoid confrontation and negativity. There was also some evidence of insecurity, feelings of inadequacy, and a tendency to anticipate rejection. Because the allegations involved the father's current wife, she was also evaluated. She was found to be an exceptionally well-functioning individual.

The father's childhood history was benign and he enjoyed a good relationship with his parents as an adult. However, the mother's history included a very disturbed relationship with her own parents and considerable parental dysfunction during her childhood.

At the time of the evaluation, the mother was a fulltime homemaker, with one child front her second marriage at home. She volunteered at an abused women's shelter and through this activity had a wide circle of friends who offered her considerable support. The father and step-mother were both postal workers who were pursuing educational goals on a part time basis, were active in the schools, and well-regarded by neighbors. They had voluntarily sought counseling for the family several months prior to the allegations because of the degree of conflict between the two households and the effect of that on the children.

Although the children initially made detailed statements about physical and sexual abuse to professionals, during this evaluation their statements were very general and contradictory of earlier statements. Both children exhibited much more affect and energy around statements having to do with the divorce conflict than with abuse, i.e., child support issues and values about living in urban rather than rural areas. Their "memories" of various events appeared to be highly contaminated by their mother's issues and perceptions.

This evaluation failed to substantiate abuse of the children by the father or the step-mother and implicated the mother in excessively influencing the children's statements against the father. Following a trial, the judge returned the children to their father's home. The mother's contact with the children was temporarily suspended while the children were reinvolved with the therapist with whom they had previously been in counseling. The mother was then asked to initiate gradual contact with the children through the therapist via letters and phone calls. However, after a brief time, the mother moved out of the state and did not follow through with supervised contact. The children have had no contact with their mother for more than one year. Their therapist reports that their overall functioning is much better than prior to the allegations, although both children have difficulty understanding their mother's failure to maintain contact with them. Their therapist has described the children's fabrications of abuse as an attempt on their part to consolidate a very tenuous relationship with their mother. She felt it was made clear to the children that acceptance by their mother was contingent upon rejection of the father and they appeared willing to sacrifice a very secure relationship with the father and step-mother in order to resolve the issue of their mother's commitment to them.

Case #3

This case involved a girl, M. who was two years, six months at the time of the evaluation. There had been a long series of allegations by the mother toward the father beginning in the early months of the pregnancy. The most recent of these allegations was that the father was sexually abusing the child during the limited visits that the child had with the father at the paternal grandparents' home. CPS had been involved twice and made a preliminary conclusion that sexual abuse was probable based on the child's statement that "daddy hurt my butt."

The father was a 24 year old blue-collar worker whose work often necessitated that lie be out of town for three to four months at a time. Both clinical evaluation and psychological testing suggested a somewhat immature, narcissistic, and impulsive young man. He viewed Iris ex-wife as deceitful, unpredictable, and emotionally volatile. Although he had had two DWI's, he tended to minimize his drinking pattern and deny that Ire had a problem. A detailed psychosexual history was essentially unremarkable. He had dated relatively infrequently and tended to be attracted to women for superficial attributes. His involvement with M's mother was his first serious relationship. There was no history of sexually inappropriate behavior.

The mother was a 24 year old woman who had worked occasionally as a clerical worker. At the time of the evaluation she lived with her parents, who supplemented the child support payments and funded her protracted legal battle with her ex-husband. The mother's family was dominated by the maternal grandmother from whom the mother had never emancipated. Psychological testing and clinical interview suggested a person with strong narcissistic, histrionic, and dependent traits. She appeared willing to exploit others without regard to their feelings. She had a long history of avoiding disapproval by deflecting blame to others. The extensive legal file seemed to document her willingness to fabricate data to prevent her daughter from visiting her father.

Many of her allegations had some element of truth but always represented the worst possible interpretation of her ex-husband's behavior or character. A few months before the allegations about sexual abuse, the mother had called the local police department, and discovered there was an outstanding warrant for the father because he had failed to show for a summons on a DWI. She waited until the father had made arrangements to pick up their daughter for a visit, notified the local police, and arranged to have him arrested as he appeared for the visit.

M had a history of constipation following her visits with her father. Several hours after her return from one visit, and after having played in a wading pool with several other children, M was noticed to have several abrasions on her back. Later that same day, she was described as having a purplish protrusion of her anus at which time M stated that her father "hurt my butt." Subsequent evaluation by a pediatrician trained in sexual abuse issues was ambiguous. However, a later colposcopic exam of the anus showed multiple angulations, suggestive of repealed anal penetration, but also occurring frequently in children without a history of anal penetration. A thorough psychiatric evaluation of this family concluded that there was evidence of parental alienation syndrome and did not substantiate the likelihood of sexual abuse.

M was referred to an experienced female child therapist. M subsequently revealed in more detail that the father had poked her in the anus with his finger an several occasions when he was in his bedroom at the grandparents' home. However, M gave a different description on re-evaluation with the original evaluator. She had no signs of sexualized behavior and in all other ways her development was progressing normally. She seemed acutely aware of her mother's dislike of her father. It was concluded that this case represented parental alienation syndrome.

Case #4

C was a sixteen year old girl, D a twelve year old boy, and E a nine year old girl at the time of the evaluation which occurred a year and a half after the marital separation. All three children were refusing to have any contact with their father and had not seen him for over a year at the time of the evaluation.

Prior to the separation. the children spent extensive time with other caretakers because of their parents' strenuous work schedules. There was evidence of poor supervision and lack of involvement by both parents during that time. However, all three children had been very attached to their father by all reports. The father initiated the separation after sixteen years of marriage because he had become involved with a woman with whom he worked. The mother was distraught over the separation and experienced a brief episode of psychotic depression characterized by delusions, memory loss, and disorientation. She then precipitously moved the children to another town several hours from the father. The children saw their father for several months after the separation on brief visits. However, when it became apparent that he would not return to the household and was seeing the woman with whom he had become involved, all three children eventually refused to have contact with him.

The mother seemed unable to differentiate the father's unwillingness to continue their relationship from his desire to continue to parent the children. She repeatedly referred to her husband's "abandonment of the family" and had conducted a "burial ceremony" during which she and the children symbolically buried the father so that the "new family," which did not include the father, could move forward.

After repeatedly being frustrated in his attempt to make contact with the children, the father initiated an evaluation through Family Court. At the time of the evaluation, D had gained 80 pounds since the separation and was now 100% over his optimal weight. The mother explained the children's decision to have no contact with their father as resulting from their being in Catholic schools and therefore intolerant of the idea of divorce. She contended that she had encouraged the children to see their father but to no avail. However, information from neighbors and letters written by her to the father strongly suggested that she was motivated to sever the children's contact with the father and quite vociferous regarding her animosity towards him in their presence.

Psychological testing suggested that the father relied on denial for dealing with conflict, was somewhat oversensitive in interpersonal relationships, but otherwise outgoing and sociable. There was also the suggestion of some narcissism in his dealings with others. The mother's psychological testing was invalidated by considerable defensiveness characteristic of individuals who deny psychological problems, are unsophisticated psychologically, and who claim excessive virtue. The testing also suggested that she was apt to be inflexible, unrealistic. and very needful of being seen by others in a positive light.

The evaluation concluded that it was the mother's inability to differentiate her own needs from those of the children that had led to the children's alienation from their father. The evaluator recommended that the custody of D and E be immediately and temporarily changed to the father for two months while the mother sought therapy for herself and C. However, the court denied that recommendation but did order visitations to begin immediately for all three children. Only after several months delay did the children begin therapy and brief visits with their father. Following several more months of therapy and contact with the father only during the therapy sessions, D asked to stay over night with his father. The mother reacted with rage, as though D had betrayed her. However, with the support of his counselor and father, 13 was able to follow through on his wish to spend alternate weekends with his father. C, however, continued to refuse to have any contact with her father and E continued to have only brief daytime visits on alternate weekends. The mother found her son's proactive relationship with his father intolerable and within nine months sent him to live with the father claiming D had become abusive and unmanageable.

RESULTS

In fourteen of the sixteen cases in this study, the mother had primary custody and was the alienating parent. In one case, the non-custodial mother was the alienating parent and in one case, the non-custodial father was the alienating parent.

There were a total of 26 children (14 girls and 12 boys) in these 16 families and 21 of the 26 children appeared to be involved in the alienation dynamic with a parent. Twelve of the alienated children were female and nine were male.

The length of the marriage prior to final separation was tabulated. In two of the cases, there was no marriage and in three more cases the marriages lasted less than six months. One marriage ended after four years, six had survived between five and ten years, and four had lasted between eleven and fifteen years.

The ages of the alienated children at the time of parental separation ranged from in utero (four cases) to fourteen years of age and appeared evenly distributed across age brackets.

The cases were analyzed to determine the approximate amount of time between the separation and the onset of alienation, as determined by the clinician retrospectively. In five of the cases, onset appeared to be coincident with the separation. In two of the cases, alienation appeared within six months after separation. In four more cases, the alienation became apparent from one to two years after separation. In the final four cases, the alienation occurred between three and six years after separation.

In looking at interventions to deal with the alienation from a parent, a wide range of both legal and clinical processes were identified. In three of the cases, a change of custody away from the alienating parent or a strict limitation of that parent's contact with the child(ren) was implemented by the court system. In all three cases, this was successful in eradicating the alienation. There were no cases in which a change of custody occurred but the alienation continued. In the other thirteen cases, various interventions were tried, ranging from therapy for each of the parents individually, therapy for the parents together, therapy for the children with the alienated parent, therapy fur the children with the alienating parent, and the assignment of a Guardian Ad Litem to the case. In two of these cases, the children were evaluated as having experienced "some" or "minimal" improvement in their relationship with the alienated parent. In the other eleven cases, there was no improvement and in two of these cases, the alienation was evaluated as "worse" after these interventions.

DISCUSSION

These cases exemplify the wide diversity and complex nature of the "parental alienation syndrome" as it is played out in parental access disputes. In contrast to Gardner's (1985, 1987, 1992) anecdotal description of cases, this study attempted to analyze the salient characteristics of selected cases meeting Gardner's criteria for parental alienation. These cases suggest that the syndrome can occur without reference to the length of the relationship prior to separation, can occur immediately following separation, or not until many years after the divorce. It can occur in very young children as well as with teens who have previously enjoyed a lengthy and positive post-divorce relationship with the alienated parent. It can involve all children in the family constellation or only one of the children. The alienating parent is most often the custodial mother but alienation by non-custodial fathers or mothers was also observed.

Then was a wide range in the severity of symptoms of PAS. It may be true that some elements of PAS are present to some degree in a majority of divorcing families. Our findings are consistent with those of Johnston et al. (1989) in that all of our cases were entrenched in intense post-divorce conflicts. As such they may represent a severe form of a psychological response common in the children of divorcing parents and may not deserve to be classified as a distinct syndrome,

Jacobs (1988) and Wallerstein (1985) refer to narcissistic injury as the motivating force for the alienating parent. Jacobs (1988) also suggests a form of "sibling rivalry" between the divorcing parents for the control and love of the child and Wallerstein (1985) suggests a pathological dependence of a parent on the child to protect against feelings of loss as another underlying dynamic. This is supported by the observations in this study that all of the alienating parents experience intense dysphoric feelings which they blamed on their former spouses. Predominantly the alienating parents experienced intense narcissistic injuries. However, issues of "sibling rivalry" and pathological defense against feelings of loss were also present in at least some of the alienating parents. In some cases, more than one motivating factor appeared to be involved. It should be underscored, however, that these motivations are often strikingly out of the consciousness of the alienating parent, many of whom were adept at coloring their motivations and behaviors in socially acceptable ways to themselves as well as to professionals.

Contrary to what might easily be assumed by professionals, this study suggests that PAS does not necessarily signify dysfunction in either the alienated parent or in the relationship between that parent and child. PAS appears to be primarily a Function of the pathology of the alienating parent and that parent's relationship with the children. Children are apt to be susceptible to alienation when they perceive that the alienating parent's emotional survival or the survival of their relationship with the alienating parent is dependent upon the child's rejection of the other parent. This is consistent with the finding of Johnston et al. (1987) in which they noted a tendency for children to be protective toward a fragile parent when the parents were entrenched in disputes over custody and access.

Efforts to evaluate these issues based on complaints by the child or one parent are generally fruitless. Assessment of the entire family dynamics, with an awareness of Gardner's descriptions of parental alienation, appears useful in understanding these complaints and differentiating them from alienation resulting from cases of abuse or other deficits in the alienated parent and his/her relationship with the children.

This study also suggests that traditional therapies and interventions are not successful in rehabilitating children affected by this syndrome. Although the courts have been reluctant to take drastic action, especially when this is contrary to a child's explicit wishes, in this study only a change in custody to tile alienated parent was successful in remedying tile alienation. It should be noted, however, that in two of the cases in this study in which the court was willing to take this step, and one case hi which a change of custody occurred voluntarily, the children eventually had little contact with the alienating parent. This suggests that the PAS dynamic may be so toxic that a relationship with both parents may not be possible, or in the child's best interests, in cases of severe alienation. Each case must be evaluated on its own merits and the identification of a parental alienation syndrome is not sufficient, in and of itself, to justify changes in custody. Full evaluation of a child's situation and relative parental strengths and weaknesses may identify instances when it is in the best interest of tile child to remain with the alienating parent and to have little or no contact with the alienated parent in order to reduce the effects of continued conflict on the child.

Although the "parental alienation syndrome" was only first described in 1985 (Gardner, 1985), the question arises as to whether PAS has always been evident in the divorcing population, but unrecognized, or whether it is a recent phenomenon, perhaps increasing in prevalence. Although this study did not address this question, it is possible that both may be true. With social changes creating parity between parents in the eyes of the court, a mother's traditional role with her children may be undermined. This may be perceived by the mother as a considerable psychological threat which can only be dealt with by developing a pathological alliance with the child.

Professionals who work with the divorcing population, either as therapists, or evaluators, need to be aware of the symptoms of PAS and the difficulties that these cases present for the families and for the court system. A failure to appropriately identify and intervene in the early stages of these cases may result in the alienating parent being given professional support for his/her position, reinforcing the child's need to maintain or expand complaints about the alienated parent. This has the capacity to more firmly entrench the syndrome and to enhance the severity of the dynamics.

Further study is necessary to assess the prevalence, the range of severity, the effect on development, and the longterm outcome for children who remain alienated from one of their parents. As this study suggests, very little is known about what interventions would allow a child to have functional relationships with both parents in such highly polarized cases. It is the obvious hope that this study would prompt others to systematically evaluate series of cases, perhaps clarifying the etiology and evolution of the syndrome. Moreover, larger populations of divorcing families need to be examined for the prevalence of partial or complete alienation of a child from a parent. Retrospective studies of adults who have remained alienated throughout their childhood development may also be useful in understanding this syndrome and its consequences.

REFERENCES

1. Fidler, B.J., Ph.D., & E.B. Saunders, Ed D. (1988). Children's adjustment during custody/access disputes: Relation to custody arrangements, gender and age of child. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 33(6), 517-523.

2. Gardner, R.A. (1985). Recent trends in divorce and custody litigation. Academy Forum, 29 (2), 3-7.

3. Gardner, R.A. (1987). The parental alienation syndrome and the differentiation between fabricated and genuine sexual abuse. Creative Therapeutics, Cresskill, N.J.

4. Heatherington, M., M. Stanley-Hagan. & E.R. Anderson (1989). Marital transitions: A child's perspective. American Psychologist, 44(2), 303-312

5. Jacobs, J.E., M.D. (1988). Euripides medea: A psychodynamic model of severe divorce pathology. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 42(2), 308-319.

6. Johnston, J.R., R. Gonzales, & L.G. Campbell. (1987). Ongoing post divorce conflict and child disturbance. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 15(4), 493-509.

7. Johnston, J.R., M. Kline, & J.M. Tschann. (1989). Ongoing divorce conflict: : Effects on children of joint custody and frequent access. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 59 (4), 576-592.

8. Kalter, N., Ph.D. (1989). Long-term effects of divorce on children: A developmental vulnerability model. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57 (4), 587-600.

9. Oppenheimer, K., Ph.D., R.J. Primz, Ph.D., & B.S. Bella. (1990). Determinant of adjustment for children of divorcing parents. Family Medicine, 22(2), 107-111.

10. Pearson, J. & N. Thoennes. (1990). Custody after divorce: Demographic and attitudinal patterns. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 60 (2), 233-249.

11. Wallerstein, J.S., Ph.D. (1984). Children of divorce: Preliminary report of a ten year follow-up of young children. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 54(3), 444-458.

12. Wallerstein, J.S., Ph.D. (1985). Children of divorce: Emerging trends. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 8 (4), 837-873.

13. Zaslow. M.J., Ph.D. (1988). Sex differences in children's response to parental divorce: Research methodology and post-divorce family forums. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 58 (3), 355-378.

AUTHORS

John Dunne, MD, is a psychiatrist in private practice in the Seattle area specializing in the evaluation and treatment of parents and children. Marsha Hedrick is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Seattle specializing in forensic evaluations of adults and children.

The authors wish to thank Janis P. Mayberry, PhD, for her assistance in analyzing cases contributed by her for this study. The editor wishes to acknowledge Dr. Richard Gardner's review of this manuscript.

Address correspondence to: 216 1st Avenue South #333, Seattle, WA 98104.

Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, Vol. 2(3/4) 1994 by the Haworth Press Inc. All rights reserved.

";"ABSTRACT.

This study analyzed sixteen cases which appeared to meet Dr. Richard Gardner's criteria for parental alienation syndrome as set forth in his 1987 book. These cases showed a wide diversity of characteristics but Gardner's criteria"; "15";"pas";"Alienation Revisited - "Difficult Clients: Profiles and Programs"";"Third National Family Court Conference, Melbourne";"1998-10-21";"Paul Lodge";;"SYNOPSIS.

A child’s attachment to a parent is a naturally occurring process that has evolved to meet the basic human needs of the child including survival and developmental needs. Unsurprisingly it is remarkably resistant to parental inadequacies and intrusions. Despite the robust nature of the attachment process, a mounting body of evidence suggests that when one parent enlists a child in battle against the other parent the attachment process can be reversed - at considerable cost to the child. This process, first identified by Gardner in 1985, is commonly described as "parental alienation" or in severe cases "Parental Alienation Syndrome".(1)

Unlike attachment theory, which is underpinned by a forty year history of systematic research, (Ainsworth et al) the organised study of parental alienation is comparatively new and controversial.

Nevertheless the notion of alienation is a pervasive presence in counselling rooms and court rooms and, in it’s severest manifestations, often defies the best efforts and intentions of both.

It is therefore relevant and arguably imperative that the phenomena receives our concentrated attention as a field of study. Consideration might also be given to the development of programmes and interventions that specifically address it’s many and various manifestations in the Family Court.

THEORY AND DEFINITION.

According to Gardner PAS is "a disturbance in the child who, in the context of divorce, becomes preoccupied with deprecation and criticism of one parent, which denigration is either unjustified and/or exaggerated. PAS arises primarily from a combination of parental influence and the child’s active contributions to the campaign of denigration". In describing PAS as a syndrome he considers that a cluster of symptoms can be identified - most or all of which must be observed to justify the diagnosis. The eight "symptoms" are:

The child is aligned with the alienating parent in a campaign of denigration against the target parent , with the child making active contributions.

Rationalisations for deprecating the target parent are often weak, frivolous or absurd.

Animosity toward the rejected parent lacks the ambivalence normal to human relationships.

The child asserts that the decision to reject the target parent is his or her own, what Gardner calls the "independent thinker" phenomena.

The child expresses guiltless disregard for the feelings of the target parent.

Borrowed scenarios are present ie. the child’s statements reflect the themes and terminology of the alienating parent.

Animosity is spread to the extended family and others associated with the hated parent.

Whilst Gardner’s "typology" is a useful evaluative tool it is probably best used as a guide to analysis and judgement. How many of these features must be present to establish the syndrome remains an unanswered question - confounded further by the suggestion that PAS operates on a continuum from mild to severe. Exactly where the cut off point between mild/severe alienation to full blown PAS is not clear.

As with most prescribed classification systems the danger is that it can be used inflexibly thus including or excluding families from appropriate interventions on a superficial numerical basis. This is probably more of a comment on the hazards of evaluation in a very complex area than on Gardner’s typology.

In practice a problematic issue with the use of the notion of a syndrome or typology is that it is tempting to supplement it for thorough analysis of a process that thrives on obfuscation.

In the language used there is a fairly dramatic intensity that suggests that the most florid presentations are a primarily characteristic of PAS. Clinical experience suggests that behaviours that could not be described as a "campaign of denigration" can be very destructive but might not have a dramatic quality. The extent and variety of such behaviours is unlimited and context specific.

THE INCIDENCE OF PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME.

Processes akin to Parental Alienation seem to occur as a feature of most destructive conflicts. Campaigns of misinformation, disinformation and the cultivation of alliances can be seen in conflicts between countries, in industrial conflicts, in neighbour conflicts and in the schoolyard.

It is not surprising therefore that several commentators have found that the process is widespread amongst the separating population. (Gardner, Clavar and Rivkin) - particularly given the intense emotions generated by family breakdown. Gardner himself claims its existence in "the majority" of custody disputes. Clavar and Rivkin, in a twelve year study of 130 children and families, identified "parental programming" to varying degrees in eighty per cent of their subjects.

The suggestion of a significantly raised incidence of frivolous abuse allegations in Family Court proceedings also has some support. The research unit of The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (USA) found that sexual abuse allegations in Family Court type proceedings were valid only fifty percent of the time. The Office of Child Abuse Prevention (USA) revised their manual for mandated reporting to include a section on false allegations in which the coaching of children during custody disputes is described as a major problem.

In this setting the perceived need to include in orders injunctions against a parent discussing materiel that reflects negatively on the other parent is common enough - indicating that we are conscious of the problem even if parental alienation is not always named as such.

Allegations of "brainwashing" are also frequent in family report evaluations and conciliation counselling - often in defence of allegations of poor parenting up to and including abuse. Distinguishing between fact and fiction for the purpose of family reports and other evaluative processes is a most challenging task requiring comprehensive and objective analysis.

It is noticeable that the above findings rarely make a distinction between parental alienation as an common consequence of high conflict and the PAS as described by Gardner. Making this distinction is critical as PAS may require strong interventions - sometimes including removal of the child from the alienating influence. It could be most destructive to apply the same criteria and remedies to families whose alienation processes are crisis driven and time limited. This is not to say that even shortlived attempts to turn a child against a parent are not serious but rather that they are more receptive to change when parents have the capacity to recover from feelings of hurt and loss. As will be seen later it is the parent who does not have the innate capacity for such resolution who features highly in severe alienation scenarios.

SOCIAL CONTEXT OF ALIENATION.

If parental alienation processes (not necessarily PAS) are prevalent in separating families, in which the residence of and contact with children is a matter of conflict, it is reasonable to ask why this should be at this time. Possible explanations are to be found in the current social/legal context.

The shift in emphasis from "the tender years" presumption to the "best interest of the child" presumption may well be an inadvertent contributor. In simple terms the former assumed that one parent, commonly the mother’ was naturally the main caregiver - until recently perhaps considered an unchallengeable proposition . The best interest presumption opened up the possibility of a range of parenting options and thus far more contestable parenting issues. Arguably parents in contested children’s matters now have more to fight about!

Similarly it can be argued that the removal of "fault" from the divorce process allowed for the displacement of angry hurt feelings onto the only remaining issues - children and property. It is also suggested that the distinctions between the "father role" and the "mother role" are for many families now less rigid - perhaps fostering increased competitiveness in matters of nurturing and child care.

Ironically, society’s increased vigilance with respect to child protection may also be relevant.

Few social phenomena will generate the degree of moral outrage that accompanies the physical and sexual abuse of children. While this reaction is totally appropriate, in the hands of an alienating parent in the midst of family conflict it can be manipulated to great effect. Society’s vigilance in this regard has been accompanied by other notions that have important protective functions but which also provide fertile ground for parental alienation. These might include the unquestioned belief that children never lie and a reliance on circumstantial behaviours to demonstrate abuse.

More recently the rights of children to have more of a say in matters effecting their lives has presented Counsellors and Courts with a difficult dilemma. The age at which children can make informed, mature decisions and resist influence has some elasticity.

Nevertheless, developmentally, one would expect the average child to be able to articulate a position a around nine years old - with out necessarily grasping it’s implications for self and others. Ironically, for the same reasons a child between nine and twelve approximately is most vulnerable to the alienation process. Counsellors are often challenged by alienating parents of this age group to accept the child’s views uncritically because they have "a mind of their own" and a "right" to have their position heard and acted upon. Gardner refers to this as "the independent thinker". Claims of independent thinking in younger age groups should alert evaluators to the possibility of parental alienation.

The relevance of a social perspective on sensitive issues such as alienation and child abuse is that we are all influenced by our social context and no doubt have our own ideas and moral perspective’s. These must be available for analysis to avoid, as far as is possible, viewing subject families through a particular lens. Supervision is critical to this process.

PARENTAL ALIENATION AND ITS MANIFESTATIONS.

Over the last two years a group of counsellors at the Sydney Registry have tried to look more closely at the alienation process as it impacts on children and families. Having initially set about the task of responding to "intractable contact" cases in response to the Sidoti enquiry, the Sydney group moved to the premise that intractable contact and parental alienation were often overlapping phenomena.

This group also responded to the professional dissatisfaction of despatching matters to "court" when it seemed that approaches experienced in previous settings, such as family therapy, were potentially effective with "revolving door" matters.

For the most part those families that were identified as exhibiting behaviours suggestive of alienation were seen as family groups. Because the families were usually seen as units we were able to observe the alienation processes as they were occurring.

The families seen could all be described as moderate to severe, based on the criteria that they had all continued with alienation processes, often expressed through intractable contact issues, despite previous interventions - including legal and counselling interventions. The failure of previous interventions was suggestive of chronicity.

The following observations are based on this experience and on a review of the relevant literature. By and large our clinical experiences were consistent with the findings of the main commentators.

On a cautionary note, while it is possible to identify common trends, we found that there were also exceptions and that each family presented unique features. Unlike Gardner (at least in his early work) we found that the process was not necessarily gender specific; not necessarily the province of the "custodial" parent; and often subtle (but equally destructive) in terms of behavioural indicators.

Perhaps the most common finding in terms of risk factors is that the manner of the family breakup and separation is critical. Sudden "unanticipated" separations, especially involving infidelity, feature highly amongst acknowledged risk factors. The sense of "betrayal" experienced by the alienating parent is communicated as a betrayal of the family and the child. While this will be the experience of many separating families some seem to "recover" at least to the degree that that the child does not remain in alliance with one parent against the other and contact at least continues.

One also has to look for factors in both the alienating and target parent to assess the potential for chronic alienation - the object of which is often to punish the parent perceived as responsible for the family demise by damaging his or her relationship with a child.

Generally the parent who does not recover from hurt and anger over time will be already be vulnerable to narcissistic injury and predisposed to "externalising" or blaming. For the most part individuals who are thus predisposed will themselves have experienced significant deficits in their own parenting and/or have experienced significant previous losses that remain unresolved. At times the enmeshment between the child and the parent derives in the parents sadness and distress and at others the parent’s anger is too powerful a force for the child to resist.

While one could gain the impression from some of the literature that the alienated parent is a passive victim, our experience has been that this is an oversimplification. The scenario in which a "toxic" parent turns a child against an unambiguously "good’ parent is comparatively rare. In my view, more often than is recorded, there is usually some mutuality in the alienating process.

One can readily see how this can occur. Rarely for example, is the separation process free of innocent parties with respect to angry, out of control behaviours. The probable difference is that an alienating parent will strive to keep the angry behaviours "alive" in the childs mind and/ or embellish them. In some instances such behaviours become part of the family legend to be revived at strategic moments. It is as if the alienating parent is keeping an imaginary photo album - selecting and adding those "snaps" that that show the other parent in the worst possible light.

It is also likely that the target parent will demonstrate behaviours, perhaps borne of frustration and /or sadness, that that can be readily added to the album. In some instances this will involve retreat and avoidance which is translated as abandonment and is presented as such to the child.

In others the constant fighting and bickering will produce ample behavioural evidence that the "target" parent is a "bad" person, not to be trusted or even dangerous.

The alienation process is also notorious for the pressure it places on other family members and friends to be "on side" leading to the notion of "tribal" conflict described by Janet Johnson. It is as if those who remain in the orbit of the offending parent have themselves been contaminated. Many a sad and confused grandparent will testify to this.

The notion of "tribalism" is not confined to family and friends. The pressure on professionals such as counsellors, lawyers, therapists and teachers to be "on side" is often irresistible. Of particular note in this regard is the role of the individual child therapist and in some instances the over zealous child protection worker who unwittingly confirms the "failings" of the target parent through uncritical acceptance of "borrowed" scenarios without contact with the alienated parent.

CHILDREN AND ALIENATION

Lampell (2) found that the "aligned child tested as more aggressive and less well adjusted but with a superior confidence". Our experience at the Sydney Registry suggests that other likely presentations include chronic anxiety and disguised sadness.

Gardner’s typology includes the statement that alienated children "lack normal human ambivalence". This is not borne out by our experience. It is , in my view , more accurate to say that the children can appear to lack ambivalence but that often, hostile expressions disguise deeper sadness and confusion.

The most obvious "finding" from the families seen in Sydney was that the children were universally miserable with the possible exception of those few adolescents who had become detached enough to be coolly dismissive of a parent who had been effectively absent from their lives for an extended period. Little is known, from a research perspective, about the impact of such complete detachment on future mental health or on future intimate relationships.

Gardner asserts that the designation PAS cannot be used without clear evidence that the child is aligned and participating. It is self evident that such participation distinguishes PAS from other childhood reactions to high, post separation conflict The primary age for "participation" to be most active (and functional with respect to the alienating parent) is often considered to be from approximately 9 to 12 years of age. This is partly because a child of this age has various "new" capacities relevant to the process. These include a clearer capacity to see themselves as their parents see them and to more clearly identify and articulate a parental perspective. Both factors can leave children vulnerable to strong pressure.

Children in this age range also have a developing moral perspective which is often black and white - "that’s not fair" is a common "crie de coeur" for this age group.

Younger children tend to be more malleable and can confuse and exacerbate family conflicts by adapting both parents’ scenarios depending who they are with and reporting back different stories to each parent. We nevertheless had experiences of five to seven year olds with disturbing alliances and even younger children who resonated with the "fears" and "anxieties" of an alienating parent.

Infants are not often mentioned in the context of parental alienation but they are nevertheless particularly vulnerable to the prolonged absence of a parent which is sometimes engineered in the service of interrupting a parent child relationship. As with all age groups the absence of a parent may be justified in some circumstances - particularly those involving abusive situations. It is doubtful nevertheless that such actions as child abduction can always be explained as justified flight.

It is also possible to "misinterpret", deliberately or otherwise, normal developmental phases such as separation anxiety or "two year tantrums" as fear or dislike of the other parent.

At the other end of the spectrum some teenagers seem able to obtain an objective perspective on parental conflict and can thus achieve some distance. Others remain locked in with one parent physically and emotionally and as emerging adults assume protective and combative positions. Control and discipline may become especially confounding issues as adolescent rebellion is reconstructed as justified anger. Additionally amongst our group of families were adolescents whose role included ensuring the conformity of younger siblings to a parental view particularly if they had assumed a pseudo parenting role.

In summary it is suggested that parental alienation is a pervasive issue in Family Court proceedings. It is also suggested that parental alienation is a damaging and emotionally painful experience for children and if left to run it’s course will result in broken attachments and precipitate mental health problems. While it is often difficult to distinguish alienation from neglect and abuse, it is in and of itself, an emotionally abusive process, at least in it’s severe forms.

It is also suggested that it’s chronicity and severity correlates highly with the personality profile of the alienating parent. The latter’s actions can precipitate behaviours in the child and the target parent that reinforce negative images of the target parent.

Finally, the behaviours of the alienating parent, the child and the target parent can interact with each other and with significant others in a destructive feedback loop that is increasingly resistant to change.

SOME SUGGESTED RESPONSES.

Central issues for the Court derive in the progressive and complex nature of parental alienation. Complex family issues such as alienation in its severest forms require comprehensive and resource intensive responses and it’s progressive nature suggests that these should be delivered early.

The assessment phase is critical. Failure to distinguish between parental alienation and justified reactions can have disastrous consequences, particularly if allegations of abuse have been raised. Investigations at least as thorough as those entailed in formal Family Report are probably necessary.

It is suggested that this analysis should occur as early as possible in proceedings as parental alienation seems to gather momentum the longer it is ignored.

There is no one intervention choice that is universally applicable but an most commentators support an approach that is case specific and based on a coherent counselling / legal plan. Devices such as Special Masters Schemes and detailed reportable supervision orders will add authority and flexibility to counselling and therapy. At times reunions between children and estranged parents need to be court ordered and therapeutically managed.

With respect to counselling, the pervasiveness and complexity of the issues suggests a specialised team approach to further develop both knowledge and expertise and to provide a platform for supervision.

Parental Alienation could be characterised as an interactive process commonly involving all family members including the children, extended family members and new partners and families. This suggests that family systems responses are indicated - at times supported by individual work with family members. This might include individual work with children to restore more accurate perspectives and support for the target parent to limit disengagement.

It is also suggested that the overall goal of interventions should emphasise and be guided by the restoration of contact as the primary objective. The group at the Sydney Registry can attest to therapeutic value of restored contact - even amongst some families with experience of failed previous interventions and prolonged parent child estrangement.

Paul Lodge

The contributions of counselling colleagues at the Sydney Registry are acknowledged and appreciated. These include Patricia Muir, Carole Solomon, Karen Gabriel, Sylvia Martin and Marise Vella.

Bibliography.

1. Gardner R. "Recent trends in divorce and divorce and custody litigation. Academy Forum 1985; 29:2:3 - 7.

2. Rand DC. "The Spectrum of Parental Alienation Syndrome (parts 1 and 2). American Journal of Forensic Psychology , vol 15 No. 3 1997)

3. Claver SS and Rivkin BV. "children held hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children. Chicago, American Bar Association, 1991

4. Garrity CB and Barris MA. "Caught in the Middle: Protecting the Children of High Conflict Divorce. New York, Lexington Books, 1994.

5. Dunne J.and Hendrick M. " The parental Alienation Syndrome: an analysis of Sixteen Selected Cases". Journal of Marriage and Divorce 1994; 21:3/4: 21 to 23.

";"SYNOPSIS.

A child’s attachment to a parent is a naturally occurring process that has evolved to meet the basic human needs of the child including survival and developmental needs. Unsurprisingly it is remarkably resistant to parental inade"; "16";"pas";"Early Parental Loss A Risk Factor For Adult Psychiatric Illness";"Reuters Health";"1998-02-22";;;"Children who lose a parent early in life, either by death or permanent separation, appear more likely than others to develop schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder as adults.

The finding comes from a large Israeli case-control study involving nearly 80 patients each with major depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and an equal number of healthy controls.

Study director, Dr. B. Lerer of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, and a multicenter team found that the rates of parental loss during childhood were significantly higher among patients with psychiatric disorders in this population than in controls.

Specifically, loss of a parent during childhood significantly increased the risk of major depression in adulthood by 3.8-fold, according to a report in the Feb. 13th issue of Molecular Psychiatry. Parental loss during childhood was 2.6 times more likely in participants with bipolar disorder and 3.8 times more likely in those with schizophrenia compared with controls.

The effect of parental loss on the development of psychiatric disorders was more striking if the loss was due to permanent separation rather than death, and if the loss occurred before the age of 9 years.

Early parental loss also significantly increased the risks of smoking, physical illness, divorce lower income and living alone in later life.

The findings add early parental loss to the list of known environmental factors that increase susceptibility to major depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In fact, the Israeli team speculates that early parental loss may be a nonspecific risk factor for psychiatric illness in adulthood, with a degree of specificity for major depression and schizophrenia. One possible explanation for this association, they propose, is that early parental loss negatively effects responsiveness to stress in adulthood.

In a related editorial, Dr. C.B. Nemeroff, of Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., comments that the findings add to accumulating evidence that "…untoward life events early in life…appear to increase vulnerability to several major psychiatric disorders including affective and anxiety disorders."

Such "untoward events" include both parental loss and child abuse and neglect, he notes. "Perhaps these data will lend support for the call for a national study of the prevalence rate of child abuse and neglect," Dr. Nemeroff hopes. He adds, "We owe it to our parents, our children and ourselves."

";"Children who lose a parent early in life, either by death or permanent separation, appear more likely than others to develop schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder as adults.

The finding comes from a large Israeli case-control study"; "17";"pas";"Preventing Parentectomy Following Divorce";"National Council for Children's Rights: 5th Annual Conference";"1990-10-20";"Frank S. Williams M.D.";;"Keynote Address, Fifth Annual Conference

National Council for Children's Rights

Washington DC, October 20 1990

Frank S. Williams, M.D. Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst for children, adolescents and adults, is Director of Family and Child Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles. Dr. Williams also directs the Cedars-Sinai Program for Children and Families of Divorce.

Introduction

Parentectomy is the removal, erasure, or severe diminution of a caring parent in a child's life, following separation or divorce.

Parentectomy covers a large range of parent removal from partial parentectomy, "You may visit your Daddy or Mommy every other Sunday"; to total parentectomy, as in Parental Alienation Syndrome, described by Gardner; or complete parent absence or removal. The victims of parentectomy are the children and the parents so severed from each other's lives. A parentectomy is the most cruel infringement upon children's rights to be carried out against human children by human adults. Parentectomies are psychologically lethal to children and parents.

In the worst consequential wake of a parentectomy , the victim parent gives up and walks away from the surgically-minded adults and the victim children. When this happens, the victim parent walks away from the chronic warring battlefield with intense ambivalence and confusion, faced with an insoluble dilemma. He or she knows that the chronic war in which one parent tries to erase the other parent, and the other parent struggles to stave off the parentectomy, is itself destructive to the children, as it causes ongoing tension and stress in them, as well as in the ongoing interaction between the children and each of their parents. On the other hand, if a mother or father gives up and walks away from the war, the children feel abandoned by a loved and needed parent, and unusually resent and become depressed over the abandonment.

Although children hate fighting and pray for it to stop, they misinterpret a parent's giving up the fight as that parent's not caring enough about them. Yet, clinicians know that, in these cases, even when a father or mother gives up the battle for custody, it is hardly ever due to not caring for their children enough. Rather, they give up the fight because they are emotionally depleted, physically exhausted, worn out, depressed or financially drained; they don't want to continue to subject their children to the relentless warring; they discover that they have little chance of success against a prejudiced legal/judicial system, and little chance of success against a prejudiced, incompetent or skillful "hired gun" - mental health professional, who has been paid to facilitate a parentectomy. Unfortunately, for the right price, such psychological surgeons can be found.

Further Consequences of a Parentectomy

In addition to the worst scenario of actually being abandoned, when a parentectomy occurs, children lose the rewarding ongoing opportunity to give and receive love to and from a parent who has loved them.

These children frequently become depressed - especially in later adolescence. At times their depression reaches suicidal proportions. In my own clinical work, as well as in school and emergency room consultation experience during the past 15 years, I have found a very high correlation between suicidality in adolescents and a divorce in their earlier years, which virtually results in one parent being erased from their lives.

They often lack self esteem, particularly if they believe the erased parent willfully abandoned them, or when the remaining parent behaves as if the erased parent never existed or never loved and cared for the children.

Children with parentectomies often go on to mistrust and fail in adult intimate relationships, this is for several reasons. first, they tend to see people as good or bad, right or wrong, loving or hateful, worthy of gratitude or worthy of punishment. Secondly, they have usually witnessed models of adult relationships based on mutual accusations and defensiveness, as opposed to the healthier model of tolerating ambivalence about the good and bad in others and in oneself. Further, in cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome, they may leave home prematurely or turn against the "favoured' parent later in life. Their turning against the one favoured parent may come about in later adolescence, when they realize they were "brainwashed" victims caused by a malicious, angry, or disturbed parent, to unjustifiably hate the other parent.

Methods Used in the Service of Parentectomy

A parent seeking to perform a parentectomy usually enlists the help of attorneys, relatives, friends, and mental health professionals, in the pursuit of the radical removal of the other parent.

They have several methods at their disposal. First they can get the potential parent victim - usually the Father - to see a "friendly," "brilliant" mental health clinician or child development specialist, who will brain-drill the potential parent victim about a distorted, out-of-context version of the psychological and developmental needs of children. The child development specialist will reiterate that children - especially young children - need the stability, constancy and consistency of one home, and that it is emotionally harmful for the children to be shuttled back and forth between homes. They will reiterate that children need a primary psychological caretaker.

From my own clinical experience with children, I would agree with the position that one home provides stability and continuity. However, when parents are divorced, the children cannot enjoy the benefit of both parents living with them in the same home. Therefore shuttling between homes may be inevitable. In divorce, we usually do not have the option of choosing what is in the best interest of the children. Instead, we most often must choose the least detrimental of several detrimental options. This is especially so when a child has been psychologically bonded to two parents. Of two potential evils for children - the evil of shuttling between the homes of two loving, caring parents versus the evil of losing one such parent - certainly the lesser evil is shuttling between two homes. It is the continued parental bonding, not the number of homes or vehicular travel, that will be the crucial determinant of children's forward psychological development following divorce. In these days, when both parents frequently work, and rely on sharing the child-rearing with each other, with other family members and with housekeepers and day care personnel, the concept of one "primary psychological caretaker" is outdated. frequently there are two psychological caretakers or a network of caretakers, supervised by two parents.

Should the "friendly," "brilliant" mental health clinician described above fail to convince the victim of the need for a parentectomy, the determined other parent can then enlist the aid of the "hired-gun" child development expert. After a brief, superficial contact with the other parent, of times without ever seeing the victim parent or without ever seeing the children interact with the victim parent - the "hired-gun" will unequivocally and with utmost scientific certainty declare:

that the children mistrust and are afraid of the victim parent;

that the victim parent lacks empathy for the children;

that the victim parent emotionally abuses the children;

that the victim parent is an alcoholic or other substance abuser;

that the victim parent is impulsive and prone to potential child physical abuse; and,

worst of all, that the victim parent suffers with a serious psychiatric disorder, such as Borderline Personality, Narcissistic, Anti-Social, or Obsessive Compulsive Personality disorder, or perhaps even Paranoia or Schizophrenia.

Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse

Should the "friendly" counselling and "hired gun" approaches fail, the parent determined to perform a parentectomy can make an allegation of Child Sexual Abuse. This is most effective when the child is of preschool age, and easily confused. Such allegations need careful expert professional attention. Proper thorough evaluations must be conducted, during which time the child should not be removed from either parent. In selective situations, following parental separation and divorce, mothers, father and children are highly vulnerable to sexual abuse activity. When a child or parent is quantitively deprived of loving parent-child contact, the child or parent may over-cherish or over-respond to physical contact, which may become eroticized. When there is no other adult to console a lonely parent who feels frightened at night and that lonely parent's child also feels lonely and frightened at night, the parent and child may wind up sleeping in the same bed together. this increases their vulnerability to erotic, sexual contacts.

Although we should not summarily dismiss the possibility of actual sexual molestation, at the same time we have found that most allegations of child sexual abuse during custody wars are false allegations. Some are calculated manipulations, while others result from parents' anxieties, misinterpretations, and their clouded perceptions during custody battles.

Absence of Cooperation

If all the above methods fail, the parent determined to perform a parentectomy can then claim, "We can't cooperate and therefore we cannot share parenting by way of any form of joint custody, as joint custody requires substantial parental cooperation." Unfortunately, this declaration is often supported by mental health clinicians, because of their misunderstanding or over-statement of the writings of Dr. Richard Gardner. Dr. Gardner's clinical experience with children and parents of divorce is often misused to reinforce this faulty point of view about parental cooperation.

When Richard Gardner stated that "joint custody" requires a high degree of parental cooperation (1986, 1989), he was using his particular definition of joint custody - one in which there is a free-flowing, flexible arrangement; one in which the children and the parents may frequently shift schedules, may often change the days and times the children are with each parent; and may alter parental responsibilities for the children's school and social activities. In such flexible arrangements, the shifts in schedule and responsibilities can occur during any given day, week or month. Of course, such an unstructured, ever-changing form of joint custody require frequent parental contact, negotiation and discussion, and often involves the children. Such a form of flexible, free-flowing joint custody would require parental cooperation, and would not work well where one parent hates or is emotionally allergic to the other parent.

This particular form of joint custody however, is now a rare and somewhat antiquated form of joint custody. It reflects the efforts of those few special early "pioneer" parents who respected each other as parents and individuals. They were therefore able to explore flexible joint arrangements in attempts to continue their children's lives with both parents. In essence they explored and maintained living environments, approximating the pre-divorce situation. In contrast to Dr. Gardner's definition, my definition of "joint custody" is a multi-faceted one. At one end of the spectrum, it includes such flexible unstructured, free flowing arrangements, defined by Gardner. At the other end of teh spectrum it includes a detailed, rigid and highly structured parent-child plan, which minimizes the need for parent contact, negotiation and communication. Between the two extreme ends of the spectrum are varying arrangements in which real significant living time, including overnights, is shared with the children by both parents, with varying degrees of structure and rigidity, as required. Indeed, with warring, unfriendly, uncooperative parents, a highly structured, rigid, inflexible custody schedule is necessary and appropriate. The structure for high conflict parents should include transitions for the children between parents, on neutral grounds; for example, the children can be picked up from and be returned to school, instead of the other parent's residence. This arrangement avoids points of battle between the parents, and avoids the need for frequent negotiations on a day-today, or week-to-week basis, which, in turn, avoids the need to battle over decision-making, residential time, or parental authority in front of the children.

It is unfortunate that Dr. Gardner has been misunderstood and misused by some mental health clinicians advocating for sole custody to one parent. In consultation with Dr. Gardner, I learned that he believes that when there are two highly bonded loving parents, a rigid structured schedule of even 50-50 shared residential overnights, as well as a pre-defined structure decision-making authority plan for each parent may be appropriate to best serve the children. He would just not define such a 50-50, rigid, structured arrangement as "joint-custody".

Dynamics Behind the Pursuit of Parentectomy

Parental Identity

The fear of losing one's parental identity is the principal dynamic behind parentectomy efforts. Throughout life, all persons gain and integrate many identities, which become part of their self-images. These identities include one's identity as: a child member of a family; a student; a peer or team member; a professional or other worker; a mate with marital identity; a person with a parental identity; and a grandparent with a grand-parental identity.

Until recent times, some parents, more traditionally mothers in our western culture, reached a point of divorce with primarily marital and parental identities. For such parents, as their mate or marital identity dissolves, as it does in divorce, the only identity often left for them to hold on to, cherish, and fight for is their parental identity.

Grandparents, especially when they are retired from both work and parenting, often fear loss of their primary remaining identity - their grandparents identity. As they envision sharing or losing valued time with their grandchildren, their fears may prompt them to harp on their sons and daughters to fight for sole custody of the children, so they will not become "unemployed" grandparents.

The appearance of a potential stepmother or stepfather on the scene is highly threatening to parental identity. This is especially so when that newcomer has a great need to parent. Hearing one's children refer to a step parent as "mommy" or "daddy", often triggers the search for the parental scalpel.

The Loss of the Family

For adults, the pain of losing one's family structure is very intense, and in may cases, much more intense than the pain of losing one's mate. Divorcing parents often desperately hold on to a myth that their family has not fallen apart, in their attempt to not feel the pain and depression which accompanies the rupture of the family. They maintain the myth of a one-family structure, embodying elements of one home and one family. This myth is much easier to hold on to is a parent does not have to see the other parent. It is especially easier to hold on to if a replacement is brought in to fulfill the other parent's role, namely a boyfriend, stepfather, girlfriend, or stepmother.

In counselling parents of divorce, I have found it much more productive to focus on the pain caused by the loss of family structure, as opposed to focusing on the pain caused by the parent's prior battle with each other, or the pain caused by their loss of each other.

The literature on divorce leans heavily on the concept that divorced parents chronically battle in an effort to hold on to each other and not lose the marital relationship. Although that dynamic does exist, in my experience it is not a universal post-divorce dynamic, and it is not the primary reason behind prolonged custody struggles or prolonged custody wars. Instead, I find the need to hold on to this myth of one non-ruptured family is a more usual dynamic behind prolonged custody wars. Unfortunately, maintaining that myth of one family, requires erasing the other parent.

Envy, Rage and Revenge

A parent's desire to punish the other parent by depriving the other parent of his or her children often relates to the other parent's apparent or fantasied greater success or luck in life. This can create rage and envy. The real or fantasied greater success is in the area of: finding a new and rewarding love relationship; achieving greater financial security; having a wholesome extended support system of family and friends; and most ironic, envy and rage in relation to the other parent's fantasied or actual greater success in relating to their children in warm, comfortable, loving and trusting ways.

It is this rage, envy, and the wish to punish that we see most often in severe cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome, with very pathologically disturbed parents.

Psychological "Allergic" Reactions to the Other Parent

We frequently see situations in which one parent became psychologically dependent upon the other during the marriage.

Once separated and needing to break the dependency but fearful of the continued power of dependency, such a dependent parent feels and urgent compulsion to avoid the other parent as one avoids poison ivy. Feeling emotionally "allergic" the dependent parent fears susceptibility to renewed dependency. To avoid the allergen - namely the other parent - the dependent parent attempts to achieve complete avoidance which, of course, is easier to achieve if that parent can be kept out of the children's lives. The allergy medicine - parentectomy - becomes the children's poison!

Prevention of Parentectomy

The following recommendations on how to prevent parentectomies may, in part, appear drastic. These prevention measures which are presented in the spirit of suggestions, and based on clinical experience, include:

Person contemplating marriage and children should consider a proposed mate's tendency toward relying on the role of being a parent as his or her exclusive identity. Such persons may need to rely totally on full-time control over the children for identity following divorce.

One should try to fall in love with and have children with a mate who has great empathy for children's needs and feelings. A mother or father with empathy who loves his or her children will usually not subject the children to a parent removal.

One should not separate from one's mate without a scheduled, structured, legal custody arrangement, in advance of parting the marital relationship.

Once separated, a parent should never speak with and certainly should never see a mental health professional - other than a court appointed one - that he or she has not helped choose in advance, and should further avoid like the plague a friendly-sounding psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counsellor, who calls and says he or she wants to help the parents and children through the pain of divorce. this is especially so when that professional has already seen the children and the other parent.

Parents should seek and hopefully find attorneys not biased by the conviction that all children need a primary home and a primary caretaker after divorce.

The first moment it becomes clear that scheduled custodial time with one's child is being consistently blocked, the parent so blocked should, run not walk, with his or her attorney, to the nearest family court.

Conclusion

Many parents, mental health clinicians, and attorneys have had contact with the process of parentectomy as a victim or as someone close to a victim. Professionals must guide victims or potential victims through the maze of legal, judicial, mental health and family processes which can lead to the radical "surgery" of parent-erasure I call parentectomy. Attempts at parentectomy create a psychological reign of terror, for the intended parent and child-victims. Those victims who survive are emotionally bloodied, bitter, war-torn, and exhausted. They often form and join support groups with committed and caring persons in organisations to protect their children and themselves, or to help others to protect their children and themselves from the dreaded sequelae of parentectomy. Most parentectomy victims and most of those who try to help such victims, experience a great deal of chronic emotional pain.

I wish there were a panacea to help reduce that pain. There is not. The author has shared his experience and thinking around children and parents of divorce, in the hope that increased understanding of the dynamics behind parentectomy, will help clinicians, attorneys, judges and parents eradicate this most dreaded, malevolent and destructive affliction of parents and children who love, care for and need each other.

";"Keynote Address, Fifth Annual Conference

National Council for Children's Rights

Washington DC, October 20 1990

Frank S. Williams, M.D. Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst for children, adolescents and adults,"; "108";"ftl";"The Gold Coast Safe Cities Project";;"1997-09-30";;"page21c.htm";;; "111";"shd";"A Fair Go For Mums Means Giving Dads Their Chance";"Sydney Morning Herald";"2003-08-12";"Pru Goward";;"Fathering is back in the news. And for once it is not about conception. It has been discussed in a number of contexts including the parliamentary committee considering the feasibility of equal residency for parents after separation and the current shortage of male teachers. There has been talk of a crisis of under-fathering and a lack of male role models for boys.

Certainly there is unlikely to be much argument from sole parents about the need to share the parenting load. No woman I know who has been a single parent, for a week, a year, voluntarily or not, says it's anything other than hard. Crazy and brave, more like it.

When I say woman, I mean woman. The parenting load is currently borne heavily by women: 83 per cent of sole parents are mothers. Only 4.1 per cent of the Child Support Agency's total case load involves equally shared care. The result for women is fewer job opportunities, low paid part-time work, all-round low incomes and low superannuation entitlements.

Encouraging men to be more directly engaged in parenting gives more women a chance to provide for themselves.

There is widespread agreement that having fathers more often and more directly involved in parenting would make a lot of men happy and in most cases benefit children. Nobody disagrees that it is always preferable for boys and girls to have strong male relationships and for all to benefit from family life and the love and attention of both parents, even after marriage breakdown.

But there is a catch. A cost. Those who wish to be more engaged as parents and still participate in the world of paid work will find (as men who have done so attest, and as women well know) that it may well mean giving up overtime, promotion opportunities, often full-time work, a decent amount of superannuation, business travel, most of your leisure and even some of your sleep.

The majority of fathers choose not to undertake this task. Over recent weeks a number of men have argued publicly that undertaking the same sort of parenting load as mothers just isn't practical. They've pointed out that men generally earn more and so it makes sense for them to be the full-time earner.

They've argued that men don't have access to the same degree of family-friendly work practices and that men who attempt to be more engaged as parents are viewed less favourably for advancement and employment.

Surely this is the point.

We do not have to acquiesce to arrangements that patently disadvantage men and their children. We do have a choice.

We need to enable more men to take advantage of family-friendly workplace policies more often. After all, men have access to a year's unpaid parental leave, just like women. Ditto paid carers' leave. We need to encourage them to take it. We need to challenge the work cultures that frown upon and discriminate against men who seek flexible working conditions or shorter hours, just as we need to continue this battle for women.

Yes, as some argue, there are women who try to keep the parenting for themselves, acting as the gatekeeper and the arbiter of good parenting. Just as some men over the past couple of generations have been slow to accept that women have a legitimate position in the workplace, so, no doubt, women will need to be encouraged to abdicate some control of the domestic sphere.

We urgently need to address the work-time sacrifices parents will be required to make, remembering that you need to spend time with children to develop strong bonds and a sure hand at parenting.

You need practice at solving a fight between two children about sharing the computer, knowing who has eaten their lunch and who threw it away, learnt their three-times tables and what is really bothering them when they start skipping school. Let's not even contemplate the Solomon-like qualities and all round academic knowledge required for teenagers.

Without acknowledgement of parenting as a skill and a patient art, as well as an act of love, then all that encouragement we give women to go part-time, to leave off worrying about the career and instead to put their families first, will look like malignant posturing.

We all know how much most fathers love their kids. That's not in doubt. This debate is not about proving that. It is primarily about the interests of the child but it has a challenging and timely subtext: to disprove the old formula that women care for kids and men care about them. Equality of parenting is the greatest remaining barrier to equality between the sexes.

Pru Goward is the federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner.";"Fathering is back in the news. And for once it is not about conception. It has been discussed in a number of contexts including the parliamentary committee considering the feasibility of equal residency for parents after separation and the current shortag"; "19";"sol";""Pregnant on the Sly"";"REPORT -- Canada's Independent News Magazine ()";"2000-04-24";"Walter H. Schneider and Candis McLean";;"The practice of falsely attributing fatherhood is rising among women.

When 32-year-old Paul Johnson of Calgary went to college, he became involved with a 27-year-old woman who told him she was barren and in the throes of a divorce. Although he had initially insisted on birth control, eventually he threw caution to the wind and engaged in unprotected sex.

After all, she said she was infertile.

Six months into the relationship, Mr. Johnson was invited to supper with his lover's family. In retrospect, he thinks he was being paraded for reasons he wishes he had known sooner. After the family dinner, Mr. Johnson's lover took him aside and revealed she was pregnant by him. "But I thought you were barren," he protested, to which his lover replied that she had actually said she couldn't have children because her husband was impotent. Nor was she interested in any further relationship with Mr. Johnson.

That was 10 years ago, and Mr. Johnson has never once held his son in his arms, or indeed even seen him. He now waits for him to turn 18 in the hopes his son will come looking for him. "I've attempted to launch a complaint in a variety of ways, even considered laying criminal charges against [the former lover], but I soon found nobody had any interest in my plight of being duped into becoming a sperm donor," he says. "Yet she raped me with the intention of getting pregnant. It was a form of sexual assault based on misinformed consent. I would love to be married, but those children will never exist. I have a great deal of difficulty in trusting another woman; in fact I'm incapable of performing out of sheer anxiety that I will lose the child due to a whim or a lie on the woman's part--even if I were married to her. If 10 years later she changes her mind about wanting me in her life, the child I've loved for 10 years will be ripped from me. I'm not willing to go through that. ...

*Games women play*

This exchange from a closed Internet chat room, "Pregnant-on-the-sly," contains the original spelling and punctuation:

My name is Sarah. I'm 20 years old and I live in Kansas. My husband is 27 and although we planned to have children before we were married, he has changed his mind. Raising children is such a significant goal in my life and I cannot imagine not having any.

Please excuse the personal question, but how do you gals ttc [try to conceive] without your partner's cooperation? My darling uses condoms and ky jelly with spermicide. I've read everything I can about the failure rate and I'm afraid that our chances aren't so good. Advice?

hi, sara!

choose a guy who has the characteristics your would want your baby to have

... one of the same criteria you use in considering a marriage...then develop a relationship w/ him that will *definately* lead to sex, *obviously* on the sly :) then simply screw him during your ovulation phase. after you are pregnant, you explain to your husband that the improbable (but not *impossible*) happened ...i envy your situation, actually...it's not quite that easy for me (and maybe for others who do not use condoms, spermicide and other gadgets) ...i am totally NFP [natural family planning] and have never made a "mistake" about where i am in my cycle. so explaining my pregnancy to my BF [boyfriend] and to my parents is going to be ruff.

";"The practice of falsely attributing fatherhood is rising among women.

When 32-year-old Paul Johnson of Calgary went to college, he became involved with a 27-year-old woman who told him she was barren and in the throes of a divorce. Although"; "20";"sol";"Pressure on Sole Parents to Find a Job";"The Australian";"1999-08-30";"Michelle Gunn";;"SOLE parents will be forced to attend career- development sessions as part of a federal government pilot project extending mutual obligation to parents on income support.

The project, which will involve 2000 people during the next five months, is designed to encourage those receiving parenting payments to return to the workforce as soon as they are able.

Family Services Minister Joceyln Newman said marriage break-ups were becoming a "very real drain on the system" and long-term welfare dependency was to be discouraged.

Senator Newman said she was particularly concerned about the effects of long-term welfare on children, many of whom would grow up without the expectation that they must work to earn money.

"You have a generational problem there if people are on income support for too long," she said. "We do sole parents and their children and Australia a good turn if we can help them to get the skills, get the confidence and get jobs."

A Department of Family Services discussion paper says there are now 600,000 people relying on the parenting payment for income, two-thirds of whom are sole parents.

The average duration on parenting payment is 3.4 years, but almost a quarter of lone parents have been receiving the payment for five years or more.

The aim of the pilot program is to discover the best ways to prevent "risk of poverty, skills atrophy and the transmission of welfare dependence and social exclusion to the next generation".

The pilot will target:

People who have been receiving parenting payment for five years or more without earned income;

People who have recently left paid employment or are recently separated;

People without any earned income who have children aged between 12 and 16;

Couples where neither partner has been in work for a long period.

Those involved will be referred to a career counselling interview or seminar. For some it will be voluntary and for others compulsory.

Participation in the JET scheme (a labour market program) is not compulsory but is to be encouraged.

The approach has been criticised by women's groups and welfare activist because of an apparent contradiction between it and the Government's promotion of full-time mothering as a choice for women.

Sole Parents Union president Kathleen Swinbourne said: "It's rather hypocritical of the Government. On the one hand they are saying it is very important for parents to stay at home and look after their children. On the other hand they say, but not if you are a sole parent.

"It just seems that sole parents aren't considered by this Government to be real parents."

Senator Newman conceded the existence of a tension between recognising the value of full-time mothering and helping sole parents out of welfare dependency.

"I do believe, and the Government certainly has this commitment, to recognising that the raising of children is a national good," she said.

"You can't say 'you are not doing any good just sitting there at home and raising your children', you are . . . but you also have to be preparing for the rest of your life and for your children's well-being by bringing in more income when you can."

";"SOLE parents will be forced to attend career- development sessions as part of a federal government pilot project extending mutual obligation to parents on income support.

The project, which will involve 2000 people during the next five mon"; "21";"shd";"Study sees Joint Custody as Disincentive to Divorce";"CNN News";"1999-09-24";"http://cnn.com/US/9909/24/fathers.rights/";;"WASHINGTON (CNN) --

In the past, when a mother and father were divorced, the kids went with Mom, and Dad went out the door. But in the 1990s, roles aren't so restricted.

An increase in courts granting joint custody, where mothers and fathers share the raising of children, has contributed to a decreasing divorce rate, according to a study released Friday in Washington by The Children's Rights Council.

The organization says the divorce rate has dipped slightly in the past few years from a high of 50 percent of all marriages. The study predicts that the rate will drop by up to 10 percent in the next 20 years.

"If a parent knows that he or she will have to interact with the child's other parent while the child is growing up, there is less incentive to divorce," said Children's Rights Council President David L. Levy.

"Greater father involvement means that it is less likely that a mother can assume she will automatically receive sole custody, financial child support and the family home, upon divorce," said John Guidubaldi, a children's advocate and education expert at Kent State University in Ohio, in response to the study. "This means that at least some parents will reconsider a divorce."

The study found that the parent who receives full custody is more likely to be the one who files for divorce.

Fathers as primary caretakers

"There are many fathers now that are functioning as primary caretakers of children while the wife is at work," attorney Jeffrey Leving told CNN. "And the minute a divorce is filed, the court system has confusion in understanding and protecting the rights of children in those relationships."

Leving's clients are mostly divorced dads.

The trend toward more fathers raising their children in joint custody arrangements encouraged Chicago psychotherapist Mark Rogers to seek custody of his 14-year-old son, Dylan.

"He comes to me and talks to me about everything because we were able to work at a young age to maintain that bond, then build and enhance off of that," Rogers said. He also said men want to be seen as more than just "walking wallets."

Long route to joint custody

Divorced father Jimmie Curley said it took nearly four years before he won shared custody of his four children in 1995. Curley thinks his flexible schedule as a substitute teacher and part-time tax preparer helped his case.

"It keeps me on top of what they're doing and what's going on and things that are going on in the school, so I'm not in the dark," Curley said.

The Children's Rights Council applauds the fall in divorce and the joint custody trend because one of its tenets is that children do better with both parents. In the home is best, it thinks, and if that's not possible, children benefit greatly when both parents are involved in their lives.

Reporter Jonathan Aiken contributed to this report. ";"WASHINGTON (CNN) --

In the past, when a mother and father were divorced, the kids went with Mom, and Dad went out the door. But in the 1990s, roles aren't so restricted.

An increase in courts granting joint custody, where m"; "22";"fam";"Super Splitting on Marriage Breakdown";"Supersplitting Pty Ltd.";"2002-12-01";"Stephen Bourke";;"New laws to allow for the splitting of superannuation on marriage breakdown will commence on 28 December 2002. The issue has been on the agenda for a considerable period of time and it is now certain it will happen. Financial planners will need to become familiar with the new scheme so that they can properly advise their clients about ALL aspects of superannuation and especially so their clients can take full advantage of the tax arrangements under the new super splitting laws.

Overview of the new rules:

The new super splitting laws create new options for separating / divorcing parties by treating superannuation as property, ie in the same way as other assets (house, shares, etc). The new rules allow for the division of superannuation either by court (property) order or by agreement between the two parties.

Court orders

Courts that operate in this area of the law (typically the Family Court or the new Federal Magistrates Court) will be given two new powers:

the power to make a splitting order; and

the power to make a flagging order.

Splitting orders

A splitting order, as the name implies, will enable the Court to split superannuation. To do this the Court is first required to value the superannuation and secondly to allocate an amount out of that value to the non-member spouse. These two steps are explained below.

Valuation of superannuation will depend on the type of interest (Generally refers to the superannuation benefit in question) and whether it is in the growth phase or the payment phase. Accumulation interests are valued by reference to the withdrawal value. There can be instances where valuation of the interest at an earlier point in time might be necessary, such as the date of separation, but generally the withdrawal value is used.

Defined benefit interests are valued by reference to a prescribed actuarial formula which takes the accrued benefit multiple and the salary and then applies a valuation factor from a set of tables published in the Family Law (Superannuation) Regulations 2001. Where the superannuation is paid as a pension, a different formula is applied but essentially it will derive a lump sum value in today's dollars required to meet the pension payments over the life expectancy of the member.

Allocating an amount to the non-member spouse is the second requirement for the Court to do before making a splitting order. This amount is called the "base amount". The base amount is a central concept in the new laws because it will determine the amount that is to be transferred to the non-member. Transfers can happen in one of two ways:

payment splitting under the Family Law Act and Regulations; or

interest splitting under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations.

Payment splitting will apply to all interests, unless the trustee triggers an interest split under the SIS law. Payment splitting operates to split superannuation only when a payment of superannuation is made. The complexity of this is immediately obvious — payment may be many years away. In addition, there is a range of technical rules about what can and cannot be split. Therefore why have payment splitting? The reason is because the SIS law, while covering most superannuation, is not comprehensive and thus payment splitting exists as an option when the SIS law does not operate.

Interest splitting is available to regulated funds where the interest is an accumulation interest in the growth phase or it is an allocated pension. It is not available for defined benefit interests. Interest splitting enables the creation of a new interest or a rollover, the value being the base amount allocated by the Court. Because interest splitting applies to the most common interest (a regulated accumulation interest), it is expected that most funds will use this option.

When superannuation is in the payment phase, the new super splitting laws require that the income stream be given a capital value. However, what will most commonly occur is that the Court will split the income stream by reference to a percentage. There are, of course, social security implications for splitting income streams but the consequential amendments to the Social Security Act and the Veterans' Entitlements Act have not been made.

Flagging orders

The other type of order that a court will be able to make is what is termed a flagging order. These are orders which, as the name implies, place a flag on the superannuation account. When a flag is in place, it prevents the trustee from paying out superannuation until the flag is lifted. These will most likely be used when the member is near retirement and the superannuation is about to be released. It avoids the complexity of actuarial valuation so close to release of superannuation.

Superannuation Agreements

There are mirror provisions under the new law to enable couples to split or flag superannuation by using a superannuation agreement rather than seeking a court order. Thus, outcomes that can be achieved by court order can also be achieved by superannuation agreement. There are, however, some differences in the procedures between court orders and superannuation agreements.

Firstly, before making a superannuation agreement, the parties have to receive separate and independent legal advice. There are also requirements that it be in writing and be properly witnessed.

Secondly, the mandatory valuation requirements do not apply to superannuation agreements. This is important since the mandatory requirements are not specific to the member and have no regard to the personal circumstances of the member. Where a valuation that takes account of the personal circumstances of the member is desired, use of a superannuation agreement may be an option.

Thirdly, the parties are required to serve on the trustee a copy of the divorce certificate (called the decree absolute) at the same time as the superannuation agreement. If the couple has not taken the formal step of becoming divorced (and not everyone does), then they must make a separation declaration stating that they have separated. Where the value of the superannuation is greater than the ETP threshold ($112,405 for 2002/03), the declaration must state that they have lived separately and apart for twelve months and there is no reasonable likelihood of cohabitation. This is essentially a revenue protection measure and there are penalties for false declarations (up to twelve months' imprisonment). However, it should be noted that the declaration requirements do not apply to court ordered splitting.

De facto couples

De facto couples are excluded from the new regime. This is because property settlements arising out of the separation of a de facto couple are governed by state and territory law, not Commonwealth law. In other words, the Family Law Act does not apply to the property of de facto couples. This can be cured by each state referring the law making power over the property of de facto couples to the Commonwealth and successive Attorneys-General, both Liberal and Labor, have asked the states for this power. However, it has not been forthcoming and is currently before the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. Until the power is referred, a couple will at some stage have to have been married for the new law to apply to their superannuation.

What advice should be given now?

An important point to be aware of is that the new laws are not retrospective. This means that property settlements entered into prior to 28 December 2002 will be treated under the current laws, ie superannuation will not be treated as property and as such cannot be flagged or split. This will be a consideration for clients who are in the process of a separation or divorce, whether they should settle before or after the new laws come into effect.

Clients will want to know what the options are given the advent of the new super splitting laws. The new laws say that if the Court has issued a property order that is not an interim order, then you cannot split superannuation. In other words, the new laws will be available where the Court has not issued a property order — or if it has issued a property order, it is what is termed an interim order. An interim order is a particular type of property order and technical term under the Family Law Act. Legal advice is recommended if this course of action is to be followed.

Planning tips

A more difficult question — to split or not to split — will depend on the circumstances of your client. There are tax considerations to be weighed before advising whether your client considers taking advantage of the new law.

For example, under the new law, eligible termination payments that are split by court order or agreement are separately reported to the Tax Office. This opens up a number of possibilities in solving an excessive component problem for a divorced or separated couple. Take the situation of a husband retiring with an ETP of $750,000. This is in excess of the lump sum RBL ($562,195 for 2002/03). Under the Family Law Act as it currently stands, the ETP cannot be split and the member may have to transfer other property to his wife in satisfaction of the property settlement. He is left with an excessive component problem. Of course, he may attempt to bring himself within the higher pension RBL ($1,124,384 for 2002/03) but the new super splitting laws open other possibilities. He may transfer part of his ETP to his former wife and bring himself within the lump sum RBL. The payment to the wife is separately reported and it will be taxed as a separate payment in her hands (including a new low rate ETP threshold — $112,405 for 2002/03).

An alternative consideration is the eligible service period. The new super splitting laws set the ESP at zero. On the face of it, this may seem a rather severe outcome. However, consider the situation where your client is a person who may have a small amount of superannuation in her own name (it is usually the wife) and this was acquired early in the marriage ie pre July 1983. Accepting a proportion of the husband's superannuation may provide generous increase in the pre July 1983 component enabling advantage to be taken of the considerable tax concessions of that component.

The super splitting laws are an important change on the financial and estate planning horizon. Financial planners should become familiar with the new laws to offer the best advice to clients. Further information and planning strategies can be found in the CCH book, Super Splitting on Marriage Breakdown or at www.supersplitting.com.au.

Stephen Bourke is a private legal practitioner and Managing Director of Supersplitting Pty Ltd. Stephen was the legal officer primarily responsible for advising the Government on the new super splitting laws and bringing the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Superannuation) Act 2001 into existence. This article draws from the new CCH book, Super Splitting on Marriage Breakdown, which was written by Stephen Bourke, Gary Watts and Michael Taussig QC.

The financial planning implications of family breakdown are also covered in CCH's Australian Master Financial Planning Guide 2002/3, which is available now.

This article is available in the CCH webpage http://www.cch.com.au/fe_splitting_super.asp

You can join the CCH free mailing list by simply registering at www.cch.com.au ";"New laws to allow for the splitting of superannuation on marriage breakdown will commence on 28 December 2002. The issue has been on the agenda for a considerable period of time and it is now certain it will happen. Financial planners will need to become"; "23";"fam";"Disorder in the Courts";"Sunday Telegraph (Sydney)";"2000-07-09";"Sarah Harris";;"The Family Court has consistently pursued its critics by instigating contempt charges. But lately these citizens have been beating their powerful foe. Sarah Harris reports.

(Pix: View of a back of a man seated on park bench looking at children's playground equipment.)

Caption: No picnic: This man, whose name cannot be revealed, has endured much financial and emotional pain through dealings with the Family Court.

We can't show you his face or tell you his real name. Yet, ironically, he recently won a major victory for free speech.

The man's win came when a charge of "contempt" by scandalising the Family Court was dismissed and a judgment for costs made against its marshal.

His alleged crime was to stand on the footpath outside the court handing our leaflets and hollering through a megaphone his protest about the court's handling of his children's custody arrangements.

As one of a group dubbed the "Family Court Four" he faced an unlimited fine or jail term under arcane 18th century law.

Now, as the losers in this extraordinary case of several "Davids" versus the Family Court "Goliath", the Family Court faces a legal bill estimated to be upwards of $100,000.

Admittedly, this is small change against the court's $122 million 1999-2000 funding.

However, it would buy some much needed legal aid for the increasing number of litigants without lawyers.

Family Court Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson has previously raised grave concerns about the impact of Legal Aid cutbacks.

Research commissioned by the Family Court, shows that between 35 to 40 per cent of all cases involve at least one unrepresented litigant.

Of those, 60 per cent were disadvantaged by lack of legal representation, according to the assessment of judges and court staff. "By not spending money on legal aid, we may be killing people," Justice Nicholson told a legal forum last year.

"There is a serious problem in family law involving violence between the parties.

If you increase the frustration and parties don't have the benefit of legal advice you increase th chance of violence being perpetrated."

For a senior officer of the court to then criminally charge these very same frustrated and disadvantaged parties - who, left with little other avenue, took to the streets in protest - seems a somewhat inflammatory response.

Suspicion rules in the Family Court

Ultimately, the bills incurred by the court in retaining not one, but (initially) two, senior silks to prosecute charges of "scandalising the court" will be picked up by the taxpayer.

It is the second such case the Family Court has lost this year.

In March, a man who spent two years stridently voicing his frustrations at being denied contact with his two children outside the Family Court building in Melbourne had contempt charges against him thrown out.

Last week, the Family Court sought to file a notice of discontinuance of charges against a third man.

The tactical withdrawal is unlikely to prevent a further order of costs against the court and may yet even result in damages being paid to the defendants.

To Gabriel Kuek - whose firm represented the first three of the four defendants either privately or under limited legal aid the issue is clear-cut.

"As we have said again and again, Australia is a free, democratic society which ought to be able to withstand robust debate and criticism by people against the arms of government," Mr Kuek said. "The Family Court is part of the judiciary which, under the Westminster system, is one of the arms of government."

As an institution, the Family court of Australia can arguably be forgiven for being somewhat thin-skinned.

One judge was shot dead and the wife of another killed in a bomb explosion in the 1980s.

These tragic incidents show the court and its officers face real risk as they negotiate the minefield of other people's property and custody disputes.

What is disturbing, however, is the court's apparent sensitivity to criticism of any kind.

Justice Nicholson has previously sought to categorise the courts most vocal critics as dysfunctional misogynists who regard women and children as objects who have no rights.

"The most strident critics of the court emanate from groups of men who regard themselves as having been badly treated by the family court system," he told a national conference in 1998.

"There is a more sinister element at work. I have absolutely no doubt that there are many persons associated with men's groups in particular who have an agenda to change the law to the disadvantage of women.

"Many demonstrate in strident terms outside the court. Some even stand for Parliament, with signal lack of success."

Notwithstanding the fact that the assessment of some of these people may well be accurate, political representatives like Federal Labour MP Roger Price, wonder if it is entirely just to paint them all as mad, bad and dangerous.

"Is it impossible, for example to conceive that some of them may have been driven to extremes and wrongly penalised because of false accusation made by no less bitter partners?" Mr Price asks.

As Justice Nicholson himself pointed out in that same speech, there are two sides to every story.

Disgruntled clients are not the only targets of withering statements from the chief judicial officer of the family Court.

When the Australian Law Reform Commission unfavourably reviewed some aspects of the Family Court in its report Managing Justice: A Review of the Federal Civil Justice System, it was met head on with a press release.

"It is extremely disappointing that the Commission has chosen to include such gratuitous, ill-informed and wrong comments about a court whose task is perhaps the most sensitive and difficult in the country."

The release referred most disbelievingly to "alleged criticisms from legal practitioners".

But perhaps most paradoxically, the press release was scathing of "selective and gratuitous report of comment of anonymous persons cloaked in the guise of 'research'."

One impediment to debate about the merits or otherwise of the Family Court is legislation which prevents identification of any of the parties.

Under Section 121 of the Family Law Act, it is an offence to publish or disseminate anything which may identify or tend to identify any party to the proceedings in the court.

While this does not prevent the media giving voice to the experience of family court clients, it does severely restrict the press.

The only exemption to this is the Family Court of Australia which allows publication of cases complete with names on the Internet in the interests of the legal profession.

Unable to show identifying photographs, use names or even occupations means, however, mainstream media accounts are restricted to using these very same "anonymous persons" to whom the Chief Justice objects.

Anonymity protects all parties, particularly children, but Section 121 also shields people who make outrageous claims against others without the threat of defamation or the burden of proof required of other courts.

These disembodied accounts lack credibility - as the Chief Justice himself apparently believes - for the very reason they could be entirely fictitious as, indeed, are some of the allegations made in the Family Court.

Roger Price argues that suppression of reporting about the Family Court has given rise to suspicion and distrust about the institution itself.

The Labour backbencher has been something of a thorn in the side of the Family Court since 1995.

At that time, he was chair of a joint select committee investigating finance and administration of the court.

Undaunted by last month's derailing of a private member's bill which he had proposed to lift reporting constraints, Mr Price has vowed to continue his crusade to open up the court to greater public scrutiny.

"My proposals are not about tilting the Family Court in favour of men, or women or children," he said. "They are about accountability."

He has found a surprising ally in Ian McCall - the former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Western Australia.

Attorney-General Daryl Williams asked Mr McCall to re-examine section 121 after The Sunday Telegraph first revealed the Family Court had breached its own rules of publication by allowing judgments to be posted on the Internet.

Mr. McCall recommended the lifting of reporting restrictions in all cases except those involving parenting orders, welfare cases and child maintenance orders or where a judge decided to suppress specific information.

Mr. MCall found the stringent rules on reporting had a negative impact on the court.

The report quoted a number of judgments in which his judicial colleagues touched on the issue of the relationship between the law and the media and the public at large.

One judgment said, in part: "Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion and surest of all guards against probity.

"It keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial."

In another example, media coverage was said to: "provide a safeguard against judicial arbitrariness or idiosyncrasy and maintain public confidence in the administration of justice."

The Attorney-General initially embraced the report, saying it gave what he describes as "compelling reasons" to drop the Family Court ban on naming people.

His views were echoed by others who believed it would counteract flourishing conspiracy theories about the court.

But, in the end, the Howard Government backed away from the reforms recommended in the McCall report.

After a considerable number of submissions from community and welfare groups the Federal Government decided in August 1999 not to amend section 121.

"It was felt on balance that the potential risks to children outweighed the benefits," a spokeswoman for Mr Williams said.

The issue is unlikely to go away but it is likely to be some time before any government visits it once more.

In the meantime, if more "Davids" are awarded costs against the Family Court, its press officer may only represent one side of the case - but at least we can tell you his name.

One father's tale of horror

"I couldn't even afford to take the kids to Macca's"

"Someone must write this story," the letter began.

What followed was an extraordinary tale of a man who, for years, has been charged to support three children - although he only had one.

After eight years of paying maintenance, John Jackson* discovered two of the three children he watched born during his four-year marriage were, in fact, fathered by other men.

The proof is in the lab tests which show "the exclusion of" Mr Jackson as father of his two youngest children "is considered 100 per cent.".

Other evidence suggests his ex-wife knew with certainty her middle child was fathered by another man and did not believe her husband was the father of the youngest child.

Mr Jackson says he was forced into having his children DNA tested because he was being bled dry. At one point, because of a Child Support Agency error, he was paying out $550 and left with $260 a fortnight to live on.

"I have never objected to paying maintenance, but it got to the stage where I just couldn't live," Mr Jackson said. "I still had the kids every second weekend and I couldn't even afford to take them to Macca's."

Unable to secure legal aid resources, he represented himself in the Family Court two weeks ago. He knew what he needed to say, but when he faced the full bench of wigs and gowns he became tongue-tied.

"What I really wanted to ask for was a refund," Mr Jackson told The Sunday Telegraph.

The judges dismissed his appeal against an earlier ruling that his ex-wife did not have to pay for the paternity tests.

Nor would the courts order her to reveal the names of the men who had slept with at the time of conception of two of the couple's three children.

"They just didn't care that this woman, my ex-wife, had deliberately defrauded me, the Child Support Agency and Centrelink and then used every trick in th book and the Family Court to try and prevent discovery," he said.

"I guess I'm lucky they didn't make me pay costs. She has used the system to crush me financially and emotionally and it's a rort.

"I tried to do the right thing by those kids and the courts and the system penalised me.

"The kids are saying" 'We still want you to be Dad.' It is heartbreaking.

I love those kids. In fact, I love them even more, because God knows if their real fathers ever will.

"But I have been driven too far. I made a decision not to see the kids back in December last year until this was resolved somehow or other."

Mr Jackson said the discovery that his two youngest children were the progeny of others was like a knife in his heart after all he had been through on their behalf.

The stress of trying to rebuild his life while the Child Support Agency extracted three quarters of his wage forced the public servant off work last year and he remains on sick leave.

He has been diagnosed as suffering major depression and anxiety by three psychiatrists, and is on medication.

On top of this, the CSA now insists that, as of early this month he owes a further disputed $39,679.

";"The Family Court has consistently pursued its critics by instigating contempt charges. But lately these citizens have been beating their powerful foe. Sarah Harris reports.

(Pix: View of a back of a man seated on park bench looking at chil"; "24";"fam";"Married To The Mob";"The Weekend Australian";"2000-11-18";"Adrian McGregor";;"They call it the Club, the male-dominated legal fraternity that looks after its own. Adrian McGregor reports that, for some of those lawyers' wives, a broken marriage can mean an unequal fight that leaves them angry, desperate and broke

Secret Men's Business

Under the Family Law Act, The Australian is unable to identify the parties to these proceedings.

The relevant provisions are regarded as some of the most severely restricting laws relating to publication of court events.

The law is designed to protect the privacy of families, so that individuals going through difficult divorce, maintenance and custody cases can be free of the risk of having their private affairs publicised.

Critics, however, say it prevents public scrutiny of the family law process and therefore hampers discussion of an important political and moral issue.

CASE 1

Case 1 married a lawyer, had children and a sizeable mortgage. She filed for divorce when she discovered he had a succession of lovers. She borrowed to survive until she obtained a spousal maintenance order. Over six months, Case 1 spent $900 on solicitors' letters to her husband, all unanswered. She twice briefed lawyers, only to discover they were acquainted with her husband. At a conciliation hearing, expected to last two hours, her husband arrived late and stretched the conference to five hours. She paid her solicitor $200 an hour while her husband was represented at reduced rates by a colleague. When Case 1's legal fees reached $35,000, she had to represent herself in the Family Court.

CASE 2

Case 2 married a lawyer with a large practice, had children and lived in a grand house with a small mortgage. Her husband took up with a girlfriend and filed for divorce. Case 2 borrowed money for legal fees from her parents, but eventually had to buy a copy of the Family Law Act and represent herself. Legal papers from the opposing side were delivered in a timely fashion when she had a solicitor, but without a lawyer they began arriving late. When her husband did not produce financial records, she subpoenaed them from the bank, only to be presented with the bank's huge bill for copying. Her spousal maintenance, which she had let accrue to make a new start after the settlement, eventually was awarded to her solicitors in lieu of unpaid fees.

THEY marry into society's elite, a world of privilege, status and wealth, yet it is only if the wives of lawyers are unfortunate enough to end up in the divorce court that they discover the true power their husbands wield.

Suddenly, all the legal clout that has enriched their marriage can be turned against them in a horrendous sequence of court cases, leaving them bankrupt, broken and frustrated -- and demanding changes to the Family Law Act.

The Family Court is renowned for instances of male anger and violence erupting over perceived injustices in litigation with ex-wives, but for ex-law wives the tables appear to be turned.

In dramatic cases, which The Australian can now expose, some wives have revealed their suffering at the mercy of their lawyer husbands in contested custody and property settlements. One wife of a lawyer told The Australian how she was bankrupted through a multitude of court appearances, in the Family Court and other jurisdictions. After living in an expensive home, enjoying the proceeds of a practice with a large turnover, she is penniless, renting a house with her young children.

Another law wife, also reduced to near penury, reveals that her legal fees amounted to more than five times her husband's even though -- until she ran out of cash -- they were equally represented by lawyers throughout the settlement. The husband's costs were a fraction of hers because of a practice called ``mates rates'', where solicitors and barristers work for each other at discounted rates. The effect is that a lawyer can protract Family Court proceedings to the point where he can bankrupt his wife.

Lawyers refer to the vast fraternity of lawyers as the Club and nobody -- Family Court lawyers, law academics or law society spokesmen -- denies its practices or its unjust impact on opposing litigants. The ex-wives say they know of other divorced law wives who have suffered similarly but are afraid to come forward because they fear their former husbands will drag them back into court to challenge hard-won, traumatic settlements.

Says one wife: ``I've attended enough damn cocktail parties with lawyers to know they all oil each other's wheels. I always believed that, despite what I overheard in conversations about certain cases, that they acted with utmost integrity. But I look back now and see it in a very different light.

It is contemptible. My husband manipulated the system to run up my bills so I ended up with nothing from the marriage.''

Another ex-wife speaks of professional favours provided by legal colleagues to her husband during the trial.


``Solicitors are looked upon as gods within the system,'' she says. ``They know everyone, from the judges' associates to the court filing clerks. If your husband is a solicitor, you have absolutely no chance against him.


``I'd say there's an 85 per cent chance that your own solicitor will be intimidated into doing a deal with him because your husband will threaten to run up the costs. Your husband's solicitor might say to your solicitor,


`Either accept what we offer or we'll give you such a run around, we won't give you documents and you'll have to work so hard that in the end she won't be able to afford to have you represent her.'''

The ex-wives, and their cases, cannot be identified under Family Court rules designed to protect the privacy of the litigants in no-fault divorce and property settlement proceedings. But the women are adamant that this secrecy also protects Family Court proceedings from open and public scrutiny, allowing exploitation to flourish.

The plight of the ex-law wives came to light following revelations in the US that judges and lawyers in New Hampshire had conspired to achieve sweetheart deals in the divorce court. The Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, David Brock, was impeached, but on October 10, however, the New Hampshire Senate overwhelmingly acquitted Brock. The senators concluded that although he might have shown poor judgment, he was not guilty of misconduct (full story, Page 24). Another New Hampshire judge resigned after a group of ex-wives banded together to expose the corruption.

There is no suggestion that Australian Family Court judges are in any way corrupt, but lawyers involved in property settlements or child custody hearings in Australia can employ a litany of tactics, all perfectly legal, designed to protract proceedings to magnify legal costs. The tactics range through minor breaches of court orders, vexatious applications for variance of court orders, last-minute requests for adjournments, late attendance at conferences, late service of affidavits and ignored letters.

While the lawyer-client's costs for legal documentation and successive court appearances are minimised by colleagues representing him at substantially reduced rates, his wife is charged full fee, eventually exhausting her funds. When asked why he extended this discount to lawyer-clients, one Family Court lawyer replied, ``It's a sort of professional courtesy.''

Wives who exhaust their funds and attempt to represent themselves in court become easy prey for opposing lawyers despite the Family Court's best endeavours to ensure equality of proceedings. At least two ex-wives who spoke to The Australian eventually had to represent themselves in court after running up legal fees of close to $35,000. One says that her crucial valuation of her husband's legal practice was not accepted because she filed it on the day of the trial. Her husband's lawyer complained that it might take him days to examine the valuation.

Says the wife: ``Yet I had matters filed on me on the day of the trial all the time. I felt I was being penalised for being in court on my own, without the status of a lawyer.''

She says that although judges are honourable, they are only as good as the information they are given.

Michael Berry, family law lecturer at the University of Western Australia, says the problem for the Family Court is the increasing demand on its resources.


``There is such a growing number of unrepresented litigants that proceedings are protracted by people who, through no fault of their own, are unfamiliar with court process,'' he says. ``The court is caught between knowing how much to advise them without seeming biased in favour of unrepresented litigants. It's a difficult tightrope. In the past 12 months the Family Court of Western Australia, under the direction of the Chief Judge Michael Holden, has produced a Litigants in Person handbook to assist unrepresented people going to trial.''

Although mates rates may well be employed in other jurisdictions, it's impact in the Family Court is devastating given the emotions involved in dividing children and property. Berry readily concedes solicitors may offer discounted rates to colleagues.


``Where one party is able to afford decent legal representation and the other party is not, the simple fact is that you get what you pay for,'' he says. ``It is not uniquely related to solicitors. People who aren't lawyers, if they've got friends in the profession, may get discounted rates from their associates.''

The Queensland Law Society's family law committee chairman Peter Sheehy says of mates rates, ``I'd be silly to deny it happens because it does. I haven't seen a barrister appear for nothing but certainly there may be some concession given on the fees.''

But Sheehy says the last thing family law practitioners want is a lawyer-client who ends up in a courtroom trial. ``We had one judge in Brisbane who was very critical if a family law barrister or solicitor appeared before him. His attitude was that the family lawyer should have known the matter could be better settled by pre-trial negotiation.''

The ex-wives describe the preparation for each court date as gut-wrenching.


``I was used to it in the end and wasn't that scared,'' says one wife. ``But

I had so many appearances I eventually bought a textbook of the Family Law Act and identified the loopholes in the act which keep you on the treadmill.

When my husband flatly declined to turn up for a compulsory conciliation conference, a registrar just said, `I'm not impressed' ... and that was all.''

When her husband didn't obey court orders, she was advised to apply to the Family Court for a contravention of orders.


``But it could cost you another $5000 in legal fees just to get the other party to obey the orders,'' she says.


``Why should I pay if they won't follow orders? Solicitors just laugh at it. If parties don't show up for compulsory conferences or don't obey orders, they should be fined or arrested and made to pay the cost of the application. I believed every time I walked through those court doors that justice would be done but my QC said, `It won't be. I've been in this game 25 years and it doesn't work that way.'''

Last month, the Full Family Court warned that, in future, obstructive and disobedient litigants would find themselves denied the right to argue their cases. In an appeal decision on a case referred to as ``T&T'', the court found that a husband had been ``hell-bent on delaying the trial''.

Berry says the case indicates the court intends to take a more stringent view on those who breach case management orders. ``But in order for the court to impose a fine or a term of imprisonment,'' he says ``the court has to be satisfied that the person deliberately contravened the order and that it was a flagrant challenge to the authority of the court. It's not yet clear to what extent the court will link such breaches of its orders to such fines or imprisonment.''

An experienced Family Court solicitor says the contravention of orders provision does not operate as a deterrent at all.


``A breach of orders will only attract sanctions upon the application of the aggrieved party,'' he says. ``It takes a long time and costs a lot of money.

At worst it will put the alleged offender in a `show cause' situation and if you can dream up a plausible explanation to offer the judge you probably won't be dealt with at all. If you are, it will be one of those wrist-smack things like a modest fine or a good behaviour bond.''

Berry concedes the veracity of these comments.

Another regular tactic is asking for adjournments after the wife has arrived at court with her barrister -- costing at least $2000 a day -- and solicitor, charging $200 an hour.

Both Sheehy and Berry say in that instance, if the delay can be shown to have prejudiced the other party, the wives' lawyers can ask the judge for costs to be reserved against those who cause the delay.

But the Family Court lawyer says in practice judges are reluctant to exercise their discretion in this way and usually send the parties away to return at a later date at their own cost.


``If judges can be persuaded to make a costs order at all, and in my experience it is rare, it is usually for a comparatively modest amount,'' he says. ``If you look at the ledger, it will probably have cost the wife at least $1500 for the wasted day and they'd be lucky to get $300 in costs.''

One law wife remarks: ``You'll find all our stories are the same: delayed trials, lost papers, award reassessments, all the time cranking the legal bills up and up.


``My husband warned me when we separated that if I didn't do as I was told I'd be sorry. But he was wrong. I'm not sorry, I'm angry.''

";"They call it the Club, the male-dominated legal fraternity that looks after its own. Adrian McGregor reports that, for some of those lawyers' wives, a broken marriage can mean an unequal fight that leaves them angry, desperate and broke

"; "25";"fam";"Street Protester Beats Judges at Own Game";"The Australian";"2000-03-08";"Bernard Lane";;"The Family Court brought contempt charges against a father hostile to its decisions but, writes Bernard Lane, could not sustain them.

Half an hour after the collapse of the highly unusual contempt of court case against him, PT, a 49-year-old pensioner, was back outside the Family Court building in Melbourne, proffering pamphlets and crying out, "Read the facts about the Family Court".

Perhaps immodestly, PT says: "My job is to close down the Family Court." He cannot be identified because he has been a family law litigant.

PT is also keen to say what he is not. "I'm not a lunatic, I'm a loving father."And I'm not a woman-hater - that's how I got myself into trouble, because I love women." There appears to be little love lost between him and the court.

PT says the judges wrongly denied him contact with two of his children, a son aged 10 and a daughter, 9. Like a few others, typically men, who have lost their cases, he began a quasi-political campaign - pamphleteering and sloganeering midway through his seven years of court proceedings. In September 1998, after two years of having PT demonstrating on its Melbourne doorstep, the court reacted.

PT found himself hauled in before a judge. He was charged with an old, rarely used form of contempt. Contempt by scandalising the court represents an attack on its authority or influence.

PT it was alleged, had handed out leaflets titled "Killers!" and "Blood on who's [sic] hands?" accusing the court of anti-male bias and responsibility for deaths. (He says the court confused other critic's pamphlets with his.)

He was alleged to have shouted that the judges were "shit-scared" and "terrorised and afraid of the truth".

PT was hardly alone in assailing the court with complaints. A month later, the critic's circle in family law drew another reaction, this time from Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson. In well-publicised remarks, the Chief Justice spoke of a "sinister element" among the critics.

"I have absolutely no doubt that there are many persons associated with men's groups, in particular who have an agenda to change the law to the disadvantage of women," he said. "A feature of their rhetoric is a complete absence of concern for children other than as objects of their right and entitlements. Many demonstrate, in strident terms, outside the court."

On January 17 this year, PT's trial began. It was to be the lead prosecution in an unprecedented series of trials for scandalising contempt. Three other critics of the court faced similar allegations.It was the Family court itself, through its marshal, that brought the charges. The penalty was a fine, prison or both, with no set maximum. The court briefed two senior barristers - Robert Redlich QC and Jeanette Morrish QC - to prosecute. PT had legal aid and a junior barrister. One of the Family Court's judges was to put him to trial, since there is no jury in contempt cases.

Last week that judge, John Ellis, whose fairness nobody questioned, threw out the case against PT.

"I was on the street [in front of the court] within half and hour," PT told The Australian. "I handed out about 300 posters." Samples of these appear to be more innocuous than those that prompted the court to prosecute.

The court has not yet made available a transcript of Justice Ellis's reasons, but the broad dilemma of contempt law is not a new one. It is supposed to protect public confidence in the courts from damaging, even violent attack.

In 1980, David Opas, a Family Court judge was shot dead. In 1984, a bomb exploded at the home of another judge, Richard Gee. That same year an explosion killed a judge's wife, Pearl Watson.

Tony Graham QC, who recently returned to the bar after 10 years as a Family Court judge, says: "There comes a limit to what a court has to put up with. I don't think people in the public quite realise just what the judges in the Family Court have to put up with. One fellow threatened to blow me up."

Nobody defends violence, but the difficulty lies in drawing the line between acceptable criticism and contemptuous attack. Sometimes, irrational abuse may be better ignored.

Without knowing the details of PT's case, Graham, for one, is not particularly concerned about critics demonstrating outside the courts. "It's a democracy - if people want to stand around in the street handing out placards, I'm not too fussed about that."

Sensitivity to criticism is, however, a topical theme in the Family Court. When the Chief Justice recently attacked the Australian Law Reform Commission for suggesting changes to the court workings, some judges told the law reformers privately they were "mystified at the fuss" being made in the name of the court.

PT's former solicitor, Gabriel Kuek, of Kuek & Associates in Melbourne, thinks scandalising contempt is a charge that has passed its use-by-date. "Such charges touch on issues such as the rights of people in a free democratic society to express political opinion freely."

Kuek represents two of the other court critics charged with scandalising contempt. It is unclear whether the court will now proceed against them.

When aspects of PT's case when to the High Court, last year, two judges pointed out that this kind of contempt was controversial and might need to be tested against the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of political speech. As president of the Aust5ralain Council for Civil Liberties, Terry O'Gorman is well aware of the free speech objection to contempt.

"But to protect the integrity of the court system - not to protect the sensibilities of particular judges - there really has to be a level of behaviour beyond which charges have to be brought," he says.

Even so, O'Gorman says, contempt trials should be heard by juries, not by a judge alone, and the decision whether to bring charges should be made by an independent prosecutor, not by the court. "Judges bringing and hearing contempt cases is totally anachronistic."

";"The Family Court brought contempt charges against a father hostile to its decisions but, writes Bernard Lane, could not sustain them.

Half an hour after the collapse of the highly unusual contempt of court case against him, PT, a 49-year-o"; "26";"fam";"Reformers Return Fire at Family Court";"The Australian";"2000-02-18";"Bernard Lane - High Court Correspondent";;"ALRC Report draws suggestions the Chief Justice of the Family Court should stand down!

The release of the Australian Law Reform Commission final report into the Australian federal justice system confirms their interim findings that the Family Court has a history of failed reform and is inflexible. Following the release of the interim report the discussion degenerated, not unexpectedly, into a public slanging match with verbal blows traded between Prof David Weisbrot, ALRC and Alastair Nicholson - the Chief Justice - expressing views such as, "What the Law Reform Commission seems to have done is to go around, and the whole report is shot through with anecdotal comments by unnamed people making those sorts of remarks. Now, if that's what they regard as research, it's certainly not what I regard as research. It's a completely sloppy, unstructured exercise designed to reach a conclusion they'd apparently reached before they started." [ABC Radio 20/8/99] The general opinion seems to be that the Australian Family Court and its officers are not receptive to constructive criticism from outsiders.

The Family Court is a beleaguered and defensive institution with a history of failed reform and hostility to constructive criticism, the federal Government's chief law reform advisers have reported.

The Australian Law Reform Commission yesterday urged yet another external review of the court, saying lawyers who used the court had little confidence in internal reform.

In a 700-page report of the federal justice system, the law reformers have made an issue of the vigorous attacks made on them by Family Court Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson, when in a discussion paper last year they criticised the court's bureaucracy as inflexible.

His reaction to criticism by anyone but court-sanctioned experts helped explain the frustration and lack of trust among family law practitioners, and helped justify an external review within two years, the report said.

Justice Nicholson had attacked last year's proposals for changes in case handling, yet law reformers later learned the court had been considering similar reforms internally, commission president David Weisbrot said.

Yesterday's report suggests that in his attempt to discredit the law reformers last year, Justice Nicholson misrepresented overseas experts on case management.

In an interview with The Australian, the Chief Justice rejected these accusations as "nonsense" and said the law reformers had been sloppy, irresponsible, engaged in a cover-up of past failings, were poor scholars and biased.

"The whole thing has been, I think, a quite vindictive reaction to the fact that we pointed out their deficiencies," he said.

He said the reformers had failed at first to interview key experts and collect essential information. The commission blames the court for delayed provision of material it requested. Justice Nicholson's longstanding complaint is that the court is underfunded, but the report says until it is clear funds are efficiently used, it will be hard to mount a case for more.

The report found that court's judges were divided over Justice Nicholson's criticism. Some judges said they were "happy for the (law reformers) to say things that judges felt constrained from saying" and others were "mystified at the fuss" their Chief Justice made.

Justice Nicholson said: "Obviously, there'll always be, among 53 judges, a few people who'll no doubt be disaffected about something or another. I know that I have the full support of the judges."

The Law Council of Australia said the reformers' commentary on the Family Court was "balanced and pragmatic".

The main points of the report:

Federal Court good for the economy Corporate lawyers rated the Federal Court 'world class'. Law reformers say Federal Court dispute resolution should be sold overseas as a part of Australia's promotion as a regional finance centre. The court's expertise in intellectual property - important to foreign companies - was singled out.

Class actions called to order Twenty Federal Court class actions now under way with potential claims of $3 billion.

Reformers say need for clearer rules about how judges choose between competing class actions arising from the same dispute.

Also, more attention to ethics of lawyers on both sides of a class action, and fairness of cost agreements with class members.

Cost cutting Case for better information about going rates for legal fees. Legal bodies should publish sample fee rates on their Web sites.

Courts should change the way they calculate costs, putting an end to lawyers' charges for photocopying and 'perusal of documents'. New fee scales should be based on 'case events' of varying complexity, from taking client instructions, through discovery process to trial and judgment.

Costs would be higher at start of proceedings to encourage early settlement.

Litigants would have a better idea at outset of costs they could recover from the other side if they win.

Parties would have to pay any extra costs they run up, discouraging needless litigation.

Benefits of Lawyering:

People represented by lawyers were more likely to reach a settlement, and avoid a costly hearing, in federal tribunals. END

Other articles that made mention of the problems identified in the ALRC Report:

Discussion of the problems associated with the political-judicial activism undertaken by the Chief Justice of the Family Court and his hostility to criticism were raised in The Australian & Brisbane Courier Mail editorials and in an article published in the Australian Financial Review [19/2/00].

Courier Mail editorial Saturday 19-2-2000 says under the heading "Reform essential for Family Court"....

"....... Justice Nicholson's defensive response to the commission's report is of concern, given the obvious need for reform in the court. The Family Court is addressing many of the problems raised in the commission's report. But if the court is to improve on its record and become more consumer friendly, it is important for it to encompass independent criticism."

The Australian, even more direct, said,

"Public need must guide the Family Court"

"...........The court is now entering a crucial period. In two years there may be an external review. An alternative, more streamlined court, using magistrates, is being set up, and its rationale is closer to the original that the contemporary Family Court. It is time for Justice Nicholson, who has been chief since 1988, to ask himself whether he has the detachment and judgement to lead the court through this difficult period. His court inevitably suffers unfair and sometimes virulent attack and it is understandable that someone in his position may become less able to identify constructive criticism. But as he himself often says, the court's work and the welfare of its litigants are vitally important. Those public interests must ultimately decide the question of leadership."

";"ALRC Report draws suggestions the Chief Justice of the Family Court should stand down!

The release of the Australian Law Reform Commission final report into the Australian federal justice system confirms their interim findings that the Fam"; "27";"fam";"Child payments: A-G's Advice on Jailing 'Wrong'";"Canberra Times";"2000-01-12";"Aban Contractor";;"Attorney General Daryl Williams has been accused of deliberately misleading a Government Senator over plans to jail parents who fall behind in child-support payments.

Prominent advocacy group, the Men's Rights Agency, claimed yesterday Mr Williams was wrong when he said tough new jailing provisions planned for maintenance defaulters would apply only to those with court orders predating the Child Support Agency.

Men's Rights Agency director Sue Price said legal advice showed that proposed legislative changes currently before the Senate would give the Family Court new powers to jail thousands of men and women regardless of whether they separated before or after October 1989.

But a spokeswoman for Mr Williams said the information given to Queensland Senator Brett Mason was correct.

"It is the Government's view that the legislation does not apply to Stage 2 (parents who separated after October 1989) people," she said.

Mrs Price said the legislation was also unfair because jailed parents would still have to pay the outstanding debt. "It penalises parents and children; they should be encouraging contact with kids, not locking people up," she said.

Mr Williams's spokeswoman conceded those jailed would still have to pay child-support arrears.

"Just because they haven't paid on time doesn't mean the children don't need the money," she said.

In a letter to Mrs Price dated November 14, Senator Mason wrote: "The amendment will only allow the imprisonment of a maintenance defaulter where the failure to make payments in respect of a child is wilful or fraudulent.

"It will not apply in cases where the paying parent cannot afford to pay or who is simply late in paying, or where there are other mitigating circumstances.

"The Attorney-General emphasised that these amendments do not apply to people whose child support liability is assessed under Stage 2 of the Child Support Scheme."

But legal advice obtained by Mrs Price said Stage 2 parents would be caught by this provision. This amendment gives the court power to impose an order that a person be imprisoned for non-payment of child support," the advice said.

"This power did not previously exist. This power can apply to all Stage 1 and all Stage 2 Child Support Scheme matters where the court has made a Departure Order.

Mrs Price said she was convinced Stage 2 people would be caught in the net.

"Part of the appeal process for an unsatisfactory review of child support is to have the matter determined by the Family court," she said. This results in a court order for maintenance which, under the new legislation, could, if the parent defaults in their payments, result in a prison sentence."

";"Attorney General Daryl Williams has been accused of deliberately misleading a Government Senator over plans to jail parents who fall behind in child-support payments.

Prominent advocacy group, the Men's Rights Agency, claimed yesterday Mr"; "28";"fem";"Revolt and Retribution - Feminists Revolting Next Year?";"The Australian";"1999-12-31";"Graeme Leech";;"Some feminists seem to think they should support the sisterhood right or wrong. Sometimes, ardent feminists cannot see beyond their categorisation of all men as anti-women. Which makes it a bit tough to engage them in a debate that looks at issues without the prism of gender politics deflecting the argument on to a tangent.

Melba should explain this out-of-the-blue position statement. On Tuesday, we referred to a feminist reaction to an excellent article on the failings of the Family Court published the previous Friday in The Australian.

Betty McLellan from Townsville sent an email to her like-minded sisters describing the author, Mr X as a men's rights fanatic. His story speaks for itself.

McLellan urged recipients of her message not to read the "disgusting article", otherwise they might spend the holiday period throwing up. Somewhat discourteously, Melba referred to McLellan's "revolting" followers. If any offence was taken, we regret it. We were merely alluding to McLellan's e-mail postscript enjoining feminists to be "more revolting than ever" in the next century.

E-mail chauvinists

Who needs Y2K bugs to cause meltdowns in the nation's e-mail system when the sisterhood is quite capable of achieving it in reaction to a couple of inoffensive paragraphs from Melba. We've been flooded with angry rants about our mild support for Mr X, who was accused by Mclellan of writing "utter garbage".

Only Kathleen Swinbourne of the Sole Parent's Union has bothered to attempt a relevant, intelligent response. Even Eva Cox writes about Melba's spluttering spleen without attempting more than a nod towards the core of the issue. Perhaps she's saving it for an opinion piece in The Australian sometime in the new year.

A snitch among sisters

To conclude on this matter - which, don't forget started because a male journalist wrote an excellent critique of the inadequacies of Australia's family law and its impact on him and his young children - we'll answer a key question posed by the sisterhood. How did we get hold of McLellan's absurd e-mail? It was passed to us by an anonymous source. It seems there's a viper in the bosom.

By the way, an e-mail from Kate Orman claims McLellan's original communication was "a casual joking comment". She should ask victims of the Family Court it they think it's funny.

";"Some feminists seem to think they should support the sisterhood right or wrong. Sometimes, ardent feminists cannot see beyond their categorisation of all men as anti-women. Which makes it a bit tough to engage them in a debate that looks at issues without"; "29";"fam";""Family Court Makes Disputes Worse"";"The Australian";"1999-12-30";"Letters to the Editor";;"Family Court Unfair to Men

I applaud The Australian for publishing the articles "Court Out" and "Trial Separation" on Christmas Eve. For too long the media have been silent about the difficulties faced by litigants, especially fathers, in the Family Court of Australia.

I must however, dispel a myth that is in danger of becoming accepted as fact and is referred to in today's editorial "Families need new ways of ending strife" (27/12).

Your editorial has relied on a claim that because only 5 per cent of Family Court cases are decided by a judge, then it follows 95 per cent are happy with the outcome of their separation agreements.

That is not the case. The system is so long winded and the entrenched maternal preference so apparent, many men are forced to accept agreements that offer little contact to their children or little in the way of fairness.

Despite wishing to proceed, many withdraw when they run out of money, especially when there is a seemingly endless supply of Legal Aid funding for the other side. Often cases don't get beyond the first step - a Legal Aid mediation conference when pressure to agree is immense - often under threat to remove funding or threat that "you'll pay all the costs" (yours and the other party) for any future litigation. Some counsellors are adept at convincing fathers that more harm than good will result from them wishing to spend time with their children, when faced with a mother who is determined to deny contact.

The final sell-out often comes from the least expected quarter - the father's solicitor. After many weeks of negotiation, letter writing, document preparation - his advice maybe "this is as good as it gets, so sign the consent orders" (i.e. an offer of every second weekend contact with the children), or "do not proceed to court seeking residency - you have no chance of success".

I doubt the 95 per cent have ever been asked if they signed the agreements willingly. Perhaps it is time to ask those searching questions. A Royal Commission into the Family Court would be welcomed, for they have, for too long, remained in hiding behind their cloak of secrecy.

Sue Price

Men's Rights Agency

Waterford , Qld

Justice Nicholson claims that the Family Court "assists parties to resolve their disputes" (Letters, 27/12).

I beg to differ. The very nature of the Family Court is guaranteed to make disputes worse, due to the adversarial nature of proceedings and the assumption from the outset that the children of divorce are a prize to be awarded to the winner..

The $20,000 to $100,000 couples spend on legal fees could better be spent on mediation, counselling, parenting and relationship education or in many other ways that will make divorce easier on the children. For this sort of money each party could have a case worker visit them daily for a year, and actually resolve the underlying problems that are otherwise played out on the battlefield of the Family Court.

In the small minority of cases where the divorce involves violence, the justice system may need to be called on, and children protected from the abusive parent. However, in most cases the starting point should be that both parents will share parenting and financial support of their children, and serious efforts to make this work.

If a child is sick we don't just say "here's an aspirin, if that doesn't work too bad" on the grounds that proper care is too hard and expensive. Why then do we put such a low value on our children's emotional wellbeing?

Peter Vogel

Faulconbridge, NSW

It is pleasing to see a paper having the courage to print the article "Court Out - One man's battle for his kids" (24-26/12)

The Family Court specialises in first removing parenthood, then property, possessions and pride from any loving father through any means available to them, and any woman even considering a change in lifestyle without the father of her children being involved knows full well the power that she has at her disposal through the threatened use of this court.

Similar stories could fill page after page of our newspapers daily if any journalist bothered to hunt out these men who have been churned through this system. I am one of those stories, but I am forbidden to publicly give that story, by a piece of Family Law legislation known as s121, that is designed to protect the children, but in fact does far more to protect our judges and their decisions from any close scrutiny.

NAME SUPPLIED

South Australia

My hearty thanks to The Australian and Mr X for having the courage to publish "Court out - One man's battle for his kids".

From personal experience I know without any doubt that everything Mr X wrote is true, because he did no more than describe how the Family Court industry operates. There are many fathers quietly battling "the system". In my own case, even though I have committed no crime, and want more than anything else to be a good father, I have had my little son taken away from me via the court process - and, of course, my little son has lost his father.

NAME SUPPLIED

Victoria

It is understandable that Justice Nicholson (Letters, 28/12) should attempt to defend his court. It is also disappointing that he refuses to acknowledge there is anything wrong with the way the Family Court functions.

Many other people now acknowledge that separating the work of the Family Court from other courts was a psychological blunder. It has allowed for an expensive growth industry which is less interested in serving those who come before it than in ensuring that it serves those who work for it.

I have heard many stories about the Family Court (from both sides of the same relationship) and, even allowing for a desire to exaggerate, I am aware that the experiences of "Mr X" are likely to be close enough to the truth to be cause for concern.

In denying this the judge is doing himself and his colleagues as well as those who come before the court a great disservice.

K.M. GUNN

Lower Mitcham, SA

Congratulations for publishing the informative article "Court out: one man's battle for his kids".

Although a happily married man, I am aware of the poor treatment meted out to fathers in the name of family law, and the irrational doctrines which allow it to happen.

Much of the problem would be solved with changes to provide default equal parenting on separation, with variations from this requiring agreements by both partners.

The Family Court fiasco also highlights the need for men's interests to be recognised and represented at a political level, through an office of the Status for Men.

Dr Vincent A. Patrick

Duncraig, WA";"Family Court Unfair to Men

I applaud The Australian for publishing the articles "Court Out" and "Trial Separation" on Christmas Eve. For too long the media have been silent about the difficulties faced by litigants, especially fathers, in"; "30";"fam";"Families Need New Ways of Ending Strife";"The Australian";"1999-12-27";"Editorial";;"The Australian Editorial that appeared as a follow-on to the "Court Out" and "Trial Separation" articles that appeared on Friday 24 December.

Christmas and New Year is a time of happiness and family security - but not for everyone. It is also a period that reveals the strain and conflict within some relationships and families. Fortunately, there is a growing awareness that a society cannot function in a healthy way if too many of these basic human link easily break.

In government there is a realisation that a different approach is needed. It is a paradox. The starting assumption for a new policy must be that policy can only do so much. Government has to encourage people to be self-reliant. Individuals must take greater responsibility for themselves and their families. This means more emphasis on preventing conflict, through education and counselling. Sometimes a mark of success in a pre-marriage program will be two people deciding they are not, after all, meant to be together. When conflict cannot be prevented, it must be resolved without making it worse. It has to be done quickly, cheaply and fairly, in a way that engages the people involved and encourages them to accept the outcome. Non-government agencies have the potential to offer a wide range of services - such as counselling and mediation - and the federal Government is right to encourage their growth.

For too long the Family court, and bitter argument about its workings have dominated public perceptions about family conflict. Certainly the experience of being a litigant in the court can be disillusioning. In its Christmas weekend edition The Australian published the account of one such litigant. Of course, there are always other points of view - those of another party, for example, or of court officers. Only 5 per cent of Family Court cases ultimately need a decision by a judge. Some of those cases could be dealt with more quickly and less expensively, removing causes of further resentment and conflict. Other cases entail unnecessarily protracted litigation before they settle. And there are cases that could be dealt with more conveniently by a non-government agency in a rural or regional area.

Where litigation cannot be avoided it should be made as short and simple as possible. For this reason, the new federal magistrates service, expected to begin next year, is a promising, if modest, venture. The idea is that magistrates with streamlined procedures will relieve the Family Court of simpler cases.

The Government's promotion of alternatives meed not be seen as a threat to the court. It may mean that the court finds itself with a more coherent and manageable mandate. Constructive criticism aside, the court has also suffered unreasonable attacks, made inevitable by its sheer prominence in the difficult field of family law.

If agencies do more conflict prevention and resolution, and the magistrates handle more litigation, the court should be able to concentrate its expertise on the more difficult and complex cases. The courts's Magellan project illustrates the potential. This project involves Victorian cases where there are serious allegations of child abuse. Taking a team approach, and with good co-operation from state agencies, the court has been able to resolve these difficult cases relatively quickly. The benefit is not just a saving of time and resources but probably the prevention of serious long-term damage to families. Better prevention and quicker remedies - these approaches will be in demand as family policy evolves.

Go to MRA's letter in response, published on Wednesday 19 December 1999

";"The Australian Editorial that appeared as a follow-on to the "Court Out" and "Trial Separation" articles that appeared on Friday 24 December.

Christmas and New Year is a time of happiness and family security - but not for everyone. It is al"; "31";"fam";"Letter to The Editor";"The Australian";"1999-12-29";"Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson";;"Father's story undermines faith in the court system

Your Focus story "court out" (24-26/12) has given an anonymous individual (apparently a journalist) the opportunity to personalise his version of a Family Court dispute in a highly dramatic manner to a national audience.

In publishing this sensational account The Australian has managed to send a poisonous Christmas message to the many families for whom Christmas is already a difficult time because of family breakdown.

It also succeeds in undermining faith in the judicial system in a most irresponsible manner, and in unfairly criticising dedicated legal and other professionals who work in one of the most difficult and stressful areas of the law.

The Family court cannot respond properly to this scurrilous story because of restrictions on the publication of details of Family Court proceedings, nor can it verify or check the accuracy of the allegations made because of their anonymous nature.

In publishing one side of what is inevitably a complex story, The Australian has shown a complete abdication of its responsibility to the public and to the concept of balanced journalism. Long experience in family law shows that many people are able to be objective about their involvement in such proceedings and when such accounts are examined from both points of view, the real story is very different.

It is all to easy to blame the Family Court for failing to solve the consequences of relationship breakdown but perhaps it is time to ask as to why the author and people like him were unable to do so themselves.

The court always encourages and assists parties to resolve their disputes, but it must be realised that if they are unable to do so, the umpire's decision if not always what they want.

Your story has done much to encourage those who bring a sense of not only irresponsibility but violence to family relationships and may well have put at risk women and children involved in family law matters during the tense festive period.

Alastair Nicholson

Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia

Melbourne.

";"Father's story undermines faith in the court system

Your Focus story "court out" (24-26/12) has given an anonymous individual (apparently a journalist) the opportunity to personalise his version of a Family Court dispute in a highly dramat"; "32";"fam";"COURT OUT - One Man's Battle for his Kids";"The Australian - Weekend Focus";"1999-12-24";;;"IN AUSTRALIA TODAY:

About 70 per cent of the more than 2000 male suicides each year are caused by relationship break-up, with nine male suicides to every female suicide.

About 80 per cent of the Commonwealth Legal Aid budget is spent on family law, the bulk going to private lawyers for women.

About 40 per cent of Legal Aid cases are funded against an unrepresented party.

More than 1 million children are in single-parent homes, with only 3 per cent in shared care arrangements and 97 per cent in sole care arrangements.

About 73 per cent of children living with one parent see their other natural parent less than once a week.

About 30 per cent see their other parent once a year or less.

I was in the middle of an excruciating three days of being cross-examined in the Family court of Australia, an experience that cost taxpayers many thousands of dollars. It had been an intensely difficult two-year journey getting here. I had done everything I could do to protect the children, and recently everything I could to settle the matter. I had represented myself almost all the way through. I didn't have the money to pay people thousands of dollars a day to argue over my family situation.

While I could not get legal representation, my ex was being funded through Legal Aid. She had an aggressive barrister, solicitor and legal assistant who used every destabilising tactic they could think of. None had met the children.

In all those days of cross-examination I was never asked about my relationship with the children or attitudes to parenting. Past relationships were referred to snidely as "sexual difficulties", things that happened 20 years ago flung in my face. I can't pretend to have been the cleanest of skins throughout my life, but as I said in court: "I might have a history, but I also have a present. I get up, I go to work, I pay my taxes and I have every right to expect that the mechanisms in this society which are supposed to protect my children will also protect my children."

I work as a journalist but had never been a court reporter. I naively expected the system to work. It does not. I expected consistent honesty, accuracy and decency when it came to children. I found nothing of the kind.

My former partner had never been the children's primary carer. those children grew up either with me, in care or at scholl. It was logical they should live with their dad.

After a period when relations in the household deteriorated into shouting abuse, she finally left on Fathers Day, 1997. On the advice of the police I approached the Family court.

It was a terrible time. The children were so distressed, their world was caving in. I got a pile of bewildering forms from the court and set to, calling on all the help I could.

Finally the ex conceded, but then the mother-in-law got into the act, paying for a lawyer and making things a damn sight worse.

The first order I sought was for the children to have a separate legal representative through Legal Aid - mistake number one. I had no idea of the scandal attached to the legal representation of children.

The initial order, made by a female judge, had the children with me five days, four nights. These orders suited the children. They got to see their mum but had a stable place to live. Most of the people who have been helpful to me through all this have been women. Women, you see, know what other women can be like.

Mistake number two: at the insistence of the separate representative I agreed to a family report by a court-appointed psychiatrist. I found it biased and inaccurate. It is in the family reports that the alchemy of truth characteristic of the court occurs: where black can be turned into white, junkie mums into sober paragons of maternal virtue and men into violent sub-Neanderthals. It is here where the accusations of women, no matter how implausible, can be reported as fact.

The children settled in the months following the initial orders. all the time I was preparing for a full hearing, getting to work, looking after two children.

The matter was in and out of court, each staging post a nightmare. The case passed through the pre-trial conference, legal complexities never explained. "Get yourself a lawyer."

I negotiated all the complexities of the court, financial statements, affidavits, compliance checks. Like many men, I became something of a bush lawyer, read everything on what is now the country's most controversial jurisdiction.

In the surreal world of the court administration there is noe appreciation that singe parents must both work and look after children. Issuing a subpoena, for instance, can only be done with the approval of a court registrar, and in a narrow window when you can spend all morning or afternoon waiting to be seen.

The only reason I managed was because I worked 10 minutes away in a job with some flexibility.

The average lone litigant now spends 42 days preparing for trial. The family matters basket on my computer had 273 files in it; submissions, affidavits, solicitors' letters, complaints. There are plenty of men who have spent more that $100,000 fighting for their children. The process is like climbing Mount Everest a dozen times in a state of emotional distress.

During this time I was being harassed; "You will never see those children again." The police finally helped get an apprehended violence order against her. I remember her screaming in the police station foyer, the children with their fingers in their ears crying, the old cops smirking. It was the young women constables who were the best, who said it doesn't matter who you are, you can't behave like that.

The awful heartbreak of families courting disaster:

In the Family court -

The average lone litigant spends 42 days preparing for trial.

The costs in a contested action can range from $10,000 to $100,000 plus for each party.

The median annual income of people in the court is $25,000 to $30,000. Some spend two or three time their annual income on legal fees.

Costs of family breakdown

About $1.3 billion in private maintenance payments are channelled through the Child Support Agency annually. About 91 per cent of payers are men.

Government parenting payments for single parents total $3.3 billion

In 49 per cent of one-parent families, the parent is jobless.

Continued.........

Though the academic research shows that when it comes to domestic violence both genders are equally guilty, try as a man ringing up a government-funded domestic violence help line.

The specialist report was released on the working day before the initial trial date. I couldn't believe the spin. I wrote saying while I objected to a $3000 report that didn't get basic things like ages correct, mirrored the negative experience of others, misquoted me and was delivered at the last minute, I could agree to shared parenting as recommended.

Without legal advice, I was stitched up. The children were split almost exactly 50/50 in an alternating pattern that was difficult for two children barely six and seven. Orders that were working well for the children were disrupted. I had no idea signing the orders would open me up to financial claims. The ex was ordered to take drug tests.

three months later I took her back to court. She hadn't done a single test and was keeping the children in an industrial warehouse. the court repeatedly;y over-ruled the children' solicitor, who said she would have serious concerns if the children were to stay with their mother at this time.

Three months later I asked for an expedited review by the "specialist".

Although the mother's compliance with court orders to do drug tests peaked at 50 per cent, the specialist complimented her on her recovery and repeated her accusations as if they were fact. She claimed, for example, that I was writing four letters a week calling her a "using junkie prostitute". The specialist condemned this behaviour, yet no such letters existed. The specialist decreed that because I had called the police over her harassment I was threatening her parenting ability, and if I continued to report her to the authorities that my time with the children should be further reduced.

Although I work as a journalist the report decreed I was unable to express myself. I complained about this behaviour to the attorney-general, which got me nowhere.

To my horror I discovered that I could not back out, that she had the right to run her response. Attempts to settle failed. Armed with a totally dishonest report the ex was determined to take the case all the way to judgment.

Although at the compliance check the court ordered the separate representative to be maintained, days before trial representation of the children ceased and Legal Aid began funding the mother, at a likely cost of $50,000. In other words, the Government saw fit to spend this sort of money on someone who had never complied with a single court order, but not on the children. And certainly not on me.

Day after upset day I was sent home from work in tears. I took time off, issued 26 subpoenas, pulled all the evidence together - hours of taped abuse, diary entries, photographs from the day the children were born. It was a well-documented case, I was a journalist after all. I filed this mountain of material with minutes to spare. Photocopying alone cost hundreds of dollars.

His Honour was elaborately courteous throughout the hearing. All my witnesses were professional, told the truth, acted with decency. I found hers were a dishonest shemozzle.

In the end all my efforts were to no avail.

Three months later, immediately after Fathers Day, the judgment was handed down; two years to the day from when she left. My time with the children was to be progressively decreased over the next three years.

I went home to a house still full of the banners from the children: "We Love You Dad", "You're the Best Dad". The judgment did not get my age or the hearing date correct, falsely claimed that I had an AVO against me and that the mother was the primary carer. The judgment ignored four days of evidence and regurgitated the report of a "specialist" who had never been cross-examined because I didn't have $1500 to pay for his court appearance. It was id the trial had never happened, I had seen the specialist with the children for perhaps six minutes.

The judge went out of his way to say how helpful the reports were. But I knew they were patently inaccurate.

My children are being progressively displaced from a house on a suburban street into a flat on a busy road near a methadone clinic and needle exchange.

this is one man's story, but I am aware now of too many cases to think mine was unique. I hear every day of courts ordering children back into the hands of violent, abusive, drunken, drug-addicted mothers when there's a perfectly food home for them with their fathers, of men being stitched up by biased and inaccurate reports. I hear of the grief of men falsely accused of sexually abusing their children, of being violent and neglectful fathers when nothing of the sort is true; of their outrage at an industry thriving on false claims, of a system which leaves them impoverished and their children's lives wrecked.

Despite almost two decades as a journalist and a comparatively colourful life, I have never met a more dishonest group of people than some of those I encountered. After two years in the Family court I have formed the view, as they would say, that almost any alternative would be better than the present disastrous, damaging system.

I have formed the view that shared parenting agreements should be mandatory except in exceptional circumstances, that the Family Court should be abolished and its useful functions transferred back to local or district courts where proper rules of evidence apply. Or that the tribunal system touted by a number of groups should be examined.

I have formed the view that no one could pass through the Family Court of Australia and retain any respect for the legal profession or our country's institutions; that funding of custody battles is an abuse of public funds; that the legal representation of children is a national disgrace; that a coterie of psychiatrists and counsellors relied on by the Family court are deliberately providing false accusations and misinformation against men.

I have formed the view that like any other institution neither transparent nor accountable, the culture of the Family Court is corrupt; that ideology has replaced decency and the ones suffering the most are children, mine and many others.

Thank you to the Editors of the Australian for publishing this story, well done! Thousand of fathers are extremely thankful Mr X's story has been told. His experience closely mirrors their own.

More than a million Australian children will spend Christmas in a broken home. As the Government tries to improve family justice, 'Mr X' tells of his personal voyage of despair.

"Don't cry, you will lose your children for sure," your barrister says sternly; and inside all you can feel are waves of distress. For you are vulnerable though what you love the most - your children.

Welcome to the Family Court of Australia. Behind the imposing facades of the courts lies the deepest hurt. Close to a million children now live away from their fathers.

";"IN AUSTRALIA TODAY:

About 70 per cent of the more than 2000 male suicides each year are caused by relationship break-up, with nine male suicides to every female suicide.

About 80 per cent of the Commonwealth Legal Aid budget"; "33";"fam";"COURT OUT - Trial Separation";"The Australian";"1999-12-24";"Bernard Lane";;"The Federal Government is trying to reduce the primacy of the Family Court by pointing couples to counselling, mediation and magistrates instead. Bernard Lane reports.

Family Court Chief Justice ALASTAIR NICHOLSON:

" The Family Court counsellors develop a considerable expertise in dealing with crisis situations"

"We're considering new rules on trial management to enable judges to shorten proceedings"

Federal Attorney General DARYL WILLIAMS:

"We want people to stay our of court and that means highlighting the availability of alternatives and increasing the availability of those alternatives"

"It's the change of attitude in the community that's the hard part"

Father after Divorce author MICHAEL GREEN:

"The whole level of expertise of the court reporting from psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors is, generally speaking, very,very poor and entirely suspect"

Men's Rights Agency director SUE PRICE:

"If men think there is bias in the court, I hate to confirm it, but yes there is. Men have been treated most unfairly"

Which court? In the near future the Family Court may not be so famous, or infamous, depending on your point of view. As more engaged couples get nudged into marriage education, fewer may end up in court as a breakdown statistic. More families in trouble will be encouraged to see their local psychologist for mediation rather than the court registry. Of the few that who must litigate their way out of relationship conflict, more will go before an informal magistrate, not a superior judge of the Family Court.

For almost a quarter of a century , the courts, families and conflict have been bound together. As federal Attorney-General Daryl Williams remarked recently, "The Family court dominates public perceptions of family law." But not for much longer if government reforms live up to its rhetoric.

The Family Court has sold itself as the "one-stop shop" for family law, offering everything from information through counselling to verdict. But the Government has begun to free up the market and it will be heavily promoting a range of competitors, including a new federal Magistrates Court. In an interview with the Australian this week, Williams said: "People ought not to look to the Family Court as the sole place for resolving breakdown issues."

The new family policy has many origins, but the familiar argument over the Family Court is certainly one of them. It is an argument that appears scripted: attorney-general criticises court for inefficiency and delay; chief justice blames government for insufficient funding. But something more interesting is happening. By promoting conflict prevention and alternatives to litigation beyond the court, the Government appears to be executing an outflanking manoeuvre.

It will not make the Family court redundant. Williams speaks of the court being "liberated" so it can focus on its core business: complex cases, such as those involving child abuse, that only superior court judges can resolve. Even so, the court will become less prominent if more and more Australians take their troubled relationships elsewhere. But, line any family law reformer, Williams must contend with ingrained attitudes, some deeply irrational, and even modest success cannot be guaranteed.

Reform begins with prevention. A few years ago, Williams recalls, "the common catchcry was that we're spending $1 million a year on relationship education and $100 million a year on the Family Court in relationship breakdown". Now there is a brace of preventative programs, worth about half the court's budget; more is on the way. People have to be prepared for the inevitable conflict of relationships, Williams says. "They need to understand what is happening when it occurs and how to handle it, so it's relationship education, I think that is crucial."

Couples in a Perth pilot program launched last month will have vouchers entitling them to a modest $200 worth of pre-marriage education. A national information line, available by phone or internet, is being set up. This will help direct people to the new range of family services, many of them not as well known as they should be.

The Family Court's Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson says: "I'm very much in favour of more effort being put into preventing relationship breakdown." But he adds a rider: "I'm not sure that it's going to in any sense obviate the need to devote resources and effort to dealing with the consequences of relationship breakdown as well."

For conflict prevention, and for conflict resolution without litigation, the Government is increasingly looking to non-government agencies such as Relationships Australia and Centacare, and private practitioners, among them lawyers, psychologists and arbitrators. What might this mean for the Family court's in-house counselling service, which is a considerable institution? A few years back, Williams intimated that a courthouse was no place for counselling, as if once families crossed the threshold they might become possessed with the litigious spirit. Now there seems room for both in-court and beyond-court services, even if the Government expects community counsellors to develop a much wider reach that the court counsellors, who may sometimes be called upon to train them.

Williams concedes that agencies in the community have tended to deal with general relationship problems rather than specific family disputes, but says the quality of their counselling and mediation is assured. Nicholson says his counsellors have greater expertise in resolving "crisis situations" - and litigants have them available on the spot. But he can see an opening for community-based arbitration, such as a dispute about the value of a business in a property settlement. anyway, Nicholson says, there are signs of better cooperation between the court and community agencies. "For example, we're arranging the sharing of premises on the Gold Coast," he says. The Government wants to encourage co-operation, too.

Williams and Nicholson agree that sometimes there just won't be an alternative to litigation. Only 5 per cent of cases begun in the Family court ultimately need a decision by a judge. But litigation in the court can still be costly and subject to lengthy delay; this can worsen the family dispute. Superior court judges are wasted on simpler disputes while the registrars, because of constitutional restraints, are not equal to them. Registrars are only quasi-judges who lack full authority.

Enter Williams's new magistrates, intended to be cheaper and more adaptable than superior court judges, yet free of the registrars' constitutional restraints. Nicholson says he saw the need come time ago for magistrates to deal with simpler matters quickly yet finally. But Williams was determined the magistrates would be independent of the court. It seems he feared their contamination by what is seen as the overly formal and bureaucratic culture of the court.

Nicholson protests his judges are thinking about more streamlined hearings, but says the options are limited because so many litigants appear without lawyers. "I don't believe the Magistrates Court is going to solve that problem either," he says.

Williams says he will announce soon the name of the chief magistrate, to be joined by 15 colleagues next year. As for the kind of cases they might take, Williams suggests a father's attempt to enforce a contact order when the mother pretends the child is ill. "His only resort at the moment is the Family Court. His solicitor says: 'Give me $3000 before I file the application and I'll need $3000 more before we go to court." Then the solicitor says: 'We've got a waiting list for these cases of 18 months' - and all the father is looking for is next weekend."

With streamlined procedures and a regional presence, the new Magistrates Court is supposed to reduce delays, costs and travelling time for litigants, as well as cater for unrepresented parties.

Nicholson has work waiting for the magistrates. "Where's the child going to school or what religion is the child to be brought up in ....they're not issues that are going to take an enormous amount of evidence and time to deal with," he says.

'I'm concerned that the funding may be removed and the work will remain', Family Court Chief Justice ALASTAIR NICHOLSON

But can the magistrates, who will also have to relieve the Federal Courts of some of its work, make a big impact? Williams hopes so. "As an ideal, you would decrease the size of the expensive courts - the Family court and the Federal Court - and increase the size of the inexpensive court." But he is quick to say he does not know whether that will happen; it depends on the range and number of cases the magistrates prove able to absorb.

Nicholson points to the small size of the first complement of magistrates, He has 21 registrars, "pretty well flat out", dealing with the kinds of applications he imagines will go to the magistrates. "So it's difficult to see that number of magistrates knocking a very big hole in that workload," he says. He would like to see more appointed.

Some of the money to fund the magistrates will be clawed back from the Family Court's budget, since its workload is expected to lighten. But Nicholson says, "I'm concerned that the funding may be removed and the work remain."

With such a range of family work being done in such a variety of places, the job of co-ordination will be a vital one. There will be prevention programs scattered across the country, conflict resolution inside and outside the Family Court, and litigation before magistrates as well as judges. Williams talks of directing the people to the right "pathway"so that no matter where they first encounter the sprawling system, they get consistent information and referral advice. The well-beaten pathway has always led straight to the Family court. As reform proceeds, however, more and more signposts will point elsewhere.

Bernard Lane is The Australian's High Court Correspondent

";"The Federal Government is trying to reduce the primacy of the Family Court by pointing couples to counselling, mediation and magistrates instead. Bernard Lane reports.

Family Court Chief Justice ALASTAIR NICHOLSON:

" The Family Cour"; "34";"fam";"Court to Investigate Custody 'bias'";"The Australian";"1998-10-01";"Janet Fife-Yeomans";;"THE Family Court was to investigate whether mothers or fathers were more likely to win custody of their children as its Chief Justice, Alastair Nicholson, yesterday defended his court against unprecedented criticism of bias from men that the court was biased against them.

Justice Nicholson said the court was also considering a study of property settlements and rejected claims that men were being "taken to the cleaners" in decisions by the court.

Justice Nicholson said he was concerned that there was a perception of bias, but when the court produced figures to counter that perception "some people don't want to believe them".

The court, which now deals with 24,930 custody applications a year compared with 9286 in 1977, has come under attack from large numbers of men and men's groups lining up as candidates in the federal election with the Family Court as their target.

One candidate in John Howard's seat of Bennelong has called himself Prime Minister John Piss The Family Court and Legal Aid.

Another candidate is facing contempt proceedings in the Family Court in Melbourne after using a loud hailer and handing out allegedly offensive leaflets outside court.

"One of the problems about it is that making a lot of noise often gives people the impression there is a problem where there isn't," Justice Nicholson said.

"I reject the claim that people are biased against men in this court.

"It is a fairly extraordinary proposition when you look at the gender make-up of the court where two-thirds of the judges are men. Why a male-dominated judiciary would either collectively or individually set off on a campaign of bias against men is hard to understand."

Studies done by the court into defended custody cases have revealed "remarkably consistent" figures with fathers retaining either full or shared custody into up to 41 per cent of those cases, said Justice Nicholson.

In 1980, fathers were successful in 31 per cent of defended custody cases and mothers in 54 per cent, while in 10 per cent the custody was shared. In the rest, custody went to other family members or institutions.

In 1990, fathers were again successful in 31 per cent of cases, mothers in 60 per cent, there was shared custody in 8 per cent of cases and 1 per cent of cases where custody went to family members or institutions.

Justice Nicholson said it was telling that when both parents agreed on custody, the latest figures available, from 1980, showed that in 79 per cent of cases, mothers got consent.

(What the Judge is not telling the readers is that only 5% of cases are ever decided by the Court. 95% of decisions are reached by consent, [18% result in father custody]. Some of these consent orders would have been reached under the duress of not having enough money to proceed to final hearing or withdrawing from the application to protect the children from further distress. An unknown number of separated couples may never approach the Family Court to even have Consent Orders registered. - Ed)

The judge said similar figures were seen in the UK and US.

"To me it shows that, whether one likes it or not, there is a general community view that tends to support the mother being the care giver, particularly for young children," said Justice Nicholson.

(The researcher who produced the figures used by Nicholson, Sophy Bordow commented when the research was published in the Australian Journal of Family Law 1994 that "While the current legal statutes instruct the courts to award custody in the best interests of the child, many litigants and social observers believe that the maternal preference presumption continues to have an influence even though it is no longer explicitly mentioned in judgments. Furthermore, the 'primary caretaker' concept which took precedence over parental gender, continues to be seen by many as merely being the old maternal preference in gender neutral terms" - Ed)

He said the court was ready for a new study but he doubted the figures would have changed significantly.

Justice Nicholson said it was more difficult to do a study of property settlements – last year the court dealt with 13,527 property cases.

"There are still a lot of men who cannot accept that someone's contribution as a home-maker or a parent ought to be equated with what they see as their superior financial contribution," he said.

"But I don't believe there is any bias. It is not a process that lends itself to gender bias. It tends to be a part arithmetical and part the contributions people have made.

"It's better to do studies than rely on assertions, but when we do the studies some people don't want to believe them."

";"THE Family Court was to investigate whether mothers or fathers were more likely to win custody of their children as its Chief Justice, Alastair Nicholson, yesterday defended his court against unprecedented criticism of bias from men that the court was bia";"The Australian Family Court's reaction to the emergence , during the recent Federal election , of the Abolish Family Court/Child Support Party. The Chief Justice of the Family Court , Alastair Nicholson takes his usual stance dismissing the critics as" "35";"fam";"The Cost of Separating Fathers from their Children";"The Australian";"1998-10-08";"Letters to the Editor";;"With reference to your article Court to Investigate Custody ‘Bias’ (1/10), the figures quoted are quite correct. What they do not reflect is that with consent orders, non-custodial parents, in the majority, males are told by their solicitors at compulsory legal aid conferences that this is "as good as it gets".

In effect, roll over, shut up and accept the status quo. Women are the better care-givers for children, they will limit your access to your children and it does not matter how committed a father you are, this is the best you can hope for.

The highest death rate by suicide in Australia is for males between 25 and 44 years. The most significant pointer is non-custodial parental status, yet this tragic waste of males when they should be most productive is ignored by the incumbent Government of the day, the bureaucrats and the Family Court.

There may be a hidden agenda here, though. These men may have been financially crippled through child support, have gone on the dole, then killed themselves and this lessens the employment figures. Food for thought.

There is a syndrome called involuntary child absence which I am researching for my honours thesis in psychology and this is the greatest pointer towards male suicides aided and abetted by the practices of this travesty of justice called the Family Court.

You can take the children away from the father, but you cannot take the father away from the children. Reflect on this point, Justice Nicholson. The reason to have children is to perpetuate your existence, to have an input into the adults you wish them to be. To take this away from men is to deny them their total reason for existence. You are killing their souls.

Sylvia Smith, Gladstone, Qld

Despite Justice Nicholson’s assurances of family law "fairness" I’ll never marry and place myself under the Family Law Act again. Funny thing that, it seems to be a very common male response. Isn’t 70 per cent conceding custody to women not indicative of bias? Pull the other one. What makes you think men are fool enough to swallow this sort of rubbish? Why would anyone want to spend $17,000 on a custody battle with less than 30 per cent chance of success? And in actuality a 0 per cent chance of success unless the former wife is a demonstrable monster.

Ross M. Daly, Salisbury Heights, SA

Why is the Family court going to investigate possible custody bias instead of the Attorney General or an independent body?

Justice Nicholson also wonders why people are "making a lot of noise". What else when the proceedings of the court are not reported because of alleged concern for the children - who in many cases are considered adult enough to be wrenched away from one parent?

He also wonders why "a male-dominated judiciary would ... set off a campaign of bias against men". Was the campaign not "set-off" by the women’s lobby with support of politicians who could see savings - from automatic payments of husbands’ child support and large property wins to women - as a way of chopping welfare?

Does Justice Nicholson include in ‘shared custody" the usual one weekend every fortnight and half of school holidays formula?

It might well be that parents would agree more on the mother having the main custodial role if the route of apprehended violence orders and lawyer-backed adversarial campaigns were replaced by legal advice when marriages falter.

Justice Nicholson also makes no mention of the Child Support Agency which, without consultation, automatically bills fathers for one-quarter of take-home pay for the first child, rising for each extra child. This is separate from property settlements, which firmly favour the woman.

More men might agree, with support and custody arrangements if they were not forced upon them, like sentences on criminals.

Name Withheld, Sydney

";"With reference to your article Court to Investigate Custody ‘Bias’ (1/10), the figures quoted are quite correct. What they do not reflect is that with consent orders, non-custodial parents, in the majority, males are told by their solicitors at compulsory"; "36";"fam";"Superannuation "Divorce a Super Rift"";"Sunday Mail - Brisbane";"1998-03-15";"Noel Whittacker";;"You can tell it is an election year - Prime Minister John Howard was prominent in the media last weekend with his promise to legislate to allow women access to their husband’s superannuation upon divorce.

I’m not sure where Mr Howard has been spending his time, but this "revelation" is 23 years late.

The right to a spouse’s superannuation was made law when the Family Law Act was introduced in 1975, but it was not until 1979 that the landmark court decision in Crapp v Crapp was handed down. Mrs Crapp was the ex-wife of a Qantas pilot and she became the first Australian to have the value of a spouse’s superannuation taken into account when their divorce settlement was being worked out.

His superannuation benefit was one of the couple’s biggest financial resources after a long marriage. The fact that his lump sum payout was not due for 11 years from the time of the court hearing gives an indication of the problems that arise when trying to place a figure on its worth.

It may be fine for the Prime Minister to say he will let couples divide up superannuation but the reality is that superannuation is a unique asset.

Although the Family Law Act has been in force since 1975, the problems of accounting for superannuation in a property settlement still baffle the courts. The major reason is the difficulty of arriving at a fair value for it.

Think about someone aged 40 with a career job in a big institution such as the government. If they keep their nose clean and stay until age 60 they may get a superannuation payout of hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, 20 years will pass between now and then. During that time they may die, lose their job, change jobs or retire early on medical grounds. In each case the payout will differ, yet divorce may occur many years before any of these possibilities eventuate.

Then there are the twin problems of preservation and unequal future earning capacity.

CASE STUDY: Harry and Helen are aged 40. He is an executive earning $90,000 a year - she was a secretary before they got married.

Their main assets, apart from three young children, are a house worth $250,000 with a $150,000 mortgage and his superannuation of $100,000. Should they divorce she cannot keep the house as she could not afford the repayments. Therefore it is sold and the equity divided.

Her share of the equity is not sufficient to put another deposit on another home; but, even if she is awarded half the superannuation, it is tied up until at least age 55 under the preservation laws. The only way she would be able to buy another home is to be able to cash in the superannuation. If this were possible it would defeat the whole purpose of the superannuation system, which is to provide retirement incomes.

To try to overcome these difficulties courts tend to regard superannuation as a resource of the marriage, not an asset that can be divided. Thus they have preferred to take the presence of superannuation into account when splitting up the other assets.

For example, if an investment property owned by the couple was worth $150,000 and the superannuation benefit was worth $150,000, the spouse without superannuation may be awarded the investment property to balance things up.

If a couple have their own self-managed superannuation fund, it is likely they are the only members of it. When one has a much higher balance in their member’s account than the other, superannuation regulations provide a mechanism whereby the balances in the members’ accounts can be re-allocated. This may enable part of the property settlement to be met from the superannuation fund and avoids the problem of the wife having to wait until the husband retires before her share of the superannuation can be paid to her. But it does not solve the preservation problem. Superannuation and divorce will become more important as superannuation grows and as women start to earn as much as their husbands.

Some men are now applying to the courts for a slice of their ex-partner’s superannuation. This is not something John Howard mentioned on International Women’s Day.

Noel Whittacker is a proper authority holder for Whittacker McNaught Pty. Ltd., licensed dealer in securities.

";"You can tell it is an election year - Prime Minister John Howard was prominent in the media last weekend with his promise to legislate to allow women access to their husband’s superannuation upon divorce.

I’m not sure where Mr Howard has b"; "37";"fam";"Mother to Fight Ban on Moving";"The Sunday Mail";"1997-10-05";"Chris Taylor";;"A Gold Coast woman divorced from her husband a decade ago has been forbidden by the Family Court to relocate to central Queensland to live with her fiancee.

The move comes despite a landmark Family Court decision in July to allow a Cairns mother of two top move interstate and remarry, against the wishes of her former husband. (MRA note: The husband in the BvB case had no wish to prevent the mother's remarriage - he just wanted to to maintain good contact with his children)

The ban on the Gold Coast woman orders her to reside within 100klms of her former husband, so he can have access to their son, 11.

But documentation submitted to the court shows the woman had agreed herformer husband could have access to the boy at call and during the school holidays, for which whe has offered to pay travel expenses.

The Ashmore woman, 38, who was divorced in Victoria in 1987, now intends to fight the ban through the courts, taking the matter to trial next year.

Her lawyer, Kerry Smith, last night described the situation as "disgusting".

It's a very, very sad situation that unfortunately a lot of people are finding themselves in and the law is just not accommodating them," she said.

"This is a case where a woman is only trying to make a better life for herself and of course he son."

"Now, she is being placed under great stress, not to mention what the whole matter has and will cost."

The lawyer representing the child's father, Frank Sabben, said he could not discuss the case in detail.. He confirmed tgat tge matter was being prepared for trial.

In an interim order in April, Brisbane Family court Justice Jordan ordered the woman to remain within 100km of her former husband. That order was upheld during a further hearing last week.

The woman had moved to Western Australia earlier this year when her fiancee obtained a new job. She returned under a Family Court order and her fiancee was able to transfer to a new position near Gladstone.

She now fears he will be forced to resign the $1000-a-week job.

";"A Gold Coast woman divorced from her husband a decade ago has been forbidden by the Family Court to relocate to central Queensland to live with her fiancee.

The move comes despite a landmark Family Court decision in July to allow a Cairns"; "38";"fam";"There are Always Winners and Losers in Family Court";"Canberra Times";"1997-08-13";"Roderick Campbell";;"Child custody disputes are undoubtedly the biggest single cause of friction in the aftermath of a marriage break-up and are probably the most significant factor in the Family Court's poor standing among many non-custodial parents.

A recent paper prepared for the Federal Government discussed opening up the Family Court to more regular and more enlightening media coverage. The theory was that if the media had better access to the court, the public would better understand family law matters and the court's reputation would be enhanced.

Freeing up media access to the court is unlikely, by itself, to achieve a lot. No amount of coverage of family law cases will ever convince some disgruntled litigants, most of them men, that the court does not have an in-built anti-male bias.

The court's handling of custody disputes appears to cause most of their anger. And once that battle is lost, its equally unpopular sequelae, child support, follows.

People who have had no personal experience of the Family Court or the administration of family law, might wonder why, in custody disputes, the court always feels obliged to side with one parent or the other, despite the fact that both are good parents. Why does the court not award joint custody more often? Why is one parent's refusal to accept a joint custody arrangement not regarded as prima facie evidence that they should not be granted custody at all?

To discover the answer to these questions, one must go to more than 20 years of reported judgments of the court.

The bottom line in most custody disputes, it seems, is that one parent is going to "win" and the other is going to "lose". And it is done in the name of the "best interests" and the welfare of the children.

Last year's much heralded amendments to the Family Law Act were meant to change this and move the emphasis towards shared parenting. However, the recent controversial Full Court ruling on the right of a parent to move interstate with the children to remarry has convinced most lawyers in the field that nothing has changed.

The reason is that the court rarely awards joint custody to warring parents, in the not unreasonable belief that joint custody cannot work where the parents are forever at each other's throats.

At the end of the day, the question is: what arrangement is in the best interests of the children? If joint or shared custody is going to be unworkable and detrimental, it is not really an option. Quite frequently, it is both parents who are to blame for this, although the system is open to abuse. One parent can set themselves up for a sole custody order by undermining previously agreed arrangement, thereby rendering joint custody unworkable.

The court's approach to these cases has been explained in a number of published judgments. In a 1993 case, Chief Justice Alistair Nicholson wrote, "If parenting values are not compatible, it may result in mounting tensions and mistrust to the point where the arrangement becomes detrimental and unworkable. Views with respect to medical preference, the emphasis on homework, selection of television programs, treats and discipline, need to be reasonably compatible."

Anyone who is married with children will know that such matters can normally be sorted out amicably in a properly functioning family. But they would also see how they might become sources of considerable conflict in a marriage which has broken down, when the art of compromise suddenly evaporates.

Twenty years ago, The Full Family Court said "The best interests of a child, and the full promotion of his welfare, are not generally served by orders for joint custody unless his parents have demonstrated that degree of maturity and such an ability to communicate and cooperate with each other as to give the court some confidence that the order for joint custody will be workable or that, with assistance from the counselling services of this court, it can be made workable."

This observation seems to suggest that the presumption is against joint custody. It is a presumption with which at least one expert in the field strongly disagrees.

Dr. Don Edgar, Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, believes that the system has wrongly defined the concept of the "best interests" of the child.

He says there should be an assumption that those best interests are likely to be served through joint parenting arrangements, rather than some sort of Solomon-like carve up.

Writing in the Australian Family Lawyer, Dr Edgar said the "dogma of the primary caretaker rule", whereby the parent who had most of the day-to-day care during the marriage should get custody, was as sexist as the by-gone era idea that the best interest of a child meant leaving him or her with the father.

After reviewing years of research which underlined the detrimental impact of divorce on children, but the positive effects of shared parenting, Dr Edgar said it was incredible that the children's views were largely overlooked in the process and that custody and access were talked about as though they were parental rights.

We should, he said, be talking about the child's right to involvement with both parents, not of the parent's right to custody or access rights.

More than 10 years ago, Dr Edgar wrote, "There is an element of professional paternalism in assertions that joint physical custody is bad for the children. Do we have the right to interfere with the child's living arrangements while the parents are married? What gives us the right to interfere when they get divorced?"

"Since the law wishes to assert both parents' ongoing responsibility for the care and control of children, why should it give custody to one in effect, and only formal maintenance responsibility and unequal access, care and control rights to the other parent? Will such splitting ever work in the best interests of the child?"

The theory that the Family Court decides these matters by reference to the true "best interests" of the children was further undermined a few months ago when a senior judge said the court might actually be encouraging parents to leave their spouses without warning and set up house with their children, knowing that this is a smart legal tactic in the future custody battle.

Justice Alwynne Rowlands said the way in which the court decided interim custody issues was encouraging parents to arrange their affairs by dramatic action. Knowing that the court was likely to make an order that was least disruptive to the children, the parent could do a "runner", confident that by the time the case came on for a full hearing, the interim arrangement would have become virtually permanent.

When one parent can manipulate the process by either walking out of a marriage unannounced or by deliberately undermining joint parenting arrangements, and then have their actions vindicated by a custody order made in the "best interests" of the children, it is not hard to see why come non-custodial parents remain unimpressed by lofty statements of principle from the judges.

";"Child custody disputes are undoubtedly the biggest single cause of friction in the aftermath of a marriage break-up and are probably the most significant factor in the Family Court's poor standing among many non-custodial parents.

A recent"; "39";"sol";"Teen Mothers Bear Their Own Burden";"The Australian";"1998-10-02";"Megan Saunders";;"In keeping with the raised level of awareness created by the minor political parties the second story defends teenage mothers against criticism levelled by Pauline Hanson, One Nation Party.

Teenage mothers were most likely to come from Catholic backgrounds, be raised in a large country town and have mothers with limited education, according to an Australian National University analysis.

But contrary to the beliefs of politicians such as Pauline Hanson, teenage parents were not a heavy burden on taxpayers - making up 3 per cent of supporting parents benefit recipients.

(Teenage mothers may not be a huge burden during their teenage years, but how many adult sole parent recipient's began their life on welfare as a teenage single mother? That's the question we want answered! Ed)

The analysis by ANU PhD student Ann Evans found 71 per cent of teenage mothers were married when they gave birth, while 15 per cent were single. The rest were in de facto relationships.

And the analysis of more than 1247 cases nationwide found that while teenage mothers eventually had more children, they tended to put off having their second child for about five years - three years longer than older women.

Ms Evans blamed the high level of media attention and One Nation's proposal to restrict government assistance to single mothers for the ongoing myths and stigma attached to single, teenage mothers.

She particularly criticised Ms Hanson's comment that some teenage mothers often "start young with children out of wedlock ... go on to have more children from different fathers and then finish up in a de facto relationship with a man not related to any of them".

"While analysis of human relationships (particularly over time) can be messy, it is clear that Ms Hanson's concerns are only valid for a tiny proportion of teenage mothers and an even smaller proportion of the total Australian population," she told and Australian Population Association conference in Brisbane.

Brisbane mother Michelle Jones, 21 - who fell pregnant with her first son, Mark at 16 and her second, Kaleb at 19 - said she was often frustrated by society's disapproval of young, unmarried mothers.

"They just treat you like your trash and it's just not true," she said.

"I went to nursing mothers, I got involved in support groups, I breast feed my kids, I did everything that 30 year old mothers do."

The ANU analysis, which defines teenage mothers as under -21s, found young mothers were most likely to be Catholic (31 per cent) or have no religion (29 per cent).

";"In keeping with the raised level of awareness created by the minor political parties the second story defends teenage mothers against criticism levelled by Pauline Hanson, One Nation Party.

Teenage mothers were most likely to come"; "40";"ftl";"Sins of the Fathers' Rejection";"Lone Fathers' Association";"1998-10-02";"Cathy Prior";;"As national president of the Australian Lone Fathers' Association, Barry Williams believes the Family Court just can't get it right.

Mr Williams argues the court fails to enforce its own access orders, despite the fact contempt-of-court penalties are in place to deal with parents who refuse to let their estranged partner visit their children.

And the cost of that, he says, is all too human. "I am dreading Christmas time again if it is anything like last Christmas," he said.

"We had attempted suicides and everything because people couldn't see their kids."

Between December 23 and 27 last year, Mr. Williams received 25 phone calls from fathers, some of whom had sent plane tickets interstate for their children to visit them over the holiday period. When it came to arrival day, however, the kids failed to appear.

When it comes to custody disputes, Mr. Williams argues judges are biased against men.

The association's figures show about 70 per cent of fathers who apply for custody through the Family Court fail.

Mr. Williams wants the Family court abolished and replaced with a tribunal. If access orders were denied, police should have the power to visit the offending parent and find out why, he said.

";"As national president of the Australian Lone Fathers' Association, Barry Williams believes the Family Court just can't get it right.

Mr Williams argues the court fails to enforce its own access orders, despite the fact contempt-of-court pe"; "41";"awm";"Females in a Fury";"Melbourne Age";"1999-02-04";"Paulyne Pogorelske";;"A rise in female crime figures is challenging preconceptions of the "gentler" sex.

Anne, a 29-year-old mother of four young children, recently spent nine months in jail or the armed robbery of a Footscray clothes shop.

Equipped with a stolen bolt-action rifle in January 1996, she held up two women, threatening to shoot them unless they opened the till. When they refused, Anne grabbed a handbag from one of the women and ran out of the shop. No shots were fired.

She received a 23-month sentence, but was paroled after nine months and released in July 1997.

"I didn't think about it; I just did it,'' she explained. "I was desperate for money. I get $330 a week on a supporting parent pension, but I couldn't pay the rent, the bills and my children's school fees. I tried to get a job, but I've got no skills and left school at 15 and worked in a factory.''

It wasn't Anne's first violent crime, although she had never used a gun before. Aggressive behavior was an accepted part of her upbringing.

"My mother was pretty heavy-handed with me and physically abusive ... At 15, I started hitting her back. I punched her up in the stomach and lost my temper,'' she said.

An eight-week anger management course in jail did not quell a bad temper that frightens even her.

"I've never been good at words when it comes to speaking about how I feel. I tend to use my fists,'' says Anne.

Women have long been perceived as the victims of violent crime, not the perpetrators. Certainly, men commit an overwhelming majority of violent crimes.

But Victoria Police crime figures reveal a rise, though small, in female violent crime, while male numbers have dropped. In 1996-97, women (including juveniles under 18) committed 2608 violent crimes, compared with 2390 in 1995-96. Male violent crimes dropped from 18,569 in 1995-96 to 18,421 in 1996-97.

Evelyn Field, a consultant psychologist, says women may be committing more violent crimes as a backlash against what they view is still a male-dominated society.

"Women have been so powerless and passive that some have flipped and become more aggressive instead of more assertive,'' says Field.

"In some ways, they're adopting male forms of abuse and are identifying with male aggression.''

Field believes the increased use of drugs and alcohol are also turning more women to crime.

"I knew of a rape of a woman by another woman where both woman had consumed large quantities of alcohol,'' she says.

Field believes the rise in female crime is a more recent phenomenon. It requires more exploration in consultation with the police, the law, welfare organisations and the public, she says.

Female violence sits uneasily with our preferred perceptions of women - both physically and psychologically.

According to RMIT lecturer in social work Lee FitzRoy, who is doing a PhD on violent women, "we have quite a paradoxical relationship to women's violence; on some levels we don't wish to see it, we don't wish to hear it, but the other side of that is that if women are violent, especially in relation to infanticide or sexual violence, they are actually defined as doubly deviant ... and I think our society can't quite find a place for women in the middle of it".

The subject challenges our way of dealing with women as passive, caring and nurturing human beings, and our way of meeting that challenge is to say women are either evil or mad, or really, really bad, says FitzRoy.

Melbourne University criminologist, Associate Professor Christine Alder, believes society has turned a blind eye to female violence because it is inconsistent with our perspective of women as passive.

Not even the Federal Government National Crime Prevention program, with an annual budget of about $4 million, specifies gender as an explicit issue. It aims to identify successful strategies to prevent crime and violence, covering issues such as child abuse and negative behavior against children, crimes by indigenous people and crimes by young people, that by inference touch on the question of female violence.

Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health, Forensicare, clinical director Professor Paul Mullen, notes a change in traditional patterns of female behavior. He says women now drink more, are just as likely as men to be guilty of road rage and are equally as aggressive as men.

However, women still exhibit far less willingness to inflict serious damage or produce an environment of terror than men.

"To explain the difference as the Y chromosome in men is naive, and it's unlikely to all lie in family and social upbringing, or the difference in physical strength,'' says Mullen. "It's quite important to know why, as if we could find out, we could do something about men.''

While assertiveness and aggression are normal human behavior, violence is often instigated by fear and anger. Research in the United States reveals that in terms of low levels of violence in domestic relationships - pushing, shoving, screaming, shouting and name-calling - women offend as often as men.

In Melbourne, the football field is just one area where women can exhibit physical aggression without breaking the rules. However, Kate Lawrence, 35, a player for the St Kilda Sharks in the Victorian Women's Football League, has witnessed several incidents since she started playing in the early 1990s.

"There can be a skirmish, with some pushing and shoving, with words of abuse yelled as well,'' she says. "Some players can get quite heated; there's white-line fever, where women lose their temper. There's always one player in every team who gets into strife.''

Indeed, she has been guilty of it, too. She told of an incident where an opposition player - "a nasty little player'' - had jabbed her in the kidneys while they were running towards the ball. She turned around and, with a clenched fist, swung and hit her in the back.

"I'm not re-nowned for being an aggressive player and I was shocked with myself that I'd hit someone. Sure, I had hit my little sister sometimes - I come from a big family of six kids - but I was just shocked that I lost control in that way and I'd done that to someone. I never do that; I use words sometimes, but I don't yell abuse, even though there can be frustration sometimes with another player or the umpires. I didn't get reported for the hit, and I've only done it the once."

Extreme domestic violence is nearly always perpetrated by men against women and women are more likely to be seriously injured than men.

[Wrong, several studies make the particular point that men sustain more serious injuries because women often use a weapon in their attack. Ed]

Female aggression and violence is commonly directed against men, particularly in domestic situations, but women can be just as violent towards each other. Evelyn Field has counselled partners in lesbian relationships where women have perpetrated acts of violence against each other.

She says both the police and the courts find it difficult to deal with women behaving violently towards each other and many put it in the too-hard basket.

"Male violence against males is seen more as the norm, but female violence against females is often unbelievable and labelled mad,'' says Field. The women victims are often less believed and considered hysterical, imagining the crimes committed against them.

But female violence against other females can start in the school ground, says Field. Boys are not the only bullies. While girls perpetrate some physical violence against each other by hitting and kicking, their domain is more likely to be psychological violence, using words and excluding tactics against other students.

Field, who has written a book entitled Bullybusting, to be published in May, says female bullying exists across the board in private as well as public schools.

"Girls will bully by teasing and exclusion,'' she says."It's a serious problem for girls as much as boys and usually starts in years four, five and six, and getting really bad in years seven, eight and nine. By year 10, it starts to peter out and is almost non-existent by year 11 and 12.''

Field says the emotional impact on the victims with this kind of psychological bullying can be devastating and could affect their friendships throughout their lives.

FitzRoy hopes her PhD may find some answers.

"Women working with violent women want strategies, skills and a more complex theoretical analysis about women's violence in order to assist social change. I hope my thesis can offer that.''

";"A rise in female crime figures is challenging preconceptions of the "gentler" sex.

Anne, a 29-year-old mother of four young children, recently spent nine months in jail or the armed robbery of a Footscray clothes shop.

Equi";"The penny's begining to drop, but now watch for the excuses. For example ..."Women have been so powerless and passive that some have flipped and become more aggressive instead of more assertive"." "42";"sup";"Bringing Home Benefits for Distant Dads";"The Age";"2000-05-18";"Bettina Arndt";;"How absurd was media speculation that changes to child-support arrangements introduced in the federal budget were due to last-minute lobbying by angry dads.

The truth is very different. Many of the changes stem from the 1994 report from the Joint Select Committee into Child Support. Since then a growing body of evidence has revealed the dire financial circumstances of many non-resident parents, which contributes to the difficulties they have maintaining contact with their children after divorce. Given the known benefits to children of regular contact with both parents - now enshrined in family law legislation - the government has decided to foot the bill to help these dads stay connected with their children.

The major change is a shift in the financial arrangements associated with different levels of contact. It is well recognised that the present situation, whereby mum loses substantial child support if the child spends more than 30 per cent of its nights a year with dad, creates a "cliff" effect in which fathers are confined to fortnightly access lest the mother loses income.

Under budget proposals, this cliff effect will be smoothed out by gradually reducing levels of child support, even for men who have their children only 10 per cent of nights. But most mothers won't lose out - the government is largely to subsidise their lost child support, paying out $47.5 million over the next four years.

This change will affect large numbers of divorced parents - a sad testimony to how little contact most divorced men now have with their children. At present, only 11per cent of divorced men spend more than 30per cent of nights a year with their children. Twenty-two per cent of men who pay child support through the Child Support Agency never see their children, and almost a third have them for fewer than 36 nights a year.

Now the 135,000 men who have contact with their children between 10 and 30 per cent of the year will pay slightly less child support - an average drop of $5 a week.

Most lone parents will have this loss in child support offset by an increase in their family tax benefit - which accounts for the $47.5million cost to the government. In addition, lone parents stand to gain around $25 a week from extra social security assistance introduced in the budget.

So here we have a very significant decision by the government to add to its welfare bill by giving up some of the claw-back it has traditionally received from child-support payments. It does so in recognition of the social costs being imposed by previous policies - whereby low-income fathers were prohibited from seeing their children due to the high costs of contact, particularly in situations where children live long distances away.

With divorce more common in low-income groups, it's hardly surprising to find many non-resident fathers struggling to support themselves - 46.2 per cent of men registered with the CSA report incomes of less than $16,000. While some of these men may be involved in income minimisation, many face very difficult financial circumstances. Their financial plight was confirmed in research by Trevor Sutton, now assistant general manager of the CSA in Canberra, which showed men earning less than $15,000 a year pay about half their discretionary income in child support.

There's also powerful evidence of the appalling legacy of the green light given by the Family Court to lone mothers who decide to move children away from their fathers. Further research by Sutton reveals that most Australian men have to travel to see their children - the average distance between a divorced father and his children is an astonishing 141 kilometres.

Last year, research conducted by Murray Woods and Associates for the Department of Family and Community Services concluded that distance was one of the major constraints on contact, adding to the substantial costs of providing things such as accommodation and food for children on contact visits.

It remains to be seen whether offering dads slight financial relief and reducing financial obstacles to mothers allowing more contact will really mean children see more of their fathers. But should the measure have the desired effect, it could result in a windfall for the government. Sutton's research provides strong evidence that increasing men's access to their children dramatically increases their willingness to pay child support.

Currently the CSA has a 14 per cent shortfall in the collection of child support. By Sutton's calculations, an increase in father-child contact from the present average of 63 nights to 100 nights would result in a 5 per cent increase in compliance, bringing in an additional $30million in child-support payments.

Among the other important budget changes is the decision to cut back on the "wife support" component in the calculation of high-earning men's child-support payments. In February, the government published Canberra University research on costs of children, showing that men earning more than $50,000 a year are required to pay well in excess of the money spent on children even in affluent homes.

The original child-support formula was based on the premise that high-earning men should pay more to ensure their children aren't forced into a drastically reduced lifestyle. This inevitably meant maintaining an ex-wife somewhere near the manner to which she was accustomed. But the stark gap between costs of children and child-support payments, particularly for men earning more than $75,000, has convinced the government to lower the upper limit or "cap" on payer income used to assess child support.

Then there's the fact that men earning more than $50,000 are doubly disadvantaged by paying maximum child-support rates plus being in the highest tax bracket. A non-resident dad in this income bracket with two children was left with less than 20 cents in every dollar earned over $50,000, after paying tax, child support and employee superannuation of 3 per cent.

When the promised tax breaks for this income group were scrapped by Labor and the Democrats, lowering the cap was the only way of relieving the work disincentives facing this tiny group - who constitute less than 1 per cent of all CSA payers.

As for the other changes, they are mainly designed to ease the burden on poorer non-resident dads, particularly those supporting second families. They are all moves in the right direction, with children as the major beneficiaries.

Bettina Arndt is a staff writer. ";"How absurd was media speculation that changes to child-support arrangements introduced in the federal budget were due to last-minute lobbying by angry dads.

The truth is very different. Many of the changes stem from the 1994 report from th"; "43";"sup";"Child-Support Reforms 'unfair'";"Canberra Times";"2000-02-26";"Frank Cassidy";;"The promise of fairer child-support rules has been dashed by an unfair and restrictive regulation enforced by the Child Support Agency, according to the Men's Rights Agency.

The law was changed last year to, among other things, allow paying parents to divert up to 25 per cent of their child support into benefits or services provided directly to their children.

But, by restricting payments to just eight approved categories, the Child Support Agency has been accused of undermining the will of Parliament and perpetuating the unfairness in the system.

Director of the Men's Rights Agency Sue Price said the rule change was brought about to give paying parents a feeling that at least some of the money they were paying was going to their child or for issues they were concerned about.

"Restricting the payments is to thwart the will of Parliament," she said. Mrs Price said many more paying parents would be able to claim relief under the 25 per cent rule if the list was expanded "as it should be".

Attention was drawn to the restrictions when a 36-year old school principal in country NSW had the medical insurance he paid for his three children refused as part of the 25 per cent.

The approved list includes only school or pre-school fees, essential medical and dental fees, child care and an ex-partner's rent, rates, mortgage, utilities and motor-vehicle expenses.

The father, whose children spend two weeks a month with him complained that almost none of the costs of supporting them were allowed as credits against the $800 a month he was forced to pay as child support.

"I can't claim anything in kind," the man said, despite meeting his children's school uniforms, schoolbags, sporting fees, food and clothing and needing to maintain a complete household for them.

"I can't see how this system is benefiting the kids."

Sue Price said the CSA's limited list of approved payments contrasted starkly with the long list of non-cash maintenance payments used by Centrelink to calculate reductions in family allowance. She said these were the same payments, made between the same parents for the same children, but were being treated totally differently within the same department.

"Centrelink has a huge list that could encompass any item you're going to spend on a child."

She accused the Government of taking all non-cash payments into account to reduce the family allowance "to save itself money" but of restricting child -support entitlements to a few because it "doesn't want to save the paying parent any money".

Robin Poke, of the Child Support Agency, defended the differences in the lists of allowable payments saying they were used for different purposes.

"The social-security list is centred around working out a person's entitlement to family payment and the CSA list is specified in child-support regulations," he said. Mr Poke said if parents agreed, any non-cash payments whatsoever could be taken into account by the CSA and could be up to 100 per cent of the liability.

";"The promise of fairer child-support rules has been dashed by an unfair and restrictive regulation enforced by the Child Support Agency, according to the Men's Rights Agency.

The law was changed last year to, among other things, allow payin"; "44";"sup";"Suicide Victim 'hounded' over Child Support";"Canberra Times";"2000-11-15";"Roderick Campbell";;"It was "a tragic indictment of the system" that a Canberra man had committed suicide holding a letter of demand from the Child Support Agency, the ACT Coroners Court was told yesterday.

Barrister Richard Thomas said the receipt of the letter two days before Warren Gilbert's death in August had "tipped him over the edge".

He said Mr Gilbert, 28, had died from carbon monoxide poisoning in a friend's car after being ''hounded" by the CSA.

The CSA had been taking 47 per cent of his gross salary in tax and another 30 per cent for child support.

With a massive 80 per cent of his wages gone, Mr Gilbert had $150 a week to live on.

Mr Gilbert's body was found on August 20 in a car parked at the Namadgi National Park visitor's centre.

Constable Clorinda Iannucci said Mr Gilbert's former partner had told her that Mr Gilbert hated having to pay so much child support for his three children because they could never go anywhere or do anything.

"He couldn't get anywhere in life because they [the CSA] kept taking all his money," she had said.

Constable Iannucci said she had contacted the CSA, but it had refused to provide any information.

She said the mother of two of Mr Gilbert's children had told her she had not been concerned about obtaining child support until social security had told her she would lose her welfare benefits if she did not get Mr Gilbert to pay maintenance.

Mr Thomas, appearing for the former partner, said Mr Gilbert had been "very frustrated" by the situation. He had been unable to realise plans to buy a home and get married. He had mentioned his massive debt - the full extent of which he had only discovered the previous day - to the last person to see him alive.

"We say it was the Child Support Agency letter that was the precipitative event that tipped him over the edge," Mr Thomas told Coroner Warren Nicholl. "It may be appropriate that you make a comment on the situation he was in."

Mr Nicholl did not comment directly on this, but did say that it was clear that Mr Gilbert's problems in meeting his child-support obligations had played a large part in the lead-up to his sad death.

Earlier, Mr Thomas said Mr Gilbert had been trying "to do his best," but was being "hounded" by the CSA.

He could see no other solution to his problems than taking his own life. It was "a tragic indictment on the system, one which Federal Parliament might ultimately seek to address".

Barry Williams, the Canberra-based national president of the Lone Fathers' Association of Australia, was an observer at the inquest.

Outside court, Mr Williams said the association had been trying to convince the Federal Government that child support and family law issues were factors in many suicides.

"But deaf ears are turned to people like us because of the money factors involved," he said.

He said his association supported the CSA and believed parents should pay child support, but this should be based on a flat rate calculated after tax had been deducted.

He challenged the Government to try this approach for two years. If it did not work, he would "shut up".

";"It was "a tragic indictment of the system" that a Canberra man had committed suicide holding a letter of demand from the Child Support Agency, the ACT Coroners Court was told yesterday.

Barrister Richard Thomas said the receipt of the lett";"Yet another valuable life has been cut short. Three more children have lost their father. The relationship of male suicide to child support, and denial of contact to children must be obvious to all politicians, but they refuse to enact changes that may pr" "45";"sup";"'Problem' Parents 'doin Time";"The Australian - Focus Section";"2000-04-08";"John Stapleton";;"Attorney General Daryl Williams wants to jail more mums and dads who defy family law. But as John Stapleton reports, critics say it is the system that is at fault.

Once upon a time, Frank played professional sport and was married with two young sons. In 1987, his marriage broke down. He lost his children, his house, his furniture, all of which he left with his former wife because he thought it was the best thing to do. "I walked out with my bags," he recalls.

Orders for maintenance were made by the Family court at separation and these were collected through the Child Support Agency. Partially disabled by two accidents and unable to work since, Frank's only source of income is a parenting payment for his stepdaughter.

This month Frank (not his real name) lost his Family Court case to be excused from maintenance and back debt. "I couldn't understand why", he says. "It is not as if she never got anything out of me. She got everything. They have no compassion."

Frank if found guilty of "wilfully" refusing to pay is one of thousands of parents who could face up to 12 months in jail if legislation before the Federal Parliament is passed. The precise definition of "wilful" will be left up to the discretion of a Family Court judge or judicial officer.

The Government's push to jail parents who defy court orders includes provisions to jail those who refuse to comply with parenting orders (giving the parent without custody access to the child) on a "three strikes and you're in" basis. The maintenance provisions will mostly affect men while the penalties for parenting orders will mostly affect women.

The new legislation, by increasing punitive powers, is an attempt to overcome the biggest problem with Family Court orders - they are virtually unenforceable.

But both men's and women's lobby groups and some family law observers argue the proposals will be dangerously counterproductive, to the point of increasing the already high suicide rate among separated parents.

Critics say the proposed laws are a draconian way of avoiding the real problem, which they say lies in the nature of family law in Australia and the institutions that administer it. They say the CSA, in making "quasi-judicial" decisions that are virtually impossible to appeal, often has the effect of putting parents into debt unfairly.

Many of those who could be jailed would be placed in this predicament not because they did not want to pay but because they have been made unable to pay through maladministration.

The debate over jailing parents, could have some interesting parliamentary twists. The Australian Democrats do not support imprisonment as a primary enforcement option. The Labour Party supports the jailing of those who fail to pay maintenance but not those who refuse to comply with parenting orders.

The Family Court already has provisions for jailing and imposition of fines, and the CSA can seize assets, impose penalties, sweep bank accounts and initiate prosecutions with a six-month jail penalty. The new legislation adds to the arsenal by providing a more direct avenue to jail parents who disobey court orders, and stiffer penalties.

A re-evaluation of child support is happening around the world. Like many men, Frank facing mounting debts, has found himself in a surreal world post-separation. The CSA is not bound by rules of evidence. If he is charged, tried and jailed, secrecy clauses mean his case cannot be reported. A Family Court ruling cannot be appealed on an error of fact.

Attorney-General Daryl Williams, in introducing the Family Law Amendment Bill 1999, has reopened a broader debate. The dysfunctions of family law highlighted by the jailing initiatives have reignited call for a non-adversarial tribunal system to replace the Family Court and focused attention on the CSA, six years on from an exhaustive joint select committee report that made history for the number of submissions to its drafting.

The report said there were many complaints about the CSA, including "inconsistent advice, administrative errors and refusal to verify data ... the inaction or lack of service is inexcusable ... The end result is an often appalling client service delivery."

Many of the report's 163 recommendations - including an external review of the CSA "as a matter of priority", close study of its social impacts, its impacts on subsequent families, disincentives to working and a re-assessment of the child support formula have not been carried out.

Commentator on public sector ethics at Central Queensland University Robert Kelso says jailing could exacerbate the high suicide rates among parents separated from their children. He says the CSA is a self-contained bureaucracy whose clients have "no way out to the normal legal system". He says the 1994 inquiry into the CSA, read in conjunction with the Hansard of the time, clearly identifies systemic corruption by public servants whose objective was to minimise the cost to the Commonwealth of supporting single parents by welfare, by maximising revenue from their non-custodial spouses.

"Neither the Labor government not its Liberal successor have been interested in examining the behaviour of these public servants," he says.

Kelso says there is ample evidence the CSA is acting against the public interest, creating false debt by exaggerating incomes of fathers and ignoring social security and taxation fraud when it favours the custodial parent, usually the mother. He says it is thereby failing in its duty to the Crimes Act and, in it complicity in fraud, is breaching the Public Service Act.

"It is in this context we are talking about sending parents to jail," he says. "The Government is exacerbating an already poisoned environment by introducing jailing penalties.. Government agencies and welfare industries have studiously avoided the wide ranging research into the failure of the scheme. What is needed is a royal commission with the widest possible powers. In this climate, in the hands of the CSA and the Family Court, the last thing we need to be doing is introducing jailing penalties."

The jailing furore casts a shadow over the Attorney-General's well-intentioned attempts to reform family law. The Federal Government has already encouraged separating couples to avoid, where possible, the Family Court in favour of mediation and counselling, and discouraged litigation by cutting Legal Aid.

The Attorney-General's overall idea was simple:

create a stream- lined federal magistracy service, with a hefty start-up budget of $30 million, to begin operations midyear, to partially sideline the Family Court; then make orders enforceable so children would not be denied either money or a relationship with their non- custodial parent, the two biggest beefs on either side of the custodial divide.

Designed to appease everyone, the proposed new laws have appeased no one.

Williams has said the new enforcement regime is "to better protect the interests of children".

"The threat of imprisonment will be reserved for the most serious cases .... it is entirely appropriate that the court should have available to it, alongside the range of sanctions that already exists, the sanction of imprisonment," he says.

The Attorney-General has refused to answer questions on the legality or constitutionality of the legislation. He also declined to say how children will be ensured a continued relationship with their jailed parent and why he is handing more power to the judges of the Family Court.

Williams also declines to say whether jailed parents would be placed on suicide watch.

If, as research from leading suicide expert Pierre Baume and others suggests, 70 per cent of suicides of adult males aged 20 to 60 are related to relationship breakdown, based on the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures at least 20 men a week are killing themselves after separation. This is five times the rate of youth and female suicides.

Griffith University research psychologist Susie Sweeper, and expert on separation, says there are high levels of stress associated with the Family court and CSA.

"The accumulation of stress from not seeing the children, low finances, litigation and low levels of social support can lead to psychopathology such as suicide," she says. "Some [parents] are very angry ... That is certainly expressed.

"By putting these people in jail you would increase their stress levels further. This would not assist children."

With paying parents unable to specify how their payments are spent, CSA research suggests half of all payers do not believe their money is benefiting their children.

CSA policy director Sheila Bird says Australians have much to be proud of, with 90 per cent of all liabilities paid since the agency's inception. She claims this is the world's best.

She disputes doubts raised by men's groups over the honesty of the agency's review officers and disputes claims made by many paying parents that the formulas used by the CSA are inflexible and fail to take into account individual circumstance.

Bird says that where a parent refuses to pay, it is appropriate for the CSA to take court action. "If parliament gives the court the authority to jail a person for an offence, then the court determines whether that is "appropriate," she says.

Bird says she does not know the suicide rate among paying parents.

The chairman of the 1994 joint select committee on the child support scheme, Roger Price says no one should think the CSA was set up to benefit children. He says its sole rationale is to save taxpayer money by clawing back social security payments, as each dollar paid by a parent reduces the amount of social security paid to the recipient. "It is not about the best interests of children and never has been," he says.

He is angry the effort that went into the 1994 inquiry has been wasted, with the Government "cherry picking" the punitive measures suggested in the report to further enforce money collection.

Price, one of the most high profile advocates of a non-adversarial tribunal to replace the Family Court, says there has to be a better method than jailing people.

"We have to find a less battering and bruising and financially crippling system," he says. "The Family Court and Child Support are a nightmare legal maze. Jailing is most definitely the wrong way to go.

"What frightened me while doing the report was the level of frustration I found. People had spent all their money on legal cases, borrowed from credit cards, borrowed from parents, and were seething with anger. I was frightened to see that level of frustration and anger. This continues to this day, absolutely.

"Back in 1994, when I said peoplewere committing suicide in major part because of family law matters, people were disbelieving. No one disbelieves it anymore."

The greatest paradox of the jailing debate is that both men's and women's groups are united in their opposition; although the Attorney-General might not see any humour in this historic rapprochement.

Sole Parents Union president Kathleen Swinbourne says: "Children do not benefit from seeing either of their parents dragged off by the police and put in jail."

Sarah Maddison from the Women's Electoral Lobby says the general response across women's groups has been one of horror at the suggestions that parents could be jailed for failing to comply with Family Court orders of any description.

"Child Support is not working for either parent at the end of the day," she says. "Both sides feel ripped off."

the men's groups, who will be most affected by the jailing provisions, have been vociferous in their opposition. Barry Williams of Lone Fathers says: "I do not trust the Family Court to make fair decisions."

Malcolm Mathias of Fathers for Family Equity describes the proposals to jail parents as "extreme, unwarranted, ill-conceived and draconian".

"Many non-custodial men are forced to live in cheap accommodation, are compelled to leave paid employment, forced into bankruptcy, lose contact with their children, lose any prospect of a comfortable retirement and a growing number ultimately commit suicide."

Sue Price of the Men's Right's Agency says the jailing furore highlights the need to look at the financial and social cost of the style of custodial orders made by the Family Court since its formation a quarter of a century ago.

"It is a harsh regime when people are having more than one third of their income garnisheed, yet have no say on where the money goes and are not sharing in the joys of raising their children," she says.

Case Study: Swamped By Debt

James has four children aged 10 to 15 whom he sees more than 40 per cent of the time.

"I have done the right thing by the children," he says.

"When my wife left me she said I was too much of a family man.

"The impact the CSA has had on my children's lives has been pathetic. It has to be held accountable. I believe the time will come when children will take the CSA to court."

James (not his real name) has a back debt of $40,000. About $27,000 is penalty for late payment. He says this is a false debt because it accrued when he had lost an $80,000 -a-year job but a review from the agency kept him on that salary.

Last year it took his $4500 tax refund. On Christmas Eve he received a letter informing him that his bank accounts has been swept, the money seized. One of the accounts was money in trust for the children - $2000 - which James says took the children five years to save. He was so outraged, it became a mini cause celebre in the local media.

"The CSA's response was they didn't know where the money went but that it probably went to the custodial parent.

The kids have asked about it and she denies knowing anything about it.

"What really gets under my skin is the injustice."

Case Study: Beaten by Bureaucracy

LEANDRA'S (not her real name) two youngest children, four and seven, live with her; she is bringing them up in the most expensive city in the country.

Her former husband lives on a pension in a Queensland coastal town. Her eldest son, 10, lives with his father.

Because I am working, I have to pay him $150 per week. He is not working and is on a full time sole parent pension, although he does work for cash in a boat yard.

"Even though I have made this fact quite clear, no one wishes to look into it. They say until he lodges a tax return, it is on their records that his only income is a pension.

"He is getting $700 a fortnight, $300 from me, plus his cash income, plus the child is living with his grandparents at least four nights out of the seven.

I doubt very much if my child sees that $600 a month, or the grandparents. There are lots of extras I could buy my children for the $600 a month. And the only time I get to see my son is when I fly up or pay to fly him down.

The CSA is bound by ridiculous policies, it is definitely encouraging welfare dependency. If you get a pay rise, you have to pay more. You hesitate to take a promotion.

Case Study: Death by Poison

KATHERINE always cries when she talks about her brother Joseph (not their real names), who committed suicide at the age of 34 after a call from the Child Support Agency.

He had four children between three and 12, who were living with his ex-wife.

"He was a very naive person, gentle, kind, caring person,never pushy," Katherine says.

"He had been depressed because he had no money, he had absolutely nothing. Mum fed him, his sisters bought clothes.

"That day he went to the doctor. The doctor said he was happier than he had normally been.

"We left the house to pick up a daughter; I said 'Joseph, your dinner is in the fridge.' "

The coroner's report records how the agency phoned Joseph on the evening of his suicide attempt, telling him that because he had overpaid by $800, he had to write a letter so his former partner could get the money - otherwise it would go in administrative costs. He was told he could not have it back.

Joseph drank a poison known as Lethabarb. It took him 19 days to die.

The coroner's report records that an attempt was made to identify the relevant agency officer "for the purposes of this inquest and to have him or her called as a witness".

However, the coroner records that "secrecy provisions" meant the agency was not required to disclose any information. Agency representatives did not attend the inquest.

"Eight hundred dollars, that money would have eased things so much, made such a difference to his life," his sister says.

"The next month the CSA wrote wanting to know why he wasn't paying his child support.

"How are we supposed to teach our children not to run people into the ground, humiliate and degrade them, just for your own benefit?"

The Child Support Agency

* Although it affects the lives of millions of Australians, studies show only half of the population has heard of the CSA. What many do not realise when they separate is that after the property and children are divided, it is just the start of their dramas. Non-custodial parents can lose as much as one-third of their gross income on a weekly basis until their children leave university. The body that calculates the payments, administers the transfers, and take punitive action against the non-payers is the CSA.

* Founded in 1988 with bipartisan support, the CSA has more that 1 million clients catering for about 1 million children. Including grandparents, but excluding siblings, it affects 6.5million people. There are 5000 to 6000 new cases a month. The cost of operation is $190 million and the saving in social security payments is estimated at $419 million; &1.324 billion is transferred each year.

* Many groups argue that the agency costs more than it saves because of its disincentives to work for both payers and payees. Depending on the method of calculation, unemployment among payers is 22 per cent to 32 per cent. About 192,000 payers earn less than $10,000 a year.

* The total child support debt is $455 million, and the CSA estimates 62 per cent of parents are in arrears.

* After tax, superannuation, Medicare, earning expenses, child support, access costs, rent and food, a non-custodial parent earning the average wage has %15 a week to meet all other expenses including gas and electricity.

* The formula is one of the most contentious aspects of the CSA. The percentages are calculated on gross income but taken out of net income. There is, however, a safety-net minimum that must be left to the parent: an amount equal to the single unemployment benefit.

The payment formula works out as follows:

One child: 18 per cent of gross income after the single unemployment benefit has been deducted.

Two children: 27 per cent.

Three: 32 per cent.

Four: 34 per cent.

Five or more: 36 per cent.

* The Commonwealth Ombudsman has consistently criticised the CSA for complexity. There are 7500 formal complaints made each year, including 2282 via the minister's office or parliament last year. Only five out of every 1000 complaints are upheld. Although the Family Court is the relevant court of appeal, only 0.28 per cent of child support cases have been ordered by the court, with the remaining cases being governed by CSA rulings.

* There are 1200 cases before the CSA litigation unit. The CSA intercepts $47 million in tax returns each year.

* 92.2% of payers are men and the rest women, an increasing number of whom are in default.

Although there are concerns that the CSA is contributing to high suicide rates among separated men, the agency claims not to know how many of its paying parents are affected.

";"Attorney General Daryl Williams wants to jail more mums and dads who defy family law. But as John Stapleton reports, critics say it is the system that is at fault.

Once upon a time, Frank played professional sport and was married with two y"; "46";"sup";"Children Tell MP: Agency Stole Their Life Savings";"Canberra Times";"2000-01-08";"Katharyn Heagney";;"Four Queensland children have written to their local Member of Parliament claiming the Child Support Agency ' stole' their life savings to help pay their father's $43,000 child-support debt.

The children, aged between nine and 15 years, said in the letter $2099.32 had been seized on Christmas Eve from a bank savings account their father operated as trustee for them.

They had been collecting loose change and pocket money for the past five years and depositing it into the account with the intention of one day investing it in the share market.

The children's MP, Liberal Gary Hardgrave, said, 'On first blush . . . it strikes me as completely wrong that the children's money is being taken by the CSA.'

The agency had shown in the past it would go to extraordinary lengths to get money back.

'The Child Support Agency have proved to have been a law unto themselves on umpteen occasions. [It] says the money was taken from the children because the bank account was controlled by the father, who they said had been in child-support arrears since September 1996.

The director of public affairs at the agency, Robin Poke, said, ' We do know that he has sole control of the account being discussed, and the money is in his name, not his children's. He has been making regular payments, but based on his idea of how it should be structured.'

The agency was concerned that in some cases parents used their children to approach it. It also had cases where the non-custodial parent rearranged financial affairs to lower payments.

The children's father said the agency had accumulated his ''phantom debt'' made up of $35,019 unpaid child support and $8278.17 late-payment penalties for 10 months after he notified them he had been terminated from his job in September 1996.

He had been paying $1583.33 child support a month before his job termination, but continued to pay about $230 a month while setting up his own business paying amounts he said had been specified on monthly CSA invoices.

'The fact of the matter is there is no complaint from me whatsoever about paying child support. It is to do with the debt that they created after I was terminated,' he said. He stressed that the complaint had nothing to do with the children's mother, rather, ' sloppy administration' on CSA's behalf.

Mr Poke said the agency obtained money from bank accounts to offset maintenance costs as a ' last resort exercise' and it ' tried to avoid legal proceedings if it can rely on the good faith of parents to meet their responsibilities' .

He did not know where the children's $2000 had gone, but ' assumed it was with the payee in this case the child's mother' .

Meanwhile, the four children have asked for the CSA to ' leave dad and us alone' .

The father said, ' If they think they can steal $2000 from the children, and not have something said about it, that's pretty pathetic.' He had lodged a 500-page submission about his case to the Commissioner for Taxation and Child Support Registrar and was awaiting a response.

Mr Hardgrave said he was reluctant to comment on the case before his office had received a response from the minister.

'I dubbed [the CSA] a few years ago the 'custodial parents revenge agency'.

They have allowed themselves too often to be used as a tool of revenge for the other partner.'

It struck him as extraordinary that the CSA would let $40,000 accumulate. ''It doesn't materialise overnight.'

He had been working to 'bring back a bit of fairness back into the system' where both the custodial and non-custodial parents' circumstances were taken into account.

";"Four Queensland children have written to their local Member of Parliament claiming the Child Support Agency ' stole' their life savings to help pay their father's $43,000 child-support debt.

The children, aged between nine and 15 years, sa"; "47";"sup";"My Dearest Children";"Sydney Morning Herald";"1999-01-16";"Bettina Arndt";;"The Howard Government is trying to make life easier for non-custodial fathers. But the Family court seems to be working in the opposite direction.

Bettina Arndt reports...

If you are male, working long hours to support the family but facing a shaky marriage, watch out. In the event of a marriage breakdown, you would find that dedication to work would leave you thoroughly the loser in divorce negotiations.

For a start, your busy working life would mean you would be likely to miss out in battles over custody (residence) of children and be hard pressed to gain significant access (contact). And then, under the rules of the Child Support Scheme which determines how much financial support divorced men are required to pay for their children, you'd be locked into continuing to work to your maximum capacity, even if that meant you saw less of your children.

In a recent case decided by the full bench of the Family Court, a divorced management consultant with five children had cut back his average 60-70 working hours per week to care for two children then living with him, halving his $200,000 income. His wife had received 80 per cent of the $500,000 property settlement.

The court was unsympathetic to his request for a reduction in child support. Robert Benjamin, the Sydney family lawyer who handled the case summed up the verdict: "The Full court's reaction was `Tough luck, Charlie'." The man was required to keep paying the maximum child support based on his former income of $200,000 plus he was told to pay spousal maintenance - direct financial support for his wife.

The ruling that the man must continue to earn at his maximum capacity flies in the face of 1996 changes to Family Law legislation designed to encourage more involvement of divorced parents with their children.

Equally the order for spousal maintenance seems at odds with the assumptions underlying the 1988 Child support Scheme, requiring payments which include a loading to compensate wives for lost earnings due to child care responsibilities. The Scheme was assumed to do away with direct spousal support but according to family lawyers, additional spousal maintenance has remained popular in the Family Court.

Robert Benjamin: "Spousal maintenance is very much the flavour of the month with Family Court judges. In the last four or five years such maintenance orders have become very common."

It's very clear that every effort is being made to compensate women for financial losses suffered through their nurturing role - through compensation for lost earnings built into the formula for child support, through the ten to twenty per cent extra hunk that wives normally receive of the property settlement and in those rare cases that reach the Family Court, through additional spousal maintenance. But many lobby groups concerned with family law issues are now questioning why men's role as providers should prove so disadvantageous in divorce.

There is currently an inter-departmental committee established by the Howard Government examining questions concerning child support and related welfare issues. The new government is clearly keen to address some of the problems, with new legislation addressing certain flaws in the current passing through Parliament in the first two weeks of sittings.

But these changes may be just the start: the government committee is considering new research on the cost of children, a critical factor in the formula used to calculate child support. Plus there are signs the government is acknowledging clashes between the scheme and the 1996 legislation promoting joint parental responsibility after divorce.

There was a significant paper given at last month's Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) Conference by Fiona Carberry from the Parenting Branch of the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS). Carberry suggested current welfare provisions are working against the shared care of children promoted in the 1996 reforms.

At present divorced parents with joint care of children must designate one parent as the "residential" parent attracting substantially higher welfare payments, whilst the other parent receives the lower single rate of benefits and is subject to work related activity tests and other constraints. Carberry argued the government would benefit by treating both parents equally, since this would give both parents opportunity to combine parenting with paid work, minimising social security payments in the longer term.

Yet, as Carberrry acknowledged, this would also mean increased welfare costs if the shared child-care responsibilities meant both parents were unable to earn sufficient to be self-supporting.

The bad news for the government is increasing evidence suggesting major flaws to the original idea underpinning the child support scheme the notion that the escalating divorce related welfare costs could be offset by sending the bill to the dads.

There is a significant group of low-income men who simply can't afford to support their ex-wives and children after divorce - leaving them largely dependent on sole parent pensions. The Child Support Agency's (CSA) own research shows that over 50 per cent of potential payers under the scheme earn less than $18,000 per year and half of all payers experiencing bouts of unemployment.

For this group in particular, the levels of payment required under the current formula are onerous. Research conducted by Trevor Sutton at the Research School of Social Sciences at the ANU shows men earning less than $15,000 per year with two dependent children are required to pay over half of their disposable income in child support, excluding a minimal self support component.

One of the changes included in new legislation is a 10 per cent rise in this self support component excluded from child support calculations from $9006 to $9907 a year. The 1994 Joint Select Committee (JSC) inquiry into child support had recommended a twenty percent rise having concluded the previous level was causing significant hardship to low income payers.

The legislation also gave relief to payers supporting second families who will now be able to deduct 50 per cent of child support payments from income used to calculate family allowances. Some payers will also be helped by a reduction- from $37,424 to $29,598 - in the level of payee's income at which the payer's liabilities for child support payment are reduced. But here too, the JSC had recommended a greater change - an addition $10,000 drop. the drop recommended by the JSC.

But with this low-income population, real questions remain as to the appropriateness of assumptions underlying the formula for child support. The percentage of payer's income required for child support under the current formula (18 per cent for one child, 27 for two, and 32 for three) well exceeds the 16 per cent recommended to cover the costs of children in evidence given to the Fogerty committee, which produced the 1988 report leading to the scheme.

The hike in percentages was designed to compensate custodial parents for lost earnings. Plus the committee was heavily influenced by AIFS research showing payers usually quickly recover financial losses after divorce whilst most payees suffer significant financial decline. Yet, as the JSC discovered, many divorced low income males fail to bounce back they experience many bouts of unemployment, are often crippled by debt and, particularly when supporting second families, remain locked into poverty.

It would be difficult for many of these men to even cover the basic costs of children let alone the top up spousal support component built into the current formula which brings us to another interesting development currently occupying the minds of bureaucrats concerned with child support policy.

In 1996, the newly elected Howard government came under pressure to make good their election promise to implement more of the JSC recommendations, the bulk of which had been ignored by Labor. It responded by making administrative reforms and setting up an investigation of costs of children as suggested by the JSC stating that only when the results were known would the government consider changing the formula.

A Budget Standards Unit (BSU) was established at the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of NSW and commissioned to investigate costs of children. The results of the BSU has been available since April this year and the official response of government has been a deafening silence.

The implications are hardly welcome to the government.

For a start the BSU data shows welfare payments to be considerably below the basic living costs for single mothers. For instance a single mother with a child aged 6 receives approximately $291 combined welfare payments. The BSU data estimated the mother's basic living costs at $372 per week.

But the BSU data also shows that men paying the higher levels of child support are paying more than the total cost of their children. So a man earning $70,000 is required to pay $317 child support for two children. The BSU data finds the costs of providing for these children at a moderate living standard would be $304.

The BSU data can also be used to calculate the costs to the non resident parent of caring for children during contact visits and that's just what some of the divorced Dads are now doing in applications to the Family Court regarding child support.

Bruce Hogan, a Cairns engineer calling himself the "divorce doctor" runs Enalysis, a consultancy advising on family law and child support matters. The consultancy has a number of cases in the Family Court which use detailed BSU calculations to divvy up child costs on between residential and contact parents, splitting expenses according to days of contact.

Hogan is using previous Family Court judgements to argue that child support should be based solely on these basic costs of children. But this ignores the other principle which shapes the formula namely that, where possible, children's pre divorce lifestyle should be maintained. There is widespread community support for the sensible notion that high income men should give more indeed many affluent divorced men want their children to live comfortably and accept that the formula should be graded according to income.

But even the more generous men run into problems with the way the system is currently operating - particularly when child support comes on top of inequitable property settlements and sometimes spousal maintenance. And then there's the fact that men earning over $50,000 are in the highest bracket for child support but also in the highest tax bracket an expensive combination. A non resident dad in this income bracket with two children is currently left with less than twenty cents in every dollar earned over $50,000,after paying tax, child support and employees superannuation of three per cent.

Some relief is possible if the Coalition pushes through the high income tax breaks included in its tax package. But the Democrats have already announced their intention of reducing the tax cut for high income earners from $86 to $26 to fund the exclusion of food from the GST and Senator Brian Harradine may well move in a similar direction. this set of election promises.

The government child support committee will be watching these developments closely but without the promised tax relief, work disincentives for this group of payers will remain. In the end, it all comes down to money public money. Indeed the Family Court and the CSA are required under law to protect the public purse hence absolute priority is given to minimising welfare costs by, for instance, forcing men to pay according to their earning capacity irrespective of the impact on their fathering.

There's no doubt continuing problems with the scheme are acknowledged by the government which is coming under pressure to improve the transparency of the formula. Even so, the implications for the welfare budget of any relief for low income payers remain a major impediment to further progress. ";"The Howard Government is trying to make life easier for non-custodial fathers. But the Family court seems to be working in the opposite direction.

Bettina Arndt reports...

If you are male, working long hours to support the family b";"The Sydney Morning Herald's sub-heading to Bettina Arndt's latest article states the government is "trying to make life easier for non-custodial fathers". MRA is not at all sure the government is unanimous in this objective. Judging by their actions and t" "48";"sup";"Fathers Force PM to Review Child Support";"The Australian";"1988-01-17";"Richard McGregor";;"John Howard has agreed to review child support payments after a backbench campaign on behalf of fathers angry about the present system.

But the Prime Minister protested on Cairns radio yesterday when announcing that the Government was studying changes that he did not know whether he could find a fair system from the wreckage of thousands of broken relationships.

"I find it a very, very difficult social issue, and I have sympathies on both sides of the argument, but I don't think anyone has got the perfect answer because there aren't perfect answers," he said, stressing it was a bipartisan issue.

Mr. Howard said ministers had discussed the issue in Cabinet last week, an indication that the Government might consider new measures in next month's Budget.

Backbenchers are attempting to force further reforms to cut payments, even as parliament debates a Bill introducing extensive changes to child support, which are themselves the product of a lengthy review.

Liberal MP Warren Entsch, whose North Queensland electorate covers Cairns, told The Australian yesterday that backbenchers wanted new ways of assessing the income of parents paying child support.

"These people have no real satisfactory mechanism of getting justice," he said.

People providing child support are overwhelmingly fathers; about 92 per cent of the 440,528 payers are men according to government statistics.

"We are still talking about single mums - they have a difficult time, an naturally they look to the father to make a contribution," Mr Howard said on radio.

He added that if payments to custodial parents were cut, taxpayers would have to step in to make up the difference.

"There are no other choices," he said.

However, he did say he appreciated the problems of people paying child support to a former partner while attempting to provide for a new family.

The present support system sets payments at different levels depending on the number of children and the taxable income of the payee.

Cairns radio interviewer, David McKenzie complained to Mr Howard that one of his former guests, a rodeo rider had been forced to pay child support "after a fleeting indiscretion behind the bar at a local show".

But, Mr. Howard objected to the complaint, saying the welfare of the child was paramount, regardless of how he or she had come into the world.

Mckenzie told The Australian after the interview that the rodeo rider had since fled to Canada to avoid paying.

"He hardly knew this woman's name," he said.

Government officials said the father paying $3000 a week for one child - cited as an example yesterday of the system's injustices - would be earning more than $75,000 annually.

One MP said in last week's parliamentary debate that he received 10 time more complaints about the child support system than about poor service by Telstra.

";"John Howard has agreed to review child support payments after a backbench campaign on behalf of fathers angry about the present system.

But the Prime Minister protested on Cairns radio yesterday when announcing that the Government was stud"; "49";"sup";"Wimping on Child Support";"Sydney Morning Herald";"1997-10-02";"Bettina Arndt";;"Tuesday morning it was front-page news. The Melbourne Coroner heard the sad story of a man who hanged himself in a police cell after two years of being denied access to his three children. One more victim adding weight to the continuing public concern about gross inequities in the treatment of non-custodial parents after divorce.

By the end of the day, the Howard Government had struck another blow to the campaign promoting the rights of non-custodial parents. In announcing changes to the Child Support Scheme, it wimped out.

Far from the sweeping reforms promised by the Liberals before election, the Cabinet proposals approved by the Coalition joint part room, tinker at the edges, failing dismally to address major concerns of critics of the scheme.

Mr Howard railroaded the proposals through the party room against heated opposition from members of the backbench committee set up earlier this year to lobby for changes to the scheme. The backbenchers are all too aware of growing frustration at the failure of successive governments to respond to recommendations made by the Joint Select Committee on Certain Family Law Matters (JSC), a bi partisan parliamentary committee which investigated the scheme three years ago.

One major concern of the JSC was that under the current formula underpinning the scheme, the custodial parent often fares well at the expense of the non-custodial parent, who may well end up impoverished. Men with second families earning between $20,000 and $25,000 per year often find themselves with up to $500 per month less disposable income than their first families.

Tuesday's proposals do little to rectify the situation. There's a measly $901 increase in the amount of "exempted income" for self-support for non-custodial parents. It's unsurprising that the backbenchers are up in arms at being forced to return to their constituents with a mere $17 a week relief from onerous child support payments. This is half the percentage increase recommended by the JSC.

Equally, the proposals fail to bite the bullet concerning the high level of disregarded income for custodial parents.

This is the amount the custodial parent can earn before any reduction in the non-custodial parent's child support payments. The Government proposal cuts this from $37,424 to $29,598 - more than $10,000 less than suggested by the JSC. And contrary to the JSC recommendations, custodial parents can still apply for child-care fees to be added to disregarded income.

But there will be just as many custodial parents who will be appalled at the Government's failure to address their concerns - particularly women whose ex-husbands are self-employed and in a position to minimise their taxable income. Cabinet's only response to their plight has been to add excluded net rental property losses and exempt foreign income to the parent's taxable income used to determine child support liability.

And there is no mention of strengthening the enforcement provisions to ensure compliance with required payments and penalties for income minimisation. Yes, there are some good moves - like the requirement that all non-custodial [parents, including those on the dole contribute a minimum of $5 a week for their children's welfare. Also, fathers with second families can now claim 50 per cent of any child support as a deduction from the household income used for determining family payments and child care-assistance.

Finally, the Government is encouraging parents to escape the clutches of the Child support Agency - a smart move since, by some estimates, the money recovered by it is less than half the costs of administration.

But, there are other areas of concern which have not been addressed - such as reform of the much-criticised review system by introducing some predictability to the process through public access to published decisions and the introduction of a less costly system of appeals.

Given that the previous Labour government also had a dismal record on reforming child support, it will be interesting to see whether the Opposition will now take on some of the tough decisions by moving appropriate amendments when the legislation is introduced into Parliament. A Labour taskforce of relevant shadow ministers is soon to meet to plan strategy.

Yesterday, the Government announced that even these feeble reforms will not be implemented before 1999. But try as successive governments might to duck and stall, this hot issue is not going to go away.

";"Tuesday morning it was front-page news. The Melbourne Coroner heard the sad story of a man who hanged himself in a police cell after two years of being denied access to his three children. One more victim adding weight to the continuing public concern abo"; "50";"sup";"Two Families, One Divorced Dad and Not Much Cash to Go Around";"Sydney Morning Herald";"2001-11-28";"Lee Glendinning";;"Andy Thompson says the idea that divorced men who remarry earn enough to support their second family is completely misleading.

Mr Thompson pays $185 child support a month to his first wife and two children and says he struggles to raise the three children, all under 10 years old, from his second marriage.

"It's not that I don't believe in paying child support - I have no problem with this and believe I should," he says. "But I also believe in equal parenting and that really doesn't seem to be happening in most cases.''

Mr Thompson is a member of the volunteer support group Dads Against Discrimination, and says he takes up to five calls a day from non-custodial fathers in a similar position to his.

He has not seen the children from his first marriage, aged 19 and 12, for six years.

As a self-employed distributor living at Douglas Park, near Picton, he earns $32,000 a year and has to support his wife and three children, Josh, Jessica and Sarah.

Despite having to pay court costs of $60,000 following his divorce and buying a new property, Mr Thompson says he has always managed to pay adequate child support.

"I've always been on time in my child support payments, but recently, as the kids have been getting older and there are more things to pay for, it has become a lot more difficult," he said."So I've been late a month or so, but they don't mind so much because they know I'm reliable."

This situation is common among many divorced parents, Mr Thompson claims, saying he finds it hard to believe any finding to the contrary.

He does not know of anyone who is as financially well-off in their second family as they were in their first.

Recently, however, it has become a little easier for Mr Thompson and his second wife, Louise.

Mr Thomson no longer has to pay child support for his first child, who has just turned 19. Up until that point, instead of paying $185 a month, Mr Thompson had to pay $400 a month.

"I've worked all my life. I pay my taxes and now I just want to look after my kids," he says. "But the unfortunate thing is that, in most of these situations, it is the kids who miss out.''

";"Andy Thompson says the idea that divorced men who remarry earn enough to support their second family is completely misleading.

Mr Thompson pays $185 child support a month to his first wife and two children and says he struggles to raise th";"Note the second paragraph wherein it says: "Mr Thompson pays $185 child support a month to his first wife and two children". Most of you would agree - not a great amount - just $43 per week for two children. BUT THIS IS NOT THE TRUE SITUATION!! " "51";"sup";"Parental Payments Cost '3 Lives a Day'";"Canberra Times";"2000-11-19";"Megan Doherty";;"As many as three men a day are committing suicide because the nation's child-support system is driving them over the edge, according to the Lone Father's Association Australia.

Association President Barry Williams said the claim was not based any official figures but on anecdotal evidence such as phone calls made to its 22 branches around Australia.

"People will ring to say their son or partner has deliberately driven into a truck or driven off the road because they can't take it any more," he said.

ACT Coroner Warren Nicholl acknowledged this week that a struggle to meet child-support payments had played a large part in the suicide of Canberra man William Gilbert.

Mr William said the Lone Fathers Association supported the Child Support Agency and believed non-custodial parents should pay child support, but believed it should be based on a flat rate calculated after tax had been deducted.

Earlier this month Labor and the Democrats defeated in the Senate the Government's proposed changes to child support which would have seen non custodial parents pay $48 million less a year to custodial parents.

A spokesman for Family and Community Services Minister Larry Anthony said negotiations with Labor and the Democrats were continuing.

Australian Democrats Senator John Woodley said no-one denied injustices were occurring in the child-support system, especially to non-custodial parents, but the solution was not to shift the problem on to custodial parents. He hoped a compromise could be reached.

";"As many as three men a day are committing suicide because the nation's child-support system is driving them over the edge, according to the Lone Father's Association Australia.

Association President Barry Williams said the claim was not ba"; "52";"sup";"Second-Marriage Fathers Not So Poor";"Sydney Morning Herald";"2001-11-28";"Adele Horin";;"The perception of divorced men being impoverished by child-support payments is challenged by a study that shows many are as well off in their second families as they were with their first.

Some divorced fathers have complained they are unable to start new families or cannot adequately support them because of the burden of child-support payments.

But official figures in a Child Support Agency study show little change in the disposable income for men in lower income groups. It is better-off men in second families who suffer the biggest income fall.

Men on a taxable income of $35,000 can enjoy about the same standard of living in a second family despite having to pay child support to the first family. This is because they pay $2545 a year in child support for one child but receive more than $7000 in government benefits, such as family tax payments, for the second family. Their disposable income of $32,000 is about $1800 less than they had in the first family.

Kathleen Swinbourne, of the Sole Parents' Union, said: "The claims of the disgruntled dads have been accepted at face value and the Government has moved to assist them at the expense of the custodial parent." However, Barry Williams, of the Lone Fathers' Association, said tables produced by the Child Support Agency were not believable, and he expected the Federal Government to further amend child-support legislation to help non-custodial parents.

In July last year, new rules came into effect which transferred a portion of the family tax benefit from sole parents, mostly mothers, to non-resident fathers if they had care of their child for 37 nights or more a year.

The Child Support Agency's tables, left, assume the man is the sole income earner in his first and second families. He has one child by the first wife and one by the second; his ex-wife relies on the sole-parent benefit.

At a pre-tax income of $50,000, the man in his first family had a disposable income of $40,819 after tax and government benefits. In his second family, the man's disposable income falls by almost $5,000 to about $36,000 after he pays $100 a week in child support.

"At this higher income, it's a more substantial gap between first and second families but it still leaves the man with $36,000 on which to support a new wife and child," Ms Swinbourne said. "The ex-wife and child live on just over $20,000, half the household income they previously enjoyed."

At a pre-tax income of $75,000, the man who starts a second family suffers a drop in disposable income of about $10,000. While his second family lives on $44,500, the sole parent and child live on $23,800.

Ms Swinbourne said men with new partners had to expect to be worse off when they had another child, given that they still had their first child to support.

The assistant general manager of the Child Support Agency, Sheila Bird, said: "Child support is a very emotional issue and there are lots of myths and fictions about."

The agency wanted to inject factual information into the debate.

"The basic concept of Australia's child-support system is that parents have a responsibility to support their children even after separation, and the good news is that Australian parents in the main accept that responsibility."

";"The perception of divorced men being impoverished by child-support payments is challenged by a study that shows many are as well off in their second families as they were with their first.

Some divorced fathers have complained they are una"; "53";"sup";"Support Payments 'drove man to suicide'";"Canberra Times";"2000-11-19";"Megan Doherty";;""You've pushed him to the grave," ex-partner tells CSA officer

Queenbeyan woman Kate Gibbs is convinced the pressure of making child support payments while being unable to build a new life of his own is what finally drove her former partner to commit suicide.

Ms Gibbs and Warrant Gilbert always expected to support his three children but not to the extent where he was only working to keep up the payments and simply exist.

The 28-year old Canberra man died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a friend's car in August while clutching a letter of demand from the Child Support Agency which he had received two days earlier.

The Act Coroner's Court was told this week Mr Gilbertt was being forced to live on $150 a week, 47 per cent of his gross salary gone in tax and 30 per cent in child support.

Coroner Warren Nicholl made no recommendation about the CSA but said it was clear that Mr Gilbert's struggle to meet obligations played a large part in the lead-up to his death.

Ms Gibbs claims the CSA even asked Mr Gilbert to sell his car and furniture to maintain the payments without taking into account whether the mothers of his children had entered into new relationships and their circumstances had changed.

Ms Gibbs, 20, said, "You should have to pay for your kids, fair enough, but I mean when they're set up and don't need the money, it shouldn't be taken.

Child Support Agency general manager Catherine Argall said legislation prevented her from discussing in detail individual cases but she did suggest the CSA had not treated Mr Gilbert unfairly.

"When CSA hears of the suicide of one of its clients, it has a profound impact on us and particularly those staff who have spoken with the family." Ms Agall said.

"In circumstances such as this we review our contacts and in this case I can confirm there was no indication that Mr Gilbert was in distress over child support.

"The public records indicate that Mr Gilbert's personal circumstances were complex."

MS Gibbs said other factor may have contributed to Mr Gilbert taking his own life but she believes the child support payments and the fact that the mothers of his children did not want him to see them tipped him over the edge.

Ms Gibbs said Mr Gilbert was working seven days a week but still could not get out of debt or buy his own home.

"He wasn't getting anywhere," she said.

Mr Gilbert had three children from two different relationships.

Ms Gibbs, who was with him for four years, claims she rang Mr Gilbert's CSA case manager the day after she discovered he was dead.

"Pretty much the firs thing that came out of her mouth was , "Did he have a will? Does he have any assets?" and I said, 'You're not taking anything else off him. You've pushed him to the grave," she said.

Ms Gibbs believes the CSA has a punitive attitude to non-custodial parents.

"When we put a claim in to get payments reduced and he put down $10 for entertainment they wouldn't lower it because he spent things on entertainment," she said.

"It's just little things. You can't go anywhere. You just haven't got the money."

";""You've pushed him to the grave," ex-partner tells CSA officer

Queenbeyan woman Kate Gibbs is convinced the pressure of making child support payments while being unable to build a new life of his own is what finally drove her former partner to comm"; "54";"sup";"Change is Essential to the Child Support Formula";"Sydney Morning Herald";"2000-11-13";"Bettina Arndt";;"It will be a tragedy if the current moves to change the child support system are thwarted in the Senate, writes Bettina Arndt .

The latest attempt to reform child support is in trouble, with Labor and Democrat senators refusing to pass key government amendments. Talks continue but it seems unlikely the Government will overcome Opposition resistance to dividing the costs of children more fairly between separated parents.

One surprising aspect of last week's parliamentary debate was the claim by both Labor and the Democrats that there was not sufficient evidence on the costs of contact to justify reducing child support liabilities for non-resident parents who care for their children between 10 and 30 per cent of nights a year.

There was also the misleading suggestion that these costs are already taken into account in the child support formula. In fact, there's absolutely no evidence that costs of contact are included in the formula in any measurable way. In 1987, when the formula was designed, there was no research on the costs of contact, nor much Australian data on costs of raising children. The result was a poorly documented formula based on very limited evidence.

However, major research studies are now available giving solid Australian evidence on the costs of children - which show very clearly the formula is flawed. Rather than sharing the costs of the children, as prescribed by the legislation, middle and higher income fathers actually pay the total costs of children (or more) in child support - hence the proposed amendment reducing the upper limit or "cap" on payer income used to calculate child support.

Now finally there's solid data on contact costs, with the release of important new research which paints in graphic terms the financial burden faced by non-residential parents who attempt to maintain contact with their children. This study, due to be published next year in the prestigious Journal of Social Policy, was undertaken by Macquarie University sociologist Dr Paul Henman, and Kyle Mitchell, a Department of Family and Community Services policy analyst with extensive experience in child support research.

This research - which was made available to senators considering the legislation - absolutely nails the inequities being experienced by contact parents under the formula. It shows, for instance, that for a man who has contact with a child for 20 per cent of the year, the costs of this contact are about 40 per cent of the total yearly costs of raising the same child in an intact couple medium-income household, and around half the yearly costs in an intact low-income family.

So non-resident parents face significant financial costs from providing relatively small amounts of contact. The key issues are household infrastructure - sleeping accommodation etc for the children, and costs of transport and communication between the two households. These costs, which can preclude fathers from maintaining regular contact, are not taken into account in the formula's calculation of child support liabilities.

Henman and Mitchell point out that the diseconomies of raising children in two separated households raises doubts about "the realism, fairness and efficacy" of arguments that child support liability levels should attempt to maintain pre-divorce living standards of children: "There is a danger that the level of child support liability may, at least partly, be at the expense of the ability to afford contact and/or compliance with child support liabilities."

They make a strong argument that just as the interests of children place an obligation on the State to provide for sole parents struggling to survive on low incomes, there is also an obligation to ensure non-residents' income is sufficient to meet costs of contact.

This powerful research adds new urgency to the need to restore legitimacy to our formula by addressing these glaring inequities. There are overseas countries which regularly review and update their formulae in the light of new data on costs of children. Yet in Australia, whose formula must rank among the world's worst in terms of research-based validity, any attempt to update it in line with relevant research meets with massive resistance.

The contact proposals included in this legislation are only one small imperfect step towards addressing the problems with the formula. It is alarming that both Labor and Democrats show such resistance to any change resulting in the slightest loss of income for resident parents. Concern about the impact on low-income lone parents is understandable - although many lone parents will be supported by increased family tax benefits. But it's a different story with higher-income parents, where giving contact fathers a little more and resident mothers a little less would result in no real hardship, but simply a little more equity.

The Government is well aware of the social costs if this package of reforms should fail. The glaring inequities in our child support system are at the heart of the widespread disquiet and alienation of large numbers of non-resident parents and their families. This alienation plays a role in the large numbers of children losing contact with their fathers, the astonishing 25 per cent of child support payers currently not in employment, the alarming rate of suicide among separated men, and the fact that more than half of lone parents receive very little or no child support. An unfair system makes for an unhappy, dysfunctional society.

";"It will be a tragedy if the current moves to change the child support system are thwarted in the Senate, writes Bettina Arndt .

The latest attempt to reform child support is in trouble, with Labor and Democrat senators refusing to pass key";"An excellent article from Bettina. You can use this to protest the Labour and Democrats decision to reject the minimal changes in the CSA Amendment bill. Send a copy now with your brief letter of protest to each and every Labour and Democrat member of par" "55";"abs";"Battered by the System";"The Weekend Australian";"2000-06-03";"John Stapleton";;"Nobody believed 'Frank' when he tried to protect his son from bureaucratic bungling. John Stapleton reports that, nearly 20 years on, Frank has been proved right, even though he lost in court.

The boy was eight weeks old when his father called welfare authorities and pleaded with them to take his son into foster case. He alleged that the mother was being violent towards the child, throwing him against walls and trying to smother him. The authorities ignored him, as they did for years to come, but the father persevered.

Twenty years, 550 days in court and tens of millions of dollars of public funds later, the matter which has just run across the civil, criminal and family law jurisdictions, reached its final chapter this week.

Last year the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, satisfied there was a prima-facie case, laid charges against the mother for tying her son in a cot with a rope, striking him in the face, throwing him against a wall and "causing him actual bodily harm", events alleged to have occurred in 1981-82.

But earlier this week, in a judgment highly critical of earlier police inaction, Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court issued a permanent stay on proceedings, primarily due to the time that has elapsed since the alleged offences occurred.

Magistrate Hugh Dillon said the disappearance of police records raised the suspicion of a cover-up. But he said the "appalling" treatment the Police Service meted out to the father did not detract from the issue of the mother facing a possible abuse of process because of the 20-year delay.

One of the sad ironies of the case is that, although the father does not see it this way, in many of his claims of judicial, police and political inaction as well as inappropriate behaviour by the NSW Department of Community Services have been vindicated in a series of court judgments. But nobody has been found guilty, no compensation has been paid.

The long history of the case means it offers a time-tunnel view of the behaviour of bureaucracies in the face of an outraged and persistent litigant. Its resolution comes as sex and family issues are attracting worldwide media attention, with focus on the high suicide rates of separated men and the behaviour of family courts, child protection authorities and court-appointed psychiatrists.

An expert on female abuse of children, Dr. Malcolm George of St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, says it if "par for the course", where the mother is the alleged abuser, for institutions to spend large amounts of money defending their decisions,, based on an ideology that "denies that women can be violent and abusive".

It was nine years ago that The Weekend Australian broke the story of "James" and his father "Frank" on its front page, illustrating one of the most under-reported and under discussed crimes in Australia today: physical and sexual abuse of children by women.

Although Australian and international research clearly indicates that children are most at risk from their mother, followed by their step father and live-in boyfriends, almost a decade on crimes of this type remain significantly under-reported and under-researched.

'I get flashbacks: a smell, an idea can trigger them', James.

During his early years, Frank - the family's real names have been suppressed by the courts - made hundred of calls and applications to police, welfare organisations, the NSW Department of Community Services, parliamentarians and the Family Court. But it was not until 1984, when the child was four years old, that at least some members of the department appear to have begun taking the accusations seriously.

A report by an independent clinical psychologist gave a graphic account of James attempting to have oral sex with her - behaviour considered to have been acquired from a woman. A departmental psychologist and a child protection worker then interviewed the mother and the child. They concluded that James was an "emotionally deprived little boy who has been sexually abused and has been exposed to adult sexual behaviour".

For almost two years from this date, the father was prevented from seeing his son through Family Court orders, actions by departmental officers and recommendations by Sydney psychiatrist Dr Brent Waters, who had been a favourite of DOCS, the Family Court and Legal Aid over many years.

Waters recommended custody be with the mother and that the father be denied access. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which campaigned for the Chelmsford deep sleep inquiry in the 1980s, has helped prepare a number of complaints against Waters in the past year. Waters has declined to comment.

The journal Psychiatry, Psychology and the Law's editor-in-chief Dr Ian Freckleton says there is a long and disappointing history of bureaucracies responsible for the welfare of child not acknowledging errors.

"A particular difficulty exists in relation to the independence of advise," he says. "Welfare department often utilise services offered by mental health professionals who interlink with the departments in a complex of advisory, consultant and expert roles, all of which can be well paid and career-enhancing."

Repeated attempts by Frank in the early 80s to gain custody failed. In 1986, James was bashed with a cricket bat. Frank Alleges the boy's mother's then de facto husband was responsible. The man was never questioned. A Children's Hospital report from the time reports evidence of a recent severe beating "suggesting he had been held on the face and struck". The report noted "extensive bruising ... blue-black in colour" and records the six-year-old's long association with the hospital for similar problems.

In desperation, the father finally gained full custody of his son by locating the home of the then federal attorney-general Lionel Bowen. Braving dogs, he knocked on the door. Bowen was not at home but his wife answered the door and listened to Frank's story. James has not seen his mother since.

The Ten network;s footage of teh child when he was 11 shows a quiet, well-mannered boy asking: "Why was it me, why was it me that got hurt?" He said his mother "should be put in jail for life, I just hate her".

James, now 20, is on medication and rarely leaves the house. He has consistently maintained for several years that he remembers psychiatrist Waters saying: "Don't tell anyone about the naughty things mummy's doing."

"I was so young," James recalls. "The main things that come across now -I get flashbacks: a smell, and idea can trigger them. It is more a sense of fear. I used to dream a lot, nightmares ... about my mother. I was extremely scared of her. I remember certain episode and events ... when her husband beat me with a cricket bat ... I felt anger, but more than anything, no I feel pity."

The obsessive campaign for justice by Frank has touched many of Australia's best known people and has been mentioned in parliament 14 times. Among the judges who ruled against the father was Elizabeth Evatt, a former chief justice of the Family Court and now a member of the UN Human Rights Committee. Justice John Ellis, now a senior Family Court judge, also ruled against Frank.

The dozens of politicians whom the father approached - unsuccessfully - for help include Paul Keating, Gareth Evans, Neville Wran, NSW Minister for Women Faye Lo Po' and NSW Police Minister Paul Whelan.

DOCS officers in the early 1980s accused the father of being violent and threatening a number of solicitors. None of these accusations was proved.

After press coverage his local member, the then shadow minister for industrial relations John Howard, called for an independent inquiry. In 1992 he told parliament: "I have satisfied myself, from very lengthy interviews with my constituent and from an exhaustive examination of a huge file, that the complaints that he has brought to me about the conduct of officers of the then Youth and Community Services Commission in NSW are justified". Independent Ted Mack also claimed welfare officers showed "prejudice and bias ... against the father when he made efforts to protect his child".

The weekend Australian concluded in the early 90s that documents unearthed under freedom-of-information legislation showed government officers had made false claims that the father was an arsonist.

The Ethnic Affairs Commission also expressed concerns.

During the past eight years, Frank has sought compensation via the NSW Supreme Court. Last year, after 64 days in court and a transcript stretching to 3000 pages and 330 exhibits, the court handed down a judgment absolving a string of DOCS officers of bias and negligence.

'I believe every child should be given every right to live without abuse and pain', FRANK.

However, the court did find the department "in breach of its duty of care owed to the plaintiff" in failing to fully investigate affidavits that alleged abuse of the child, filed by a women who had lived at the refuge where James and his mother were staying.

The court also found the department failed to attend promptly on notification of a child at risk to provide material and give clear written instructions to Waters.

Psychiatric reports link the son's present problems with his early sexual abuse. However, in a subsequent ruling last April, the NSW Supreme Court found there was absent an essential link in the chain of causation" between breaches of duty of care by DOCS ann conditions now suffered by the son. Justice Timothy Studdert was unable to conclude that due investigation "would have led in the exercise of reasonable care to the avoidance of ... exposure to sexual abuse".

Frank believes his son needs treatment and the ruling leaves him without vital help. His main focus now is his outrage at the way the NSW Supreme Court dealt with the case.

He originally acted as "tutor" or guardian, for his son, the plaintiff. Well known Sydney silk Alec Shand QC took on the case. In the end, the father was removed from the case after allegations that his emotional involvement went against his son's best interests.

Frank may very well not have helped his case through the years by calling everyone who would not help him, including judges, politicians and police, "evil, disgusting, protectors of paedophilia" and so on. Transcripts from the Supreme Court show much legal huffing and puffing over the man's "scurrilous" attacks.

Frank alleged in a complaint to the Legal Services Commission that Shand, once granted legal aid "hijacked" the case. He alleges that Shand deliberately concealed evidence from the court and failed to cross examine witnesses. The commission found no wrongdoings on the part of Shand.

Frank believes that the system, including the judiciary and politicians generally, has acted to protect the interconnecting webs of Legal Aid, DOCS and the Family Court. He says that his case is not just a failure of the system" "I am saying the whole system is immoral, inhuman.

"The abuse of my son was known to the authorities from when my son was weeks old to when he was 61/2. Instead of the system protecting my son from horror abuse, they left my son in a dangerous situation and then proceeded to protect the people who were abusing him.

"I believe one thing" every child should be given the right to live without abuse and pain and suffering."

Although Frank has been dismissed by members of the legal profession as "paranoid" and "unpleasant", his is not that uncommon a view. Whistleblowers Australia's national president Dr Jean Lennane says DOCS, Legal Aid and the Family court "have very close connection - incestuous you might say".

"What tends to happen is that the aggrieved party, the whistleblower or litigant early on gets labelled as a troublemaker and mentally unbalanced, unofficially or with the help of a hired-gun psychiatrist or psychologist," says Lennane.

"Once that has happened, nobody in any part of the bureaucracy is usually willing to examine the facts of the original complaint. You find it constantly. The main point is the waste of public money.

The scars of what happened to the family in the early 80s are still visible. James after struggling to concentrate at school, is at a turning point, not sure where his life will lead.

His mother has remarried and has two other children.

Frank, a pensioner, is fearful that he will be hit with a cost order for millions of dollars for his Supreme Court Action. His hope that his case would help stop other children being abused and provide a comfortable future for his son is in ashes.

He believes there are other fathers doing, as he did, everything they can to protect their children and being frustrated in the process. "There is no doubt it is still happening today," he says.

Statistical Risks

Although there has been little Australian research, international studies indicate that children are most at risk of abuse from their mothers.

US

The US Government's 1997 report Child Maltreatment found 62.3 per cent of perpetrators were women.

The Heritage Foundation Study, The Child Abuse Crisis, found that of the approximately 2000 children killed each year, 55 per cent were killed by mothers, 25.7 per cent by live-in boyfriends, 12.5 per cent by stepfathers, and 6.8 per cent by biological fathers.

The 1995 report US National Incidence of Child Abuse and Neglect found that where maltreatment led to death, 78 per cent of perpetrators were female. Boys were four times more likely to be fatally abused and 24 per cent more likely to be seriously abused than girls.

UK

The book Broken Homes and Battered Children reports that the child of a biological mother cohabiting with a man other than the natural father is 33 times more likely to suffer serious abuse that a child with married natural parents.

Australia

Although there is a contention over what constitutes a substantiation, the latest statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, based on an amalgam of data from some states, suggests 31 per cent of child abuse cases occur in natural families, 20 per cent in step or blended families, 40 per cent in single-mother households and 5 per cent in single-father households.

End of the Road

The following are excerpts from this week's judgment in the Local Court of NSW by magistrate Hugh Dillon, who granted a permanent stay on the case against the mother of "James", which alleged she bashed and tied up her son in 1981-82.

The real names of those involved in the case have been suppressed by the court.

"There is no explanation before the court as to why or how the investigation stopped once the father had set it in train. No one has ever explained to the father what happened during the investigation or what decisions, if any, were made by those originally in charge of it. The fact that police records, which would, presumably, explain these things, have disappeared raises a suspicion that police officers have been involved in covering up their own negligence or the negligence of colleagues. Beyond this, we can merely speculate.

"I feel considerable sympathy for the father ... it is appalling that it has taken him almost 20 years to get the Police Service to take action on evidence [that] it has had for most of that time.

"A reasonable and right-minded person might have his or her confidence in the justice system undermined because the father has been treated so badly.

"Yet is it now just ... to continue the proceedings because the father was unjustly or unreasonably treated ... for many years?

This is ... one of those rare or exceptional cases where the delay in proceedings has been so excessive that the proceedings constitute an abuse of process.

"These proceedings are permanently stayed."

Two decades of discord

1978: "Frank" and his wife marry in Syria, arrive in Australia.

1979: Wife is pregnant, admitted to psychiatric hospital.

1980: "James" is born underweight. Eight weeks later, Frank makes his first calls to welfare officers and police.

1980-82: Frank alleges neglect and abuse by his wife, including hitting, burning and throwing the child against a wall. Makes hundreds of phone calls and visits to authorities.

1982: Wife moves to Marrickville Women's Refuge. Residents also allege abuse, including the boy being tied to a cot. Alleged sexual abuse begins.

1983: Child is living with his mother and another alleged female perpetrator. Frank makes repeated application to what was then the Department of Youth and Community Services, the Family court, churches and other organisations for the child to be removed.

1984: Child protection workers and psychologists confirm sexual abuse and neglect. The child provides detailed statement of alleged oral sex. The department, Sydney child psychiatrist Dr Brent Waters and the child's Legal Aid solicitor recommend the child remains with his mother. In May, Frank refuses to return the child. Police on instruction from Family Court return the child to his mother. Frank does not see the child for two years.

1985: Frank constantly makes requests to authorities to remove the child to safety; he approaches the home of the then federal attorney-general Lionel Bowen after 68 trips to Canberra seeking help from politicians.

1986: The child is badly bashed with cricket and becomes a ward of the state.

July: Frank gains full custody.

1991-92: The Weekend Australian breaks the story of the child abuse bungle. John Howard calls for an inquiry.

1993: 5000 people sign a petition to parliament demanding an inquiry. The Independent Commission Against Corruption decides not to investigate. Frank begins proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court.

1997: The trial for damages begins in NSW Supreme Court. After three weeks, Frank attempts to sack Alec Shand QC from the case. Instead, Frank is removed as "tutor".

1999: Judgment absolves a string of officers from what is now the Department of Community Services and Waters of wrongdoing, but finds the department in breach of duty of care. The NSW Department of Public Prosecutions charges the mother with physical abuse of the child.

2000: The NSW Supreme Court find that, though DOCS was negligent, the link between negligence and damage to the child cannot be established, therefore compensation is not paid.

May 30: Local Court magistrate Hugh Dillon finds the NSW Police Service Performance in the case was "appalling", but grants permanent stay of the case against the mother because of passage of time.

";"Nobody believed 'Frank' when he tried to protect his son from bureaucratic bungling. John Stapleton reports that, nearly 20 years on, Frank has been proved right, even though he lost in court.

The boy was eight weeks old when his father cal"; "56";"abs";"Broken Homes and Violated Innocence";"The Courier Mail";"1999-11-09";"Barry Maley";;"The first step toward reducing child abuse is to recognise the circumstance under which it occurs, writes Barry Maley.

Stories this year of some horrendous child abuse and even child murder have made us acutely aware of a facet of adult behaviour we would prefer not to think about.

Crime figures are collected by the states, collated nationally and then classified under four types: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.

In the recent past the statistical trend for such forms of abuse has been upwards.

Abusers try to hide what they do. This not only increases the dangers for children at risk, it also means that reliable figures are hard to find.

Getting a long-term, national picture has been hampered by state variation in the ways incidents are investigated, categorised and recorded.

Evidence has been available for some time showing a correlation between poverty and abuse and a correlation also with disordered neighbourhoods.

A more recent contribution is an accumulation of evidence on the family circumstances of abuses and neglected children.

Australian and Queensland data on the connection between family type and the incidence of abuse and neglect are very illuminating.

In 1997-98 there were 6323 substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect in Queensland. Abuse or neglect in sole-parent families accounted for 3038 cases out of this total.

Step-parent or blended families accounted for an additional 1209 cases, and other relative, strangers or unidentified persons for another 779.

So 5026 cases out of 6323 occurred in not-intact families or other circumstances.

The remainder, 1297 cases, occurred in natural, two-parent families.

Although intact, natural-parent families constitute about 74 percent of all families, they account for only 20 percent of abuse cases; whereas sole-parent, step- or blended families who constitute about 30 percent of Queensland families, account for about two-thirds of cases.

The pattern in other states is comparable, and international data yields much the same picture.

Child abuse in the United States has increased 134 percent since 1980, in tandem with an accelerating rate of children affected by divorce and sole parenthood.

The proportion of children entering broken homes in America has more than quadrupled since 1950.

In Britain, the risk to children has been shown to increase as we move away from the two natural-parent family model to other family types.

The child of a biological mother cohabiting with a man other than the natural father is 33 times more likely to suffer serious abuse that a child with married, natural parents.

Given the cultural similarities between Australia, Britain and the United States; given the similarities in patterns of child abuse; and given their shared histories of more divorce and more ex-nuptial parenting, it is reasonable to conclude that in child abuse we are dealing with a phenomenon found mainly in changing patterns of family life.

We must be wary of assuming that all sole-parent families, step-families or cohabiting couples are inevitably risky for children, or that married natural parents are an absolute guarantee of safety and happiness, for this is clearly not so.

But, what does seem to be the case is that, on average, the risk to children increases as we move away from an environment in which the biological parents of the child are married.

Absence of marriage may imply lack of commitment by the parents to each other, or a boyfriend to the mother; or may be exacerbated in the latter by the absence of a biological bond to the child; all of which may lead to an attenuated or even hostile adult-child relationship.

It turns our that family information is crucial not only to understanding the dynamics of abuse and neglect, but also why there might be a correlation with poverty and disordered neighbourhoods.

Although low income is associated with child abuse, and although it is easy to imagine that poverty brings stresses that may spill over into child abuse or neglect, we cannot conclude that poverty causes abuse or neglect.

It is plausible that prior family dysfunction leads to poverty and child abuse or neglect.

This would explain why abuse is relatively uncommon in intact but poor families where a parent is working, even though such families may be forced to live in neighbourhoods made disorderly by dysfunctional families and the prevalence of crime.

What is indisputable is that children from dysfunctional families are more likely to be abused or neglected, more likely to drift into delinquency and crime and more likely to abuse or neglect their own children in due course.

Recent research in Australia and overseas has shown a significant correlation between neglect and later delinquency and crime, and has uncovered neglect and/or abuse in the backgrounds of somewhere between 50 and 70 percent of delinquents and career criminals.

Quite apart form the outrage to the children, abuse and neglect have wider ramifications in terms of personal safety, threats to property and financial costs.

Little can be done overnight to solve or reverse the moral and cultural changes that have overtaken family life in the past twenty years, yet a clear understanding of the connections between intact families and child safety indicated here must be a foundation and focus of public policy.

That means three things: concentrating immediate action in promptly identifying children at risk; doing nothing to make life more difficult for the overwhelming majority of intact families who raise their children well; and striving to create the conditions for such families to flourish in the future.

Barry Maley is senior fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies, Sydney and director of the centre's "Taking Children Seriously research programme.

";"The first step toward reducing child abuse is to recognise the circumstance under which it occurs, writes Barry Maley.

Stories this year of some horrendous child abuse and even child murder have made us acutely aware of a facet of adult be"; "57";"abs";"Violence In Society";"Transitions: Journal of Men's Perspectives";"1995-03-28";"Senator Anne Cools";;"Speech delivered by Senator Anne Cools to the Canadian Senate on March 28, 1995.

Honorable Senators, my intention today is to focus on children as recipients of violence in the family. I shall review some of the research and findings on the troubled family and child at risk.

Honourable Senators, the understanding of human development and the human psyche is still in its infancy. In 1793 a dramatic hospital reform occurred when Philippe Pinel, a famous French doctor, took over the Bicetre Hospital. Pinel released mental patients from their manacles and chains in which they had been kept. He followed his conviction that the mentally ill acquired fresh air, liberty of movement and less bondage. The concept that mental illness was a medical disease and not demonology or satanic possession was, indeed, revolutionary.

At the turn of the century, Dr. Sigmund Freud compelled a major shift in medical thinking. He introduced the concept of the unconscious. He introduced the concept that human beings are driven by strong, hidden mental forces. He introduced the theory of neurosis; that is, the notion that psychological states in human beings are related to disturbances and distortions and to developmental difficulties in psychic growth and maturation.

In 1992, the rate of violent crime in Canada was nearly double what it was in 1977. In 1977, the police reported 583 violent crimes per 100,000 people, whereas in 1992 they reported the number of violent incidents had increased to 1122 per 100,000 people .... almost double.

At present, as in the past, male offenders are responsible for the overwhelming majority of all criminal offences involving violence in crime. Violent crime, relative to property and other criminal incidents, engenders high levels of public fear, anxiety and frustration. As a result, Canadians are increasingly expressing their concern about safety and security issues. They are expecting action from governments to bring about a demonstrable decrease in interpersonal violence. There is a growing recognition that existing levels of violence in society will not be reduced by hiring more police officers, building more prisons or developing more treatment programs for offenders. Of the goal is personal and community safety then the response to crime must seek to identify and prevent the causal factors associated with crime and violence.

Honorable Senators, I should like to read from a 1979 article which appeared in the Globe and Mail entitled, "How One Woman Works to Mend Broken Lives", written about my agency by Rabbi Dr. Gunther Plaut. I quote Rabbi Gunther Plaut quoting me.

"What's different about us, is that we ... care about men as well. We don't just help women who are victims ... We help the men too ... Violence is all around us, ... We're here to break the cycle in a few individual lives ... We had a husband kick in three doors before we managed to calm him down, and finally the child emerged from the beast that he pretended to be. His greatest fear was that he would breakdown and cry. Well, we helped him to do just that."

When we look at crime and violence, the most obvious fact that leaps to the practitioner or to the student of human deviance is the fact that in the arrest, conviction and detention of offenders, males outnumber females dramatically. Corrections Canada informs us that there are 14,500 male prisoners in federal penitentiaries and 300 females. This ratio of almost 50 to 1 - that is 50 men to one woman - is either of profound discrimination, or one that reveals a tragedy of enormous proportions that largely remains unexplained and unexplored. Some explanation and exploration are overdue.

Honorable Senators, Dr. Fraser Mustard, President of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, recently asserted that the first three years of life are critical and important to a person's development. He said: "The evidence is overwhelming ... These problems are set before the kids hit the educational system. The wiring of the neurons of the cortex - that is, the cerebral cortex - occurs within the first three years. If you receive bad nurturing in that period you're not as well equipped .. A very high priority has to be with the children..."

Another great Canadian, Dr. D.O. Hebb, late professor of psychology at McGill University, in his book The Organization of Behaviour, in 1949, wrote: "... we do not know that juvenile delinquency, associated with broken homes, is due to the home environment and not just as much to the inheritance of the same emotional instability that broke up the home."

Honorable Senators, on March 7, 1995 in a speech of International Women's Day, I suggested that comprehension of male abuse in intimate relationships should resist the current feminist ideological constraints, and should boldly and forthrightly examine the early childhood experience of the abusing male, with especial focus on the relationship between mother and infant son. I stated that mothers' abuse, that is child abuse, of infant sons has a powerful role in the formation of violent male adults. I have suggested, honorable Senators, that men are of women born, both biologically and psychologically.

I have also suggested, senators, that mothers are the gate-keepers of children's emotional and mental well-being. The definition and identification of child abuse is difficult. The Minister of National Health and Welfare, Marc Lalonde, in the 1976 Report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, Welfare, and Social Affairs entitled "Childs Abuse and Neglect" attempts a definition by saying: "I would like to say at the outset that I am most pleased the the Committee's terms of reference include the neglected as well as the abused child. As many others who have studied the problems of children have recognised, it is neither easy nor desirable to separate physical abuse or battering from other, more subtle forms of child abuse and neglect ... Child neglect, in the legal sense, constitutes all those conditions listed in a provincial law and under which a court may find a child neglected, or "in need of protection". Thus the child whose parents are unable or unwilling to care for him adequately ..child battering, to use a well-known analogy, represents the tip of the iceberg of child abuse and neglect."

In the same report, the Honourable Warren Allmand, then Solicitor General of Canada, stated:

" A first concern and one which plagues everyone dealing with child abuse is that of definition. What exactly is child abuse? Is is merely the physical abuse of a child? Does it include sexual abuse and exploitation? And what about the effects of long-tern emotional abuse or sensory deprivation? It seems to me that a definition of child abuse as merely physical abuse of children does not nearly go far enough. There is enough evidence at present regarding psychosomatic dwarfism or the "failure to thrive" syndrome to suggest that emotional abuse is a least as important as physical abuse ... If we had to arrive at a common definition of child abuse I would recommend that you consider the one used in the United States' Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act .. where child abuse and neglect is taken to mean:

... the treatment or mental injury, sexual abuse, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child under the age of 18 by a person who is responsible for the child's welfare under circumstances which indicate that the child's health, or welfare is harmed or threatened thereby."

Both of these ministers were probing deeply. Honourable Senators, one of the great geniuses who first saw the relationship to violence and child formation was the author Charles Dickens. Dickens, in his great masterpiece, Oliver Twist, wrote about the association between poverty, orphan children, neglected children and their association with crime. In 1841, he explained his reasons for writing Oliver Twist saying"

"It appeared to me that to draw a knot of such associates in crime as really do exist, to paint them in all their deformity, ina ll their wretchedness, in all the squalid poverty of their lives; to show that as they really are, forever skulking uneasily through (sic) the dirtiest paths or life, with the great black, ghastly gallows closing up their prospects; it appeared to me that to do this would be an attempt to do something which was greatly needed and which would be a service to society."

Honourable Senators, for 150 years, we have known about the relationship and association between poverty, child neglect, family instability, alcohol, and criminal behaviour. In 1889, street arabs, street urchins, guttersnipes, waifs and such neglected children were very visible on the streets of Toronto. Street arabs or waifs were abandoned children who lived on the streets, guttersnipes were children on the streets who begged, borrowed or stole for their troubled and alcoholic parents. It was estimated that these children on the streets numbered 600 to 700 boys and 100 girls. Honourable Senators, I ask you to note again the ratio of boys to girls.

Toronto's John Kelso, instrumental in the Toronto movement for preventing cruelty to animals, was also instrumental in the movement for child protection. In the late 1880s, Ontario's efforts to protect children gained momentum. In 1888, under Liberal Premier Sir Oliver Mowat, Ontario passed the Children's Protection Act giving authority to commit neglected children to authorized children's homes. Again in 1893, Ontario passed an act for the prevention of cruelty to and better protection of children.

John Kelso's work with child protection, with governments and with the Children's Aid in society in Toronto and Ontario is legend. These activities advanced to 1908 with the passage by Sir Wilfred Laurier's Liberal government of the Juvenile Delinquents Act, which states in section 31: "This act shall be liberally construed to the end that its purpose may be carried out, to wit: ?That the care and custody and discipline of a juvenile delinquent shall approximate as nearly as may be that which should be given by its parents, and that as far as practicable, every juvenile delinquent shall be treated, not as a criminal, but as a misdirected and misguided child, and one needing aid, encouragement, help and assistance."

You will remember, honorable Senators, Laurier was a great admirer of the great Liberal principles and was greatly influenced by Gladstone, a notable Liberal reformer.

Where a child was adjudged to have committed a delinquency, he was not to be dealt with as an offender, but as one in a condition of delinquency and therefore requiring help, guidance and proper supervision. Delinquency was a state or condition in the youth wherein the youth was deemed to require parental care.

The Juvenile Delinquents Act of 1908 was to assist the child whose primary problem was a lack of proper care from his parents. It was preferable to prove delinquency in the child rather than delinquency in the parents; that is, neglect by the parents.

The government in its intervention assumed the role of the parens patriae, that is, the state as parent. The Juvenile Delinquents Act was also an initiative to bring these matters into federal jurisdiction, a very difficult constitutional question indeed.

Honorable Senators, today my point is abuse and aggression in the family, its expression in the family and its consequences for society. In 1978, a subcommittee of the Standing Senate Committee on Health, Welfare and Science undertook a study on childhood experiences as causes of criminal behaviour. The committee's report, "Child at Risk", a fine piece of work, concluded: "Good parenting is of overwhelming importance to the developing personality of the child. Close affectional ties with an adult in early life and consistent loving an care and nurturance in the early years are essential to optimal development of the child. It seems there is really no alternative to tender loving care. Whatever can be done to help parents to doi the job of parenting well will at the same tome be preventing future criminal behaviour."

Some citations for the 1980 Senate report "child at Risk" are:

1. The Committee has been convinced by expert witnesses that much of the violent crime committed by adults can be traced to a breakdown of parenting in the early childhood period...

2. It is not only the battered child but the neglected one as well who runs a high risk of becoming a violent adult...

3. Several psychiatrists who appeared before your Committee agreed that violent criminal behaviour is a direct result of abuse and neglect in the first three years of life...

4. The unsocialized, aggressive child is likely to be the product of a home in which it is an unwanted or illegitimate child, and has met with rejection from the mother...

5. It is generally accepted that "maternal deprivation has a detrimental effect on character development"...

Honourable Senators, while it has not been determined that all abused children become violent adults, it has been established that almost all violent adults were abused and neglected children.

I should like to review some literature and share some findings which indicate that mothers are perpetrators of abuse upon children at least equally with fathers. The Health and Welfare Canada report of 2989 entitled "Family Violence: A Review of Theoretical and Clinical Literature" cites Breines and Gordon as having stated in 1984, that physical abuse of children is the only form of family violence in which women are the perpetrators as open as men.

the report also states that Richard Belles, in 1979, cited studies that the abusers are often female. In one 1969 study of Bennie and Sclare, this was found in seven out of ten cases examined, and in another of Steele and Pollock in 1968, in 50 out of 57 cases.

Other studies - Zalba in 1971 and Gill also in 1971 - showed women to be abusers in 50 per cent of the cases.

The Health and Welfare Canada report also states that Bell, in 1986, found evidence that mothers are more likely than fathers to be abusive; that Benedict et al, in 1985, identified the mother as the abuser in 38.7 per cent of cases, and the father in 18.4 per cent, rising to 31 per cent when stepfathers and boyfriends are included; that Creighton, in 1979 found that mothers or mother substitutes are the suspected abusers in 44 per cent of cases, and fathers or father substitutes in 46.5 per cent.

Ralph Weisheit, in a 1986 article entitled "When Mothers Kill Their Children", found in a study of 460 female offenders in prison between 1940 and 1983 for homicide, that 39 were Institutionalized for killing their children. finally, Richard Gelles, in 1978, found that mothers' violence toward children was significantly higher than that of fathers, reported at least one occurrence of violence during the course of raising the child.

D. Craig Allen of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State University, recently sent me data from the Child Abuse Register of his home state of Iowa that shows that, of the children abused by biological parents between January 1984 and June 1987, some 64.5 per cent were abused by mothers.

Closer to home, here are recent Canadian and Ontarian data on child abuse:

On child abuse morbidity, University of Toronto's Dr. Cyril Greenland, in a 1986 analysis of 100 child abuse or child neglect deaths, CAN from 1973 to 1982 in Ontario from the chief coroner's office, entitled "Identification and Management of High Risk Cases", reported that: "Natural parents were the perpetrators in 63 per cent of the deaths; mothers were involved in 38 deaths, fathers in 13 deaths and both parents in 12 deaths."

About the child victims, he continued:

The risk of death due to CAN is highest in the first year of life. The Ontario data, confirmed by most other studies, show that well over half of the victims ... died before the age of 12 months. An additional 25 per cent ... died before the age of two years. Only five per cent of the victims were over the age of five years.

The Toronto Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse, in its 1994 report entitled "Ontario Incidence of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect", tells us that in 1993 there were 46,683 child maltreatment investigations by all 54 Children's Aid Societies. The study defines child maltreatment as any one of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or emotional maltreatment. The findings are as follows: the total substantiated cases of child maltreatment, mothers were perpetrators in 49 per cent and fathers in 31 per cent of the cases. In the category of child neglect, mothers were perpetrators in 85 per cent of the substantiated cases. In the category of child physical abuse, biological mothers were perpetrators in 39 per cent of the substantiated cases, and biological fathers in 40 per cent of cases. In the category of emotional maltreatment, mothers were perpetrators in 79 per cent.

This study found that:

..boys were most strongly over-represented in the area of physical abuse, especially in the zero to three-year-old category, where boys accounted for 59 per cent of investigations ... and male children aged four to eleven years accounted for 55.5 per cent. The single largest number of investigated families, 35 per cent, was the single mother family.

Honourable Senators, these data speak for themselves where these defenceless children cannot.

On the matter of mother-only families, Biller in 1981, found that early father absence has a strong association with delinquency, committal to training school and recidivism among males. Wilson and Hernstein report that a longitudinal research study of children in a predominantly black area of Chicago found that children raised in mother-only families were, by the third grade, more likely to be aggressive.

In 1989, Toronto's Peter Silverman's examination of abuse and neglect concluded that more physical abuse occurs in single parent households led by females. James Wilson, in an article in 1994 entitled "What to do About Crime", confirms this. He said: "The evidence ... is quite clear: even if we hold income and ethnicity constant children (and especially boys) raised by a single mother are more likely than those raised by two parents to have difficulty in school, get into trouble with the law, and experience emotional and physical problems."

Honourable Senators, violence and aggression are the nemesis of child neglect. wilson and Hernstein, the foremost authors on crime and violence in the United States, in their book Crime and Human Nature, wrote that:

" ... All the boys from quarrelsome families with erratic discipline, but only one-fourth of those from cohesive families with consistent discipline, were convicted of a crime. Interestingly ... it was the mothers' behaviour that made the greatest difference in the boys' criminality."

Before our Senate Subcommittee on Childhood Experiences, Dr. Robert ten Bensel, Director, Maternal and Child Health at the University of Minnesota, said this about dangerous offenders: "I have never met a violent juvenile delinquent who was not abused as a child ... Secondly, all the criminals at San Quentin prison who have been studies had violence upbringing as children."

That study was attributed to Gelles-

Thirdly, all assassins, or individuals who have attempted assassinations in the United States during the past 20 years had been victims of child abuse: There is a 100 per correlation.

That again was attributed to Gelles. About dangerous sexual offenders, he also testified: "If you look at the problem of sex murder...you find that they all came from broken families and suffered cruelty and brutality, usually at the hands of a woman, plus acting out, as a child, vandalism, arson, and cruelty to animals. You see the pattern over and over again. There is cruelty to animals, cruelly to kids, and if a woman has beat up on you, then you are more likely to become a sex murderer.

This is not Anne Cools speaking; this is one of the foremost thinkers in the field.

Honourable senators, the impact of family aggression on these little people, little boys and girls, is immeasurable. The panic fear and anxiety that awakens in their heads, minds, and bodies eludes most of us. Absolute terror grips them, and all of this in their precognitive and prerational minds. Their little crouched bodies, their little shoulders, taut as drawstrings, are filled with pain and anguish. As these little people's undeveloped psychological systems are strained, as their nerve endings are eroded by behaviours they cannot comprehend or control, the damage is indicted by uncaring or uncontrolled large persons who tower over them.

Meanwhile, these little people acquire other sets of impulses, impulses which are largely ungovernable, impulses that operate quite differently as a function of their gender, impulses that in the male child become uncontrollable, violent and even homicidal. These little people's pain is incalculable. When these damaged little people become big people, the pain and suffering they will indict on others is unspeakable. When all languages fail, the language of human suffering and tragedy will speak.

1 have seen the crouched person of the physically abused child, and the blank, listless unresponsive person of the neglected child.

Honourable senators, in the formative years, the child's mental and sensory stimulation is essential, and the child's personality structure is moulded. Aggression, physical and verbal, parents' emotional unevenness, and family instability play a major role in negative formations

The responses to my statements on March 7, 1995, were overwhelming and supportive, including from many academics, psychologists, professionals, practitioners, field workers and researchers. Dr. Debra Pepler, Director, LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution at York University, wrote in support: "Our research on children of battered women,... reveals that there is a wide range in the adjustment of children who have witnessed their mothers being abused.

Some children exhibit extreme behaviour problems, whereas others are remarkably well adjusted in spite of substantial adversity. The factor most clearly differentiates the well adjusted children from those who are poorly adjusted is the mothers' report of verbal aggression (e.g. yelling and screaming) to her children. As you have stated, we have found that mothers who can somehow manage to be loving, positive, and nurturant with their children even though they, themselves, are highly stressed, promote the healthy development of their children.

Dr. Reena Sommers of Family Violence Research, St. Boniface General Hospital, wrote in support: "The real issue of family violence has been totally obscured by special interest groups headed by feminists. Their perspective ignores... important elements of this serious social problem. Among these are the abuse of children by mothers as well as fathers, the abuse of women by other women, and as well, the abuse of men by women. General population research examining family violence has consistently shown that there is no statistical difference in the rates of abuse perpetrated by men and women against each other or against their children."

Dr. Andrew Brink, former Coordinator, Humanities and Psychoanalytic Thought Program, Trinity College, University of Toronto, wrote to me supportively saying: "I completely agree with your remarks on mothering and violence in boys...Newer studies to support your statement are emerging from the Attachment Theorists, following from the work of the British psychoanalyst John Bowlby."

Dr. John Bowlby, honourable senators, was a major clinician and scholar.

One of the major contributions Dr. John Bowlby left for humanity was a definitive study and work on maternal privation, which he did for the World Health around 1950 or 1951. It was an exceptional piece of work.

Dr. Jim O'Brien, a psychiatrist in Nova Scotia, telephoned the CBC Radio program As It Happens on March 10, 1995, and said: "I did a small prospective study. In a four year period, I asked every new female patient who came to see me if there was violence in the home. Fifty-five said yes. Of that 55.55% said the violence came from their mothers and 35 per cent said that the violence came from their fathers and the rest said both."

In Toronto, CFRB Radio ran a talk show on March 8, 1995 about my remarks and held a survey. They put the question to their listeners: "When you were growing up, which parent was more abusive - your mother or your father?" Of 200 respondents, 62 per cent said mothers and 38 per cent said fathers. I was informed that 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the callers to the Lowell Green talk show on CFRA Radio in Ottawa agreed with me.

I am also informed on March 9 1995, MacLean Hunter Broadcast News placed a question to their viewers with regard to my remarks, "Do you agree"?

Of the 273 respondents, 57 per cent agreed and 43 per cent disagreed.

Honourable senators, certain feminist ideologues, too few to number, claim insult and injury from what I said. Some even attacked me personally in brutish Philistine and uncharitable statements. These loud persons, in their feminine aggression, are unaware that they have merely transported that peculiar aggression from the home to the workplace, even to politics.

The term "violence against women" is a term that has taken currency only in recent years. It is coloured, and camouflages the real issues of aggression and all its ugliness.

Dr. Murray Strauss, Dr. Richard Gelles, and Dr. Suzanne Steinmetz, foremost scholars on domestic violence, frequently report that violence is equally perpetrated by males and females against their children and against each other. The National Family Violence Surveys conducted by Gelles and Straus find this. However, I shall leave the issue of spousal violence for another day.

Honourable senators, I will close by urging balance in the family violence discussion. In recent years, the primordial, the primeval and the phyloyears, the primordial, the primeval and the phylogenetic have been dominant in this discourse. This fact has been buttressed, if not engineered, by the tyranny of political correctness and its various consorts. In many instances, unreason. When unreason prevails, truth is the first casualty, if not the first fatality.

Honourable senators, sole proprietorship by gender of aggression, violence, love or charity is repugnant to human nature and to human intelligence.

";"Speech delivered by Senator Anne Cools to the Canadian Senate on March 28, 1995.

Honorable Senators, my intention today is to focus on children as recipients of violence in the family. I shall review some of the research and findings on the troub"; "58";"ftl";"How Children Are Damaged By Divorce";"The Times - London";"1995-05-02";"Ian Robertson";;"When parents split up, they leave lasting emotional scars on their children.

What happens to your children if you or your partner dies? It's the kind of thought which goes through the minds of most parents now and again. As a parent you have probably taken out life insurance with such a possibility in mind, From time to time you have worried about the effect on your child - emotionally, socially and financially - of losing you or your spouse. You know that children above a certain age, never forget the death of a mother or father and you appreciate that this may affect them for the rest of their lives.

But have you thought what will happen to your children if you divorce or separate? You won't have taken out any insurance against this and probably haven't thought much about it as much as you have about the possibility of dying. This is a pity, because children are damaged much more by divorce than they are by parental death.

As many as one in three children in Britain will endure the consequences of parental divorce or separation; you can't get precise figures because almost a third of children are now born outside marriage and split-ups in these families are not officially recorded.. If it is indeed true that boys and girls whose parents split up on average suffer more permanent damage than those whose mother or father dies, then this makes family breakdown one of the great unrecognised social health problems of our time. What is the evidence?

Dr Martin Richards, who runs the Centre for Family Research at Cambridge University, is an expert on divorce. He and his colleagues have studied 17,000 children from the National Child Development Survey who were born in Britain during one week in 1958 and were followed up at the ages of 7, 11, 16 and 23.

Dr Richards and his team looked at what happened to these children as they matured into adolescence and adult-hood, comparing the ones whose mother or father had died with those whose parents had split up, in terms of education, career, health and wealth.

Although the harmful effects of divorce are apparent across all social classes, the effects on middle-class children are striking: middle-class girls were the group most damaged by divorce by the time they reached adulthood.

While the death of a mother or father before a child is 16 does have some effect on the child's life, divorce does far more damage. And if we examine, on average, the fortunes of young adults whose middle- class parents have divorced, compared with those whose parents have stayed together, the conclusions are stark. Children born of middle-class parents in 1958, who were not 16 before their parents divorced......

Divorce And Middle-Class Children

Boys

Girls
%

Parents Together

Parent Died

Parents Divorced

Parents Together

Parent Died

Parents Divorced
Left school at 16

48

52

75

47

55

77
Not in full-time work

18

18

24

32

32

55
Living in council hse

4

8

18

4

11

18
Regular smokers

36

29

58

32

36

42

And How Further Education Suffers

%

Parents together

Parent died

Parents divorced
Go to university

31

27

19
Age 23 no qualifications

11

14

19

* had twice the chance of leaving school without any qualifications (boys and girls)

* had two thirds the chance of going to university (boys and girls)

* were a third more likely not to have a full-time job at age 23 (boys)

* were two-thirds more likely not to have a full-time job at age 23 (girls)

* were four times more likely to be living in a council house at age 23 (boys and girls)

* were two-thirds more likely to be a regular smoker age 23 (boys)

* were a third more likely to be a regular smoker age 23 (girls)

Taking children of middle and working-class parents together, children of divorced parents were:

* twice as likely to have a child before age 20

* twice as likely to be married or living with someone before age 20

Dr Richard's research also found that children whose parents had divorced were on average less emotionally stable, left home earlier and divorced or separated more frequently. They showed more behavioral problems in school, were more likely to be unhappy and worried and were poorer at reading and arithmetic.

At the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, where Rutherford once split the atom, Dr Richards and his colleagues now study the splitting of families. "Low self-esteem may underlie a lot of these effects," he says.

"Death of a parent doesn't produce the same problems. The critical thing seems to be children's awareness that parents have, through choice, separated, and for many this means a parent choosing to leave them."

The resulting sense of abandonment, Dr Richards says, can haunt children into adulthood, leading them to undervalue their own worth, lack self-confidence and hence enter too rapidly into serious yet potentially vulnerable relationships at an early age.

"As a university teacher I see that even when children have left home and are in their early twenties, their parent's separation or divorce can be very disturbing for them. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable, probably for similar reasons: at a point when they are learning about relationships, they see the most important relationship in their lives fall apart."

The differences between those whose parents have and have not divorced are most striking in young adult women from middle-class families. One reason for this may be that these women tend to embark on serious partnerships at an early age - perhaps seeking emotional security and stability which their parents' divorce had denied them. As a result of having children so early, these middle-class young women miss the chance of going to university, and with that the career, income and fulfillment which they might have expected.

But the negative effects of divorce are not confined to young middle-class women - no class or gender is spared. Children whose parents have divorced are more likely to show symptoms of being unhappy and worried than children from intact families: for instance, divorced mothers more often report that their child worries about many things; is upset by new situations; is bullied by other children; is miserable or tearful; prefers to do things alone. This is true both at age seven and at age 16.

Children of divorced parents also tend to misbehave more than those from intact families, again at both ages. they are more likely to be rated by their mothers as: being disobedient at home; fighting with other children; being irritable and quick to fly off the handle; destroying others belongings' being squirmy or fidgety; having difficulty settling to anything.

The majority of children of divorced parents end up living with their mothers, but if their mothers remarry the children tend to show more problems than those who stay single. "Particularly for adolescents, it is very difficult to come to terms with a parent dating again," Dr Richards says. He argues that good and regular contact with the absent father can reduce some of the ill-effects of separation, even though this may be at the expense of increased conflict between the parents: the sad fact however, is that a half of all divorced fathers lose contact with their children within two years.

Dr Richards, 55, is himself a divorcee. "I was 21 when I married, but we were too young and it didn't last. We had no children." And now? "I have grown-up children, but have never remarried." Divorce and family conflict can blight the lives of children - though it is important to remember that all the statistics available are average effects and clearly there are many children who fare well when their parents separate. Furthermore, until the present generation of children have grown up, we will not know whether the effects of divorce will be as bad as they were for the children of 1958.

Children survive best where good contact is maintained with both parents. "Many children learn that their parents are separating from a third party. Parents often do not talk to them and ask them what they want."

And what do they want? Dr Richards pauses for a second. "They almost always say they only want one thing," he replies. "That their parents should stay together.

Ian is a senior scientist at the MRC Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge.

";"When parents split up, they leave lasting emotional scars on their children.

What happens to your children if you or your partner dies? It's the kind of thought which goes through the minds of most parents now and again. As a parent you ha"; "59";"ftl";"Women Won't Go Back To '50s";"Sydney Morning Herald";"1997-12-03";"Kathleen Swinbourne";;"Women want men to share the family load, otherwise they can find it easier to be a single parent. A bad marriage is better than no marriage at all is becoming a catch phrase.

Single mothers feel that they are being made scapegoats for many of society's problems. Everything from rising crime rates to youth suicide and low academic performance has been blamed on them. It wouldn't be surprising to learn that the El Nino effect is the result of a rise in the divorce rate.

Unfortunately, there are some serious flaws in much of the interpretation of recent research data.

A report by the Centre for Independent Studies about the state of the nation made a link between rising crime rates since the 1960s and the increase in numbers of single-parent families. What its authors forgot to mention was that crime rates started rising first. If there was a causal link between them you would expect the crime rate to start rising 10-15 years later, when the kids of single mothers became teenagers, not the other way round.

It's like saying that the increase in numbers of women working in munitions factories in the late 1930s was the cause of World War II. But never let a few facts get in the way of a good story.

One of the most comprehensive studies into single-parent families was conducted by researchers at Macquarie University. It was conducted over a 10 year period on adolescents from both divorced and intact families looking at things such as self-image, depression and anxiety. They found that it was the quality of parenting rather than the family, that had the biggest impact on the child.

This is supported by a more recent study which also found that child neglect, not single parenting, was the biggest factor. Because of all the factors that can be involved in a divorce, it is extremely difficult to measure its impact. However, one thing that does come out strongly in all the research is that a major determining factor for children's well-being is poverty.

And it is true that single mothers are more likely than any other group to live in poverty. Even more likely than single fathers. Many single mothers have themselves stated that their problem is lack of money, and that a lack of child-care assistance means that they cannot always go out to work to earn enough to support the family. Often the only jobs they can get to fit in with family responsibilities are part-time, low-skilled and low-paid.

So why don't they stay with their partners? The reasons relationships break up are many and varied, and can be extremely complex. It's not, however, a decision that is taken lightly. While women are usually the ones to make the final decision to end a relationship, they spend, on average two years thinking about it first. This is not a frivolous action. On the contrary, it would indicate that they put a lot of effort into trying to keep the relationship together. So what is happening?

As a society we expect a lot of parents. Somehow, when people become parents they are supposed to become more responsible,, caring, selfless and patient. They are also supposed to suddenly know everything there is to know about raising kids - without any kind of training. And most of this responsibility falls on women.

Women today not only work outside the home, but they also usually come home to their second job of looking after the family. Studies into housework show women still do more hours a week of housework than do men. When you add child care to the equation this workload increases further. And this is the same whether women are in the paid workforce or not. It is a lot of pressure to put on anybody, and given all the demands placed on them, it is understandable that eventually something has to give. Unfortunately, what often loses out is their adult relationship which, in the economic jargon of the time, is seen as being the most unproductive.

Women today no longer depend on men to be the breadwinners in the family. What they are looking for is a mutually supportive relationship, where both partners take equal responsibility and share equally in the rewards. This doesn't mean dividing the tasks into his or her jobs: it means sharing them. The majority of women either no longer wants to or are not economically able to stay home being full-time mothers. They need the money that a paid job brings, or the intellectual or social stimulation, or they need to continue to work to stay on their career path.

They also need support at home to be able to do it all. When that support is not forthcoming, it is not really surprising that relationships break down. When conducting research into single mothers one of the comments that was repeated time and time again by married women was "I am not a single mother - but I might as well be".

Women are not going to go back into the kitchen full-time. A return to the '50s ideal of the typical nuclear family is not going to happen. It didn't even work them. Women are no longer prepared to accept being treated as second best, and men need to adjust to this new reality.

Their are men out there who are accepting this, and they are discovering the joys of being active fathers, involved in their children's lives rather than being on the sidelines. They are also discovering the freedom of not being typecast into the role of breadwinner, and being able to negotiate more flexible work arrangements with their partners.

I'm not saying that this is an easy thing to do. there are many companies that remain unsupportive of flexible work arrangements. However, until men start pushing for and taking advantage of family-friendly work practices, it's not going to happen in vast numbers. It will still be considered a women's issue. And without that support women will continue to choose a role that in many ways reduces the pressure placed on them - single parenthood.

Kathleen Swinbourne is spokesperson on family issues for the Women's Electoral Lobby.

";"Women want men to share the family load, otherwise they can find it easier to be a single parent. A bad marriage is better than no marriage at all is becoming a catch phrase.

Single mothers feel that they are being made scapegoats for many"; "60";"ftl";"Dealing With Dads Who Don't Care";"Sydney Morning Herald";"1997-12-06";"Adele Horin";;"To borrow a line from the Prime Minister, the pendulum has swung too far. Ludicrous when applied to Aboriginal land rights, the pendulum image more aptly describes the current treatment of deadbeat dads. Dads who vanish from their children's lives after divorce, reappear at whim, or are seen only on poster from the Child Support Agency's most wanted list. In recent years, they have vanished from public consciousness, the media spotlight and Government concern. Instead, the focus has shifted to desperate dads and to the malicious mothers who thwart their access to the children.

From the Federal Government's own committee on child support arrangements to the pages of major newspapers, the plight of the excluded father has taken centre-stage. Let me say from the outset that the excluded father, at the mercy of a vindictive and irrational woman, has my sympathy. I have written my fair share of words in his defence.

But, the pendulum has swung too far. We may have exaggerated the number of new-age dads. And underestimated how many mothers battle alone and unsupported. The deadbeat dad is alive and well and living on the lam. His children, meanwhile, especially his sons, are suffering. A generation of angry; abandoned boys is in the making. And mothers are struggling to deal with them.

That's the message I got when I spent hours this week talking to a range of lone mothers. Poverty is there constant companion. But the topic they came back to time and again was their sons' anger at the fathers who disappeared, were erratic, forgetful, unreliable or irresponsible. The mothers cried out for the men to be more involved in their children's lives. They longed for a break. A father who took his children for a weekend, babysat or helped in a crisis was a national treasure. The women desperately needed breaks from the unrelenting job of raising kids alone on a poverty income.

But more than that, the women spoke of their children's emotional need - especially their sons' - for a father.

"Now that my older son is nine, he realises his father doesn't come to see him, and he's angry," said a woman who separated from her partner four years ago.

Instead,, deadbeat dads forget birthdays, neglect to ring when they promised, and fail to turn up when expected. Children are stickler for routines, and never forget a promise, as any mother knows. But too many fathers break the basic rules of parenthood. They break their word. They break their children's heart.

A capricious dad who constantly lets his children down is probably worse than a dad who took of at the start never to be remembered. Child psychologists see many aggressive, hard-to-manage little boys who do remember their dads. The boys feel a huge sadness at the loss.

"Mothers are left to handle their children's grief and distress about their fathers," says Mim Weber, a psychologist at the Northern Rivers Health Service.

And because mothers fear they will turn their boys into sissies if they get too close, they to back off. Some teenage are intensely lonely, abandoned, they feel, by both parents.

It is mothers, however, who get blamed for their children's unruly behaviour. And fathers get off scot-free. "No-one is bagging my ex-husband as a parent," said one woman whose partner bolted. "But in society's eyes, I am the sole parent so am the bad parent."

Yet adding fathers is not like adding fibre. Some deadbeat dads aren't good for you.

Father-absence had been blamed for a host of problems, including juvenile delinquency and lawlessness among young men. A British study by the University of Newcastle under Professor Israel Kolvin came to the not surprising conclusion that the sons of inadequate mothers, living debt-ridden lives of poverty, were four times as likely to have criminal records as those living in happier circumstances. Nearly half these "inadequate mothers" were sole parents.

But the same study showed than in two-parent deprived households, only 7 per cent of resident fathers were "effective, kind, considerate", and most did not take part in household tasks. It is hard to see that grafting such ineffective men onto unstuck families will help much. It's not that simple.

Nor is the answer to rail against divorce. These days adults won't endure till death a loveless sham marriage if they see alternatives. And when men are violent, or, "more childish than the children", as one woman said, the marriage has no point.

Children need fathers - but only effective, useful fathers. New-age fathers have learnt to be more like mothers - emotionally involved from the start. In divorce's messy aftermath, some new-age fathers confront the malicious mother, and their hearts are broken. But many more children are nursing broken hearts because their dads just don't care enough.

";"To borrow a line from the Prime Minister, the pendulum has swung too far. Ludicrous when applied to Aboriginal land rights, the pendulum image more aptly describes the current treatment of deadbeat dads. Dads who vanish from their children's lives after d"; "61";"ftl";"Right of Reply";"MRA";"1997-12-16";"Sue Price";;"Adele Horin (SMH 6/11/97) is quite right. The pendulum has swung too far.

Too many families are being torn apart as a result of society’s indifference and government legislation that actively supports and condones the removal of fathers from their children’s lives.

As a result nearly million children are being raised in single parent families, [mostly with their mother] or not with both natural parents.

A considerable body of research conducted both here and overseas such as the Exeter Study; the National Child Development survey conducted by Dr. Martin Richards; an Australian study by Paul Amato; British social scientist, Patricia Morgan [1995] and USA researchers McClanahan and Sandfur, just to name a few, have found that children in single parent families are more likely to underachieve at school, have more problems with drugs/alcohol leading to police involvement and are more likely to fail in their own relationships.

In her article Ms Horin claims the fault lies with "deadbeat dads", who vanish from their children’s lives.

Certainly statistics show that up to 50% of fathers will lose contact with their children, in less than two years, or have little chance to spend time with them. But few fathers "walk away" willingly and the majority pay child support unless unemployed. The difficulties placed before a father in trying to maintain a relationship with his children are enormous, even when the other parent encourages contact. Seeing your children 26 times a year as is the "standard norm" recommended by the Family Court and its counsellors is hardly sufficient time to maintain a close loving, caring relationship with your children. And as the children grow older time spent with Dad inevitability begins to compete for prominence with other activities... time with friends or sporting commitments. What can one expect when they are essentially living separate lives?

Then on the other hand there are many mothers who deliberately thwart access to the children. So prolific is this problem, the American’s have even given it a name, "Parentectomy"...the forcible removal of one parent by the other from their children’s lives.

Typical tactics, start with a domestic violence order, encouraged by the various DV groups as a means to separate parents. Many of these orders are without foundation and are only used as the recommended means to forcibly evict dad and prevent access to the children. Misuse of domestic violence orders has been noted by senior members of the judiciary, Chief Stipendiary Magistrate Stan Deer,(Queensland), Pat O’Shane (NSW) Mr. Justice Moss of the Family Court.

If the father successfully pursues access through the Family Court, then a persistent parent can resort to "dropping the atomic bomb" - false allegations of child sexual/physical abuse. Even though there is no substantiation of the allegations, the Family Court has the option to use a precedent established in 1988 in the M & M case of "lingering doubt" to totally prevent access or enforce "supervised access". A demeaning procedure for any father, especially one who’s innocent.

Turning to the practicalities, having spent $1500 - $2000 defending a DV application; $2000 plus for the interim Family Court hearing; a further $10,000 for the final (say 2 day) hearing; $15,000 upwards to fight false allegations which involve additional professional services of a counsellor or child psychologist and separate representative - available monies are rapidly dissipated, if they were ever there in the first place. Legal Aid dollars for family separation are apportioned in the ratio of 2 to 1 in favour of the mother and unlikely to be granted to a working father.

Then having spent the past eighteen month (minimum estimate) to gain final contact orders, the mother may decide to move......and so the process starts all over again!

If the father is not destitute by now, the excessively high levels of child support that take up to 36% of his gross income, depending on the number of children will complete the scenario. He’ll be fortunate is he has enough money left to pay for his own basic necessities, let alone providing for his children if he’s lucky enough to have established contact.

It is hardly surprising many fathers become dispirited, not only in regard to their own feelings but for their children’s sake. Some "walk away" not wishing to prolong the constant hurt and pressure placed upon their children by continued litigation. Especially in the case of false allegations where the children are subjected to interview after interview with social workers probing for a "disclosure", accompanied by invasive medical examinations.

But whose to blame, the individuals themselves who see personal benefits in separation or current social attitudes that encourage people to put individual happiness over and above consideration of what’s best for their family

Unfortunately for the family, society has, since the 1970’s, shifted from considering the good of the whole [family] to the self serving pursuit of individual happiness. The women’s movement in seeking the just goal of equality has neglected to emphasis the rights a woman can expect are also inextricably entwined with responsibilities as well. Too often we hear of wives leaving their husbands, taking the children only to take up residence with another lover. It is generally acknowledged that two thirds of family separations are initiated by the wife. Our figures show a much higher level of 90% and of those, 80% of women appear to have found life with their current husband unsatisfying or boring and already have another lover, male or female, waiting in the wings.

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, a well-respected US social historian examines the problems in her recently published book, The Divorce Culture. She traces the change in attitudes and points particularly to the ready acceptance of counsellors and psychologists to support and promote the individual happiness concept whilst ignoring basic responsibilities that one undertakes when deciding to have children.

Dafoe advocates dismantling the "divorce culture" because it has failed to produce the benefits women thought they would gain ... greater freedom ..now constrained by caring for children without the support of the father; financial independence...most have merely exchanged dependence on their husband to dependence on government support and the welfare system.

Dafoe believes the outcome in America "has contributed to greater economic insecurity and poverty among women and children and it has been a principal generator of unequal opportunities and outcomes for children". This is not necessarily the case for all separated families in Australia. If a family was living on the breadline before separation, welfare payments will not lift the circumstances to any great level, but do maintain the status quo with one less adult mouth to feed. Alternatively, depending on the level of accumulated family assets and the father’s income some women can enhance their individual financial security substantially. One certain result is increased levels of poverty and despair amongst the disenfranchised fathers of Australia, resulting in high suicide levels that have to date been ignored.

Nearly 1800 adult men committed suicide in 1995 [ABS Stats}, many as a result of family breakdown.

The consequences of society’s ready acceptance of divorce as an individual’s lifestyle choice has resulted in a burgeoning welfare dependency; a growing bureaucracy controlling parent’s responsibilities and obligations to their children

Blame is not appropriate, solutions are needed to solve this crisis. Dafoe suggests that once we accept "divorce is a family and social event involving other stakeholders and imposing costs on others we can begin to think and talk about high levels of divorce involving children as a social problem that must be addressed rather than as an expression of individual freedom that cannot be infringed."

";"Adele Horin (SMH 6/11/97) is quite right. The pendulum has swung too far.

Too many families are being torn apart as a result of society’s indifference and government legislation that actively supports and condones the removal of fathers fr"; "62";"ftl";"Contact With Dad Means Better Language Skills";"Reuters Health";"1999-01-01";;;"NEW YORK - "Wait till your father gets home!" used to be a mother's ultimate threat. But with the two-parent household becoming less and less common, University of Maryland researchers set out to study how important contact with dad is to children's development. They found that even when fathers do not live at home, children whose fathers are actively involved in their lives tend to have better cognitive and language skills and fewer behavior problems.

"We found that fathers who are involved with their children have children with fewer problems," according to lead investigator Dr. Maureen Black. "That added involvement from a father helps children tremendously."

Black and colleagues studied 175 three-year-old African-American children, most of whose mothers were receiving public assistance. Seventy-three percent of these mothers reported that their child's biological father or another father figure had at least monthly contact with their children. Of these identified fathers, 64% were interviewed and observed playing with their children.

The researchers wanted to see how aspects of father involvement were related to the children's cognitive development, language ability, and behavior. They found that both mothers' and fathers' satisfaction with parenting were significantly related to the children's cognitive abilities and to their behavior. Whether the father lived with the child was not related to either of these factors. Maternal education and whether fathers contributed financially were also predictive of the children's language development and behavior. And where fathers lived with the child, "the home was more child-centered," according to the report.

Writing in a recent issue of Child Development, Black and her colleagues conclude that their findings support "the importance of father-child interaction to children's well-being." They also note that rather than just looking at whether the biological father lives with the child, researchers need to "consider father roles from functional and cultural perspectives."

"Fathers definitely play an important part in children's development," added study co-author Dr. Howard Dubowitz in a statement. "I think these results show that our society should develop family-oriented policies and programs that promote positive father involvement."

Source: Child Development 1999;70:967-978.

";"NEW YORK - "Wait till your father gets home!" used to be a mother's ultimate threat. But with the two-parent household becoming less and less common, University of Maryland researchers set out to study how important contact with dad is to children's deve"; "63";"ftl";"Early Parental Loss A Risk Factor For Adult Psychiatric Illness";"Reuters Health";"2000-02-22";;;"Children who lose a parent early in life, either by death or permanent separation, appear more likely than others to develop schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder as adults.

The finding comes from a large Israeli case-control study involving nearly 80 patients each with major depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and an equal number of healthy controls.

Study director, Dr. B. Lerer of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, and a multicenter team found that the rates of parental loss during childhood were significantly higher among patients with psychiatric disorders in this population than in controls.

Specifically, loss of a parent during childhood significantly increased the risk of major depression in adulthood by 3.8-fold, according to a report in the Feb. 13th issue of Molecular Psychiatry. Parental loss during childhood was 2.6 times more likely in participants with bipolar disorder and 3.8 times more likely in those with schizophrenia compared with controls.

The effect of parental loss on the development of psychiatric disorders was more striking if the loss was due to permanent separation rather than death, and if the loss occurred before the age of 9 years.

Early parental loss also significantly increased the risks of smoking, physical illness, divorce lower income and living alone in later life.

The findings add early parental loss to the list of known environmental factors that increase susceptibility to major depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In fact, the Israeli team speculates that early parental loss may be a nonspecific risk factor for psychiatric illness in adulthood, with a degree of specificity for major depression and schizophrenia. One possible explanation for this association, they propose, is that early parental loss negatively effects responsiveness to stress in adulthood.

In a related editorial, Dr. C.B. Nemeroff, of Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., comments that the findings add to accumulating evidence that "…untoward life events early in life…appear to increase vulnerability to several major psychiatric disorders including affective and anxiety disorders."

Such "untoward events" include both parental loss and child abuse and neglect, he notes. "Perhaps these data will lend support for the call for a national study of the prevalence rate of child abuse and neglect," Dr. Nemeroff hopes. He adds, "We owe it to our parents, our children and ourselves."

";"Children who lose a parent early in life, either by death or permanent separation, appear more likely than others to develop schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder as adults.

The finding comes from a large Israeli case-control study"; "65";"fal";"'Lingering Doubt' Does This Justify Total Denial Of Access?";;"1997-08-09";;;"MRA has received a comprehensive study, conducted by a Family Court associate, questioning the legitimacy of the application of the "lingering doubt" premise that was relied on during two landmark cases during the late 1980's. The result of these decisions totally denied access to the fathers even after it was shown there was no evidence of child sexual abuse. The writer of the report is resolute in condemning; the ineptitude, inexperience and unprofessional conduct exhibited by the child sexual abuse investigators that are employed by Government agencies; the failure of the judiciary to deal with those who make false allegations and those child sexual abuse professionals who support their claims.

We quote from the report as follows:

"In more than 99% of cases coming before the Family court, there has been no finding of inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature against the accused - yet most of these innocent men have been either denied further access to their children or were subjected to demeaning access regimes. It is also a a fact, that in all Family Court matters of this nature, the allegation of child sexual abuse is never the cause for the parties break up and separation.

This fact invited criticism and points strongly to the fact that most sexual abuse allegations coming before the Family Court are manufactured and being used as a means to gain unfair advantage in bitterly contested custody and access disputes.

It is also true that separated parents are being alerted to the spectre of sexual abuse by crudely placed suggestions from inept social workers. This is evident where a child of tender years, when suddenly deprived of day to day contact with a significant parent, displays no more than expected behavioral patterns. Such patterns can be evidenced by bed wetting, fretting, depression, naughtiness - to name a few. this behaviour is invariably cited and embellished by inept welfare workers as the manifestation of alleged sexual abuse indicators.

It is also true, that the alleged display of 'sexualised' behaviour, claimed by the sexual abuse workers, arguably never manifests itself when the child is with professionals independent of the accusing parent and these self proclaimed child sexual assault detectives - viz: Family Court Counsellors, Court appointed clinical psychologists or Court appointed legal representatives.

It is also true that over 98% of cases, alleging child sexual abuse, involve children of tender years - up to five or six years of age.

There is strong evidence to suggest that the Community Services and sexual assault units have been discouraged by the bureaucracy from making audio or video-taped interviews when dealing with these young children. The dramatic 'drying up' of such evidence, especially video-tapes, coincided with a 1987 Appeal to the Full Court of the Family Court by the SA Community Welfare Department.

It was due to this Department's unsolicited intervention, involving false claims of child sexual abuse against the non-custodial father, that resulted in the Department paying the bulk of the costs of a 15 day access hearing at the Family Court in Adelaide - 13 days of which involved disproving the sexual abuse claims. The overturning of the Department's appeal against these costs, was made possible through the successful rebuttal of the Welfare Department's video-taped evidence of interviews between the sexual assault workers and the alleged victim. The flawed interviewing technique, used by these self proclaimed experts in child sexual abuse detection, was judged as being unprofessional and fanciful - and not considered as evidence indicating sexual abuse of the subject child.

It is a fact, in recent times, that the Family Court Chief Justice has called, in vain, to have video-taped interviews by the sexual abuse units re-instated, together with the involvement of a more professional level of expertise at the initial stages of all sexual abuse investigations.

It is also accepted by many practitioners in the legal profession, that the mere allegation of child sexual abuse by the custodial parents, will gain the accusing parent a distinct advantage in custody and access matters. This unfortunate trend surfaced in both the cases of 1988 M&M and 1988 B&B, and persists today.

Background:

This case was among the first 'wave' of applications alleging child sexual abuse to come before the Family Court in the mid to late eighties, and coincided with the much heralded Children's Rights Legislation that brought with it the best and worst of child protection programs.

The significance of the trial judges findings in the 1988 M&M, was that they were responsible for a High Court landmark decision, now used as a precedence by the Family Court. Decisions, which since have had serious repercussions on the lives of thousands of ordinary Australians.

Part of the High Court rulings upheld the rights of a trial judge, after all the evidence had been educed, to deny access to an accused parent in cases where "lingering doubts" still exist in the trial judge's mind as to the future safety and welfare of the child. It is my opinion, that this new standard of proof (lingering doubts) is based on what could only be described as a trial judge's personal preference (having no legal basis), and that it therefore can reflect poorly on the ability of that judge to discharge his/her duty of office. The premise of lingering doubts could only be seen as right and proper, provided that all the facts and findings educed by the trial judge wat the time were themselves 'right and proper. It is my form opinion that this was not the case in M&M.

1988 M&M

How the trial judge in M&M came to his conclusions and finding is a cause for concern and, in my opinion, compromised the findings of the Full court. It is also my opinion, that the sequence of events and evidentiary material in this matter were unnecessarily 'confused ' by the trial judge. The timing of this case draws a suspicion of a concerted effort by the Adelaide Family Court Judiciary to alleviate the mounting pressures placed on other Family Court judges since Australian bureaucrats adopted a discredited American based program of Child Sexual Abuse Detection. This CSA detection strategy, as evident in this case, was producing alleged evidence of child sexual abuse that was found to be, in most cases, unprofessional, crass and untrue."

The writer also expresses concern that "as a result of the ineptness of such overzealous investigators, claiming expertise in child sexual abuse detection, thousands of young children have been subjected to unnecessary trauma and sexually orientated interviews by the very people who claim to be protecting childrens' best interests and welfare."

To summarize the M&M case briefly, and this will strike a chord with many fathers who have been similarly accused, the mother accused the father of sexually abusing their young child whilst contesting custody in the Family Court. Two days after separation (28/11/86) the mother files a custody application in which she sought the inclusion of a supervised access provision for the father. No reasons were given at that time for this request. Seven days later, (5/12/86) at the first return date hearing , the father cross applies for custody and includes the condition of supervised access imposed on the mother. At the same hearing the father applies for access - unsupervised access is granted. There is again no mention of the reason for the mother's request for supervised access, neither did the mother advise the court of a prebooked appointment for 11/12/86 with a sexual assault centre.

Five weeks later, (15/1/87) at the interim hearing of both applications the mother is granted interim custody and the father continuing unsupervised access.

Less than 2 weeks later (27/1/87) the mother applied for suspension or discharge of the existing access order alleging their daughter had been sexually abused by the father and on 11/3/87 the father's unsupervised access order was changed to that of supervised access. At the Final hearing, later in 1987 the mother was awarded custody and father's access order discontinued. The father's appeal to the Full Bench of the Family Court was dismissed, although one dissenting judge did want to send the case back to the original trial judge, because he considered the trial judge "had not applied the correct test". The dissenting judge was of the opinion that " an order for access should not be refused because there was a mere possibility that access would expose the child to sexual abuse. He considered that 'there must be a real or substantial risk of such abuse occurring as a matter of practical reality".

The father then took the case to the High Court and his application to dismiss the trial judge's orders, which included a reinstatement of access were dismissed.

The report points to the timing of events in this case as being crucial to the outcome, and the writer has provided a chronological listing in support of his premise. According to the writer , the mother after talking to two women at a refuge shelter had already made an appointment to take the child to a sexual assault referral centre on 11/12/86. The interviewer noted "the situation does not warrant referral as the child made no disclosure. A doctor performed a genital inspection of the child and reported no abnormalities. However he did explain to the mother the signs to look for in sexual abuse cases. On 13/1/87 the mother again took the child to the sexual assault centre and the child was interviewed for a second time. There was no record of this interview, but the child was referred to a Government Community Welfare Department. No mention of these interviews was made at the hearing on 15/1/87. 20/1/87 the mother took the child to a Medical Centre and on 21/1/87 she took the child to the Accident and Emergency Clinic. The child was admitted until 26/1/87. The child was interviewed by a constable and a psychologist and no "disclosures" were obtained, yet the child was once again submitted to a genital examination that according to the trial judge disclosed a somewhat enlarged vaginal entrance but "was otherwise inconclusive". During this time, 23/1/86 the mother swore an affidavit alleging sexual abuse of the child by the father, which was filed on 27/1/87.

Two days after filing her application 29/1/87 the mother tape recorded an interview with her child during which, according to the transcript of the Full Court "the wife tried very hard by asking leading questions and by applying pressure to the child in order to elicit from the child information concerning the alleged sexual abuse. In the end result the child said very little which might have implicated the husband in any inappropriate sexual behaviour."

The police constable again interviewed the child on 2/2/87 and the child was further interviewed by the original psychologist on 18/2/87 after a briefing from the police officer. The interview elicited a scenario of sexual abuse that according to the Report "should have been given an 'R rated' classification."

Not satisfied with her efforts on 18th Feb, the psychologist had the child in again on the 10 Mar 1987 - one day before the court appearance during which the father's orders for unsupervised access were changed to that of supervised access.

Our writer asks the question - "How is it that the police constable and the mother never unilaterally ended the father's access to the child there and then!

The answer is clear. Their failure to stop the father's access immediately confirms the unthinkable - these people were callously using this child in a conspiracy to denigrate the father. The child has been used as a 'guinea pig' in a reprehensible attempt to create evidence unfavorable to the father.

It is also painfully obvious that these people never considered the the child was in any danger whatsoever, physically or morally, while she was in the father's care/ This fact is proved as the child enjoyed further unsupervised access occasions with her father up to the March 11 hearing, when he was subjected to the humiliating supervised access.

One can now see that this whole case was a quickly convened witch hunt and fishing expedition, by the trio the constable, the psychologist and the mother. Their crude and hasty efforts in 'creating evidence' to bolster the mother's application filed on the 27 Jan 1987, required them, as a result of the unsuccessful 'hospital incident' to allow the father to have continued uninterrupted access to the child. This was necessary if any disclosures of sexual abuse allegations were to be a feasible proposition.

The Report consists of 40 pages. We are not able to put the whole report on the 'net' but will supply copies on request. Postage and photocopying cost would be appreciated.

";"MRA has received a comprehensive study, conducted by a Family Court associate, questioning the legitimacy of the application of the "lingering doubt" premise that was relied on during two landmark cases during the late 1980's. The result of these decision"; "66";"fal";"'Sorry' To Man Accused Of Sex Abuse";"Sydney Morning Herald";"2000-04-15";"Bettina Arndt";;"Thirteen years after accusing a solicitor of sexually abusing his three children, the Department of Community Services has expressed its regret for the damage it caused to the man and his family.

Katoomba lawyer Mr Hal Ginges lost custody of his children and had no contact with them for more than five years as a result of the abuse allegations.

Now the department has admitted in court that its investigation was incomplete and unprofessional and that the conclusions reached by its officers were "not soundly based".

On Monday, the District Court in Sydney awarded a verdict in favour of Mr Ginges, who had sued the NSW Government for compensation for injury suffered as a result of the botched investigation. It is believed the department has paid him damages.

Mr Ginges says he was only able to pursue his claim because his children came back to him.

"Without them I wouldn't have been able to prove the whole thing was nonsense," he told the Herald.

It is the first time the NSW Government has made such an acknowledgment. A South Australian man once received an ex-gratia payment from the State Government for damages resulting from an incompetent investigation leading to sexual abuse allegations.

The allegations against Mr Ginges arose as a result of a notification in March 1987 to the Katoomba office of the then Department of Youth and Community services, now DOCS. The three children, Kieran, then aged 10, and his two sisters aged 8 and 4 had already been subjected to a sexual abuse investigation five weeks earlier when they were taken to Westmead Hospital by their mother, Ms Anne Morris, and her partner, Ms Leslye Chenery.

All three children declared no abuse had taken place, according to a Westmead Sexual Assault Centre social worker's report.

Kieran, now a 23-year-old arts-law student, told the Herald: "I couldn't work out what was the point of all this, but I was adamant in saying nothing had happened to me."

The Westmead social workers found no evidence of abuse.

By the time of the department's investigation, Ms Morris had left the children with their father, who had long been their primary carer, to move in with Ms Chenery.

The investigation by department district officers Ms Christine Waterer and Mr Les Cormack - described by the department as "brief and urgent" - involved a four-hour interview with the two girls.

A leading Sydney child psychiatrist, Dr Brent Waters, reviewed the DOCS files to provide expert evidence for the District Court proceedings. His report described the investigation as "extremely coercive" and unprofessional.

Dr Waters strongly criticised the interviews for containing leading questions and failing to acknowledge the children's emphatic denials that any sexual activity had taken place.

The department's investigation was followed by yet another visit to Westmead, and all three children were medically examined.

The Westmead social workers found there was no conclusive evidence to suggest any abuse had taken place. But the next day Mr Cormack confronted Mr Ginges and accused him of being a child abuser.

The department funded the children's move with their mother and partner to Melbourne, saying the children urgently needed "a safe place".

Ultimately, Mr Ginges's contact with his children was limited to supervised access, yet, according to Kieran, the children remained under pressure to say that they had been abused.

"We kept being taken to see people from DOCS and therapists who would further push the allegations and our weakness in not acknowledging them."

Kieran said that he made a decision to give in.

"Finally I decided that for the pressure to be removed I'd simply say something had happened, make something up."

Mr Ginges said Kieran made contact with him in 1992 following encouragement from a foster family he had lived with after leaving his mother's home.

By 1996 all three children were in Sydney, the younger sister with her father and the older with her father's mother. The children are now all very close to their father.

Ms Morris said she was very surprised by the department's decision. Ms Morris, who now lives in Adelaide and deals with child abuse matters for a women's health service, said she believed the DOCS investigation had been handled "extremely professionally and carefully".

The government statement announcing the settlement acknowledged that the department investigation "was not conducted in a complete and professional manner and that the conclusion reached by its officers was not soundly based".

It acknowledged the damage caused by the allegations.

"Following the investigation, Mr Ginges suffered the loss of his close relationship with his children for several years and also suffered at the time publicity adverse to his reputation. The department regrets the damage to Mr Ginges and his family."

Asked to comment, the department issued a statement saying child protection practices used by DOCS had changed significantly since 1987.

"DOCS decided it would not be beneficial to spend weeks in court defending practices which have long since changed and been improved."

The statement said the staff involved in the matter were no longer employed by DOCS.

Yet this week Mr Cormack was working at the department's St Marys Service Centre. However, a DOCS spokesperson said Mr Cormack was a consultant to the department.

While expressing satisfaction at the verdict, Mr Ginges, whose work as a solicitor includes family law, voiced concern that sexual abuse allegations were often made vexatiously, and few men had been able to prove they were wrongly accused.

"Through my work as a solicitor, I know men who have lost their children to false allegations who never have the opportunity to rectify the damage done to them."

Kieran, who is studying at UWS Nepean, remains angry at the unprofessional intervention of DOCS and other professionals and the subsequent damage it caused to all their lives.

"It astounds me how these professionals can be so negligent. I find it abhorrent."

";"Thirteen years after accusing a solicitor of sexually abusing his three children, the Department of Community Services has expressed its regret for the damage it caused to the man and his family.

Katoomba lawyer Mr Hal Ginges lost custody"; "67";"sup";"Child Support Agency on Defensive";"The Age";"2003-06-28";;;"The controversial Child Support Agency is defending its handling of threats of murder, suicide and assault from disgruntled clients, saying not all warrant referral to police.

CSA general manager Catherine Argall says the organisation cares very much about the safety of clients and staff.

She said, contrary to media claims, the CSA was absolutely rigorous in dealing with any threat from any person.

"CSA takes all threats seriously but not all threats warrant referral to the police," she said in a statement.

The Weekend Australian newspaper claimed CSA received numerous threats of murder, suicide and assault but just a handful were referred to police.

It cited the case of one man who slashed his wrists after receiving 36 letters from the CSA in one day.

The CSA is the body responsible for calculating and monitoring child support payments for more than 1.2 million separated or divorced parents.

Its work produces strong emotions.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman reported receiving 2,007 complaints about the CSA in 2001-02, an eight per cent reduction on the previous year.

Opposition Families and Community Services spokesman Wayne Swan said the latest report showed a desperate need to improve CSA counselling and support services.

"This increase shows the need for a significant improvement in post-separation services, particularly counselling, and underscores the need to have a look at the flaws that there might be in the child support system," he told AAP.

"This is not only important for the well being of the parents but absolutely critical for their kids."

Ms Argall said the CSA had reported many threats to police.

"In the last two years we have had 173 suicide threats and 46 of those were reported to the police. We received 143 client to client threats and 59 were reported," she said.

Ms Argall said the CSA had comprehensive procedures for dealing with threats.";"The controversial Child Support Agency is defending its handling of threats of murder, suicide and assault from disgruntled clients, saying not all warrant referral to police.";"The controversial Child Support Agency is defending its handling of threats of murder, suicide and assault from disgruntled clients, saying not all warrant referral to police." "70";"mnc";"Violent Femmes";"Men's Health (Australia)";"1999-03-01";"Peter Olszewski";;"Women aren't the only victims of domestic violence.

Even now, long after the relationship ended, I still have trouble uttering that simple, painful acknowledgment: "I was a battered man." Saying it makes me cringe makes me feel like a coward or a wimp. At first I would switch off whenever I saw a newspaper article or TV report about domestic violence because I knew I was about to be subjected to yet another pungent vilification of men and their propensity to beat women, before muttering to myself. "Hey, what about guys like me?"

Let's get one thing straight - in no way am I denying the problem of battered women or trying to downplay their grief. Violence in a relationship is reprehensible, but the mistake that's made is that the violence is seen as exclusively male in origin. In fact, there's significant evidence to suggest that women are just as capable of committing domestic violence.

As a 'victim' I even began to identify with females portrayed on TV, with their downcast, shamed eyes and their cuts, bruises and puffy swellings and smiled wryly to myself when the reporter would inevitable ask: "If you were being beaten so regularly, why didn't you simply leave?"

I know the answer to that one. First of all you live in the hope that your truly beloved will come to her senses and do something about her violence. And then, of course, there's the problem of what happens when you do try to leave. In my case, it caused a final flurry of totally-out-of-control violence, a string of court appearances, the loss of most of my possessions, the constant redirecting of money to solicitors and the cold, harsh reality of virtually having to restart my life from scratch. But I came through, I made it - I'm a survivor.

Possibly, the event that helped me on the road to recovery most was speaking personally about battered men on a nationwide radio program. For almost two weeks after appearing on that program I received phone calls from all over Australia, from battered guys who'd been through the wringer, felt the shame and had nobody they could talk to until they heard this bloke on the radio - me.

While time consuming, this was also very beneficial for me because I went from being a victim to a survivor, dispensing guidance, wisdom and advice to my fellow sufferers. By speaking out, I also became part of a trend.

Suddenly violence by women against men was being taken seriously and figures started to emerge that backed this up. For example, three US surveys taken by. family-violence counsellors in 1980, 1985, and 1995 showed that violence of the same degree was committed by an almost equal number of men and women.

The reports were condemned by feminists - who argued that this sort of data was simply used to devalue female victims - but the research stood up to scrutiny. A Canberra academic who suggested that domestic assaults against men were almost as prevalent as assaults against women, was ridiculed and a Brisbane men's organisation that expressed similar sentiments was promptly labelled as right wing.

In the US, Steve Easton, homeless and unemployed after enduring years of domestic violence, started an organisation in 1993 called The Easton Alliance, which counsels up to 400 men a year. Like most battered men, Easton's domestic situation was a casebook study of classic female violence - the violence simply escalated and he was overwhelmed by it to the point that it almost ruined his life. Easton observed that many women, angered over failed relationships with men, start assaulting their current male partners and the violence slowly escalates from there. And, like violent male behaviour, alcohol was usually a contributing factor with female violence.

Easton's case interested me particularly because he admitted making thesame mistake that I did. Many of his problems stemmed from one simple, natural response - he chose to retaliate.

Perhaps at this stage, it would be appropriate for me to tell my story, for no particular reason other than it's a text-book example of female domestic violence in all its pure, unpredictable fury.

I discovered my lover was violent the first night we moved into a house together. I figured it was a one-off thing, stress induced by the move and for a while it seemed so. Then, on two separate occasions, after returning home from eating out, I was king-hit on the side of the head. The reason for the first blow turned out to be because we'd been to a restaurant she used to visit with her ex. The second was that we'd consumed, at her insistence, red wine and oysters, apparently a favourite dish of her ex.

Casebook studies claim that violence escalates rapidly from this point and it certainly did. I would be punched if I mentioned her business rivals and she'd strike out if I had the TV on too loudly or ate too loudly, like her father. And suggesting she do something about her violent behaviour only triggered more of the same.

Finally, she cracked and attacked me with a tennis racquet and her stilettos and systematically destroyed my possessions. I snapped and hurled an ashtray through a window. This turned out to be a major mistake.

She calmed down and coolly phoned the police. When they arrived I confessed to smashing the window and - ignoring my cuts and abrasions and version of events - they ordered me to collect some clothes and get out immediately. I wound up in a domestic-violence court and before I knew what happened, had a domestic-violence order slapped on me. And my partner immediately qualified as yet another female victim of violence in the home.

After a year and many entreaties and promises from her, we got back together. The violence restarted almost immediately, but with a new element - control - which I was to discover is also classic behaviour. In addition to being hit for doing something she didn't like, I was now alsobeing attacked if I didn't do what she wanted. When I resisted, she adopted a new tactic, using other men to get at me if I didn't obey her.

I was now planning my escape because violence had become the order of the day. I moved some things out discreetly and observed that a man she was having an affair with had his house and car trashed when he apparently didn't do her bidding. He reported the violence, creating a track record that would later back me up in court. Meanwhile I was ducking projectiles - like lumps of concrete - and began to realise that this could end up killing me. After a long discussion we agreed to separate. But that night, before I could leave, she went berserk again, attacking me and demolishing the house. I fled.

I returned at dawn. Usually she would wake up contrite - and sober. But not that day. She poured a bottle of wine and a cup of hot coffee over me, threw books and then started laying into me. In pure desperation, I eventually gave her a sharp jab in the stomach.

This snapped her out of it. She became very cool again and rang thepolice, stating that I had a rifle and was threatening to shoot her and then calmly left for work. I waited for a SWAT team or the equivalent to arrive, but nothing happened, so I finally went to the police station myself.

For the first time, I received some help. The policeman took one look at my bruised and bloodied state and immediately initiated domestic-violence proceedings against her. Over a year of messy court hearings followed before I was finally free to go my own way, albeit broke and bewildered.

I've had relationships since then but the instant I detect the potential for violence or hear confessions of violent acts against previous lovers, I'm out of there. And that's about the only way to deal with violent women. Of course, if you're deeply in love and enmeshed in family and financial commitments, you naturally hope you'll be able to sort it out. Then one day someone will look at you in disbelief and say: "If it was that violent, why didn't you simply leave?"


Early Warning Signs

Female domestic violence begins just like its male equivalent - with thefirst slap, punch or hurled object. But if the victim's a woman, she will view this first violent act as a very serious sign that there's trouble brewing. A man will tend to play down the incident or tough it out, often making a joke of it. Take action with the first slap. Don't be melodramatic or wait until things have started to cool down. It's important to act decisively. Explain that you don't like being hit - just like you imagine she wouldn't enjoy it.

Look for reasons for her behaviour. Was it a stressful time? Did it occur because you made a cutting or insulting remark? Did it happen because something you did annoyed her? Was it alcohol-related? Was it due to anger over a past relationship or does it stem from a history of violence in her family?

Research shows that domestic violence is often the product of a violent upbringing. Explore all these avenues, decisively and precisely, and then let it rest. But let her know that the first slap was taken very seriously indeed.

If it happens again, there is a risk of a pattern being established and even more decisive action must be taken. If you spot a trend appearing, make sure you discuss it.

To ensure that she knows how seriously you view the second incident, it may be time to consult her family. It may be embarrassing for her, but if you have a good relationship with her side of the family, it may help pinpoint a problem.

Three strikes and you're out. Domestic violence escalates quickly and if matters become really heated, you too will be drawn into the violence, to the point that you'll be tempted to strike back. Under no circumstances retaliate.

After a third incident it's time to consult a counsellor. Get the violence out into the open with someone outside the family circle, irrespective of how embarrassing it is for your partner. This also creates an important legal precedent.

No matter how remorseful your partner appears after the event, don't let her off the hook. Keep working at the problem and repeatedly stress that it shouldn't have happened in the first place. If the violence escalates to the point where you become concerned for your safety or that of your children, it's time to take the most drastic step of all - a domestic-violence order. This puts the matter in the hands of the police and courts and brings home the reality that she is on the verge of being criminally charged. If matters have degenerated to this stage, counselling is a must and you may have to consider temporarily leaving the relationship.

What is domestic violence?

The legal definition of domestic violence is very broad, ranging from physical violence against a person and damage to their property, right through to psychological or implied violence such as verbal abuse, phone calls, threats, and threatening behaviour.

Certain orders have been incorporated into the legal system to protect victims of domestic violence. These are known as apprehended-violence orders (A\/Os), protection orders or domestic-violence orders (DVOs).

These can be initiated within two days. Finally, police can be called in and, if they deem it necessary, they'll apply for an order.

Alternatively, a person can visit a courthouse, request the necessary form, fill it out and - if the clerk of the court decides there are grounds for an order - a summons will be issued. The summons compels the defendant to attend a court hearing or face arrest.

If the defendant doesn't contest the order or agrees with it, it will be issued, usually for two years, compelling the defendant to display good behaviour towards the spouse and to hand in to police anything that can be considered a weapon.

In serious cases, the terms of the "standard order" can be strengthened, with additional provisions determined by a magistrate. For example, defendants can be ordered to stay at least 100 metres from the marital home. If the provisions of the order are breached, criminal charges can be laid.

The domestic-violence laws were brought into being, to their credit, by feminist organisations who made domestic violence a political issue. But the issue is based on the theory that domestic violence is "an expression of patriarchy as a social force and marriage as a patriarchal institution".

However, recent research proves that almost as many women commit domestic violence as men, although male violence is often more dangerous and more likely to inflict serious damage.

Because the initial stage of a domestic-violence order is a civil matter, the onus of proof does not apply as it does with assault charges. To bring a person before a domestic-violence hearing is a relatively straightforward procedure. All that is really needed is the ability to fill out a form accurately and give adequate reasons. Consequently, domestic-violence orders are increasingly abused or often used by women as instruments of revenge or humiliation. A particularly unpleasant example is set by some extreme feminist organisations, which openly advocate the use of orders to deal with annoying men. In fact, some lawyers now argue that nuisance or revenge manipulation of domestic-violence orders is a form of domestic violence in itself.

Where to get help?

There are very few organisations that cater for men who have problems with a violent partner. The federal domestic-violence organisations and help-lines are best avoided because they're set up to deal with women and their problems. Theoretically, men with violent partners should be able to receive help and advice from these agencies, but, in practice, it doesn't work this way.

The only agency dealing exclusively with the male side of this sensitiveissue is the Brisbane-based Men's Rights Agency. They've been savaged in the Queensland media but attacks against them are unwarranted. Ironically, they seem to attract criticism simply because they focus exclusively on men's needs.

Run by husband-and-wife team Reg and Sue Price, The Men's Rights Agency has now established a national network and their contact details are:

The Men's Rights Agency

Freecall: 1800 818 004.

E-mail: mra@ecn.net.au

Web: http://www.ecn.net.au/~mra

Brisbane headquarters (07) 3805 5611 or fax (07) 3200 8769.

Other organisations, which can be helpful, include:

WA:

Men's Confraternity Inc, (08) 9470 1734.

Lone Fathers Association, (08) 9470 1153.

ACT:

Lone Fathers Association of Australia, (02) 6258 4216, mobile 0417 668 802.

Non-Custodial Parents Association, (02) 6292 1121.

NSW:

DADS, (02) 9721 3177.

Family Law Reform Association, (02) 9542 2459.

Newcastle Lone Fathers Association, (02) 4943 9634, mobile 015 550 964.

QLD:

Gladstone Family Law Reform & Assistance Inc, (07) 4972 5899.

Rockhampton Lone Fathers Association, (07) 4927 6448.

NT:

DADS Alice Springs, (08) 8952 4485.

DADS Darwin, 015 615 669.

Lone Fathers Association, (08) 8932 3339.

SA:

Lone Fathers Association, (08) 8370 3169.

TAS:

DADS Tasmania, (03) 6247 7790.

Lone Fathers Association, (03) 6247 7790.

VIC:

Contact The Men's Rights Agency, freecall 1800 818 004.

Melbourne Lone Fathers Association, (03) 9878 6588.

Note: Many of these organisations are for fathers because manipulations of domestic-violence orders have become a significant feature of child-custody battles. However, the groups are still well placed to cater for the needs of single men.

";"Women aren't the only victims of domestic violence.

Even now, long after the relationship ended, I still have trouble uttering that simple, painful acknowledgment: "I was a battered man." Saying it makes me cringe makes me feel like a coward or a w"; "68";"shd";"The Labour Of Love That Makes Divorce Harder Work For Fathers";"Sydney Morning Herald";"2003-07-29";"Bettina Arndt";;"Long hours at the coalface can prove a double-edged sword for men if their marriages fail, writes Bettina Arndt.

Unlike many of her predecessors, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Pru Goward, has resisted the temptation to use her position to beat up on men. But recently there are signs the anti-male culture at the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission might have got to her.

In the past few weeks, Goward has been weighing into the debate on joint custody with remarks uncharacteristically hostile to men.

At a speech last week to a women's employment conference, she laid into the "unattractive face" of the men's movement, complaining of men working very long hours "apparently by choice".

She recommended the parliamentary inquiry into joint custody should explore the question of whether "men should have to put in equal parenting time while the marriage is intact" if they want to be more involved after separation. There might be fewer divorces if married men spent more time with children, she suggested.

There you are, guys. It's all your fault for neglecting your family by choosing to work those long hours. That's why you deserve to be punished when your marriage falls apart by having only minimal contact with your children.

Yet it simply doesn't make sense to blame men for the working arrangements in most Australian families. The decision that they should take the long shift is usually made by the couple to enable mothers to work shorter hours to care for children.

There's clear evidence that this is a decision most wives see in their own interests. Many men would prefer to work shorter hours and spend more time with their families but believe they are doing the right thing in remaining the major breadwinner.

Look at recent results emerging from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. Analysis of HILDA data by Yi-Ping Tseng, of the Melbourne Institute, shows wives with the highest life satisfaction in Australia are in families where either the man is the sole earner or working significantly longer hours than the woman.

Most families fit one of these patterns, with a third (31 per cent) in sole-earner families and almost half (45 per cent) with full-timer husbands and part-timer wives (in these families the men average 48 hours per week paid work, compared with 25 hours for the wives). In the remaining one-fifth of families where both work full-time, wives show less life satisfaction.

Tseng found wives in male breadwinner families also report more satisfaction with their partners and are most likely to see their partners as doing a good job as fathers - more so than the two-full-timer families.

Researchers at the Australian Institute of Family Studies recently used this HILDA data to look at men working very long hours (60-plus) and found that when men were happy working these hours, their partners seemed particularly content with their relationships.

Fifty-seven per cent of these men would prefer shorter hours with a commensurate salary drop, yet almost a quarter were not happy with their workload but didn't want a change in hours - a finding the researchers suggest may reflect the need to preserve a salary level while resenting time away from their families.

Dr Michael Bittman, of the University of NSW, has found that fathers see their commitment to paid work as the major barrier to being effective parents, with 68 per cent of fathers unhappy about not spending enough time with children.

So women are hardly marching in the streets demanding their husbands work shorter hours. Hell, no. It's clear that most wives feel it is in their family's interest to keep their husband's nose to the grindstone, even if it means he misses out on time with children.

And men are also accepting of this arrangement - until their marriages fall apart. For it is then the crunch comes and breadwinning dads lose out badly.

That's the irony. The married men who once were rated most highly by their wives - as partners and as fathers - then have their willingness to support their families count against them.

When it comes to a battle over custody, men who worked those long hours are least likely to be allowed shared care and usually end up as visiting fathers with fortnightly contact.

In fact, the divorced father wanting to see more of his children may be required by the Family Court to keep working those long hours to maintain his ex-family in the manner to which they are accustomed - a particularly cruel twist.

Suggesting married men drop back to part-time work to spend more time with children might set them up for post-divorce custody settlements but it isn't going to pay the mortgage or allow mothers time to be with their families.

It will be a sad thing for our society if this debate convinces men that breadwinning is a mug's game and they should look out for number one - just in case.

";"Long hours at the coalface can prove a double-edged sword for men if their marriages fail, writes Bettina Arndt.

Unlike many of her predecessors, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Pru Goward, has resisted the temptation"; "69";"shd";"New Generation Of Men Who Share The Load";"Sydney Morning Herald";"2003-07-29";"James Woodford";;"With a little flexibility, juggling work, a modern marriage and parenthood can be done, writes James Woodford.

It takes more than one woman dressed like a cowboy and armed with a big chainsaw to make a trend but I can nail down to the second when I realised I was to be part of a new wave of married life. It was 3 years ago and my wife-to-be was six months pregnant, dressed in leather chaps and slicing firewood-sized chunks from a 30-centimetre-diameter ironbark log as if it was salami.

As we got halfway through the job a convoy of four-wheel drivers passed slowly and gawked at us. They stared at superwoman with the chainsaw first and then disdainfully at me, lamely carrying little bits of wood back to our car.

As the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Pru Goward, said last week women should marry men who are prepared to carry more of the family load. For women like the one I carry logs for it is not something that is negotiable.

And I suspect she is far from alone. Fewer and fewer modern young women are prepared to tolerate what their baby-boomer mothers took for granted - a bread-winning husband who kept his nose out of the child- rearing and home-making.

There has been a generational shift which is invisible to many commentators about the way child care and domestic duties are split. Many young couples are already trying out new ways of sharing the work, simply because it makes more sense to do so, and are waiting for government and employer policies to catch up.

It's old-fashioned to simply divide work and home duties between men and women - the lines are blurred because our lives have changed. Couples are trying to find ways of making life work, rather than living by stereotypes.

I have never been under any misconception that when it comes to traditional bloke things in our home we would each have one leg in the metaphorical pants. To borrow a phrase from the great cartoon character Buzz Lightyear, dependence is not a word used on Mrs Chainsaw's planet.

Goward made her comments in response to the debate about shared custody of children, saying that if men want equal access they should first share the workload.

I have also learnt a thing or two about that subject.

Our family is a complicated and unusual one, though becoming less so all the time. I have two sons from my first marriage who spend alternate weeks with us. I was determined to have equal access to the boys as my father vanished when I was six years old.

The boys have a bedroom at our house as well as clothes and toys. It is an arrangement that hasn't skipped a beat for almost four years. While it has some schizophrenic aspects to it, surely whatever the down sides, they are outweighed by the boys knowing both parents love them enough to want to have them as much as possible.

However, shared parenting comes at a high cost and unless a father is prepared and able to drastically re-order (or keep) his work priorities around his children then he will run into strife. I am lucky to have been able to do that but there are still many career paths where flexibility is impossible.

My ability to work the way I once did was certainly curtailed and even more so after Mrs Chainsaw and I had a daughter. Slowly I found myself forced to wind back my hours at the office and then cut down to four days, then three days before finally deciding to work from home and care for our three-year-old daughter nearly a year ago.

It simply had become too difficult for me to manage a conventional work life and balance the demands of sharing the job of raising my sons. More than one person ignorantly suggested that surely a stepmum could take up the slack created by my busy schedule. It was a comment that dramatically highlights how archaic many of the views surrounding joint custody are.

These days my wife heads off each day for work and I earn a living during Sesame Street, Play School, my daughter's afternoon nap and the two days a week she is in child care. But at night and on weekends my wife is the one who spends most time with our daughter.

Every day in our house it feels as though we are in the middle of a radical social experiment, with approaches to custody, child rearing, marriage and work practices that must startle our parents' generation.

It is never easy being either a father or a husband in the 21st century but not once since leaving my office have I felt that anything has been taken from my manhood.

Deep down, I think, every guy would be happy to spend more time with the kids in exchange for a wife who'll argue the toss about whose turn it is to mow the lawn.

";"With a little flexibility, juggling work, a modern marriage and parenthood can be done, writes James Woodford.

It takes more than one woman dressed like a cowboy and armed with a big chainsaw to make a trend"; "71";"mnc";"Violent Women";"Sunday Mail";"1999-03-28";"Lynnette Haas";;"Domestic violence is usually seen as inflicted on women by men. But a fictional book and some research say the abused victim is quite often the man. Lynnette Haas reports.

These days, more so than before, author and journalist Matthew Condon finds people want to take him aside to tell him their stories. At parties, in pubs, at literary festivals, Condon has found himself acting as a de facto counsellor as friends, acquaintances and strangers confide distressing secrets they'd previously kept to themselves.

He's become a confidante because his latest novel, The Pillow Fight, a powerful fictional tale of domestic violence, has clearly struck a chord with some readers who feel their experiences have been ratified by the drama in his pages.

But there's a controversial element to this scenario in that Condon's novel turns the tables on the accepted notion of domestic violence. In The Pillow Fight it is the female partner, a successful and beautiful young wife named Charlotte, who is striking the blows. And it's the male partner, the naive but totally smitten Luke, who is the victim.

So, in turn, Condon's conversations have been with men who have admitted being victims of domestic abuse and, in a few cases, women who confess to being perpetrators. And what he's heard has shocked and saddened him.

"You have almost ended up being a shoulder to cry on," says Condon, who describes most men in question as "ostensibly the Aussie bloke".

"By and large, they've been professional people. I've had lawyers. I've had media people who have come out of nowhere and have quietly confided their confirmation of the novel. I have a friend who had a carving knife pulled on him and put to his throat. You just don't hear or read these stories."

Try to uncover more of those stories in an effort to draw a clearer picture of the prevalence and nature of female-to-male domestic violence and you're confronted with two very different and conflicting schools of thought.

There is research that says it exists, and that it occurs in significant numbers - and there are the welfare groups, the frontline workers, who say it doesn't.

International research on female-male domestic violence has been extensive since a 1980s landmark study by sociologists Straus, Gelles and Steinmetz outlined its persuasiveness.

That study, Behind, Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family, revealed that of couples reporting domestic abuse, 49% of spouses admitted they were both violent. When questioned about the specifics of the incidents in the previous year, 27% of men claimed they were the sole perpetrators of that violence, compared to 24% of women.

In instances of so-called severe violence, 3.8% of wives were identified as victims, while 4.6% of husbands were victims.

In the Sunshine State [Queensland, Australia], similar large-scale research has been scant. In 1988 the Queensland Domestic Violence Taskforce, researching male-female abuse, reported that 6.2% of domestic violence victims were male.

The Victorian Injury Surveillance System last year concluded that of 372 victims of "partner-inflicted violence" identified by several hospitals 76.1% were female and 23.9% were male. It further concluded: "The admission rate was 14.6% for male and 10.9% for females, suggesting that a greater proportion of males received more severe injuries".

In an ongoing study of 198 violent marriages in rural Australia, Charles Sturt University associate professor of sociology Sotirios Sarantakos identified 64 abused husbands.

Through a series of intense interviews, conducted over many years, with the husband, the wife, one of the couple's children over 16 and one of the wife's parents (usually the mother), Sarantakos investigated the claim that most female-male abuse is self-defence - that the male victim physically encourages the attack. He found otherwise.

"The vast majority of abusive wives admitted they did not hit their husband in self-defence," Sarantakos writes in 'Husband Abuse as Self-Defence', a paper presented at the International Congress of Sociology in Canada last year.

"They did not feel threatened by the husband even after they assaulted him and were not in need (of) protection from the husband. This is by no means a situation which justifies violence against the husband and certainly (is) not self-defence."

However, many of the major domestic violence help organisations are unconvinced by these findings.

Relationships Australia executive director Ian MacDonald says while he accepts female-to-male abuse does occur, he sees it "at a minuscule rate, compared with male-to-female violence that's reported to us".

However, he agrees men would have trouble admitting their victim status.

"I wouldn't say it's more difficult (than for women), but I think it is difficult for men," MacDonald says.

"There is that additional block of him feeling that somehow his masculinity is impugned because he hasn't defended himself and he hasn't behaved "like a man". That is a very difficult position. And the reported (sceptical) position response of police to that situation does tend to indicate that men are feeling extremely awkward about exposing himself to that."

Meeta Iyer, director of the Domestic Violence Research Centre at Brisbane's inner-city West End, says since July 1998 the centre has received only five calls from male victims seeking counselling or information. That's from a total of about 700 or 800 help calls. She doesn't believe that those five calls misrepresent the overall incidence.

"While there is a lot of information out there that says men find it difficult to talk about domestic violence, I think it is the same (for women)," she says. "I believe (this figure) is indicative of true victims of domestic violence who are men."

That victims can be "true" or "real" is a point emphasised by the Men's Domestic Violence Telephone Counselling Service.Peter, (who won't reveal his surname) has been with the service since its inception in 1996. He says the service primarily fields calls from men "who are perpetrators of domestic violence, with 20% of incoming calls from men who say they're the aggrieved spouse".

Peter says there is a difference between male-female and female-male violence. Most abused males do not fear their partner's attacks, he says and seem to be part of a mutually violent relationship.

When asked whether there were situations in which men refrained from hitting back and merely copped the attacks, Peter replied: "We do get those guys but I can't tell what they're doing themselves or what they're doing back."

There is a Queensland organisation which fully supports the notion of female-male violence.

The Waterford-based Men's Rights Agency, run by husband and wife team, Reg and Sue Price, has in the past been ridiculed as right-wing extremist for its stance on family issues.

But the self-funded organisation remains the only one nationwide that iscompletely sympathetic and open to abused men.

Sue Price says: "A small amount of (government) money is given to male perpetrator programs but there is nothing for men (victims) who need help.

If a man comes to me with his children in tow, trying to escape the violence the wife is exhibiting, we have nowhere to send him, apart from the internal type of refuge system we're trying to build, where people who have a home, a large home, will willingly offer some emergency accommodation to people in that situation."

Having helped men through various personal crises, Price is convinced many men will never report their abuse at the hands of a woman.

"The last time we had an article published (about domestic violence) I had one guy ring me," she says. "We'd been talking to him for eight months and he finally acknowledged to me that he was a victim of his wife's domestic violence when he saw the article."


Inset Story

The Story Of A Battered Man

Another man who finally chose to speak about his abuse is a Queensland freelance journalist, identified here as Peter X.

Peter X lived in a violent relationship for four years before finally fronting up to Police, after a particularly brutal assault.

"I copped a lot before I took physical measures to just stop being beaten," he says. "The violence had gone from the mere slaps and punches to sustained beating. Basically, I cringe when I say it, (but) I feared for my safety and I had to take defensive measures to stop that."

The first time Peter X says he took a "defensive measure" was when his partner was jumping on his back in her stiletto heels. He says he threw an ashtray at the window and soon after the police arrived. Peter X , who hadn't fought back in any way, was taken away. A Domestic Violence Order was issued against him. But, as in many cases of domestic violence, Peter X eventually was reunited with his partner, who promised to control her outbursts. She didn't. And, as in all cases of domestic violence, the detached outsider can't help but ask why the victim didn't remove himself (or herself) from the situation sooner.

Did he think he could change her?

"A fool in love thinks that," Peter X says. "The wise person knows things don't really change."

Things didn't change in that relationship and Peter X finally realised he could take the uncertainly no longer. Since leaving his partner, he's told his story on radio and in print and is constantly amazed to find out he's not alone. Men across the country regularly seek him out for support.

"In getting embroiled in (the issue of female-male domestic violence) I came across guy after guy who has actually been on the receiving end," he says.

"But, they never really want to come forward because people regard you as a wimp, not for being hit by a woman, but for complaining. It seems to be that women's violence is acceptable in a sense."

And if not quite accepted, says Dr Sotirios Sarantakos, then it is at least overlooked. "I think the sad part is the way husband abuse is treated at the moment is exactly the way wife abuse was treated 30 years ago," he says.

"We were trying to bring wife abuse to the forefront to put it in the focus of policies and make people aware of what was happening ... But (men) didn't want to hear about it. It was a domestic matter. Men (said we) shouldn't get involved and feminists were angry. We were talking about how women deserved it or whatever. That was not tue. Of course it was not true. We've got the same problem now. They ignore this. (They say) it doesn't exist and if it does exist they're blaming the victim."

But Sarantakos wants to emphasise any type of abuse - be it male-female, female-male, father-son, daughter-mother or violence within same-sex couples - should be of concern to the wider community. It shouldn't be dismissed on the grounds of gender.

Matthew Condon and Peter X agree.

"All domestic violence is a crime and it's a human issue," says Condon.

"I'm opposed to domestic violence against men and I'm strongly opposed to domestic violence against women," says Peter X. "There should be structures to protect both sexes. To ignore one isn't solving the problem."

";"Domestic violence is usually seen as inflicted on women by men. But a fictional book and some research say the abused victim is quite often the man. Lynnette Haas reports.

These days, more so than before, author and journalist Matthew Cond"; "72";"mnc";"Striking A Balance On Violence Orders";"The Australian";"1999-12-29";"Editorial";;"Few legal issues create as much contention as the issuing of apprehended violence orders. Across Australia striking the balance between the very real need to intervene to halt or prevent specific instances of domestic violence and awareness that in some cases such order are sought for malicious reasons is proving extraordinarily difficult. There is a growing awareness that the system is being abused. In NSW most of the concern seems to be about so-called "personal" violence orders, involving neighbours or work colleagues, rather than the more familiar "domestic" violence orders. The debate, of course, is coloured by emotions raised by domestic violence, particularly on women and children, and the argument that the legal system is weighted against women.

It is well accepted that the introduction of apprehended violence orders was a very necessary law reform. The classic situation is where a woman with every reason to fear violence from her partner need swift and effective means to keep him away from her and her children. Basically, orders allow a complainant to be legally protected from personal violence, harassment or molestation, intimidation or stalking. There are heavy penalties (up to a $5000 fine and/or two years imprisonment in NSW) for breaches. It is however, argued by concerned legal practitioners that the level of proof that support a complaint is insufficiently high considering the penalties a defaulter faces. This is particularly so when orders are sought for fear of personal violence which may stem from neighbour disputes over such issues as excessive noise or the keeping of dogs.

Some legal practitioners are concerned also that orders are being sought not because of a real fear of violence or intimidation but merely to gain an advantage over a defendant. The orders, it is claimed, have significant potential to maliciously disrupt the life of a defendant either through actions that aid and abet the defendant in breaching an order or using the order to make false complaints.

It is a problem of existing legislation that magistrates lack the ability to knock out what seem likely to be frivolous, false or misleading claims at an early stage of the process. The NSW Government is now considering reform that would give magistrates this power, at least in relation to personal violence orders.

Another issue raised in the NSW Law Society Journal by a Queensland practitioner, Michael McMillan, is worth considering. It arises from the difficulty of bringing an order to an end. He suggests the other states look to Western Australia which provides a defence for someone who has breached an order with the approval of the person supposedly in need of protection. Such reforms of the system should not be seen as an attempt to undermine apprehended violence orders. Indeed, unless the system is protected from abuse, its enforcement will suffer, as will the interests of the vulnerable people it is supposed to serve.

";"Few legal issues create as much contention as the issuing of apprehended violence orders. Across Australia striking the balance between the very real need to intervene to halt or prevent specific instances of domestic violence and awareness that in some c"; "73";"mnc";"Violence Made To Order For Lawyers";"The Australian";"1999-12-29";"Bernard Lane";;"COURT orders designed to prevent violence have created a new industry for lawyers and added to the burden of police and magistrates, according to Trevor Nyman, a prominent solicitor.

But Mr Nyman said there was no evidence the dramatic growth in apprehended violence orders had reduced the level of violence.

"There is plenty of anecdotal data that it is either continuing at the same level or is perhaps increasing," Mr Nyman said in an article in the latest issue of the NSW Law Society Journal.

Courts in 1987 made 1426 orders; in 1997, there were 23,464.

Mr Nyman, a criminal law practitioner and adjunct professor at Sydney's University of Technology, gave the AVO system "top marks as a new industry for lawyers" and "high marks for keeping general duties police doing paperwork".

NSW magistrates already had a heavy workload, he said.

"Add to this the charged atmosphere that goes hand in hand with apprehended violence day in every local court, and the stress on our local court bench is greater than ever before," he said.

Supporters of domestic violence orders say the main problem is not abuse, but under-use by women still too fearful to seek protection.

In the same law journal issue, Queensland practitioner Michael McMillan suggested a "cautious increase" in the standard of proof to be satisfied before a court issues an AVO.

"Many practitioners find quite unsettling the ease with which the standard of proof can be discharged," he said.

A person who complains of violence or threats has to satisfy the civil standard – the balance of probabilities.

Mr McMillan said something had to be done about abuse of an AVO, whereby the complainant – the person supposedly in need of protection – "lures or encourages" the defendant into a breach.

The defendant might not realise the complainant could not unilaterally waive the order, he said.

"The defendant is easy prey for a vindictive (complainant) who may well delight in inviting the (defendant), despite the order, to return to the shared residence," he said.

"Once the trap is set, it only takes a simple phone call by the (complainant) to the local police in order to trigger it."

Mr McMillan suggested other states follow the example of Western Australia, where those lured into a breach can rely on a defence that the complainant approved the breach.

Breach of an AVO is a serious criminal offence.

In NSW, most concern about abuse of AVOs has focused on so-called "personal" violence orders, involving neighbours or work colleagues.

The NSW Government is considering a reform that would allow magistrates to refuse to issue a non-domestic AVO regarded as frivolous or vexatious.

";"COURT orders designed to prevent violence have created a new industry for lawyers and added to the burden of police and magistrates, according to Trevor Nyman, a prominent solicitor.

But Mr Nyman said there was no evidence the dramatic gro"; "74";"mnc";"AVOs: Apprehended Violence Industry Or Disease?";"Law Society Journal (NSW, Australia)";"1999-12-01";"Trevor Nyman";;"SINCE 1951 THERE HAVE BEEN provisions in the NSW Crimes Act for Local Courts to make orders for apprehended violence. It was a prophylactic provision intended to restrain misconduct before it happened. The complainant saw the chamber magistrate who was vested with a judicial discretion to initiate a complaint or to refuse to do so. The complainant carried a criminal onus to prove two things; firstly that the apprehension existed at the time of the complaint and also at the time of the hearing; and secondly that the apprehension was objectively reasonable.

In the 1980s and 1990s a rash of legislation was introduced, creating and modifying and expanding the scope for AVOs beyond the belief of those of us who once worked under the old laws of the 1970s. Some of the most significant changes that took place in this recent legislation have been the following:

The chamber magistrate has no discretion to decline to initiate process.

Police are required to initiate process as the informant, instead of sending a complainant to the chamber magistrate to issue his or her own complaint. One of the corollaries of this new law is that the police officer becomes the person in charge of the future of the proceedings, and the aggrieved citizen is known as the PINOP (person in need of protection).

The magistrate presiding in the Local Court need not be satisfied of the truth of the complaint, as long as the defendant consents to an order. Consequently, some of the outrageous allegations made by complainants are never tested (and might never be believed); but they remain on record in the Registry of the Local Court as an allegation which was made and never denied.

The defendant may consent to an order without admitting the truth of the complaint. Police, court officers, prosecutors and indeed some magistrates, emphasise the convenience of this provision, as it frequently gives the anxious defendant who is outraged at the allegations, a sense of reassurance that it is okay to go quietly.

When a defendant declines to consent to an order and insists on testing the truth of the allegations which were made by the complainant, the onus of proof borne by the complainant is a civil onus. It is not hard to prove on the balance of probabilities that the PINOP apprehended some sort of misconduct within the statutory definition of violence (see below).

Interim Orders are the rule, not the exception. In appropriate cases ex parte orders will be made by telephone. Orders will consequently exist, virtually from the day the proceedings are commenced otherwise from the day they first are returnable before court. The threshold for issuance of a warrant for the arrest of the defendant is very low, consequently a significant number of cases commence by arrest and not by summons.

Violence is unnecessary under amendment to the Act. Harassment, intimidation or stalking is sufficient misconduct to come within the enlarged statutory definition of "apprehended violence".

A police prosecutor normally appears for the complainant. This is because the proceedings are initiated by a police officer.

The making of an order automatically cancels any licence the defendant might have to be in possession of a firearm. Consequently the ex parte order or interim order which is the norm rather than the exception and takes place before any allegation by the PINOP has been proved, results in the loss of job to a security officer, a private enquiry agent or even a farm hand, since such callings require routinely that the person be entitled to carry a firearm.

A defendant who successfully defends a case will get costs only if he can prove the proceedings were frivolous or vexatious. Litigation lawyers will recognise the extraordinary circumstances that need to exist for such a finding in a Local Court.

Breach of an AVO is a very serious offence involving : presumptions against bail, where the defendant is engaged in certain violence; and presumption of jail. The Magistrate must take special steps if he or she is not imposing a jail sentence (contrast Justices Act s.80AB in which there is a presumption against jail for all other offences).

The complainant has a right to have the case reheard in the District Court in those circumstances where the original proceedings in the Local Court were dismissed. (If you regard apprehended violence proceedings as criminal in nature as you might well do, notwithstanding provision in the Crimes Act they are not, you would regard this provision as constituting a type of double jeopardy).

What has been the result of the legislative changes that have created this new industry in the Local Court jurisdiction? Statistically, has violence decreased while the number of complaints for orders has burgeoned? Is the growth of orders evidence that the system is catching the offenders quickly? On the contrary is the growth of orders evidence that the incidence of violence is actually growing? Is the growth of orders a state of affairs from which no inference can be drawn as to the incidence of violence? Is this the only real inference to be drawn that thousands of man hours of police are being consumed processing complaints each week, and hundreds of court hours are being consumed dealing with the lists, the consent orders and the defended hearings? We have seen nothing from the Bureau of Crime Statistics that leads us to believe that violence in the street or violence in the home has been reduced let alone that its reduction has been attributable in any way to the enormous industry that has been going on and vastly growing in the last two decades.

There are other problems which are intrinsic in the nature of Apprehended Violence Orders. An outstanding one is the inflexibility – it is a serious obstacle to its efficacy. The most frequent occurrence of this evil is in the case of the PINOP who, out of loneliness, renewed affection for the defendant, doubt as to whether getting the order was a good thing – or for other reasons, initiates or encourages fresh communication with the defendant. The defendant’s motives in responding positively may be praiseworthy (remorse, bona fide desire to reconcile, best interests of children) or his motives may be entirely selfish – but the motives are irrelevant. The defendant’s actions in seeing, approaching or being with the PINOP constitute a criminal offence. As such, they are to be prosecuted once police become aware (and notably in the country, police may well become aware without any report from the PINOP). As mentioned above, the defendant will have trouble getting bail; and on conviction, there is a real danger of jail as a penalty.

There are other occurrences of the problem of inflexibility of all AVOs. Whenever there are children involved, emergencies will arise; a child has an accident and goes to hospital – the other parent is entitled to be informed. He should attend, but that may well be a breach of the order (if the PINOP is at the bedside too). Emergencies aside, the range if incidents at handover for access is limitless. And human nature being what it is, spiteful or foolish parties may provoke a situation which constitutes a breach of order.

There is a surreal quality about an injunction not to commit a crime, which is what AVOs are all about. The defendant is restrained from assault and malicious damage, both of them crimes. The maximum penalty for breach of AVO is two years imprisonment. The maximum penalty for assault (heard in Local Court) is two years imprisonment. Malicious damage carries the same penalties. Therefore, the offender who beats his wife is liable to the same penalty whether subject to an AVO or not. And Local Courts deal with offenders according to the proper criteria as to penalty, giving the king-hitting bully with no AVO a more salutary serve than the foolish pusher-and-shover who was on an AVO.

What about the new offence of stalking? Didn’t its introduction serve a useful purpose? Well, apart from introducing a ghastly Americanism into our Crimes Act , no. There was a perfectly good offence of "watch and beset" well suited to the mischief which such anti-social behaviour constitutes, with good law going back well into the 19th century.

Another problem thrown up by the AVO industry is the situation of the PINOP wife who has somewhat exaggerated the incident to the police, or having told the unvarnished truth she now wants to forgive him and give him an unconditional second chance. This unfortunate person (and she is not an isolated case, they can be found in numbers in any busy AVO court list) has the following chicanes to steer through:

She is not in charge of her case. The police prosecutor is. The prosecutor will go ahead with any substantive charge (assault, malicious damage etc).

The Common Law right of a wife, to decline to give evidence against her husband, is specifically removed by the legislation.

If she fails to show up at Court, the case may still survive because the police will be worried that the husband has spirited her away for the day.

If she shows up and says she wants the case dropped because she exaggerated, police frequently threaten her with public mischief prosecution.

If she shows up and says she loves him and wants to give him another go unconditionally, police will advise her to get the AVO anyway because "it will protect her". But that removes the unconditional nature of the new start she wants to give him. Two people trying to live together with one on an AVO as regards the other, is like walking on eggshells. There is a parallel in the instructions for freshmen at US Colleges to ask first "May I kiss you" "May I touch you here" and be sure to get an audible reply.

Police and prosecutor are trained to cross-examine her as to whether she is acting under any duress from the husband. True, there is an incidence of this. But it makes the experience tougher for her.

If she goes into the witness box and says she has "no current fears" of the husband, that will be the end of the AVO proceedings. (It won’t be the end of any substantive count; see the first two chicanes above). But if she really does have fears, even little ones, she is committing perjury. Any lawyer who advises her to do so is in breach of professional duties and is possibly an accessory before the fact to her felony. And this is no theoretical risk. The lawyer will be high on her blame list if the reconciliation is a failure.

So, if we pause and take stock of how the community has been served by the new legislation, what is the report card going to say? Top marks as a new industry for lawyers in Local Courts. High marks for keeping general duties police doing paperwork for reports, complaints, applications, telephone orders, warrants, informations, facts, statements and briefs. No doubt there are many women who feel reassured by virtue of having a court order, but we don’t know what percentage, nor whether their good feeling is attributable to the court order or because the problem diminished anyway.

The acid test of the efficacy of AVOs must logically be whether they have had the effect of diminishing violence in the street and in the home. There seems to be no empirical data that supports the view that violence has diminished. There is plenty of anecdotal data that it is either continuing at the same level or is perhaps increasing. Meanwhile the Local Courts are working harder than ever with significantly increased jurisdiction in civil work, a juvenile jurisdiction that deals virtually with every crime except murder, and a criminal jurisdiction significantly enlarged since the reduction of the number of matters which the DPP is taking to jury trial. The result has been that the workload of magistrates (quite independently of apprehended violence proceedings) has become greater, more complex and more demanding while their research facilities and support staff remain nonexistent. Add to this the charged atmosphere that goes hand in hand with apprehended violence day in every Local Court and the stress on our Local Court bench is greater than ever before.

The title to this article includes the word "disease" because that can be the end result of excessive stress. There have been times in the last year when up to six magistrates were on indefinite leave as a result of stress. Because of technical difficulties in appointing acting magistrates, the workload has been passed around the other magistrates thereby imposing additional stress and risking further disease and sick leave. Meanwhile the NSW Attorney General’s Criminal Law Review Division is undertaking a review to see if AVOs need to be extended in various ways, and Australian Law Reform Commission has recently published a Model Domestic Violence Code. From the point of view of this commentator the juggernaut that has been created needs to be given a very hard critical review rather than being made bigger and fatter and occupying more space in the court user system.

Trevor Nyman is an Accredited Specialist in Criminal Law and adjunct professor at Univeristy of Technology, Sydney. He is a foundation member of the Criminal Law Committee and supervising editor of the College of Law papers on crime and advocacy.

";"SINCE 1951 THERE HAVE BEEN provisions in the NSW Crimes Act for Local Courts to make orders for apprehended violence. It was a prophylactic provision intended to restrain misconduct before it happened. The complainant saw the chamber magistrate who was ve"; "75";"mnc";"For All Mankind";"Brisbane Courier Mail";"2000-07-01";"Matthew Fynes-Clinton";;"In the battle of the sexes, both men and women claim they are the victims. Matthew Fynes-Clinton reports

IN War of the Roses, Hollywood's 1989 black comedy about a bitter marriage (Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner star), divorce lawyer Gavin D'Amato (Danny De Vito) declares the gloves off, explaining: ``There is no winning in divorce, only degrees of losing.''

As bleak as that sounds, it is, it seems, the best of it.

A couple of years ago, Paul Hopgood, a long-serving Brisbane family lawyer, told me graphically how the meltdown of Australian families was striking at some men.

He said he'd had three clients -- all male -- commit suicide.


``One was the night before a trial. He put electric wires around his wrists, put a timer on for midnight and cooked himself through,'' Hopgood said.


``Another was an overdose of pills -- that was in the middle of a trial.


``And the other one hadn't gone to court yet. It was a car accident which I believe was a suicide. The guy went straight off a cliff.''

A school of male thought suggests these emotion-charged postscripts are the consequence of a tide sweeping Australia. The wave is neither the men's movement, nor the women's movement. Maybe it is the space in between. Call it the anti-men's movement.

Low rumblings persist of a conspiracy against men, spiking in fierce accusations of prejudice, even persecution.

Feminists prop up their cause with surveys bespeaking man's continuing inhumanity to woman. Yet are such analyses, at times, nothing more than old chestnuts and false pictures?

An oft-quoted statistic is that one in three women is at risk of domestic violence. The computation has been in circulation since 1987, catapulted by an Office of the Status of Women campaign.

However, in a television interview, Labor's then family services minister Senator Rosemary Crowley conceded the source of the figure was a 1980 American study, nowhere in which it was claimed that 30 percent of women were victims or likely victims of domestic abuse.

What it did state was that one in three households would experience at least one event of domestic violence -- and that in 50 percent of incidents the woman was the perpetrator.

The research concluded: ``An examination of violence between couples and violence by parents toward children reveals that women are as violent or more violent than men.


``While fathers who beat up their children do so on an average of once a year, mothers who beat up their children do it more than once every other month.''

Faced with the facts, Senator Crowley benignly responded: ``Why are you so worried about a little bit of wrong analysis?''

The findings of other key research have been similarly coloured by the feminist bloc, or completely ignored.

A 1995 Western Australia Department of Criminology study determined that only 0.5 percent of women would be assaulted by a partner or ex-partner each year.

A recent Australian Bureau of Statistics survey, Crime and Safety in Australia, reports men are more likely to be targets of violence than women (4.4 percent compared with 3 percent), while an ABS-sponsored Queensland Crime Survey uncovered that at least 26 percent of attacks on women were by other women.

With every claim and counterclaim, former tyre retailer Reg Price, 65, who with his wife Sue founded Brisbane's controversial Men's Rights Agency seven years ago, despairs of an interminable gender war.


``We've tried to have dialogue with some of the people in the domestic violence industry,'' Price says. ``They will not speak unless we admit that it's the patriarchal society which causes violence.''

According to armies of disaffected men, the ugliest facet of today's anti-man prejudice begins in our austere courtrooms, with a lashing from divorce lawyers, and ends in knockdown via the debt-collecting muscle of the Child Support Agency.

Many dads desperately want to carry on parenting their children after a marriage bust-up, but the courts are placing obstacles in their way.

FATHERS speak of the implicit need to prove before a Family Court judge that they are neither violent nor feckless. Women, so the conjecture goes, benefit from a time-worn axiom that children are better off with their mothers -- even if husbands have acted blamelessly and wives have not.

The CSA, an arm of the Australian Taxation Office, collects child maintenance from non-custodial parents to a formula calculated on taxable income.

Despite changes in 1998 after a government backbenchers' committee review, politicians at the coalface say the CSA is still the No. 1 concern of constituents.

Although men's payment-dodging is one form of gripe, this is far outweighed by squawks, from men, that unfair and inflexible child-support requirements are driving them to poverty.

How bad does it get?


``We had a policeman ring up recently,'' Price says, ``who'd just attended a suicide, where a man had shot himself. He said the victim had an empty wallet, 80 worth of change -- and a bill from the Child Support Agency.''

Not everyone blames the courts.


``I don't think it is the job of the (family) courts to be accountable in the way that, say, politicians are,'' says Professor John Dewar, director of Griffith University's Family Law Research Unit.


``I think it's the courts' job to decide cases according to law, and they are answerable to higher judges who review cases on appeal.


``And I've not seen any evidence that there is a systematic bias against men in those cases that have to be adjudicated. There's plenty of evidence to suggest that women still do very badly.


``With children, the fact is that during a relationship it is often the women who do the primary child-caring. Because that's been the case, those arrangements will be either agreed to voluntarily between the parents or will be ordered by the court.


``But that's not the courts' fault. I mean, they're simply working within the social and economic structures that we have.''

Price maintains that a third of telephone calls to the Men's Rights Agency come from women.


``They're mothers, sisters, a new partner, someone at the man's work,'' he says.


``The mothers are concerned about what's happening to their sons. They're knocking themselves off -- it's a national crime.''

Queensland's latest suicide figures reveal that while youth suicide has stabilised, the rate for men aged 25 to 40 is escalating.


``There's no question family breakdown is a major issue for suicide in general,'' Wickham Tce psychiatrist Dr Chris Cantor says. ``It may be that rising rates of divorce may be fuelling rising suicide rates in that (the 25 to 40) age group.''

Jennifer Buckingham, a policy analyst at Sydney's Centre For Independent Studies, says strong links have been identified between juvenile crime and broken families.


``In most cases, family break-up results in the absence of a father in the home,'' Buckingham says. ``For some reason, probably to do with male role modelling and discipline, this adversely affects boys more than girls.''

Dr Lesley Jolley, from the University of Queensland's department of anthropology and sociology, says: ``What we don't deal with very well is difference.


``It's not being male or female. It's just working out how to live together that's the problem.''


I am 53 and, at this stage of my life, I find myself with no home, no kids, no job and a psychiatrist has placed me on a disability pension. The Government must be very proud of its achievements.

A few years ago I was earning $1000 a week and supporting five of us; today we are all on welfare.

I made the biggest mistake of my life in 1979. I got married and went through the most abusive relationship you could imagine. I have three children, a boy, now 16, a girl, 13, and a boy, 11.

The children were brought up to have not the slightest respect for me. To give you an example, when I would come home from work, my daughter, from the time she could speak ... I could hear her running u[ the hallway to greet me, calling out, "Mum, the f ---ing arsehole's home."

And she would throw her arms around my neck and give me a hug and a kiss and tell me, "I love you f---wit."

I guess the whole idea of this was to get rid of me and when I suggested my wife walk out and leave me and the kids she said, "I'm not that f---ing stupid."

She actually sat there in the house and told me she had taken out a DVO (domestic violence order) on me and when I asked why, she said, "I'm frightened of you," and then burst out laughing.

Before the DVO she accused me of abusing my daughter, so when I told her I intended to involve the police, she just said: "I'll say I never said it."

On the DVO it stated that our six-year-old daughter had told her that my brother and I were going to get her (the brother she was referring to lives 600km from Brisbane).

I'll guarantee that if women had to substantiate their accusations or men were given legal aid to defend themselves, the outcomes in a lot of cases would be different.

My wife accused me of mentally and emotionally abusing her, controlling her life, the money and her friends.

Everything I said or did was demeaning to women or putting them down. I was a misogynist and a violent person and I was going to have her committed.

She mounted her campaign like a military operation. I have since found out that this is how the women's movement advise them to act to get rid of you.

My wife's friend was the first to get rid of her husband, then three of the ex's other friends did the same. The (husband) before me hanged himself.

I did the divorce papers up myself and when I gave them to my wife to sign, she turned around and said "Why are you doing this? I won't sign them." You could have knocked me over with a feather.

I spent over four years where I had all the children involved in sport. I became team manager to get the eldest bloke's team off the ground and did a coaching course to coach the youngest's team.

I was tied up with their sport four evenings a week, all day Saturday and then when the daughter started competition basketball, nearly every Sunday.

I arranged to work a permanent nightshift so I could do this.

Over four years Child Support agency gave me relief to the value of $1400 (approx $1 a day) against my obligations.

During this time the children were spending in excess of 125 nights a year with me, not to mention the days. When you consider that the children spent every weekend (Friday evening to Sunday evening) with me every public holiday, and I took my holidays to coincide with theirs which they spent with me, I can't see how (the $1400) could be considered excessive.

In 1996, I received a letter from the CSA to the effect that their mother did not agree with me getting any relief, and that it had been revoked, and that I was required to repay the $1400 with interest, penalties and fines.

When I explained to the CSA the hardship this was causing me, they told me that they could not care less, that "we are here to get as much money our of you as possible under the law - if you have any complaints, see a politician".

When you are considered that we are always seeing in the media how boys have no role models, how boys are committing suicide at the rate of seven a day, I would have thought any father in my position would have been given every encouragement to be a part of his children's life.

I told the kids what was happening and the youngest (10 years of age) came over the next weekend and told me I was "just a f---ing loser" and my daughter told me I was "just a f---ing arsehole".

I have had nothing to do with my kids since. I do not have a clue where my children live and not once has the CSA ever contacted me and asked if I have contact with them. As a woman from the CSA once said to me: "You are there to f---ing pay, nothing else - so shut up whingeing and pay." Then she hung up.

In this country, if you are a non-custodial father, year are assumed guilty and hounded to death.

I can understand why some men completely lose the plot and commit suicide and take their kids with them.

I would say the only thing that stopped me was the fact I had sunk into the depths of depression and couldn't even get out of bed.

There seems to be nothing that caters for men in this situation.

Doctors seem to be totally lost, and to go to Centacare or Relationships Australia, you are automatically assumed to be in the wrong because you are a male.

I have written this letter to try and let you see what some men go through. I'll never forget my kids, but what am I supposed to do?"

This letter was recently received by The Courier Mail. The author requested his name be withheld.


Spurious reasons for appalling injustice

This issue is not confined to Australia. In England, a new book, The Sex-Change Society by Melanie Phillips, published by the Social Market Foundation, claims that fathers are being routinely denied contact with their children on grounds produced by welfare officers that are so spurious as to be virtually incomprehensible.

Here are some example:

There was the father who, in McDonald's, spread his arms to his daughter and said: "Bet you haven't seen me in a suit before."

A watching welfare officer misinterpreted the gesture and decided the child had refused to return the father's proferred embrace. As a result, the father was denied all contact with his child.

Then there was the father whose overnight contact with his five-year-old was stopped because "the child has so many milestones ahead of him"; another who was denied contact because he "had to prove his commitment;"; another because "this is the mother's first child"; another because he was "over-enthusiastic"; yet another because "the child fell asleep in his car on the way home".

One child of 13 had not seen his father for eight years because he was led to believe that an injunction against his father prevented it.

No one - certainly not his mother - had told him that the injunction would last for a maximum of three months and that for most of that eight years the boy had every right to see his father. And so on and so, appallingly, on.

The UK debate centres on the validity of no-fault divorce. If a mother has gone off with her lover, jeopardising the well-being of her children and demonstrating infidelity to their father, promise-breaking, deceit and selfishness, why should she be automatically regarded as the fitter parent to bring up the children?

The answer is to restore issues of conduct to divorce and the subsequent care of the children.

The spurious argument that "children's needs" must come before any other consideration means that children are being used as hostages to protect adults from facing the consequences of their own behaviour.

Children's needs are in fact best met by having both their parents to look after them; failing that, by living with the more responsible parent. This may even bring the divorce rate down, as has happened in America in states where mothers no longer get automatic custody.

The Spectator

";"In the battle of the sexes, both men and women claim they are the victims. Matthew Fynes-Clinton reports

IN War of the Roses, Hollywood's 1989 black comedy about a bitter marriage (Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner star), divorce lawyer"; "76";"awm";"Gloves Off In Battle Of Sexes";"Brisbane Courier Mail";"2000-11-13";"Christine Middap";;"WOMEN are becoming more violent towards their partners - and have overtaken men as aggressors in relationships.

A study based on an analysis of 34,000 men and women by a British academic has indicated that women are more violent than men.

The report does not play down domestic violence by men, which is more likely to result in injury to women, but says women are more likely to lash out in a domestic confrontation, using tactics such as pushing, slapping or throwing things.

Researcher John Archer, professor of psychology at the University of Central Lancashire, said 40 percent of the victims in the cases he studied were men.

He has been analysing domestic violence studies and victims' reports from the UK and the US since 1972.

"In the past it would not even have been considered that women are violent," Professor Archer said.

"My view is that you must base policy on the whole evidence," he told Britain's Independent on Sunday newspaper.

The newspaper said his views would be endorsed in a paper soon to be published by Dr Malcolm George, a lecturer in neuroscience at London University, who would argue that men had been abused by their wives since Elizabethan times.

"It's a complex argument; but we do get more women aggressing against male partners than men against female partners," Dr George said. "The view is that women are acting in self-defence, but that is not true - 50 percent of those who initiate aggression are women".

Professor Archer said Westernised women were more likely to be violent because their greater economic freedom diminished the fear of ending a relationship.

";"WOMEN are becoming more violent towards their partners - and have overtaken men as aggressors in relationships.

A study based on an analysis of 34,000 men and women by a British academic has indicated that women are more violent than m"; "77";"mnc";"Man Beaters Behind Closed Doors";"News Review";"2000-11-19";"Melanie Phillips";;"Domestic violence by women is rising as the balance of power in the home shifts their way, says Melanie Phillips

Hitting out: women today have greater economic and sexual freedom, and are more inclined to use violence in a relationship.

At a conference on women and the law at Dublin Castle last weekend, Cherie Blair made a stirring appeal for the law to recognise women's rights. Recent research, she said, suggested there was an incident of domestic violence every six seconds in the UK, with 80% of attackers being male and their victims female. Women's rights were thus under assault from men.

The prime minister's wife was referring to research by Professor Betsy Stanko, the director of the Economic and Social Research Council's domestic violence programme, which was unveiled by the Metropolitan police at a conference last month. Blair regurgitated Stanko's statistics as fact.

Without doubt, some women are the victims of serious domestic violence. Yet the evidence strongly suggests that Stanko's research does not stand up to scrutiny. It lends support instead to a propaganda offensive that demonises men and minimises or conceals the fact that women can be equally if not more violent, a distortion that has cost many men their homes and their children.

The Met's "snapshot" research revealed that across the UK, the police received more than 1,300 distress calls a day about domestic violence, with 81% being made by women who said they had been assaulted by men. The Met said this amounted to one victim of domestic violence calling the police every minute.

Stanko glossed this further by saying that if the British Crime Survey was used as a guide, the truer picture was that domestic violence occurred every six to 20 seconds. This is because the survey says domestic violence is under-reported by between three and 10 times. The figures, said Stanko, were a powerful indicator of the inequality of women.

Yet it is hard to see how this conclusion can be justified. Statisticians say the Stanko research makes several elementary howlers. The same incident may have been the subject of more than one phone call; the violence concerned may have been directed at property rather than persons; or the claim made in the call may not have been true. In addition, this "snapshot" almost certainly grossly under-represented violence by women against men, who are notoriously reluctant to acknowledge publicly that a woman has beaten them up.

Much domestic violence re-search is flawed because it relies heavily on biased sampling, asking only women in refuges for their experiences of violence, for example, or treating allegations of violence as proof. The fairest and most reliable research asks both men and women whether they have been both the victims and the perpetrators of violence on their spouses or companions.

A vast body of authoritative international research has been done on this basis. And it reveals a remarkably different picture from the feminist stereotype of patriarchal bullies and female victims.

Professor John Archer is a psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire and president-elect of the International Society for Research on Aggression. He, too, is critical of the Stanko research. "I don't see it as a very reliable way of estimating the proportion of domestic violence in the population," he said.

As Archer has shown in a recent analysis of data from almost 100 American and British studies, wo-men are more likely than men to initiate violence against their spouses or companions and are more likely to be aggressive more frequently. Most violence is tit-for-tat. Nor is it the case that women attack men only in self-defence. Among female college students, for example, 29% admitted initiating assaults on a male companion.

Men, says Archer, actually show restraint and put up with a high level of violence among their wives or lovers. Indeed, he says, women are encouraged to be violent towards men because they can generally be relied upon not to hit the women back. True, when men do retaliate, their greater strength means they are more likely than women to inflict serious injury. Yet even so, Archer found, no fewer than one-third of those with visible injuries from domestic violence were male.

In line with all this research, the British Crime Survey reported in 1996 that an equal proportion of men and women, 4.2%, had said they had been physically assaulted by a current or former spouse or lover in the past year. Only 41% were injured, and although more women than men were hurt, the difference was not that great: 47% of women injured compared with 31% of men.

The 1996 report found male victims of domestic violence were particularly unhappy about the level of support offered by agencies, especially the police. One police officer conceded how even when the police were called to a domestic fight and saw the man bleeding and the woman unscathed, it was the man who was commonly arrested.

One man, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his children, said his former wife set fire to his bedspread while he was asleep and twice attacked him with a kitchen knife, once in the throat. "I didn't go to the police because it was my home and my family and I didn't want anyone else involved," he said. "I couldn't walk out because she was being violent to the children. But in the end I slept in a locked room with a shotgun."

He defended himself aggressively and she accused him of violence. After their divorce, one of her boyfriends told him that she intended to return and kill her former husband. In fact, she killed another boyfriend and is now in jail for his murder.

Another man I spoke to, a former airline worker, married his second wife when she fell pregnant. But he claims that from the start of the marriage, she was violent. "She repeatedly punched me in the face and threw chairs at me, and punched holes in the doors." He never responded with violence, he said, but he would leave the house and return when things calmed down.

One night he left with a bloody face and was stopped by a policeman who advised him to report the attack. But at the police station the desk officer said "these things happen" and took no further action. The husband initiated divorce proceedings, only to find his wife was accusing him of violence. The courts believed her and promptly awarded their house to her.

Of course, such stories may well have another side to them. However, family lawyers say it is common for women to make false allegations of domestic violence in divorce cases. Mark Bowman, a lawyer with London solicitors Alistair Meldrum, said this had got a great deal worse recently after several court rulings and guidance from the lord chancellor laid down that if the courts thought domestic violence had occurred, they may conclude that it was better for a child not to see its father.

"In the last few months, the atmosphere has been poisoned by these rulings," said Bowman. "They mean that fathers now have to fight every allegation of domestic violence otherwise they will lose contact with their children." Yet it's hard to defend themselves as the women don't have to prove their allegations beyond reasonable doubt, only on a balance of probabilities. And the courts tend to believe them.

"Women have an incentive to exaggerate claims of violence," said Bowman, "as they can use them to get the man ousted from the family home." Moreover, he said, the legal aid rules required women who made such allegations to report them to the police as a condition for assistance. So on this basis alone, the police figures are likely to be inflated by these often false claims.

The lord chancellor's guidance on domestic violence is itself a disturbing document. Although it says that the definition of domestic violence must be "gender neutral" and makes passing reference to evidence that most violence against children is perpetrated by mothers, it is almost exclusively concerned with domestic violence by fathers.

Cherie Blair: getting it wrong Indeed, domestic violence seems to have turned into an obsession among family lawyers. A draft "family protocol" from the Law Society advises lawyers to ask clients leading questions such as "Have you been arguing a lot recently?" or "Do you generally have a lot of arguments?" or "Do you and your partner ever lose your temper?" as a way of sniffing out domestic violence. Even more sinister is its advice that "many forms of domestic violence are hidden and not recognised even by the client". So domestic violence, it seems, occurs even when the victim is unaware of it.

It's not just Britain that has fallen victim to the notion that endemic male violence is the symptom of patriarchal power over women. It's convulsing the legal systems in America, Canada, Ireland and much of Europe, too.

Yet Archer stands it on its head. Modern secular values, he says, have combined with the economic and sexual emancipation of women to enable them to end relationships with little cost and small risk of male aggression. The result is the rise in female violence. The balance of power between men and women has shifted. Why are lawyers and politicians so determined to ignore the evidence?

";"Domestic violence by women is rising as the balance of power in the home shifts their way, says Melanie Phillips

Hitting out: women today have greater economic and sexual freedom, and are more inclined to use violence in a relationship.

<"; "78";"scd";"Suicide Victim 'Hounded' Over Child Support";"Canberra Times";"2000-11-15";"Roderick Campbell";;"It was "a tragic indictment of the system" that a Canberra man had committed suicide holding a letter of demand from the Child Support Agency, the ACT Coroners Court was told yesterday.

Barrister Richard Thomas said the receipt of the letter two days before Warren Gilbert's death in August had "tipped him over the edge".

He said Mr Gilbert, 28, had died from carbon monoxide poisoning in a friend's car after being ''hounded" by the CSA.

The CSA had been taking 47 per cent of his gross salary in tax and another 30 per cent for child support.

With a massive 80 per cent of his wages gone, Mr Gilbert had $150 a week to live on.

Mr Gilbert's body was found on August 20 in a car parked at the Namadgi National Park visitor's centre.

Constable Clorinda Iannucci said Mr Gilbert's former partner had told her that Mr Gilbert hated having to pay so much child support for his three children because they could never go anywhere or do anything.

"He couldn't get anywhere in life because they [the CSA] kept taking all his money," she had said.

Constable Iannucci said she had contacted the CSA, but it had refused to provide any information.

She said the mother of two of Mr Gilbert's children had told her she had not been concerned about obtaining child support until social security had told her she would lose her welfare benefits if she did not get Mr Gilbert to pay maintenance.

Mr Thomas, appearing for the former partner, said Mr Gilbert had been "very frustrated" by the situation. He had been unable to realise plans to buy a home and get married. He had mentioned his massive debt - the full extent of which he had only discovered the previous day - to the last person to see him alive.

"We say it was the Child Support Agency letter that was the precipitative event that tipped him over the edge," Mr Thomas told Coroner Warren Nicholl. "It may be appropriate that you make a comment on the situation he was in."

Mr Nicholl did not comment directly on this, but did say that it was clear that Mr Gilbert's problems in meeting his child-support obligations had played a large part in the lead-up to his sad death.

Earlier, Mr Thomas said Mr Gilbert had been trying "to do his best," but was being "hounded" by the CSA.

He could see no other solution to his problems than taking his own life. It was "a tragic indictment on the system, one which Federal Parliament might ultimately seek to address".

Barry Williams, the Canberra-based national president of the Lone Fathers' Association of Australia, was an observer at the inquest.

Outside court, Mr Williams said the association had been trying to convince the Federal Government that child support and family law issues were factors in many suicides.

"But deaf ears are turned to people like us because of the money factors involved," he said.

He said his association supported the CSA and believed parents should pay child support, but this should be based on a flat rate calculated after tax had been deducted.

He challenged the Government to try this approach for two years. If it did not work, he would "shut up".

";"It was "a tragic indictment of the system" that a Canberra man had committed suicide holding a letter of demand from the Child Support Agency, the ACT Coroners Court was told yesterday.

Barrister Richard Thomas said the receipt of the lett";"Yet another valuable life has been cut short. Three more children have lost their father. The relationship of male suicide to child support, and denial of contact to children must be obvious to all politicians, but they refuse to enact changes that may pr" "79";"scd";"Men Behaving Sadly";"The Age";"1999-12-08";"Bettina Arndt";;"Why does nobody care about men killing themselves? There's immense public concern about youth suicide. Australia has spent more than $31million over the past four years to try to reduce our high suicide rates among the young. There's much angst about Aboriginal deaths in custody, and even gay youths are finally being acknowledged as a group at risk. But when it comes to blokes, ordinary adult men killing themselves in ever-increasing numbers, there's no interest.

Our health departments have spent the past few years studiously ignoring the growing evidence that adult men aged 25-44 are most at risk - as confirmed by figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last week. In 1998, men in this age group had the highest suicide rate of all Australians, followed by men aged 15-24. Elderly men, 75 and over, who traditionally have the highest rate, in that year fell into third place.

Males are four times more likely than females to take their own lives.

While there's good reason for concern over the tripling of youth suicide rates over the past 30 years, in the past decade the youth rate has virtually levelled off while suicide rates for males aged 25-44 continue to rise. In 1990 the rate for this latter group was 27 per 100,000. In 1998 it hit 37.

Men's health activists and suicide researchers have long been trying to convince health authorities that blokes are in trouble. A recent Australian Medical Journal article by Dr Chris Cantor from the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University made a strong case that these high-risk men should be targeted by suicide-prevention policies.

But so far there's little sign that anyone is listening. Early this year, the Health Minister, Michael Wooldridge, sought community reaction to a draft national action plan for suicide prevention. All the politically sensitive groups rated a mention - young people, gays, Aborigines - but not a word on programs targeting men, let alone the vulnerable 25-44 group.

Men's health initiatives announced recently by the federal Department of Health and Aged Care fail to include any proposals to deal with this issue. In fact, there is active resistance among health policy bureaucrats to funding any research that identifies suicide as a "male" issue. The standard line is that targeting male suicide is inappropriate because females attempt suicide even more often than males. The fact that men are four times more likely to make a proper job of it is dismissed as irrelevant.

A rare intervention aimed at men is a research project into access to mental health services, announced by the Victorian Department of Health and Community Services in 1997. But this only targets men aged 16 to 24 or over 50.

The one government organisation that has officially responded to the trends in the high-risk group is the federal Attorney-General's Department. It's not surprising. This is the department that actually has most contact with the group of men now most at risk of suicide.

Daryl Williams' department handles family law, which places it in the firing line to deal with distressed, recently separated men - precisely the males who are pushing the suicide rates for their age group to record levels.

There is solid evidence that recently separated men are responsible for the alarming increases in male suicide in the 25-44 age group. Dr Cantor found that separated males are six times more likely to commit suicide than married men, with separated men under 29 being particularly vulnerable - their suicide rate is 150 per 100,000.

Divorced men and women show higher suicide rates than married people, but still less than half the rate of the separated men.

The suicide rate for separated men is almost 18 times higher than for separated women. Since most children end up with their mothers after marriage break-up, it could be that family responsibilities reduce these mothers' suicide risk. But most separations (more than two-thirds) are now instigated by women - so it is men who are most likely to show the distress associated with being left rather than being the leaver.

Add to this the social isolation faced by many separated males, the loss of homes, assets and close contact with children, and it's hardly surprising more men seek a permanent way out.

Self-destructive behavior among separated men was a major theme at the National Forum for Men and Family Relationships sponsored by the Attorney-General's Department in 1988. Other initiatives have followed, such as a telephone service for men in crisis. The Department of Family and Community Services is targeting men involved in relationship breakdown.

Yet our official suicide-prevention strategies have turned a blind eye to the issue - although, thankfully, a spokesman for Michael Wooldridge's office suggests this will soon change.

But, to date, it is clear that men just don't rate in the eyes of the politicians and bureaucrats steering policy. The latest story on whales beaching themselves commands far more public attention than the steady loss of these sad, rejected men.

Bettina Arndt is a staff writer. People needing help can call Crisis Line on 136169 or Lifeline on 131114 or 1300 651 251.

";"Why does nobody care about men killing themselves? There's immense public concern about youth suicide. Australia has spent more than $31million over the past four years to try to reduce our high suicide rates among the young. There's much angst about Abor"; "80";"scd";"Parental Payments Cost 'Three Lives A Day'";"Canberra Times";"2000-11-19";"Megan Doherty";;"As many as three men a day are committing suicide because the nation's child-support system is driving them over the edge, according to the Lone Father's Association Australia.

Association President Barry Williams said the claim was not based any official figures but on anecdotal evidence such as phone calls made to its 22 branches around Australia.

"People will ring to say their son or partner has deliberately driven into a truck or driven off the road because they can't take it any more," he said.

ACT Coroner Warren Nicholl acknowledged this week that a struggle to meet child-support payments had played a large part in the suicide of Canberra man William Gilbert.

Mr William said the Lone Fathers Association supported the Child Support Agency and believed non-custodial parents should pay child support, but believed it should be based on a flat rate calculated after tax had been deducted.

Earlier this month Labor and the Democrats defeated in the Senate the Government's proposed changes to child support which would have seen non custodial parents pay $48 million less a year to custodial parents.

A spokesman for Family and Community Services Minister Larry Anthony said negotiations with Labor and the Democrats were continuing.

Australian Democrats Senator John Woodley said no-one denied injustices were occurring in the child-support system, especially to non-custodial parents, but the solution was not to shift the problem on to custodial parents. He hoped a compromise could be reached. ";"As many as three men a day are committing suicide because the nation's child-support system is driving them over the edge, according to the Lone Father's Association Australia.

Association President Barry Williams said the claim was not ba"; "81";"scd";"Support Payments 'Drove Man To Suicide'";"Canberra Times";"2000-11-19";"Megan Doherty";;"You've Pushed Him To The Grave, Ex-Partner Tells Csa Officer

Queenbeyan woman Kate Gibbs is convinced the pressure of making child support payments while being unable to build a new life of his own is what finally drove her former partner to commit suicide.

Ms Gibbs and Warrant Gilbert always expected to support his three children but not to the extent where he was only working to keep up the payments and simply exist.

The 28-year old Canberra man died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a friend's car in August while clutching a letter of demand from the Child Support Agency which he had received two days earlier.

The Act Coroner's Court was told this week Mr Gilbertt was being forced to live on $150 a week, 47 per cent of his gross salary gone in tax and 30 per cent in child support.

Coroner Warren Nicholl made no recommendation about the CSA but said it was clear that Mr Gilbert's struggle to meet obligations played a large part in the lead-up to his death.

Ms Gibbs claims the CSA even asked Mr Gilbert to sell his car and furniture to maintain the payments without taking into account whether the mothers of his children had entered into new relationships and their circumstances had changed.

Ms Gibbs, 20, said, "You should have to pay for your kids, fair enough, but I mean when they're set up and don't need the money, it shouldn't be taken.

Child Support Agency general manager Catherine Argall said legislation prevented her from discussing in detail individual cases but she did suggest the CSA had not treated Mr Gilbert unfairly.

"When CSA hears of the suicide of one of its clients, it has a profound impact on us and particularly those staff who have spoken with the family." Ms Agall said.

"In circumstances such as this we review our contacts and in this case I can confirm there was no indication that Mr Gilbert was in distress over child support.

"The public records indicate that Mr Gilbert's personal circumstances were complex."

MS Gibbs said other factor may have contributed to Mr Gilbert taking his own life but she believes the child support payments and the fact that the mothers of his children did not want him to see them tipped him over the edge.

Ms Gibbs said Mr Gilbert was working seven days a week but still could not get out of debt or buy his own home.

"He wasn't getting anywhere," she said.

Mr Gilbert had three children from two different relationships.

Ms Gibbs, who was with him for four years, claims she rang Mr Gilbert's CSA case manager the day after she discovered he was dead.

"Pretty much the firs thing that came out of her mouth was , "Did he have a will? Does he have any assets?" and I said, 'You're not taking anything else off him. You've pushed him to the grave," she said.

Ms Gibbs believes the CSA has a punitive attitude to non-custodial parents.

"When we put a claim in to get payments reduced and he put down $10 for entertainment they wouldn't lower it because he spent things on entertainment," she said.

"It's just little things. You can't go anywhere. You just haven't got the money."

";"You've Pushed Him To The Grave, Ex-Partner Tells Csa Officer

Queenbeyan woman Kate Gibbs is convinced the pressure of making child support payments while being unable to build a new life of his own is what finally drove her former partner to commit"; "82";"fem";"Feminist Legal Theory";"The Journal of the Australian Family Association";"1997-09-28";"Babette Francis";;"Replacing "the reasonable person" with the unreasonable feminist.

There are many people of good will who imagine that feminism is a benign movement concerned about equal rights for women and the removal of discriminatory practices. The dictionary definition of "feminism" is "a belief in equal rights for women" and in that sense all of us who believe in democracy could be described as "feminists". The prototype feminists were the suffragettes who argued for women's right to vote and the right to own property. However, contemporary feminism has gone far beyond lobbying for equal rights and is more concerned with how "equality" is to be achieved.Equality is defined not merely as a matter of rights, equal opportunity or equal access, but is measured in terms of equal outcomes, i.e. the outcomes in the lives of adult men and women must be the same.

Hence for contemporary feminists it is not enough that women have as equal a right as men to attend university or to apply for jobs. In the feminist thought system, women must also have access to abortion on demand, because pregnancy may prevent or delay a woman going to university, and a baby may be an impediment to her career. Women must be made as "impregnable" as men.

Furthermore, if despite equal access, there are not as many women as men in certain jobs, or in the top salary categories, this in itself "proves" discrimination, and must be redressed by "affirmative action" i.e. the preferential hiring and promotion of women even if their qualifications are inferior to those of men who have also applied for the same job or promotion.

The third prong of the feminist demand for equal outcomes is "affordable, high quality, 24 hours per day child care". This child care is to be paid for, or heavily subsidised, by tax payers, and the only group of child carers to whom feminists would deny payment are the child's own parents, especially the mothers. I suspect feminists might even agree that fathers who stay home and look after their children be paid a child care allowance or wage, but they would find it unacceptable for mothers. It was Simone de Beauvoir who first said that mother should not be paid to stay home and care for their children or "too many would make that choice". Her view has been echoed by other prominent feminists, which is quite ironical as they pride themselves on being "pro-choice".

One of the major underpinnings of the democratic system we enjoy in Western democracies like Switzerland and Australia is the rule of law. Our legal systems are based on principles such as individual rights, equal treatment for all, and objective standards of proof. I have already mentioned that "affirmative action" violates the principle of individual rights in favour of group rights. There is also now in English-speaking countries, feminist legal theory which seeks to eviscerate the foundations of our legal system, the neutrality of the courts.

The ideology of feminist jurisprudence today goes far beyond dismantling legal barriers which, in the past, may have denied women equal opportunity. Contemporary feminism holds that the prevailing culture is "patriarchal", i.e. a male-dominated social structure, and the feminist agenda is not equal treatment for both sexes but the redistribution of power from the "dominant class" (men) to the "subordinate class" (women).

Patriarchy is seen to be as all-encompassing as the thickest London pea-souper - those fogs London suffered when the houses were heated by coal fires. To fight one's way out of this fog, feminists claim one must discard the concepts of judicial impartiality and traditional notions of rights and justice, because these perpetuate male dominance. These principles must now be replaced by a neo-feminist philosophy and jurisprudence premised on "connections between persons". Law must be used to change the distribution of power; this requires not equal treatment but "an asymmetrical approach that adopts the perspective of the less powerful group with the specific goal of equitable power sharing among diverse groups".

Three main areas which have been impacted by this feminist legal theory are: (i) the increasingly vague and subjective definitions of sexual harassment and rape, (ii) dangerous moves to abandon the presumption of innocence in sexual assault cases, and (iii) in cases of battered wives a loose concept of self-defence that can almost amount to a licence to kill an allegedly abusive spouse.

The cause celebre case of alleged sexual harassment of course was Anita Hill's testimony in the confirmation hearings of Judge Clarence Thomas to the United States Supreme Court. However, nearly a year before in 1991, in Ellison v Brady, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California abandoned the traditional test for offensive conduct ,the "reasonable person" standard and submitted a "reasonable woman" test, dealing a blow to common law construction. That's actually an "unreasonable feminist" test because in its ruling the Ninth Circuit Court drew on feminist legal texts for the proposition that "men tend to view some forms of sexual harassment as 'harmless social interaction to which only overly sensitive women would object'" and stated that "We....prefer to analyse harassment from the victim's perspective (which) requires an analysis of the different perspectives of men and women. Conduct that many men consider unobjectionable may offend many women....A male supervisor might believe for example, that it is legitimate for him to tell a female subordinate that she has a 'great figure' or 'nice legs'. The female subordinate, however may find such comments offensive.....We adopt the perspective of a reasonable woman primarily because we believe that a sex-blind reasonable person standard tends to be male-biased and tends to systematically ignore the experiences of women".

Prior to the development of feminist legal theory, female plaintiffs were able to deal with unwanted sexual overtures in the workplace by using the common-law remedies of tort and contract. However, US feminist lawyer, Catharine MacKinnon, expressly rejects the common law remedy because of what she perceives as "the conceptual inadequacy of traditional legal theories to the social reality of men's sexual treatment of women". A tort remedy would treat sexual harassment as a personal affront rather than systemic persecution of women as a gender. MacKinnon and her feminist cohorts want sexual harassment defined as sex discrimination.

Once the common law approach of tort and contract is abandoned, the problem arises as to how to define sexual harassment. The US feminist National Organisation for Women defines it as:

"Any repeated or unwanted sexual advance, sexually explicit derogatory statements, sexually discriminatory remarks that cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation."

Under this broad category, it is not surprising that feminists claim 85% of women will have been sexually harassed in the work force at some point in their lives. It is comparable to replacing speed limits with a law under which one could be fined for driving through a neighbourhood at any speed which made some of its residents uncomfortable.

There is an on-going case in Australia at the moment where a female employee is claiming sex discrimination because an Air Traffic Controlling body would not appoint her as an Air Traffic Controller. She failed the practical examination in air traffic control work, a pre-requisite required of all applicants for such a position. It was suggested her performance in the practical exams raised the possibility that planes might collide with each other from time to time when she was in control, but she claimed her failure was due to sex discrimination and a "hostile work environment". (The Air Traffic Controlling body does not employ other female air traffic controllers).

You will notice here the the illogicality of the feminist position. On the one hand they claim that there are no differences between the sexes and that any disparity in outcomes is the result of discrimination, and on the other hand they claim that workplace banter is perceived differently by men and women. One wonders how academics in disciplines other than the feminist ghetto of "Women's Studies" tolerate the contradictions in feminist theory. At the same time as feminists claim men and women are the same, they also proclaim that women are different from men because they are better, and if women held the positions of power we would have a more caring and compassionate world. Lionel Tiger and Joseph Shepher point out in "Women in the Kibbutz" that "it is paradoxical to argue that there are no differences between the sexes but that only men are effective in gaining power and retaining it".

However, feminists need to hold both doctrines at the one time: if men and women are different, then the traditional division of sex roles and the traditional family is a natural development. But if men and women are identical, i.e. men as a group are not oppressors, women would lose their claim to disadvantaged victim status, so the paradox is accepted: men and women are identical but all men are oppressors (and usually rapists too) while women are the oppressed.

This brings us back to the legal question - should society and legislation treat men and women as identical or as different? Feminists are not at all fazed by such questions - Alison Jaggar, Chairman of the American Philosophical Association's Committee on the Status of Women, writes in an essay in "Theoretical Perspectives on Sexual Differences", edited by Deborah L. Rhode, published by Yale University, that feminists should insist on "having it both ways", i.e. "Feminists should embrace both horns of this dilemma....They should use the rhetoric of equality in situations where women's interests clearly are being damaged by being treated either differently from or identically with men....Sometimes equality in outcome may be served best by sex-blindness, sometimes by sex-responsiveness".

To those who, still subscribing to rationality, plaintively claim that one cannot have it both ways, that men are either different from or identical to women, but to insist on both is against reason, the feminist retort is that rationality or reason is a male construct anyway, or as Ms, Jagger would say, "it is preferable to live daily with contradictions". Thus in one fell swoop feminism has gotten rid not only of much of our legal system, but of rationality too, one of God's greatest gifts to mankind. Rationality is the basis of Western civilization, science and development. Feminists are not too emanoured of Western civilization anyway, holding that it is little more than a white, male patriarchy, holding women in bondage. They hanker after a mythical Amazonian Eden where women were warriors and presumably men looked after the babies.

Free Speech and Pornography

There is a division of opinion within the feminist movement on the issue of free speech and pornography. In the United States, some feminists were responsible for repealing old laws that made it a misdemeanour to speak "any obscene, profane, indecent, vulgar, suggestive or immoral message" to a woman or girl. They considered that women did not need that kind of protection. Now other feminists argue that pornography is sex discrimination and that it's just as actionable for a man to call a woman "honey" or "baby" as to call her a "bitch". The "unreasonable feminist" standard is than any man's words can be punished if some woman subjectively doesn't like them: the basis is how the woman felt rather than what the man said.

In Australia, a feminist Magistrate, Pat O'Shane, acquitted five protesters caught defacing an advertising billboard which showed a woman being sawed in half by a magician. Using a discretionary provision of state law to release the women without convictions, costs or damages, O'Shane declared that the real offenders were the advertisers. Criticised for gender bias, O'Shane responded "Women have a different worldview than men... We have a duty to bring that to bear on how we discharge our functions".

In Canada a landmark case, Butler v the Queen, the Canadian Supreme Court voted unanimously to redefine Canada's criminal obscenity laws to apply to any material that "subordinates, degrades or dehumanizes". Armed with this decision, Canada's feminists, without even resorting to the courts, have succeeded in banning the Miss Canada Beauty Pageant, and pulling "sexist" beer commercials from television.

Banning beauty pageants and ber commercials is quite a restriction on free speech. Jokes, any joke, can also be dangerous. If a man in an office tells a joke and some woman takes offence, he is in trouble. But if he tries to avoid the trouble by whispering the joke only to his male colleagues, he is also in trouble because he is discriminating against his female colleagues. Either way he has "created a hostile work environment". It would probably be better if he avoided the office altogether and just stayed home minding the babies.

No presumption of innocence

Historically, Anglo American law has treated rape as one of the gravest crimes. However, rape victims were often not well treated by the courts which frequently took the view that rape complainants were less trustworthy than complainants in other crimes. Now the pendulum has swung too far the other way, with the presumption of innocence being undermined.

The constitutional and common law precept that the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt is being eroded by the shifting of the burden of proof of consent to the defendant. This has happened already in the State of Washington in the US. The Washington Supreme Court states that "we believe the removal from the prior rape statute of language expressly referring to nonconsent evidences legislative intent to shift the burden of proof on the issue to the defence". The result of this burden-shifting will be not to jail more violent rapists because lack of consent is easy enough for the state to prove in those cases, but to make it easier to send someone to jail for failing to get an explicit nod of consent from an apparently willing partner before engaging in sex. There is a man in prison in Michigan at the moment, William Hetherington, accused of raping his wife from whom he was separated. He contends that they had consensual sex during a reconciliation attempt.

Radical feminists believe that sexual relationships within marriage are a form of legalized rape or legalized prostitution (take your choice), and Catharine MacKinnon, America's foremost feminist legal scholar, holds that all heterosexual sex should be considered rape unless an affirmative, while sober, explicit verbal consent can be proved. Clearly rape laws based on such a theory presents obvious dangers, to the presumption of innocent unless proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, but a veritable feast for crimina lawyers.

A student at the University of Michigan was threatened with disciplinary action for pointing out on a computer bulletin-board exchange that a charge of date rape could be false. A memo from the Dean informed him that his opinion constituted "discriminatory harassment".

Another anomaly in cases of alleged sexual harassment is that the name of the accused is published but not that of the accuser. A few years ago a Master of a college at a Melbourne university had his career ruined because he was accused of touching the breast of a student at a dance after a dinner function at the college. The case received enormous media attention - newspapers, radio and TV - his name and photo were published everywhere. Although he was eventually found not guilty, he lost his job and has found it impossible to get an equivalent job in academia. He now works part-time in an unrelated field. A mature-age feminist, Helen Garner, who wrote a book about this case described the ideology of those supporting the allegation against the Master as "a certain kind of modern feminism: priggish, disingenuous, unforgiving". (Helen Garner: "The First Stone", Picador, Australia 1995)

Helen Garner relates a conversation she had with another feminist about the case: '"It's terrible to me,' I said, disconcerted, 'to see the effects of this on his life, on his family". 'Oh', (the feminist replied) 'I don't think he deserved what happened to him. He may be innocent - but he's paying for many, many other men who have not been caught. It's the irony of things, that sometimes the innocent or nearly-innocent pay for what the guilty have done'".

This kind of feminist justice reminds one of the story of the mother who took her child to her first day at school and told the teacher: "My child is very sensitive. If she is naughty, just smack the child next to her. That will teach her a lesson". Feminists are extremely sensitive.

They may be priggish as well, but in Australia a group of feminists is lobbying for the age of consent to be lowered to 16 years, and 'restricted consent' to be set at 10 to 16 years. They also want the offence of incest to be abolished. (Beatrice Faust in The Australian, 21 December 1996)

In the Melbourne sexual harassment case, like Anita Hill and Judge Clarence Thomas in the United States, the student asked the alleged sexual harasser for a professional reference some time after the alleged offence occurred, but before she reported the incident to the college authorities. It seems strange for Anita Hill or the Melbourne student, to seek a job reference from a man they believe is harassing them.

In May 1996 Miss G, a woman employed in a Melbourne bank alleged her 26 year-old supervisor, Mr. W. had stalked her at her home and made loud sexual remarks about her at their workplace. The case was originally heard before a woman magistrate who appeared to proceed upon the basis that allegations of this nature, though totally uncorroborated would not be made unless they were true, and made a 'stalking' order against Mr. W. The magistrate refused to believe any of the evidence of seven bank employees who worked in close proximity and who said none of the remarks were made, because, she said, if this conduct was occurring, "they all would have a motive to deny it".

A stalking order usually has very serious consequences in that knowledge of it will ordinarily prevent a man obtaining any other job where there are women employees. Although the bank appeared to have accepted the probability that the allegations were false, the stalking order thereafter prevented Mr. W. obtaining promotion.

In February 1997 the case was reheard before an experienced County Court judge. After a twelve day hearing at which 18 witnesses were called to deny various aspects of Miss G's allegations, the judge found Miss G's allegations were false and malicious, that Mr. W. had never stalked her and that his behaviour at the bank was always professional and appropriate. The stalking order was rescinded and Mr. W's reputation at the bank was fully restored. However, the total cost to Mr. W. of proving his innocence was more than $50,000, money he is never likely to recover from Miss G.

A further development in the United States is the Violence against Women Act (VAWA), which makes "crimes of violence motivated by the victim's gender" a federal civil rights violation. In a civil trial the modicum of proof needed for a showing of liability is lowered significantly, from "beyond a reasonable doubt" (about 90%) to a "balance of probability" (about 51%) and evidentiary rules are relaxed. VAWA will allow only damage suits, not criminal prosecutions, but feminists are likely to argue that since crimes motivated by race are subject to criminal prosecution, it would be discriminatory to treat gender-motivated offences as lesser crimes. This will facilitate two successive prosecutions for the same alleged sexual offence.

Domestic Violence & the Battered Wife Syndrome

While the notion that a man has a right to beat his wife is obviously morally and legally unacceptable, feminist definitions of "domestic violence" go far beyond the ordinary category of physical violence. In a recent government survey funded on domestic violence in Australia, "threatening with a gun" includes "leaving a gun somewhere obvious or knowing that a gun is accessible - toy guns, starter pistols etc. are to be included" (!) Another survey question was "Has your partner ever tried to prevent you from using the telephone or the family car?" It would be difficult in Australia to find couples who never disagreed about the use of the car or the size of the phone bill. It is not surprising that based on such surveys, feminists claim that one in three women are or will be the victims of "domestic violence".

In an American survey, a husband walked out of the room while his wife was taunting him about her adultery. She is counted as a "victim of domestic violence" because he ignored her. (The Age, Melbourne, 22/1/96). Significantly, violence by women against men or violence perpetrated by women against their children is not included in feminist surveys of "domestic violence", even though hospital admission data show that a significant proportion of domestic violence victims are men.

Lenore Walker, a psychologist, legal theorist and Director of the Domestic Violence Institute in the US, is the leading exponent of the battered woman syndrome. In her book, "The Battered Woman", (Harper Collins, New York, 1979) Walker defines a battered woman as "a woman who is repeatedly subjected to any forceful physical or psychological behaviour by a man in order to coerce her to do something he wants her to do without any concern for her rights....". Walker makes it clear that a woman can be "battered" even if there is no physical violence. "I decided that a woman's story was to be accepted if she felt she was being psychologically and/or physically battered by her man".

In the case of one couple Walker profiles, she acknowledges that the wife clearly initiated the physical assault, throwing a glass at her husband's head and hitting him with a chair, but adds that "it is clear from the rest of her story that Paul had been battering her by ignoring her and working late, in order to move up the corporate ladder for the entire five years of their marriage".

To Lenore Walker, members of patriarchy's ruling class are not only not entitled to traditional civil rights, but, in some cases are not entitled to live. For self defence to be a valid defence in homicide cases, the common law principle is that the threat has to be immediate and great enough to warrant killing the offender. With the "battered woman syndrome" defence, a wife can shoot her sleeping husband and be acquitted, even if it is known she has taken out a large insurance policy on his life, and has a lover as well.

Lenore Walker has been an expert witness for the defence in such a case. The defendant, Peggy Sue Saiz, went target shooting the day before the killing, and disco dancing after the killing, yet Walker argued that her behaviour was consistent with "battered woman syndrome": "Battered women become so demoralized and degraded by the fact that they cannot predict or control the violence that they sink into a state of psychological paralysis and become unable to take any action at all to improve or alter the situation short of killing the abuser".

Of course this image of demoralized women, so passive that they are unable to even leave their abusers and seek help at the nearest police station or refuge at a Church shelter, is quite contradictory to the confident, assertive image feminists want women to project - remember the Helen Reddy song, "I am woman, hear me roar" which was the feminists' anthem in the seventies?

If logic is regarded as a patriarchal construct, it is hardly surprising that feminism is so full of contradictions. However, most of us do not want to live in a world predicated on the assumption that most sexual intercourse is rape and the presumption that most men are guilty. Men are not the enemy - men are our fathers, husbands, brothers and sons.

They are also our friends, and far from being involved in a conspiracy to oppress women, men have invented all of the labour-saving devices - washing machines, refrigerators, computers - that have freed us from drudgery and given women, including unfortunately feminists, the time and energy to be involved in such pursuits as jurisprudence and the law.

References:

1. Martha Chamallas, Feminist Constructions of Objectivity: Multiple Perspectives in Sexual and Racial Harassment Litigation: Texas Journal of Women and the Law, 1 - 1992.

2. Cato Institute Policy Analysis: Feminist Jurisprudence: Equal Rights or Neo-Paternalism? June 19, 1996.

3. Banning of the Miss Canada pageant see Anna Lisa Korman, Past Perfect, Chicago Tribune, February 9, 1992 p.4. Also Waiter, my Beer is Sexist, The Gazette, Montreal, July 21, 1991, m o, A1.

4. Dinesh D'Souza, Illiberal Education, Free Press, New York, 1991.

Babette Francis is a regular contributor to The Journal of the Australian Family Association. As MRA considers this excellent article defines the problems with modern day feminism and details the damage caused by extreme feminism to our legal system and our families, we sought the permission of the Australian Family Association to reproduce the article on the net.

";"Replacing "the reasonable person" with the unreasonable feminist.

There are many people of good will who imagine that feminism is a benign movement concerned about equal rights for women and the removal of discriminatory practices. The dict"; "83";"sol";"Stigma Of Single Mum Sign Of A Faulty Society";"The Australian";"1997-12-11";"Kathleen Swinbourne";;"Single mothers should not be targets of social criticism and their children should be supported not patronised.

Australia is creating a new under-class. This is not one that is based on wealth, education or professional standing, but on family structure.

Single mothers are constantly being told that as parents they are not as good as married women, as if by getting a divorce you somehow lose the skill of being a mother. This is a staple of the many conservative commentators who seem to imply that you have not only failed in your relationship, but you also don't care about your kids.

Most people know that this is simply not true. In fact many women become and remain, single mothers because they do care about their kids; because they are concerned about the effects that a bad adult relationship has on their children; because they don't want their kids to grow up thinking that relationships are based on violence, or abuse or hostility. They want their children to know there is another way, and they are prepared to make sacrifices to ensure this. Most women think long and hard about just what they are giving up before making a decision to end a relationship. They consider all the factors, including the effect it will have on their children.

Research conducted in the UK and US shows that behavioural problems experienced by children from divorced families often began before the separation. This suggests that it is not single parenting that is the cause, rather it is bad parenting. Neglect and abuse are far greater influences on whether children experience problems in later life than whether they live with one or two parents.

Evidence also shows that if you tell a child often enough that she or he is going to fail, this is eventually what will happen. It is the power of suggestion: it doesn't even have to be said directly, the way people behave can be just as revealing.

In the compelling documentary Brown Eyes/Blue Eyes, screened recently in Australia, US teacher and researcher Jane Elliot managed to reduce mature adults to tears in a matter of hours after dividing up a group of people on the basis of eye colour and treating those with blue eyes as inferior to the others. These were CEOs of major companies, yet after a mere two hours being told and shown that they were not as good as others, that was exactly how they started to act. If confident adults start behaving this way, how much more powerful is the formative effect it has on young children experiencing it every day, who are unsure of themselves anyway?

When conducting research on single mothers last year as part of my university studies, one of the comments I often came across was that many women felt their children had experienced discrimination at school. It seemed to them that if their child did well, the prevailing attitude was that is was in spite of their circumstances, but if they did badly, it was because of their circumstances. Comments such as "when s/he misbehaves it's the first thing they (the schools authorities) latch on to" were repeated by many women. They also reported a very patronizing attitude if their child had done well, as if it wasn't really expected.

Children are not stupid. They do understand when they are being discriminated against. What they do not understand is why. They do not know that it is other people's own prejudices and fears that underlie their attitudes. All they see is that they are being blamed, and because children are egocentric, they feel it must be their fault. They start to feel worthless. They then blame themselves for everything that happens in their lives, including their parents' separation.

People of course, will deny that they act this way towards children. Some will even say they go out of their way to encourage those from single parent families. Yet this behaviour also lets children know they are different, that they are not expected to perform or behave the same as other kids and must be compensated for somehow. Children want to be treated the same as their friends, they do not want to be singled out and made to feel different, or they do start to feel that something is wrong with them and the way they live.

Statistics show that four out of every 10 marriages will end in divorce. While not all these involve children, about 40 per cent of kids will spend at least some time in a single-parent family. This is a lot of people to be telling they are abnormal and destined to fail, and the numbers are increasing. Single mothers are the fastest growing demographic group in Australia. Rather than isolating them and their children, we should be looking at ways of helping them cope. Society could only benefit by us accepting the diversity of people's lives, rather than marginalising such a large proportion of the population.

Single parenting is tough enough without having outsiders tell you that both you and your children are destined to fail. You can fight it constantly and reassure your kids that they are OK, but it's like water torture. The constant drip will get to you eventually.

Kathleen Swinbourne is a public policy researcher and the Women's Electoral Lobby's spokesperson on family issues. She is also a single parent.

";"Single mothers should not be targets of social criticism and their children should be supported not patronised.

Australia is creating a new under-class. This is not one that is based on wealth, education or professional standing, but o"; "84";"fem";"Women Won't Go Back To '50s";"Sydney Morning Herald";"1997-12-03";"Kathleen Swinbourne";;"Women want men to share the family load, otherwise they can find it easier to be a single parent.

A bad marriage is better than no marriage at all is becoming a catch phrase.

Single mothers feel that they are being made scapegoats for many of society's problems. Everything from rising crime rates to youth suicide and low academic performance has been blamed on them. It wouldn't be surprising to learn that the El Nino effect is the result of a rise in the divorce rate.

Unfortunately, there are some serious flaws in much of the interpretation of recent research data.

A report by the Centre for Independent Studies about the state of the nation made a link between rising crime rates since the 1960s and the increase in numbers of single-parent families. What its authors forgot to mention was that crime rates started rising first. If there was a causal link between them you would expect the crime rate to start rising 10-15 years later, when the kids of single mothers became teenagers, not the other way round.

It's like saying that the increase in numbers of women working in munitions factories in the late 1930s was the cause of World War II. But never let a few facts get in the way of a good story.

One of the most comprehensive studies into single-parent families was conducted by researchers at Macquarie University. It was conducted over a 10 year period on adolescents from both divorced and intact families looking at things such as self-image, depression and anxiety. They found that it was the quality of parenting rather than the family, that had the biggest impact on the child.

This is supported by a more recent study which also found that child neglect, not single parenting, was the biggest factor. Because of all the factors that can be involved in a divorce, it is extremely difficult to measure its impact. However, one thing that does come out strongly in all the research is that a major determining factor for children's well-being is poverty.

And it is true that single mothers are more likely than any other group to live in poverty. Even more likely than single fathers. Many single mothers have themselves stated that their problem is lack of money, and that a lack of child-care assistance means that they cannot always go out to work to earn enough to support the family. Often the only jobs they can get to fit in with family responsibilities are part-time, low-skilled and low-paid.

So why don't they stay with their partners? The reasons relationships break up are many and varied, and can be extremely complex. It's not, however, a decision that is taken lightly. While women are usually the ones to make the final decision to end a relationship, they spend, on average two years thinking about it first. This is not a frivolous action. On the contrary, it would indicate that they put a lot of effort into trying to keep the relationship together. So what is happening?

As a society we expect a lot of parents. Somehow, when people become parents they are supposed to become more responsible,, caring, selfless and patient. They are also supposed to suddenly know everything there is to know about raising kids - without any kind of training. And most of this responsibility falls on women.

Women today not only work outside the home, but they also usually come home to their second job of looking after the family. Studies into housework show women still do more hours a week of housework than do men. When you add child care to the equation this workload increases further. And this is the same whether women are in the paid workforce or not. It is a lot of pressure to put on anybody, and given all the demands placed on them, it is understandable that eventually something has to give. Unfortunately, what often loses out is their adult relationship which, in the economic jargon of the time, is seen as being the most unproductive.

Women today no longer depend on men to be the breadwinners in the family. What they are looking for is a mutually supportive relationship, where both partners take equal responsibility and share equally in the rewards. This doesn't mean dividing the tasks into his or her jobs: it means sharing them. The majority of women either no longer wants to or are not economically able to stay home being full-time mothers. They need the money that a paid job brings, or the intellectual or social stimulation, or they need to continue to work to stay on their career path.

They also need support at home to be able to do it all. When that support is not forthcoming, it is not really surprising that relationships break down. When conducting research into single mothers one of the comments that was repeated time and time again by married women was "I am not a single mother - but I might as well be".

Women are not going to go back into the kitchen full-time. A return to the '50s ideal of the typical nuclear family is not going to happen. It didn't even work them. Women are no longer prepared to accept being treated as second best, and men need to adjust to this new reality.

Their are men out there who are accepting this, and they are discovering the joys of being active fathers, involved in their children's lives rather than being on the sidelines. They are also discovering the freedom of not being typecast into the role of breadwinner, and being able to negotiate more flexible work arrangements with their partners.

I'm not saying that this is an easy thing to do. there are many companies that remain unsupportive of flexible work arrangements. However, until men start pushing for and taking advantage of family-friendly work practices, it's not going to happen in vast numbers. It will still be considered a women's issue. And without that support women will continue to choose a role that in many ways reduces the pressure placed on them - single parenthood.

Kathleen Swinbourne is spokesperson on family issues for the Women's Electoral Lobby.

";"Women want men to share the family load, otherwise they can find it easier to be a single parent.

A bad marriage is better than no marriage at all is becoming a catch phrase.

Single mothers feel that they are being made sca"; "85";"fem";"Scholar Sees Laws On Harassment As Feminists' Weapon";"The Washington Times";"1999-10-01";"Julia Duin";;"Feminism has latched onto sexual-harassment laws as a successful way of bringing men to heel, says a University of Massachusetts professor and sometime feminist in a new book.

In "Heterophobia," Daphne Patai says that sexual-harassment law, once a useful tool to identify outrageous behavior, is now an albatross.

"Sexual harassment seems often to be little more than a label for excoriating men," she writes. "It has become the synecdoche for general male awfulness."

University students are schooled in "the patriarchy" and "compulsory heterosexualism," she says, and schools, such as her own, hire "sexual-harassment consultants" to help them avoid lawsuits. One of her footnotes details how one firm charged her school rates of $1,250 to $1,800 per trainer per day, plus $10,000 for hotel, travel and meals, to offer courses in sexual-harassment prevention and risk management.

Empowered by court rulings and legions of academicians, harassment law has become a tool for implementing the most bizarre feminist world views, she adds, such as the suggestion that heterosexuality is not natural.

"I believe that heterosexuality is natural," she said during a recent lecture in Washington, D.C. to the Independent Women's Forum. "Now that seems like a fairly obvious thing to say, doesn't it? I mean, are you wondering why

I'm bothering to say it? Isn't that what everyone knows? Well, no. It's not what you know in women's studies and within feminism."

Ms. Patai spent 10 years in women's studies, bringing to the fore feminist scholars such as law professor Catharine McKinnon, who equates all sexual intercourse with rape. "That was quite a shock to newly married women in my feminist-theory class," Ms. Patai said.

She was often invited to speak at women's studies programs until 1994, when she co-authored "Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women's Studies."

This internal critique of the feminist movement effectively blacklisted her. This past July 2, she won the dubious honor of being featured in a Chronicle of Higher Education piece about "academic pariah" professors shunned because of their unorthodox views.

"In women's studies, there's very little respect or tolerance for divergence," she says. "There are people who tell me to go to hell or shut up because I am the enemy."

And so Ms. Patai, who is married, dedicates her book "To the men in my life . . . all of them as much sinned against as sinning, who made it impossible for me to abide grotesque caricatures of manhood, even when asserted by feminists."

She adds: "I've met a lot of nice men. There's no way one can agree with the general tenor of the comments made about men in feminist literature -- comments no one could make about blacks or Jews."

Were she to pinpoint the origin of the sexual-harassment "industry," it would be during the Senate confirmation hearings and the vote on Clarence Thomas to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the period of Oct. 1-15, 1991.

Those hearings, which gripped the nation for several days, were the trigger of a movement that she says seeks to drive a wedge between women and men.

That, in turn, has led to heterophobia, which has worked itself out in a hatred of marriage. She remembers one telling incident at a university she visited.

"One day, a member of the group announced she was going to be married," she writes. "There was an absolute dead silence in the room. Obviously as feminists, both lesbian and straight, we were far too sophisticated to shriek and gush happiness, and no one knew what response to make as an alternative.

"So stunned silence for far too long greeted her declaration. She did, incidentally, redeem herself by getting divorced a couple of years later. I have no doubt that if her news had been that she'd fallen in love with a woman and was about to move in with her, the reaction would have been quite different."

This "passionate rejection of men" is the one thing that unites feminists, a group normally splintered by lesser identities: white vs. black, straight vs. lesbian, Western vs. Third World.

Ms. Patai lists Ms. McKinnon, writer Andrea Dworkin and Boston College professor Mary Daly as the most notorious heterophobes because, she writes, "they manifest a pathological aversion to men."

For 25 years, Miss Daly refused to take in male students, a situation the college allowed to transpire until a male student threatened to sue them over it. In response, the college ousted the 70-year-old professor. Thus, "a political movement that holds half the human race in contempt . . . cannot seriously aspire to succeed in the long run," Ms. Patai writes.

What has succeeded are several court decisions that have codified sexual harassment. These include Meritor Savings Bank vs. Vinson, a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court case that established how a working environment may be hostile to women. A 1991 case, Elison vs. Brady, established a "reasonable woman" standard in sexual-harassment cases.

What became at issue was not the man's intent to offend or discriminate, but whatever a "reasonable woman" feels is discriminatory toward her.

"In sexual-harassment law, therefore, the 'authority of experience' has been given a place of honor," Ms. Patai writes. "Such a move should have caused feminists everywhere to rejoice, for a fundamental tool of feminist analysis --the concept of subjective experience -- was thereby elevated to law."

Two Supreme Court cases handed down last year have added to the mix. In Faragher vs. City of Boca Raton, Fla., employers were made liable for sexual misconduct of their employees, even if the employer knew nothing about it.

Then in Burlington Industries vs. Ellerth, the court declared that employers were not liable for on-the-job harassment if the employee had not pursued the right complaint policies.

What these rulings create, Ms. Patai says, is a paranoid atmosphere in the workplace. Employers find themselves prohibiting the most innocent words and deeds and employees, who might have ignored the occasional word or gesture, now feel bound to complain immediately at the slightest hint of harassment.

And the typical university campus is worse, she says, because it offers latter-day versions of the Grand Inquisition, where heretics were tortured for their disagreement with the prevailing mentality.

The result, she says, is not increased freedom for women; it's more the advent of Big Sister ruling over a 20th-century totalitarianism of thought.

"These institutions are trying to change the fabric of our social life," she says. "All this stuff is not treated as fringe ideas, but serious suggestions. I am amazed Americans are voluntarily throwing away precious freedoms in the name of comfort."

";"Feminism has latched onto sexual-harassment laws as a successful way of bringing men to heel, says a University of Massachusetts professor and sometime feminist in a new book.

In "Heterophobia," Daphne Patai says that sexual-harassment law"; "86";"wth";"Books Worth Reading";;"0000-00-00";;;"MAN-SIZED Myths

Published in the Sydney Morning Herald Weekend Review Aug 23, 1997.

Extracted from Men, Mateship and Marriage: Exploring Macho Myths and the way forward by Don Edgar, published by Harper Collins ($17.95)

"When it comes to their relationship with, and commitment to, their wives and children, Australian men are given unfair press, writes Don Edgar in this extract from a new book."


The Myth of Male Power

by Warren Farrell. Published by Random House Australia. Was available from most good bookshops and the ABC at $17.95. Random House advised in 1996 only limited stock were left and it was not planned for a reprint.

"This book is about the greatest myth of our time - the myth that men hold all the power in modern society.

If men are the powerful sex ... Why do we accept men, and men only, being sent in vast numbers to die in war? Why are they the suicide sex? How is it that prostate cancer and breast cancer are both significant killers, but breast cancer receives more attention and funding?"


Who Stole Feminism?

by Christina Hoff Sommers. Published by Simon & Schuster, New York. Available from most good bookshops after searching. We managed to obtain our copy from Dymocks, cost $19.95.

"....a scathing indictment of the feminist establishment. Christina Hoff Sommers exposes erroneous statistics and mean-spirited, male-bashing falsehoods.....Ms Sommers simply lines up her facts and shoots one bull's-eye after another." (The Wall Street Journal)


The Divorce Culture

by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. Published by Knopf, New York.

Random House will be the distributors of this book if it makes it to Australia. Well worth the effort to order the book from Random House USA. http://www.randomhouse.com/

Whitehead argues against "casual" divorce - "that focuses on one person's rights, needs, and desires without regard to the consequences for others, especially children". She points to the contributory factors that have promoted the acceptability of divorce; including the part played by counsellors/psychologists who changed direction from supporting the "benefits for all" premise to working to secure "individual happiness", primarily as a result of the financial benefits that would accrue in their growth industry.


Wedlock & Well-being

Written by Barry Maley on behalf of the Centre for Independent Studies.

This and other interesting publications are available from the Centre by accessing their site at: http://www.cis.org.au

Barry Maley looks at ways of giving marriage greater legal support without creating undue obstacles to divorce. He argues for introducing fault into divorce settlements. Where one party is at fault - for reasons such as violence, habitual intoxication or child neglect - the other party may ask for this to be taken into account in a divorce settlement. This reform would help create clear standards of marital conduct and provide incentives for the standards to be observed.

";"MAN-SIZED Myths

Published in the Sydney Morning Herald Weekend Review Aug 23, 1997.

Extracted from Men, Mateship and Marriage: Exploring Macho Myths and the way forward by Don Edgar, published by Harper Collins ($17.95)

"When it comes"; "87";"shd";"Putting Interests Of The Children First";"The Advertiser (Adelaide)";"2003-07-02";"Alastair Nicholson";;"A lot of misinformation has followed the Prime Minister's decision to hold an inquiry into family law reform, including the concept of rebuttable joint custody. The Liberal member for Sturt, Christopher Pyne, wrote in The Advertiser last Friday, that the Family Court appeared to lean towards awarding sole custody more than most jurisdictions in the rest of the Western world.

He cites no evidence for this proposition, and indeed, there is no credible evidence to support it.

Mr Pyne is also wrong when he asserts that parties in residence and contact disputes carry any onus of proof. They do not. The only test is the best interests of the child.

What is not always understood is that many couples sort out differences over their children between themselves, and never come near the court system. Most of the remainder - about half - achieve resolution with the assistance of court mediators or external counsellors and solicitors.

It is true that these consensual arrangements tend to favour the mother as the residence parent.

This has nothing to do with bias, as such, but reflects the fact that before relationship breakdown mothers, more often than fathers, have been the primary carer for the children and many fathers are content that this situation should continue.

Courts have no bias as such. The Family Court of Australia consists of 51 judges and the Federal Magistrates Service, 19 magistrates. Each is independent of each other and there is no "policy" that guides them, other than the Family Law Act and the decisions of appellate courts.

Nowhere in these appellate decisions is there to be found any policy of gender bias in favour of either sex. Indeed the contrary is the case.

Of the 6 per cent of litigants who participate in defended hearings, only some of them relate to residence issues involving children.

Such cases are totally unrepresentative, generally represent the most difficult of parenting disputes and, I believe, form the basis of the latest campaign.

Unfortunately, the disputes the court is called upon to adjudicate very frequently involve one, or sometimes two parents who, the evidence before the judge suggests, are incapable for reasons of violence, addiction or temperament, of caring for a child.

In such cases, joint parenting, in any shape of form, is out of the question. In a very limited number of cases, contact also is inappropriate.

In many of such cases, parents live considerable distances apart, are hostile to each other, uncooperative and inflexible, have work patterns and living arrangements that do not meet the needs of their children and, before separation, one parent carried out most of the child care.

I consider that any reform of family law should be looking much more broadly than the present inquiry.

I have long advocated a less adversarial system, as practised in a number of European countries, and the Family Court is investigating ways in which this approach may be introduced in order to reduce the conflict and tension of court appearances.

But the court would be failing if it did not seek the truth in cases involving allegations of child abuse and neglect.

In an ideal world, relationships would not collapse and couples would provide a healthy and loving environment for their children. But we do not live in an ideal world and the research is quite clear - feuding parents have a dreadful impact on the psychological and emotional health of children whether within a marriage or not.

Consequently, if marriages fail the onus falls on all of us - parents, government, judiciary and other interested parties - to do whatever we can to ensure the best interests of children are met.

We can start by being honest and asking if this debate is about meeting the very special needs of children or those of bickering adults.

We can admit that in the 21st century where families and individuals are more fluid in the way they live and, tragically, almost one in three marriages ends in divorce, that the needs of children can be left behind.

We can also admit that many couples, who have children, have never married and have had a very short relationship. The phrase "the best interests of the child" might sound like a mantra to some but it is a compelling philosophy which should be the basis of all decisions about our children, whether within the confines of a stable marriage or not.

Alastair Nicholson is Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia.

";"A lot of misinformation has followed the Prime Minister's decision to hold an inquiry into family law reform, including the concept of rebuttable joint custody. The Liberal member for Sturt, Christopher Pyne, wrote in The Advertiser last Friday, that the"; "88";"shd";"Father's Torment";"The Daily Telegraph";"2003-07-07";;;"When Val McEwan sought legal advice on the custody of his four children, the advice was don't bother.

"The lawyer said it could cost $30,000 in legal fees and there was no guarantee," he said.

Rather than embark on an uncertain Family Court legal battle, he agreed to mediation. "I got access every second weekend, half of school holidays, on one rostered day off a month and every second Thursday night," he said.

The agreement was far short of even equal custody, but years later Mr McEwan, 47, believes it was better than fighting in the courts. The father of Geoff, 21, Mark, 15, Sam, 13, and Rachel, 11, believes in automatic shared custody.]

Father have just a 2.5 per cent chance of winning joint custody of children in a family law system critics say is anti-male.

An investigation by The Daily Telegraph has revealed almost one in three children have no contact with their fathers after a relationship breaks down. The findings are alarming.

A FATHER who asks the Family Court for sole custody of his children after a relationship breakdown has only a one in five chance of winning.

These are the statistics that have left Prime Minister John Howard concerned that young boys are growing up without a male role model until well into their teenage lives.

And they have forced him to set up a parliamentary inquiry into the family law system that will consider changes to a father's rights after a relationship ends.

Lone Fathers Association president Barry Williams said the system was so stacked against men that it was fuelling a massive rise in the number of male suicides.

"We get 30,000 calls a day and we are dealing every night with people threatening suicide," he said.

"Men are starting to wake up and say enough's enough.

"Even the Prime Minister has realised that fatherlessness is playing a role in kids growing up with social problems."

Federal politicians say problems with the family law system make up about 30 per cent of approaches from constituents and they are pushing Mr Howard to change the system.

A dad's wages can be garnisheed if he has a child support debt but if his ex-partner won't let him see the children, he faces an expensive court battle to get her to abide by custody rulings.

A high income-earning father can lose almost two-thirds of his wages in tax and child support under a maintenance system that contains few incentives for the mother to enter the workforce and provide for her children.

And the paternal grandparents of children involved in a relationship break-up can find themselves frozen out of access to their grandchildren.

Children's Services Minister Larry Anthony says another key problem with the system is that fathers who see their children at weekends d school holidays do not have the cost of these visits recognised by any reduction in the child support they have to pay.

"The system says if you are looking after your kids 20 per cent of the year you get the same treatment as someone who has no contact," he said.

"Yet fathers who spend time with their children have to provide a room for them, feed them and clothe them."

He wants fathers who see their children between 10 to 20 per cent of the time to pay 3 per cent less child support. And those with 20 to 30 per cent custody would also get a 3 per cent reduction.

It's a plan that would cut the money available to mothers by about $5 a week and was rejected by the Senate two years ago.

Mr Anthony said an even bigger problem was the custody system, which awards custody of the children to mothers in almost 70 per cent of cases.

Mr Anthony wants an overhaul of the court process so custody cases begin with the presumption that care of the children should be shared 50-50 by both parents and the parent who wants a different outcome should have to prove why that should be the case.

The Chief Justice of the Family Court Alastair Nicholson said such a system was not practicable and not in the interests of children. "How do you divide the time of a child if one parent's in Alice Springs and the other one is in Melbourne," he told ABC radio.

"You've got situations where they live on the other side of cities and many children become very unsettled being batted backwards and forwards like a ping pong ball."

The Lone Fathers Association is seeking further changes to the child support formula. It has produced research to the Senate's inquiry into poverty that shows fathers on high incomes - more than $100,000 -can lose up to two-thirds of their income in tax and child support payments.

";"When Val McEwan sought legal advice on the custody of his four children, the advice was don't bother.

"The lawyer said it could cost $30,000 in legal fees and there was no guarantee," he said.

Rather than embark on an uncertain Fam"; "89";"scd";"Family Court Driving Fathers To Suicide";;"2003-07-09";"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

muriel.newman@parliament.govt.nz

Phone: 04 470 6633 / 027 477 4834

Fax: 04 473 3532";"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. <"; "90";"fam";"Dads Cry Out For Help";"The Daily Telegraph";"2003-07-12";"Tory Maguire";;"There are thousands of them: `angry men' pushing for Family Court reform to fathers' rights. TORY MAGUIRE reports

Gary got home from a work trip eight years ago to find his house empty, his wife gone and his five-year-old son gone with her.

"My mum said, `Something horrible has happened, your wife has leftyou'," Gary says.

"My house was stripped and she had taken everything."

It was the start of eight years that have seen the Central Coast father 'bawl his eyes out' every week as he tries to maintain a relationship with a son now going through puberty three hours' drive away.

He has considered killing himself. Four of his friends have already done it in despair of the stone walls they have come up against in the Family Court.

"One gassed himself, the other couple of guys hung themselves because they were refused contact," Gary says. "It is going to save a lot of blokes' lives because there is light at the end of the tunnel."

That light is the dim hope the Federal Government will consider reforming the Family Court, starting with making "rebuttable joint custody" the starting point for the judges and magistrates who decide the fate of a growing number of Australian children.

As The Daily Telegraph reported this week, fathers have just a 2.5 per cent chance of winning joint custody and almost one in three children have no contact with their father after their parents split up.

Since Prime Minister John Howard flagged his interest in exploring reform and ordered a parliamentary inquiry to report back on the matter by the end of the year, desperate fathers have flooded this newspaper with their stories.

Inside Edition spent two days on the phone with some of these fathers and found their problems with the system ranged from a lack of legal representation, to gratuitous use of Apprehended Violence Orders, and the inability of the Family Court to force their ex-wives or partners to abide by its orders. Each and every conversation drains the emotions.

Aaron convinced the court to allow him access to his two children every second weekend and half the school holidays. Every visit the children face a three-hour drive to the pick-up point then a two-hour drive to Aaron's place, so he has agreed to make it every third weekend.

He says he can't fight for more access because child support payments mean he can't afford a lawyer and any spare cash has been used to set himself up again after the break-up. "One solicitor said, `Aaron, just walk away, the system isn't for you, it is against you'."

Aaron swears he has never threatened his ex-wife or his children but a string of AVOs and even an allegation he sexually abused his son have been thrown in the path to a more active part in his children's lives.

The allegation of sex abuse was investigated by the Department of Community Services and the police, who found there was no evidence to support the allegation.

"I would like to see fair actions for fathers, a change in child support law to allow for legal costs, to take into account that fathers have to spend money when they have the kids," Aaron says.

Steve hasn't seen his sons since 1998 when his former wife moved interstate and he didn't know where to find her. He says he lost access rights to his two boys when he accidentally filed a document with the Family Court twice and was held in contempt of the court. A couple of weeks ago he tracked down his ex-wife and is about to start the long, slow process again.

"I have just filed papers to see a judge ex parte to ask him permission to file papers asking to see my children," Steve says.

"I don't have the money to pay for a private solicitor. I always have this fear in the back of my head that I am going to get shafted again because I fill in a document wrong.

"There should be somebody in that courtroom that you can walk up to and say, `I want to get access to my children', and they fill in the paper work for you."

Adrian is bit by bit getting more and more access to his children, against all odds, representing himself in the Family Court effectively.

He has so far won access for Thursday and Friday nights one week then Thursday to Sunday nights the next, but is about to try for sole custody.

"My four-year-old is that attached to me that he just doesn't want to live with his mother," Adrian says.

"Teachers say he doesn't want to do what he is told, but when he is with me he is perfect. He has been threatening to hurt himself and commit suicide to get away from his mother."

Adrian says custody of their children is a privilege that people should be given from the start.

"The way the system should be from the word go, is as soon as a couple separate, whether they are de facto or married, if you can prove they are your biological children you should get half custody," he says.

"If you renege on that, then you should get less. You shouldn't get zero from the start and have to fight, scratch and kick to get some access."

Mark's situation is entirely different. When he and his wife split up in 1995 he was awarded residency of the three children. he eldest went to live with his ex-wife two years ago, 900km away.

Mark says the problem is getting someone to enforce the court orders on his ex-wife.

"When we send the other two children down there she doesn't return them so we have to go to court to get them back."

This can take months and Mark and his new partner have been through it seven times in the past seven years.

"I can go to court and get a contravention of the court orders ...why would I spend a couple of thousand dollars on a piece of paper that says she has broken the court orders," he says.

"If she has got legal aid and the court doesn't punish her in any way it doesn't cost her to break the orders."

Mark says while his situation is different to that of other fathers, he sympathises with them. "If this is what the court has done to them why hasn't it taken the same action against my ex-wife."

One of the few fathers who Inside Edition spoke to who had moved on from the pain of Family Court proceedings was Sydney man John Partridge. He and his wife split up eight years ago when his daughters were six, eight and 10 and he is now writing a book, called Burnt, about men's experiences in the Family Court.

In the process, he has met many fathers fighting a losing battle to have a constructive relationship with their children and says the whole system needs to be reformed.

"There are some very horrible guys in the system, it goes both ways, but what I would like to see is the breakdown of that sexual discrimination. It is only fair that men have equal access to their children, as long as you haven't got a history of a psychiatric disorder, or a history of abuse."

Many of Partridge's subjects have been burned because of their own ignorance of the law and their rights. "They are also having to deal with their own depression caused by the separation," he says.

"They are behind the eight ball before they start because they don't have the confidence or strength. They don't understand the difference between a criminal situation and a civil situation."

The parliamentary inquiry investigating custody issues should broaden its horizons beyond the interest groups and find out from these men what needs to be done.

Wives fear children will be put at risk Fathers are distraught over their inability to be heard in the Family Court, but there are also women who are terrified the Government might bring in rebuttable joint custody.

Mary left her abusive husband a year ago and took her children with her. She says that if the proposed changes to the system were in place back then, she would have had to risk her life and stay with her husband.

The alternative, possibly allowing her children to be alone with their father, would have been an impossible risk.

"I would put myself in danger to protect my children," Mary says.

"And there are lots of people suffering domestic violence."

Deb e-mailed to say some fathers used the Family Court to control their ex-partners.

"Many fathers refuse to pay child support as they believe this money is for the benefit of the mother not the children," she writes.

"Many fathers disappear, quit their jobs and do anything in their power not to have to pay for children who are theirs. This is why we have a Child Support Agency set up with taxpayers' money to try to ensure that fathers take a financial responsibility for their children, otherwise most wouldn't."

Another reader says the debate so far was one-sided.

"There are women out there where the husband is ripping off the taxpayers and the Child Support Agency by claiming they are unemployed when in actual fact they have all their money diverted into their partner's name and are working under shelf companies," she writes.

"Why do I know? Because my ex-husband hasn't seen his two daughters, aged 12 and 14, for more than three years, nor has he called them, not even on Christmas Day and their birthdays."

Another woman, Ipsita, says men need to put in more effort before marriages break down. "I think 90 per cent of men drift away from their kids as soon as they are separated," she writes.

"No man can take the place of a mother. God has made it that way."

";"There are thousands of them: `angry men' pushing for Family Court reform to fathers' rights. TORY MAGUIRE reports

Gary got home from a work trip eight years ago to find his house empty, his wife gone and his five-year-old son gone with her."; "91";"shd";"50 – 50 Vision: A Matter Of Caring For Kids";"Brisbane Courier Mail";"2003-07-12";;;"Behind the politics of child custody and the rights of separated parents for equal access there is another issue, one too important to ignore, writes Margaret Wenham.

It's just after big lunch on Tuesday, June 24, Ben Rassmussen is sitting in his Year One classroom at a small independent school in one of Brisbane’s pleasant western suburbs.

A glance around the room much decorated with the art of tiny hands, confirms that Ben is indistinguishable in appearance and demeanour from some 20 contemporaries.

There's only one thing that wider society might discern as differentiating Ben from the majority of his friends.

Ben's parents are separated.

At the same time as Ben might have reached for a different coloured crayon to add a final flourish to the day's masterpiece, Prime 'Minister John Howard was addressing Parliament on an issue directly affecting the future well-being of all the Bens of Australia.

There was, Howard said, in the Australian community "a level of concern and unhappiness with the operation of matters relating to the custody of children following marriage breakdown and a measure of unhappiness with the operation of the Child Support Agency".

He then announces that the, House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs would inquire into, among other things, "what factors should be taken into account in deciding the respective time each parent should spend with their children post-separation, in particular whether there should be a presumption that children will (sic) spend equal time with each parent and, if so, in what circumstances such a presumption could be rebutted".

The committee, he said, also would look at circumstances in which a court should order a child of separated parents to have contact with other persons, such its grandparents, as well as looking at the existing child support formula to examine its "fairness" for parents. It has been revealed the Inquiry will take submissions to August 8 and report to Parliament by December 31.

In just five minutes of Parliament's time, Howard has stirred a hornet's nest.

On one side is the men's rights lobby headed by the Shared Parenting Council of Australia, an umbrella organisation formed last October to represent myriad member groups like the Men's Rights Agency, OzyDads and the Festival of Light. It has claimed responsibility for getting the issue of "rebuttable joint custody" on the national agenda.

On the other side is a loose coalition of the Family Court, family lawyers and legal academics linked by a common set of views on where the system is heading. They believe there is an apparent trend away from children's best interests being paramount, apparent confusion of what the existing Family Law Act offers separating parents, and a suspicion of a sub-agenda being run so that any review of the child support formula, in the climate of the inquiry, may result in a "user-pays" method of child support.

A statutory provision of "rebuttable joint custody" would mean that if parents separated, there would be an immediate legal presumption that any children of the marriage would live 50 per cent of the time with each parent.

If that were not practical or desirable, then it would be up to one or both of the parents in court to challenge or rebut that.

In the words of SPCA president Matilda Bawden, "Parents (would) have the right to 50 – 50 contact and if a parent wants to contest that, they would have to argue in the Family Court that it’s not in the child’s best interest to have that contact.

The onus of proof will be on (that) parent) and the costs, too …we want rebuttable joint custody as a starting point.

Ask Bawden why and a litany of complaints about the family law system in Australia follows: The Family Court is biased against men; self-serving feminists dominate the family law policy agenda in Australia and the Family Court itself; women habitually "lie and cheat in court".

"For the most part in the Family court, 97 per cent of the time the child will end up without one parent and, in most cases, without men or fathers," Bawden says.

"That the Family Court is absolutely biased against men goes without saying – there is not one non-custodial parents groups represented on (government) advisory bodies like the Family Law Council and the Family Pathways Advisory Group."

As well, she says men seeking contact or residency orders are frequently the victim of false allegations by their former partners seeking to block access.

"But the feminist culture doesn’t want to accept that women lie and cheat."

Notions that distress may be caused to children having to oscillate between two homes, she says, are "bunkum put up by extreme feminist groups".

But, in any event, in cases before the Family Court in which fathers might be seeking orders for joint custody – within an wholly reasonable context of simply wanting to share parenting – Bawden says fathers don’t have a hope.

"If they go for sole custody the odds are better … I always tell (men) to go for sole custody and nail the bitch," she says.

In fact, the 97 per cent statistic is quite accurate, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Its most recent figures show (from the 1997 ABS Family Characteristics Survey) that, post-divorce, 96 per cent of infants to four-years-old live with their mother, But, the survey also shows the rate declines as children grow older with nearly 30 per cent aged between 12 and 17 living with their father.

At an international legal conference in Brisbane three weeks before the inquiry was announced, Family Court Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson said he was unsure what the proponents of rebuttable joint custody wanted and what they understood the present law to be.

"One of the difficulties in this area is the high level of emotion and rhetoric which, unfortunately, is not accompanied by clarity of argument," he said.

"From what I have read and heard over the past few days this recent debate has been fuelled by the old hoary chestnut – the court’s anti-men bias.

"It is interesting to read the newspaper comment and hear the occasional talkback radio session and note how rapidly the discussion turns to gender wars, how content the commentators are to rely on anecdotes, and how rarely the best interests of children feature. Similar considerations apply to the approach of some politicians."

The Chief Justice said a statutory presumption that children should spend equal time with both parents would work to the detriment of many children for whom shared parenting might be inappropriate or impractical.

The Family Law Act was amended in 1996 to replace the term "custody" – which could be construed as denoting charge or management – with ‘residence".

This was to make clear that while a child may reside largely with one parent, the responsibility or custody of that child’s well-being is ideally shared equally between both parents – outside the ambit of mundane day-to-day decision making.

The Act clearly articulates the principles to which it aspires in Section 60B(2), contained in the illustration above. (not detailed here)

Lawyer Zoe Rathus, co-ordinator for the Brisbane Women’s Legal Service, says the principles mean the Act provides a framework which is "already 100 per cent flexible" and can cater to any permutation of residency arrangements ensuring the best interests of children.

But she says, to legislate for a 50 – 50 starting point would be to create an artificial world, given most children’s family life experience was still in the traditional model of the mother being the principal care-giver largely at home, and the father the breadwinner, largely not at home.

Professor John Dewar of Griffith University concurs.

"You would be pitching children into a quite different set of circumstances post-separation to what they were probably familiar with pre-separation and, from the children’s point of view, this would be reckless."

Dewar said recent British research, which has similar family law legislation to Australia, was showing that children needed and wanted flexibility in residency and contact arrangements.

Rathus insists the court is not biased against men, pointing to La Trobe University research in 2000 on the outcomes of fully defended Family Court hearings showing parents being granted residency in equal numbers.

According to Michael Foster, chair of the Family Law section of the Law Council of Australia, the debate should be about workplace practices which work against fathers wanting to take a greater role in nurturing their children.

Foster believes the slowly increasing numbers of fathers gaining residency orders – Family Court statistics show a 4.3 per cent growth between 1994 and 2000 so that nearly 20 per cent of all residency orders, consent and contested orders are made to fathers – reflects social change.

But, he says, this cannot be forced, nor must any prescriptive residency arrangement be foisted on children.

Rathus says in families in which parents co-operate in and share the parenting of their children, they are likely to continue to do so after separation. Only 5 per cent of matters within the court’s ambit go to trial, she says and those dealing with residence or contact are the most difficult, often involving abuse allegations.

Meanwhile, in the Brisbane classroom, Ben, if he had the capacity to understand the debate, would wonder what all the fuss was about.

Sure, his parent Gillian and David have separated, but he still shares equal time with them. He still sees his grandparents every week and both parents take him to his extra-curricular activities.

Gillian and David acknowledge their arrangement might have cause anxiety to Ben initially and there continues to be the occasional logistical difficulty, but Ben’s happiness and well-being remain paramount.

";"Behind the politics of child custody and the rights of separated parents for equal access there is another issue, one too important to ignore, writes Margaret Wenham.

It's just after big lunch on Tuesday, June 24, Ben Rassmussen is sitting"; "92";"shd";"In the Best Interest of the Children...";;"2003-07-01";"Wendy McElroy";;"A new legal term is creating debate across North America: the "rebuttable presumption of joint custody." It means family courts should presume that divorcing parents will equally share the legal and physical custody of children unless there is compelling reason to rule otherwise.

Advocates say children are more likely to emerge from divorce with both a mother and a father in their lives unless, of course, one parent is shown to be unfit. Why is this idea controversial?

PC feminist organizations, like NOW , claim that the rebuttable presumption of joint custody would cripple the current standard, which is "the best interests of the child." They claim the family court system blindly turns children over to abusive fathers. Instead of joint custody, such feminists wish children to remain with "primary caregivers" -- overwhelmingly, the mothers.

The much publicized California NOW Family Court Report 2002 recommends, "Abolish the tendency to assume joint custody is always in the best interests of the child. This is a false presumption with no support in reality...Sole custody [should] default to the primary caregiver at separation."

In short, father's rights advocates want joint custody to be the default position at separation. PC feminists want sole custody for the primary caregiver. Both situations would be rebuttable; that is, they could be revised by a court with cause.

Such feminists assume that the welfare of children conflicts with the parental rights of non-primary caregivers, who are overwhelmingly fathers. Yet both groups claim to be furthering the interests of the child in promoting their preferred form of custody.

Each side of this debate can point to specific cases in which it is clearly in the interests of a child to be in the custody of either the father or the mother, not both. But specific cases do not make for good sweeping laws. If fathers can be said to benefit children in a general manner, then men as a category should not be slighted in custody arrangements simply because some bad fathers exist. The same statement could be made of mothers.

If children need both mothers and fathers, there should be a presumption of joint custody upon separation. When exceptions to the rule arise, when a father or mother is an inappropriate parent -- for example, he or she is physically abusive -- then the custody arrangement would be "rebuttable."

In arguing for the importance of fathers, joint custody advocates point to research such as 100 studies presented and analyzed in The Importance of Father Love: History and Contemporary Evidence," an essay published by the American Psychological Association . The essay concludes that good fathering is as important a factor as good mothering in the "social, emotional, and cognitive development" of children. Father-deprived children were far more prone to drug abuse, crime, depression, and violence.

At least two aspects of child custody would be significantly impacted by a joint arrangement. Monetary: money is far from the most important value parents offer to children but it is an essential one. Joint custody may alleviate a major complaint heard from sole custody mothers: deadbeat dads who do not pay child support reliably.

The Hartford Advocate repeats a theme common to father's rights advocates, "There's an important link between the amount of contact a non-custodial parent has with a child and the willingness of that person to pay child support . In 1991, about 4.4 million non-custodial parents with visitation privileges and/or joint custody owed child support. Of that number, 79 percent paid all or part of it. By comparison, only 56 percent of the 900,000 people with no visitation or joint custody rights paid all or part of what they owed."

Physical: at the risk of stating the obvious, parenting requires regular contact with children. Alienated parents complain vigorously about "move-aways" -- custodial parents who move the children hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles away. (Although relocation may sometimes be necessary for reasons such as medical treatment, it is most often optional.) A study in the June 2003 issue of the Journal of Family Psychology examined the negative impact of moving-away on children. Father's rights advocate Glenn Sacks explains that "among 14 variables [in the study] related to a young adult's overall well-being, move-away status was correlated to significant, negative impact in 11 of them."

Joint custody would place some additional demands on separated parents, a greater demand for co-operation regarding children, for example. If so, this could be a good consequence. Moreover, there might well be less hostility in joint custody arrangements if only because power and responsibility would be legally shared.

Family law varies from state-to-state. In many states, judges will not order joint custody -- especially joint physical custody -- if one parent objects. These are "hostile parent veto states." It should take much more than an objection to strip someone of his or her rights as a parent. It should take real evidence of misconduct presented in court. Because every time you deny a person the right to parent, you are stripping a child of a mother or father. The rebuttable presumption of joint custody is in the best interests of children.

Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. She is the author and editor of many books and articles, including the new book, Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century (Ivan R. Dee/Independent Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in Canada.

";"A new legal term is creating debate across North America: the "rebuttable presumption of joint custody." It means family courts should presume that divorcing parents will equally share the legal and physical custody of children unless there is compelling"; "93";"fam";"'Best Interest' Rule Often Harms Child";"Washington Times";"2003-07-25";"Claire Cooper, Sacremento Bee";;"'Best Interest' Rule Often Harms Child: Custody Advocates Call For Reform

Psychologists and lawyers say basic changes in the family law rules for apportioning child custody are overdue.

Criticism of the "best interests of the child" test has been building since the 1970s. So many specialists now say the rules are bad for families that changes seem only a matter of time.

The American Law Institute, whose model laws often influence state legislation, has thrown its weight behind reform. The 3,000-member organization brings together judges, lawyers and law professors for intensive analysis of laws widely thought to need change.

The "best interests of the child" test may be the worst way of determining what is best for children, says Katherine Bartlett, the Duke law school dean who shepherded the institute's study: The institute recommends substituting an "approximation" test. Custody would reflect the approximate division of parental responsibility before a family splits.

While several states require that past care-taking patterns be considered in awarding custody, only West Virginia has adopted the institute's reforms across the board, Miss Bartlett says.

Alternatives have been proposed.

All else being equal, whoever walks away from a marriage should be the one to give up custody, says Howard University political scientist Stephen Baskerville.

Columbia University social scientist Jon Elster, writing in the University of Chicago law review, suggests custody be awarded by a coin toss because "there usually is no rational basis for preferring one parent over another" He argues that flipping a coin would be preferable to having judges evaluate parents' intrinsic worth, as under the current system. He says it also would give both parents an equal chance and reduce the harm that constant litigation does to children.

Mary Ann Mason, dean of the graduate division at the University of California at Berkeley and author of the 1999 book "The Custody Wars," says a 50-50 plan can work when all family members are committed to it and are flexible enough to drop the arrangement when it stops serving the needs of maturing children to make their own decisions.

The basic problem with a 50-50 rule is it shifts the focus from children's needs to parents' needs, Miss Mason says.

At least one appellate court - in West Virginia - has upheld a judicially imposed 50-50 plan, requiring alternate-week swapping of a 4-year-old boy.

Florida six years ago made "rotating custody" an option for judges to consider

The law in California is that parents can design their own custody plan and stipulate to it in court or they can leave it to the court.

The Family Code gives the judge and the family "the widest discretion to choose a parenting plan in the best interests of the child." Mothers and fathers are equally entitled to custody. A court must consider several factors, including the child's health, safety and welfare, and any history of abuse or addiction.

Robert Galatzer-Levy, author of the forthcoming book "The Scientific Basis of Custody Decisions in Divorce:" says most theories about children's best interests "haven't been tested out in any way" and sometimes turn out to be flat wrong.

He says he hasn't settled on are-placement for the best-interests test, but "something that invites less litigation would be extremely valuable?" He says 50-50 "isn't a bad idea" but might not fit a child's needs if applied too rigidly. "The child's whole life can be spent figuring out how to spend half time with each parent?"

";"'Best Interest' Rule Often Harms Child: Custody Advocates Call For Reform

Psychologists and lawyers say basic changes in the family law rules for apportioning child custody are overdue.

Criticism of the "best interests of the child""; "94";"shd";"Shared Custody? Share The Work First";"Sydney Morning Herald";"2003-07-25";"Sherrill Nixon";;"Pru Goward wants young women to add another box to tick on their checklist for Mr Right.

Single girls contemplating a career and children should make sure the man of their dreams is willing - really willing - to carry his fair share of the domestic load. And that means more than just taking an hour off here and there to care for the kids.

"I often say 'choose your partner wisely'," the Sex Discrimination Commissioner said yesterday.

"You might have to marry or partner with somebody who is more prepared than you are to take a share of that [child care and housework] load.

"That ... is a new issue for women. A lot of young women are still princesses. They still think they are going to marry a millionaire."

Ms Goward weighed into the debate over joint custody launched last month by the Prime Minister, John Howard, saying the 50-50 child care split should start before divorce.

She called on the parliamentary inquiry investigating whether separating parents should get automatic joint custody to explore the issues of shared care within marriages and the need for most men to rearrange their lives if they wanted to be more involved after divorce.

The men's movement presently had an "unattractive face" - men working long hours, not using the family-friendly provisions available to them and demanding joint custody without equally sharing the parenting during the marriage.

It was only when men and women shared parenting evenly that the remaining hurdles to gender equality could be overcome, she said.

"Equality between men and women has hit a brick wall and only the engagement of men in the struggle for work and family balance will move equality closer," Ms Goward told the Women, Management and Employment Relations conference.

"Both men and women should be given the ability and opportunity to work and parent."

This required a new culture which did not penalise men who worked part-time or left early to pick up a sick child from school, she said.

But it would not occur unless Australia's male leaders, including Mr Howard and the Treasurer, Peter Costello, as well as corporate leaders, supported the culture change not only with their words, but also their actions.

As for the stalled debate over paid maternity leave, Ms Goward said one failure of the campaign was its lack of a male champion.

";"Pru Goward wants young women to add another box to tick on their checklist for Mr Right.

Single girls contemplating a career and children should make sure the man of their dreams is willing - really willing - to carry his fair share of the"; "95";"shd";"Equal custody? It's not that easy";"Sydney Morning Herald";"2003-07-22";"Patrick Parkinson";;"Forget the formulas - real help for children is only in the details, writes Patrick Parkinson.

The establishment of a parliamentary inquiry into what the Prime Minister calls "joint custody" has aroused great interest. The committee will examine whether there should be a presumption that children should spend equal time with each parent in the event of family separation.

John Howard is concerned that many boys grow up lacking male role models both at home and in school until their teenage years. He is right to be concerned.

My research indicates that 36 per cent of Australian children did not see their father in the previous year. Both separated men and women agreed on the need for fathers to be more involved: 74 per cent of men wanted more contact, and 41 per cent of mothers wanted the father to have more contact.

Many children and young people also indicate that they would like to have more time with the non-resident parent.

What is wrong then, with having a rebuttable presumption of "joint custody"? First, the idea, which comes from the United States, is badly misunderstood.

Writing in the Herald recently, Bettina Arndt indicated that a presumption of joint custody means that "divorcing parents will share equal care of their children, unless there are strong reasons against it" and that the system "operates widely in the US". Not so.

Some states have a presumption in favour of joint custody but that only means parents share legal responsibility for the child, not necessarily equal time with the child.

Where there is an award of joint physical custody, as occurs in a minority of cases, the children spend significant periods with each parent, but there is no presumption that it will be equal time. It generally means 30 per cent of the time or more.

Only one state, Louisiana, has anything approaching an equal time presumption.

US law is in many respects behind Australia's. Australia got rid of the outdated language of "custody" in 1995. All Australian parents have joint parental responsibility (that is, decision making) by law. It is not just a presumption.

The Family Law Act also makes clear that "children have the right to know and be cared for by both their parents" and a "right of contact, on a regular basis" with them. Australian law already endorses the principle of shared parenting. If dads don't see their children, this is rarely because of a court order.

It is true that equal time arrangements remain unusual. Equal time parenting works very well for some families, but it is not easy. It requires the parents to have adequate housing to provide two homes for the children.

Parents also need to live quite close to each other. As time goes on, repartnering, job demands and other life circumstances may well pull parents in different directions.

Also, it works well only for some children. Young children need a stable environment to ensure secure attachments. This usually means having a primary home and caregiver.

Children also vary in their reaction to equal time arrangements. Some may be enthusiastic while others may find it hard to put down roots if they are shuttling between homes. Children may also not want equal time with each parent. We need to listen carefully to the voices of children.

Parenting arrangements should also be flexible. As children grow older, they make their own demands on time - to see friends, or to play in the sports team each weekend. There is no such thing as one preferred arrangement or rigid formula, nor can there be one formula for all of childhood.

An equal-time presumption also assumes that most parents can equally manage to care for the children. That is not what happens in the majority of intact families. Parents still tend to specialise, with mothers organising work around children, frequently working part-time and close to home, while fathers tend to invest more in the workplace, sometimes commuting significant distances. It can be difficult to alter these patterns after separation, although some do.

A presumption of equal time could mean that a lot of parents who cannot afford to litigate are pressured into arrangements which are not best for the children.

The magic wand solution is tempting, but it is not the answer. There is much the Government can do. We need systems for the speedy resolution of contact disputes and, if necessary, the rigorous enforcement of orders; lawyers should look afresh at the standard "package" of contact and rethink it. Above all, we can invest again in marriage.

Governments of all persuasions have neglected marriage, treating cohabitation as its equivalent. Children need both parents. Looking at how we support marital commitment is a good place to start.

---

Patrick Parkinson is a professor of law at the University of Sydney.

";"Forget the formulas - real help for children is only in the details, writes Patrick Parkinson.

The establishment of a parliamentary inquiry into what the Prime Minister calls "joint custody" has aroused great interest. The committee wi"; "264";"awm";"Sniper Mum goes free";"Herald Sun";"2006-03-04";"Kate Uebergang";;"- The court heard Mrs MacDonald told police: "I decided that Warren didn't deserve to live any more."

http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,18340240%255E661,00.html

04mar06

A MOTHER of five who dressed in camouflage and lay in wait in a sniper's nest before gunning down her abusive husband has been found not guilty of his murder.

Claire MacDonald, 39, of Acheron, wept as a Supreme Court jury found her not guilty of the murder of her husband, Warren John MacDonald, 40, in September 2004 at their country property. Jurors also acquitted Mrs MacDonald of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Mrs McDonald burst into tears as the verdicts were read out, and a female juror also broke down. Outside the court, she said she was looking forward to returning home to her children. "I just want to go home," she said. During the trial, prosecutor Ray Elston argued the former primary school teacher murdered her husband in cold blood. The court heard Mrs MacDonald used a .22 calibre rifle with telescopic sight from her husband's gun collection to shoot him after luring him to a paddock with a story that one of their Land Rovers had broken down. Mrs MacDonald wore camouflage and hid in a "sniper's nest" for 90 minutes before firing six shots at her husband about 48m away. "If I didn't do it now I would be the one who would be dead," she told police after the shooting. The jury rejected Mr Elston's claims the killing was retribution for a sad, unhappy marriage. James Montgomery, for Mrs MacDonald, told the court his client was a devoted mother who had been subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse during their 17-year marriage. The court was told Warren MacDonald treated his wife like a slave and had forced his children to live in constant fear.Mr Montgomery said Mr MacDonald totally dominated his family through fear, and abused his wife physically, psychologically and sexually. On the night of his death, Mr MacDonald had abused his wife and raped her after accusing her of storing a box of potatoes incorrectly in their cellar, he said. The court heard Mrs MacDonald told police: "I decided that Warren didn't deserve to live any more." The family of seven slept in one bedroom. They had earlier lived in an underground cellar on their property near Alexandra, 90km northeast of Melbourne. Mr MacDonald, an engineer, was a military enthusiast who was a harsh disciplinarian, the court heard. He had more than 40 firearms and a collection of Land Rovers.

The MacDonald children, aged nine to two at the time of his death, had to do push-ups as punishment and on holiday were forced to take part in long hikes. Mrs MacDonald told police her husband sexually abused her, forcing her to have sex every second night. He would not let her drink coffee or cut her hair. She had to take off his boots for him and make sure his drinking glass was always full. Mrs MacDonald's friends gave evidence she worked as a brickie's labourer at their home when she was heavily pregnant. A friend told the court Mr MacDonald abused his wife for crying during labour, shaking her by the shoulders and telling her to get on with delivering his child. He had threatened to kill her if she ever left him. Yesterday a jury decided Mrs MacDonald had acted in self-defence, finding she killed her husband believing it was the only way to avoid her own death or serious injury..

";"- The court heard Mrs MacDonald told police: "I decided that Warren didn't deserve to live any more."

http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,18340240%255E661,00.html

04mar06

A MOTHE"; "97";"shd";"Men Told To Change Role";"The Daily Telegraph";"2003-07-25";"Matthew Denholm";;"Fathers must take an equal role in parenting before their marriages end in divorce if changes to child custody laws are going to work, Pru Goward said yesterday.

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner took issue with plans for automatic 50-50 shared child custody laws proposed by the Prime Minister.

Ms Goward said the plan had to be part of a major re-think of male attitudes to work and family roles.

"The [men's] movement wants 50-50 care arrangements post-divorce, without any suggestion that men will have to put in equal parenting time while the marriage is intact ­ or that they will need to re-arrange their lives if they want to be more involved after separation," she said.

Ms Goward said these issues should be considered by the parliamentary inquiry examining the 50-50 custody plan.

"Shared caring has to start before the divorce," she said. "It could drive exactly the change that the women's movement wants if it's done wisely.

"But if it is just seen as parents' rights and children's interests get forgotten, it could be very deleterious."

She warned of a possible new gender war unless men shared more of the burden of child rearing, and more of the career sacrifices needed to raise a family.

"Equality between men and women has hit a brick wall, and only the engagement of men in the struggle for work and family balance will move equality closer," she told the Women, Management and Employment Relations Conference in Sydney.

Ms Goward called for men to start using family-friendly work entitlements, such as unpaid parental leave and more flexible hours. She urged bosses, from CEOs down, to encourage ­ rather than penalise ­ men who did so.

"In reality, we do not live in a society which tolerates or venerates men who do part-time work or leave work early to pick up a sick child," she said.

Ms Goward's remarks are the first significant response by a prominent woman since the proposal for custody law changes were floated.

"Our culture is such that these men are more likely to be seen as uncommitted to their careers to an even greater extent than women who allow their family life to intrude into their working life," she said.

She warned that work and family life were on a "collision course".

Many women had to work to help pay hefty family mortgages in Melbourne and Sydney, while others wanted a career; and female participation in the workforce was needed to sustain current economic growth.

"There is only one discretionary 'choice' area: the number of children we have," she said.

"No wonder the number of only-child families has increased from one in five families in 1981 to one in three families in 2001."

She said national leadership was necessary if men were to be encouraged to share housework and childcare duties and make more career sacrifices to do so.

But she complained the men best placed to play this role ­political leaders in Canberra ­ did not have family-orientated lives.

";"Fathers must take an equal role in parenting before their marriages end in divorce if changes to child custody laws are going to work, Pru Goward said yesterday.

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner took issue with plans for automatic 50-50"; "98";"shd";"Australia Headed For 'Gender War'";"The Courier Mail";"2003-07-25";"Matthew Denholm";;"Australia may be headed for a new gender war unless men take a far greater role in raising their children, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward said yesterday.

Ms Goward said workplace equality had hit a brick wall and that further advancement for women was possible only if men shared the career sacrifices needed to raise families.

And she took aim at Prime Minister John Howard's proposed shared custody plan, warning children would suffer unless men first became more active parents.

"Shared caring has to start before the divorce," Ms Goward said.

"It could drive exactly the change that the women's movement wants if it's done wisely.

"But if it is just seen as parents' rights and children's interests get forgotten, it could be very deleterious."

She said men needed to "put in equal parenting" while marriages were intact and realise they had to rearrange their lives to be more involved with their kids after separation.

She called for men to start using family friendly work entitlements, such as unpaid parental leave and more flexible hours.

And she urged bosses to encourage, rather than penalise, men who did so.

"In reality, we do not live in a society which tolerates or venerates men who do part-time work or leave work early to pick up a sick child," Ms Goward told the Women, Management and Employment Relations Conference in Sydney.

"Our culture is such that these men are more likely to be seen as uncommitted to their careers to an even greater extent than women who allow their family life to intrude into their working life."

She warned work and family life were on a collision course.

Many women had to work to help pay hefty family mortgages in Melbourne and Sydney, while others wanted careers.

And female participation in the workforce was needed to sustain current economic growth.

"There is only one discretionary choice area - the number of children we have," Ms Goward said.

"No wonder the number of only-child families has increased from one in five families in 1981 to one in three families in 2001."

She said national leadership was necessary if men were to be encouraged to share housework and childcare duties and make more career sacrifices to do so.

But she complained the men best placed to play this role - political leaders in Canberra - did not have family-orientated lives themselves.

";"Australia may be headed for a new gender war unless men take a far greater role in raising their children, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward said yesterday.

Ms Goward said workplace equality had hit a brick wall and that further ad"; "99";"fem";"The Problem With Today's Feminism";;"2003-08-03";"Rachel Alexander";;"Feminists: Fighting for women's right to be dependent upon men.

Feminism claims to empower women to become the equals of men. Yet the painful truth is that feminism has gradually metamorphosed into a movement that trains women to gain government imposed advantages over men, while at the same time remaining dependent upon men's money and the government, all under the false rhetoric of "rights" and "empowerment."

Women have made great strides over the last century in areas where they were not historically equal to men; they gained the right to vote, they removed the barriers to traditionally male professions, and they changed the way society looked at them. Women are no longer viewed as primarily "nurturing" or "emotional" creatures, but are judged on their individual qualities. Consequently, this has left the feminist movement with very little left to do for women, other than helping women in less fortunate countries. To remain relevant in the U.S. and other democratic countries, feminists have championed odd issues, issues that are not about women's equality, but are about getting one-up on men.

Abortion is the most obvious example. Feminists like abortion because it allows women to control a decision that involves both a man and a woman, and this power can be used to really hurt a man by aborting his child. Yet aborting children does not help women become equal to men. To the contrary, it devalues women's ability to bring life into the world, gives them a guilty conscience, and allows men to have sex with women and leave them, which is a practice that society should be trying to stop, not encourage. Never mind that girls are aborted more often than boys.

Abortion is the number one "right" that feminists support. Feminist groups like the National Organization of Women treat abortion "rights" as the number one issue facing women. What is interesting about this is that women in general do not agree with the feminists on this issue. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that a majority of both men and women equally oppose abortion except in very limited circumstances. Around 57% of both men and women oppose abortion except in cases where the mother or fetus might be harmed, or there was rape or incest involved. Clearly, this is not an issue women's groups should be championing, considering most women are not in favor of mass legal abortion, and it is no more of an issue for them than it is for men.

When it comes to issues involving the family, feminists promote an agenda that keeps women dependent on men and the government. They are adamant that fathers should pay large amounts of child support when a mother and father split up, and they teach ex-wives that they are entitled to alimony from their ex-husbands, even if the ex-wife was the one responsible for the marriage breaking up. Instead of encouraging women to support themselves, or to obtain better careers like the men so they could perhaps become as successful and educated as the men, feminists train women to become dependent on their ex-boyfriends and husbands, even after they are no longer together. NOW lobbies against shared parenting, instead urging women to obtain sole custody of their children. Where is the "equality" here? Father's rights groups, on the other hand, generally support joint custody. Apparently, it is no longer about equality for feminists, but using the government to obtain more power than men, while remaining dependent on their money.

Feminist created "domestic violence" laws serve as another way to give women an upper hand over men while keeping them dependent on men and the government. Domestic violence laws are not necessary, since there are already well-established laws in place preventing assault and battery. But feminists wanted to give women an advantage in the home over their husbands and boyfriends by teaching them to involve the government in order to win verbal arguments. Domestic violence laws now include "glaring looks" and "financial violence," whatever that means. Somewhere less than twenty percent of all domestic violence calls even involve an allegation of assault. Domestic violence laws give women an edge over men because most men are five to nine times less likely to call the police over a dispute than women are. Police reports and restraining orders play a large role in deciding child custody issues, so the more a woman calls the police, the better chances she has at obtaining custody of any mutual children along with "free" child support.

Affirmative action is another area feminists champion that trains women to be dependent on the government in order to get ahead of men. Instead of encouraging women to work as hard as men, feminists teach women that they should use the government to artificially get ahead of men, which exludes men from positions they were better qualified for. How is this about equality or rights? It is not, it is based on the premise that women are not as capable as men and need extra help from the government in order to get ahead of - not just be equal to - men. It is true that women do not make as much money on average as men do, because women tend to pick careers that pay less. Yet instead of focusing on encouraging women to choose tougher majors and more ambitious careers, feminists urge women to take Women's Studies and other touchy-feely majors that pay less than traditionally male areas.

Feminists efforts in these areas have successfully created a new type of woman - a woman who thinks of herself as a victim, chooses to underachieve, uses the government to give herself artificial advantages over men, and remains economically dependent on me. How feminists can continue claiming that they are about empowerment and supporting women's rights is flabbergasting. Their record today demonstrates that their agenda is doing little to benefit today's modern women. Their current leaders are women like Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton, who do not conjure up images of women who stand for equality with men. Instead, they are women who became powerful because of their husbands' success, and strike most people as angry women who want to punish men. They would not understand what women's equality is really about, because they really do not want to become equal to men, they would rather use the government to give themselves artificial advantages over men, while finding nothing wrong with relying on men for their money.

What is sad about this approach is that it only hurts women. Women who underachieve do not become the Einsteins, Beethovens, or Bill Gates' of the world. Cheating to climb to the top does not instill the values necessary to become successful. If women are handed advantages by the government, and handed money from their ex-husbands, they are not going to develop the drive to work hard for success.

NOW's membership numbers reveal its uselessness to women. NOW claims membership numbers of 280,000. Its equivalent organization on the right, Concerned Women for America, has over 500,000 members. The National Women's Coalition for Life has over 1.5 million members. Apparently, women today see through the feminist message that tells them they are inferior and need to be dependent on men, and are choosing to join women's groups that better reflect their needs. It makes you almost feel sorry for today's feminists, they don't even realize how embarrassing they are to women.

---

Rachel Alexander is an attorney for Go Daddy Software, Inc. in Scottsdale,

Arizona. Go Daddy sells domain names, build-a-website

programs, web site hosting, and more at rock bottom prices

.

Email: Rachel Alexander

Prior Columns of Rachel Alexander

http://www.intellectualconservative.com/page1026.html";"Feminists: Fighting for women's right to be dependent upon men.

Feminism claims to empower women to become the equals of men. Yet the painful truth is that feminism has gradually metamorphosed into a movement that trains women to gain gover"; "100";"inq";"Inquiries, Conferences etc";;"0000-00-00";;"page21a.htm";;; "102";"shd";"'Parallel Parents' A New Concept In Divorce Law";"National Post (Canada)";"2003-07-21";"Janice Tibbetts";;"Judges Change Focus Duties to children split by couples, even if they loathe each other.

Ottawa - Judges in child custody disputes are beginning to embrace a new concept dubbed "parallel parenting" for mothers and fathers who cannot get along after divorce.

Unlike joint custody and co-operative parenting arrangements, judges are imposing the new regime on feuding parents by handing out orders that clearly split up their responsibilities to minimize the need to communicate.

In the current issue of Canadian Lawyer magazine, Toronto family lawyer Nathalie Boutet describes parallel parenting as a "funky new trend."

Judges in Ontario, in particular, appear to be adopting parallel parenting to get a jump on proposed changes to the Divorce Act, which replace the contentious terms "custody" and "access" and focus on parental responsibility instead of winners and losers.

"The new language lends itself to these more creative, boilerplate type of agreements," Julia Cornish, a family law expert in Dartmouth, N.S.

Ms. Cornish praised the parallel parenting concept for recognizing that it might be in the best interest of children to have equal involvement with both their mother and father, even if the parents are hostile toward each other.

"In a high conflict situation you find ways to reduce the parents' opportunities to have conflict. The idea is, you can't expect some parents to have meaningful conversation because they've got the track record that that is not going to happen. Nevertheless they've both been involved parents and it's not appropriate to put one parent as the one who's doing the huge majority of the parenting and the other parent very much sidelined."

Judges, for example, are setting up parenting orders that would have one parent responsible for such things as education and religion, while the other parent would take over recreation and heath care, Ms. Cornish said.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, which is about to consider the worthiness of parallel parenting in the case of Lefebvre vs. Lefebvre, describes the new trend as: "The parents are given equal status, but exercise the rights and responsibilities associated with custody independently from each other."

The concept, which until now has not been tested in appeal courts, has sparked controversy in family law circles.

Some lawyers say that it contradicts an established legal premise that warring parents should not be awarded joint custody.

In Lefebvre vs. Lefebvre, an Ontario judge imposed parallel parenting on the parents of three-year-old Gabrielle, despite a recommendation from a social worker that they were too hostile toward each other to effectively co-parent.

At the time of seperation, Gabrielle's father, Stephane Lefebvre, took over her care, has recommended by the social worker.

But the social worker also noted that Gabrielle "appeared to be equally comfortable with either parent" and "while they have different parenting styles, the child would continue to thrive and be well cared for by either parent."

Ontario Superior Court Justice Heidi Levenson Polowin, in ordering parallel parenting, divided up responsibilities, giving the mother the final say on medical and dental decisions affecting Gabrielle.

Stephane Lefebvre contends the order flies in the face of legal precedent, which emphasizes that shared custody should only be awarded when parents have shown an ability to co-operate.

";"Judges Change Focus Duties to children split by couples, even if they loathe each other.

Ottawa - Judges in child custody disputes are beginning to embrace a new concept dubbed "parallel parenting" for mothers and fathers who cannot get alo"; "103";"sup";"How the Child Support Agency will Cost Taxpayers $40 billion";"Dads On The Air";"2003-08-04";;;"Helping The Government Manage Their Responsibilities:

How the Child Support Agency will cost taxpayers $40 billion over the next decade

With Special Guest Richard Cruickshank, head of PIR Research

The closing date for submissions to the Federal Government inquiry into family law, child support and joint custody is this Friday. The inquiry is ue to complete its report by 31 December. There will be further public hearings on the issues, where the committee is expected to travel the country gathering evidence, but this will most likely be by invitation only.

In other words, this week is your final opportunity to directly contribute to long overdue reforms of family law and child support and the institutions which administer these despised pieces of legislation. For anyone interested in reform of family law and child support, these are historic days.

We take this one last opportunity to urge all our listeners to make a

submission to this inquiry. Details on how to do this are on our website.

There is no use whinging about the parlous state of family law and child

support in this country if you are not prepared to make a submission to the

inquiry. Whether you are an individual or a group, take this opportunity to

let the government know your views and to tell them how the state's handling

of your circumstances have impacted on you, your children and your extended

family. Let them know if a "rebutable presumption of joint custody" would

have helped your children, if you regard child support as unfair, and

whether or not your children are losing out on a relationship with their

grandparents. This is democracy at work.

Unlike numerous previous inquiries, this inquiry could lead quickly and

directly to fundamental changes to family law and child support. It is our

hope that the inquiry will also lead to a drastic from-the-ground-up

overhaul of the institutions presently supporting the far-left agendas of

the institutions administering the current laws. Labor, which created both

the Family Court and the Child Support Agency, has been left on the

sidelines making snide swipes at the inquiry and ignoring the Prime

Minister's calls for bi-partisanship. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests

that Labor's close association with these often reviled institutions and

their perceived anti-father stance costs them many hundreds of thousands of

votes and is a significant factor in keeping the party in opposition at

federal level.

Some of the academics coming out against joint custody are compromised

ideologically and even financially. Not for the first time, we find the

country's academics out of touch with

the community at large. The public clearly backs the initiatives, as

evidenced in part by the staunch support from some of the toughest women in

Australian journalism, by the wall to wall talkback, including from many

women, and by the media's straw polls, which have ranged from the 60s to the

90s in favour. Many younger women, brought up to expect equality in the work

and social spheres, find it difficult to understand why joint custody isn't

already the norm. Older women have seen the devastation the divorce industry

has wrecked in the lives of their own children or badly miss their

grandchildren. Will the Labor Party wake up enough to sniff the political

winds and throw off its reputation for being captive to single mothers lobby

groups? These small but vocal groups no longer represent the views of

mainstream women, if they ever did.

As a result of this inquiry it is possible that the House of Representatives

will be voting on the joint custody proposals in the first sitting next

year. If successful, it will go down as perhaps the single greatest social

and legal reform enacted during the life of the Howard government.

For a party built on the sweat of working class males it has subsequently

betrayed, Labor is caught in an invidious position. Willl they find

themselves blocking progressive and common sense reforms in order to cling

to the Marxist feminist style ideologies that permeate these institutions?

Dads On The Air has hitherto been critical of the Howard government's

failures to reform the divorce industry, but we are 100% supportive of this

inquiry. All of the Howard governments moves in family law over the past

seven years have been counterproductive. The Family Law Pathways advisory

group wasted millions of dollars to achieve little or nothing. Its failure

to include a single fathers group while stacking it with beneficiaries of

the

status quo was nothing short of offensive. It was an attempt by the

bureaucracy to frustrate the gathering push for change. The $30 million

crackdown on payees deemed by the Child Support Agency to be behind in their

payments announced in the last budget was totally socially irresponsible.

They will not be monitoring the impacts of this campaign to determine

whether or not it increases the already high death rate of child support

payers. Indeed, the admission by Larry Anthony to this program that he does

not know how many child support clients die each day was nothing short of

extraordinary. But even more extraordinary, it appears the government has

made no moves to even determine how many fathers are dying.

The Federal Magistrates Service, relying on a body of established precedent

and the same highly suspect family report writers and so-called "experts",

with staff chosen from those already deeply involved with the divorce

industry, has been flawed from the beginning. Some critics report faster and

fairer decisions in some jurisdictions, but it depends entirely on the

registry and the magistrates involved. It has done little to change

the manifest injustices and poor outcomes for clients of Australia's family

law system. The claims by Attorney General Daryl Williams, including to

visiting international family law judges late last year, that Australia had

a world class family law system, are clearly preposterous. The maintenance of the infamous Section 121, the censorship laws which enable practitioners to operate in secrecy, was a mistake. When the legal profession is allowed to operate secretive and unaccountable tribunals dysfunction if not corruption inevitably evolve.

The exemption of the Child Support Agency from the Family Law Act by the Howard government means the CSA is no longer obligated to act in the so-called best interests of children. With the Family Court making property orders giving as much as 90% to the wife, the superannuation laws, where once again fathers groups were not consulted, have been introduced into an already biased system. Critics believe this simply mean that fathers can now lose everything, not just their house, their kids, their incomes, their jobs and their dignity, but as well whatever superannuation they have managed to put aside. This legislation, which gave total discretion to Family Court judges, may only further increase welfare dependency amongst separated parents. The legislation could have provided positive change so that they did not have to trade off against their superannuation, but again it depends on the interpretation of the judges of the court.

The legislation on pre-nuptual agreements was also complex and ineffective. While pre-nups may be a good idea in principle, the awarding once again of broad discretion to judges means they are often not worth the paper they are written on. The introduction of enforcement procedures has also been largely ineffective disaster, with the court still failing to enforce orders or to penalise mothers who do not comply with court orders to allow contact with the fathers.

Need we go on?

With Richard Cruickshank we will be looking at what many regard as the manifest disaster of Australia's child support system.

In the 1980s Bob Hawke declared that "no child will live in poverty". We've all been paying ever since. More than a million children and a million parents are involved in the scheme.

The justification for the CSA was based on very poor research and followed the American fad at the time of introducing them - with elaborate justifications from left-wing academics.

The first child support schemes were created by the Bolshevicks after the Russian revolution as a way of providing for children outside the nuclear family. They were a way to fund the Bolshevicks war on the traditional family, which they saw as the major stumbling block to social reform. Just as the Bolshevicks introduced them as a way of protecting children while dissolving the nuclear family, in the west they were sold to governments as a way of funding sole mother custody and the style of orders normally made by the Family Court. They were introduced as a way of protecting the taxpayer from the cost of the spiraling number of single parent families. Similar child support formulas as operate in Australia persist to this day in the Russian Family Code. But just as in Russia the schemes have backfired. They are believed to have been a major factor in the once massive Russian black economy. In Australia they are now being attributed as a major cause of unemployment and welfare dependency.

Cruickshank, a well regarded researcher and director of Property Investment Research, has done a study on the financial impacts of the child support scheme as part of a community project by his company.

Rather than saving the taxpayer money, Cruickshank estimates that the Child Support Agency has cost the Australian $28 billion dollars since its inception in 1989 - that is $2700 for every taxpayer - when welfare payments and lost tax income is calculated. He estimates that the direct cost of child support welfare payments is in the order of $1.74 billion per year. This cost is spiraling. He estimates it will cost the community a further $40 billion over the next decade.

There is no doubt the schemes promote welfare dependency from both the mother and the father. The unemployment rate for paying fathers, at 39%, is more than six times the national average. Male payers make up 76% of the unemployed nationwide. The unemployment rate amongst recipients is also extremely high. Payers are more than 92% male, a figure that is rising, not falling, putting the lie to the claims that more men are gaining custody of their children. The CSA has refused to release the percentage of female payers who are in default of their payments, believed to be close to 100%.

Cruickshank says the Agency, a $200 million plus bureaucracy with more than 2800 staff, has clearly failed in its objective. The average take per child is now $26; less than the average take in the mid-1980s of $35 per child.

He says on the latest figures available suggest that 41% of child support payers did not lodge a tax return. The percentage of males on welfare or extremely low incomes is 45%.

Cruickshank says for every dollar transferred between parents - $1.4 billion for the financial year 2000/2001 - it costs $2.80. He estimates the indirect cost of child support, including loss of tax revenue if payers were employed, was $3.7 billion for the same year. That is a cost of $350 for every taxpayer for the same year.

Cruickshank describes co-operation from the CSA while conducting his research as "non-existent". He says it took months for the Australian Tax Office to provide the figure on the number of payers not lodging tax returns. Centrelink were also unhelpful. As a result of the lack of co-operation he filed a formal complaint to the Australian National Audit Office.

He says: "The Child Support Scheme was primarily introduced by women's groups and passed through parliament without any broad community support from fathers, or even many thousands of women whom have since partnered these fathers into second families. It is therefore not seen by most men as providing necessary support for children, but more as never ending vindictive action by women against former partners. To add insult to injury the men have no choice as to the level of ever increasing mandatory child support and the continuous scrutiny into their financial affairs provided to the other party, who has no accountability for money or access. The Act provides for no privacy or any rights for payers, including mandatory disclosure of financial affairs, garnishees, seizure from bank accounts, seizure of tax returns, child support debts that endure bankruptcy, even restricted travel rights are just a few of the undemocratic examples of the frequently used by the CSA.

"The review process is primarily utilised by payees. It is mandatory and judgmental, it is free to payees and based on one pubic servant's subjective evaluation of income earning capacity and assumed ownership of assets. The appeal process via the Family Court, already perceived as biased against men, is expensive and beyond the resources of most payers, who can only resort to unemployment as a defensive mechanism. It is common knowledge right across the nation that many thousands of men have been forced to resort to unemployment as their only defense against the excessive demands of the CSA. Yet the CSA adamantly denies the problem exists and at the same time refuses point blank to obtain independent research.

"There is little point wasting vast taxpayer resources trying to create greater incentives for working age Australians when the number one driver of unemployment is the Government's own Child Support Agency. The disincentives to work enshrined in the Child Support Scheme need urgent review."

Also:

For local Sydney listeners please note that the self-help group Dads In Distress is launching into the Sydney metropolitan area this week.Opening the launch will be Secretary for the Department of Family and Community Services Ross Cameron MP, member for Parramatta and an active supporter of fathers and fatherhood. He has been an active supporter of Dads In Distress, Mensline and other initiatives promoting responsible fatherhood and recovery from separation. He has expressed his sympathy for the idea of shared parenting.

Everyone is invited to the DIDS launch on Tuesday 5th August, 2003 at Parramatta Mission, 119 Macquarie St, Parramatta at 7pm.

Speakers include Rev Eric Trasize from the Suicide Safety Network, Ray Lenton, Dids Sydney Coordinator, Verne Tullipan Dids Member, Alan Valja Founding Dids Member and founder Tony Miller.

The Dads In Distress Sydney number 9730 8093.

Their website is: www.dadsindistress.asn.au

";"Helping The Government Manage Their Responsibilities:

How the Child Support Agency will cost taxpayers $40 billion over the next decade

With Special Guest Richard Cruickshank, head of PIR Research

The closing date for submissi"; "104";"sup";"DSS Document - Policy & Legislation";;"0000-00-00";;"dss_p1.pdf";;; "105";"fst";"Dividend For Divorced Men";"The Australian";"2003-07-15";;;"DIVORCE is the best way for a man to improve his financial standing, say researchers.

Separated women, especially mothers, usually end up much worse off after a split.

But a European study shows that men who leave their wives are four times more likely to become richer than those who remain married.

Even fathers fare better because the true cost of bringing up children usually tops what they may have to pay in maintenance contributions.

The financial disparity is mainly due to men being more likely to earn more.

A mother loses the husband's earning power but continue to bear most of the financial burden of bringing up the children.

The findings come from interviews with 76,000 people across 11 European countries by the Institute for Social and Economic Research. The total annual disposable income of adults was measured over a two-year period for the study.

Getting divorced is "the single most effective thing a man can do to improve his financial standing," researcher Cecile Bourreau-Dubois said.

She said the positive effect of divorce on men's wealth was so marked that it outstripped the financial benefits of either partner getting a better paid job.

";"DIVORCE is the best way for a man to improve his financial standing, say researchers.

Separated women, especially mothers, usually end up much worse off after a split.

But a European study shows that men who leave t"; "107";"pas";"Parental Alienation Syndrome";;"0000-00-00";"Deirdre Conway Rand, PhD";"page27f.htm";;"This three-part article reviews the literature on the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) as formulated by Dr. Richard Gardner and seeks to integrate his work with research on high conflict divorce and the work of other professionals in this arena. ";"Forensic Psychologist, Deirdre Conway Rand, PhD — A review of work done by Dr. Richard Gardner and others: THE SPECTRUM OF PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME: This three-part article reviews the literature on the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) as form" "112";"SAR";"PIR Child Support Report";;"0000-00-00";;"page12ae.htm";;; "113";"SAR";"Child Support Scheme - National Financial Disaster says Report";;"0000-00-00";;"page12ad.htm";;; "114";"shd";"Violence risk for kids";"Herald Sun (Melbourne)";"2003-08-12";"LEELA de KRETSER";;"Proposed joint-custody laws would increase the burden on the Family

Court and endanger domestic violence victims, women's groups warned

yesterday.

The Victorian Women's Legal Service and domestic violence groups said

automatic joint custody for divorced parents was fraught with danger.

They gave their warnings in submissions to a parliamentary inquiry,

called by Prime Minister John Howard, into changing the Family Law

Act.

Several men's groups and One Nation senator Len Harris have called on

the Government to make shared custody automatic after divorce.

As the deadline for submissions closed at the weekend, the Herald Sun

was given access to several papers that spoke out against joint

residency.

The Women's Legal Service said there was little evidence joint

residency arrangements were in the best interests of children.

It also warned changes to the law "might well lead to a massive

increase in litigation" as parents opposed to joint residency are

forced to go court.

This would place even more more pressure on the overburdened Legal

Aid system, they said.

"Or worse, it could lead to parents being forced into joint residence

arrangements because they cannot afford to litigate," the submission

said.

"In this regard, the evidence is clear that women are more likely to

experience financial hardship after divorce than men so this will

have a disproportionate effect on women."

Currently, the overwhelming majority of parents agree on the care of

their children without going to court. In fact, only 5 per cent of

custody agreements are made after a contested hearing.

The most common arrangement for parents who agree on residency is for

mothers to have custody of their children and for fathers to have

contact, the submission said.

Joint residence occurs in fewer than 5 per cent of separated

families.

The proposal to change the law has also come under fire from several

domestic violence groups.

The Victorian Women's Refuges Association and Domestic Violence

Services said it had "grave concerns about the implications for women

and children experiencing domestic violence" if joint residency went

ahead.

The peak body submitted that many women who had experienced domestic

violence would not have the emotional, financial and legal resources

to contest shared parenting.

The association was also concerned about women and children's safety

at change-overs, where there was hostility.

The Domestic Violence and Incest Centre similarly argued joint

residency would put women and children in danger.

"For some families, shared parenting can be a successful arrangement

that is usually negotiated privately," it said.

"We recognise, however, some families are unable to arrive at shared

arrangements without legal assistance. In these cases, which are

characterised by high conflict and/or violence, we are concerned

about the presumption of joint custody."

All three groups were also concerned the overloaded court system

would mean children could have to live in violence for a year while

mothers waited for their cases to be heard.

The inquiry will report by December 31.

";"Proposed joint-custody laws would increase the burden on the Family

Court and endanger domestic violence victims, women's groups warned

yesterday.

The Victorian Women's Legal Service and domestic violence groups said";"More scaremongering about joint residency and anti-fatherhood statements from Leela - she that just loves to support extreme women's groups and their antipathy towards men!" "115";"fem";"Male-Bashing and a Foreboding of the Future";"http://www.ifeminists.net/introduction/editorials/2003/0812roberts.html";"2003-08-12";"Carey Roberts";;"Male-Bashing and a Foreboding of the Future

August 12, 2003

by Carey Roberts

http://www.ifeminists.net/introduction/editorials/2003/0812roberts.html

When persons call for the decimation of half the world's population, that grabs my attention. This is what I'm talking about:

"The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race." -- Sally Miller Gearhart, in The Future--If There Is One--Is Female

"If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males." -- Mary Daly, former Professor at Boston College, 2001

These proposals are disturbing in their own right. What is even more troubling is that no feminist has ever repudiated them.

When feminists call for global "decontamination" by phasing-out men, I can't help but think of the lies and accusations leveled against the Jews in Nazi Germany, and the similarities to contemporary gender feminism:

Biological superiority: The National Socialists preached the genetic superiority of the Aryan race. Now, a feminist-oriented World Health Organization website claims that women enjoy an "inherent biological advantage."

Sub-human: In the 1930s, the Jews were called vermin and "Judensau" (Jew-pig). Thirty years later, feminists referred to men as "male chauvinist pigs."

Conspiracy theory: The Jews were often accused of "working together" to pollute German culture. Now, feminists refer to the so-called conspiracy against women as "the patriarchy."

Excessive influence: Seventy years ago, Jews were accused of controlling the German economy. Now, men are accused of "having all the power."

Threat to the greater welfare: The Jews were blacklisted as toxic to German culture. In the present era, Gloria Steinem writes, "The most dangerous situation for a woman is....a husband or lover in the isolation of their own home."

Faulty science: Just as Hitler's propagandists once dismissed Albert Einstein's discoveries as "Jewish physics," feminist scholars now ridicule male scientific breakthroughs as the product of "linear" and "hierarchical" thinking.

Spread of a dread disease: In Nazi Germany, Jews were falsely accused of spreading of untreatable syphilis. Now, UNICEF director Carol Belamy unfairly blames men for the spread of AIDS in Africa.

Sexual contact: Hitler was obsessed with keeping Jewish men from "defiling" the racial purity of Aryan women. Now, according to Catherine McKinnon, "In a patriarchal society all heterosexual intercourse is rape."

But the most fascinating parallel between Germany in the 1930s and the current era lies in the conscious use of deception to sway public opinion.

In her brilliant exposé, Who Stole Feminism?, Christina Hoff Sommers documents the many fabrications of gender feminism. Indeed, the entire ideological foundation of feminism rests on what columnist Wendy McElroy calls the "Great Lie" -- the wrong-headed notion that women are the eternal victims of male-dominated culture.

The feminist Great Lie echoes the infamous passage from Mein Kampf that says, "The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed....The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one."

The effect of the Nazi accusations was to convince the German public and the world at large that Jews were not part of humanity, and thus not deserving of fundamental human rights.

Once the dehumanization and demoralization of the Jews was complete, the stage was set for the horrors that were to commence in 1939.

So what does the future hold for the male species?

";"Male-Bashing and a Foreboding of the Future

August 12, 2003

by Carey Roberts

http://www.ifeminists.net/introduction/editorials/2003/0812roberts.html

When persons call for the decimation of half the world's po"; "116";"XFE";"Why have Men at all";"http://fathersforlife.org";"2003-04-29";"Walter H. Schneider";;"Why have any men at all?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you think that feminism is benign and has the welfare of all of humanity and equal rights for all at heart, consider what would happen if a man, an academician at any university, would dare to state this:

Why have any women at all? Every culture must begin to affirm the male future. Species responsibility must be returned to men in every culture. The proportion of women must be reduced to and maintained at approximately ten percent of the human race.

Do you think that man would not be hauled in front of a human rights tribunal, that he would be able to keep on teaching, that he would remain in his job, that he would retain tenure at his university?

Of course not! However, with the sexes reversed, that is exactly what Sally Miller Gearhart stated in an article she wrote. She obviously didn't express a sentiment that was entirely her own. As you can see in the transcript from an interview shown below, the sentiment is shared, amongst others, by Prof. Mary Daly, a prominent feminist who after much trying to refuse to oblige, resigned in protest — so they say — from her teaching position because her university board (Boston College) demanded that she open her women's studies classes to male students.

\"`Why have any men at all?' wrote Sally Miller Gearhart in a 1982 manifesto titled `The Future–If There Is One–Is Female.' Gearhart is an advocate of ovular merging, a process that involves the mating of two eggs, which has been successfully accomplished with mice. Only female offspring are produced. I've always worried that one day women would figure out how to get along without us and they would be able to reproduce unilaterally, like sponges. It's not genocide, exactly. It's more like job attrition, the way employers cut back positions without actually firing anyone. `A 75 per cent female to 25 percent male ratio could be achieved in one generation if one half of a population reproduced heterosexually and one half by ovular merging.' according to Gearhart. `Such a prospect is attractive to women who feel that if they bear sons, no amount of love and care and non-sexist training will save those sons from culture where male violence is institutionalized.'" Footnote60

Footnote 60: Lawrence Wright, "Women & Men," Utne Reader (January/February 1993), p. 55.

[http://www.xenos.org/ministries/c&c/menwomn.htm]

Radical feminist Sally Miller Gearhart has a theory that the only way to save the world is to reduce the number of men to ten percent of the total population and at that moment, I have to admit I was beginning to wonder if maybe she might be on to something.

[http://www.wie.org/j16/editorial.html]

Mary Daly

No Man's Land

Excerpts from an Interview by Susan Bridle

[http://www.wie.org/j16/daly2.html]

WIE: Which brings us to another question I wanted to ask you. Sally Miller Gearhart, in her article "The Future—If There Is One—Is Female" writes: "At least three further requirements supplement the strategies of environmentalists if we were to create and preserve a less violent world.

1) Every culture must begin to affirm the female future.

2) Species responsibility must be returned to women in every culture.

3) The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately ten percent of the human race."

What do you think about this statement?

MD: I think it’s not a bad idea at all. If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males. People are afraid to say that kind of stuff anymore.

WIE: Yes. I find myself now thinking that’s a bit shocking.

MD: Well, it’s shocking that it would be shocking.

WIE: So it doesn’t sound like your vision of a separate nation for women is something you see as an interim stage that would eventually lead to men and women living together in true equality.

MD: No. That’s a very old question. I answered that to audiences twenty-five, thirty years ago. I just don’t think that way. See, right now, I would be totally joyous to have a great community of women—whether men are somewhere out on the periphery or not. I don’t have this goal of: "Oh, then we can all get together again!" That doesn’t seem to be a very promising future. So why would I think about it? I think it’s pretty evident that men are not central to my thought. [Note]

[http://www.wie.org/j16/daly2.html]

It seems that John Wyndham got it quite right when he described a society that is exactly like that, a society comprised of harpies like Mary Daly.

Check: Consider Her Ways

Authority Is Not a Luxury:

"Courageous Dialogue" in the Feminist Classroom

Kimberly Gunter

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"Sally Miller Gearhart (1979) even states that "any intent to persuade is an act of violence" (p. 195)"

Mind you, it is not the act of persuading that is so bad but the intent to do so. That is the criminalization of thoughts, no less. Not even George Orwell could have dreamed of it all. My, my, what progress 30 years of feminization have brought us.

The opinions for the marginalization and eradication of men, if not merely the nature of men, that are expressed in the various quotation shown on this page are not isolated at all. They are part of a deliberate agenda.

...It is time that government had a strategy on changing men away from power and oppression as part of its strategy for women and gender justice. ...

...one further likely and paradoxical implication of the naming of men is that the deconstruction of men may be opened up more fully. Changing future agendas for women involves changing men; changing men involves deconstructing men and reducing men’s power; and, in the longer term still, this may even involve the abolition of ’men’ as such a ubiquitously important social category. Is it time at last for men to change, and both to develop and be subject to new agendas?

Those two quotes are from the excerpt shown below, from the EuroPRO-Fem european menprofeminist network. Pro-feminist men are disproportionately homosexual activists or homosexualist men (men who promote homosexualism although they may not even be homosexual) who for a variety of reasons hate their own maleness and that of other men.

It cannot be stressed enough that these people believe that the attributes of men and women are not biological consequences but social constructs, and that what has been constructed can be deconstructed. Of course the most thorough method of deconstruction is total eradication: the abolition of men. The write-up calls for men to develop and be subject to new agendas. Is there any doubt that one of these agendas is not merely to change men but to eliminate at least 80 percent of them?

Why not? Mary Daly says: "I think it’s not a bad idea at all. If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth." And that is why there are men and homsexualist men who sidle up to feminists. They know that all this rhetoric of men having the power in society is nothing more than a polemic. They know it's not true. They know that women (or more correctly, radical feminists) have the power. They want no more and nothing less than to be amongst the 20 percent of men who'll survive and thereby get a chance to vie for a place in the sun that shines in the feminist paradise.

A CRISIS IN MASCULINITY

OR NEW AGENDAS FOR MEN?

[Excerpt]

CONCLUSION: POLITICS AND PRACTICE

Men’s societal dominance continues; yet at the same time certain groups of men are facing considerable change from previous social patterns and arrangements - at home, work and elsewhere. Despite the extent of the changes and challenges outlined, it is premature to talk of a widespread ‘crisis of masculinity’. Individual men and certain groups of men may be facing, even confronting, change, like it or not, and they may indeed be changing, but this has to be put in the context of the stubborn stability of men’s structural power. For some relatively less powerful groups of men, the combination of lack of educational success, reduction in traditional jobs, avoidance of ‘women’s’ work, and their own more damaging actions (to both themselves and others) may indeed constitute a material crisis for them and others around them. But this generally may not (yet) match closely with an ideological crisis in how men are assumed to be. The contradictions between the material and the ideological state of men and masculinities may be growing but are not yet at crisis point for most men, and certainly not for men in general.

All of the issues that I have discussed here are important for what it means to be a ‘man’ in this society. They have, however, all often remain neglected in what is generally defined as ‘politics’. Transforming what is understood by politics is part of transforming men. All of these issues are also both profoundly structural and intensely personal. Each can also prompt great depths of negativity - feelings of hopelessness, terribleness, desperation - as well as being arenas of possible positive change and hope. Each is a way of unifying men as a class, with different interests to women and dividing men from each other - old from young, heterosexual from gay, healthy from unwell, and so on. Each is a way of oppressing women, children and young people, and a way of relating to other men. And each represents an avenue for men opposing oppression, supporting feminist initiatives, and changing men.

Policies and practices are needed that address these issues in all policy arenas; they need to name men and the persistence of men’s powers, without stereotyping men. In doing this, there are dangers that an increased focus on men may divert attention from women and women’s agendas by arguing that men should have even more resources for solving these problems. So vigilance is necessary in this respect.

However, it is useful to bear in mind that a critical focus on men is not in men’s general interest, just as it is not in the interests of other dominant groups to focus critically on them. This will involve debate, clear policy statements, publications and other materials, education and teaching, professional interventions, pro-feminist ’menswork’ and ’boyswork’, and research. It is time that government had a strategy on changing men away from power and oppression as part of its strategy for women and gender justice. In particular a distinction needs to be drawn between support between and for men that encourages domination and support between and for men that diminishes domination. The latter kind on initiatives are necessary not only in the state but throughout all areas of social life society, in business, community, media, religion, sport and other public and indeed private forums.

Finally, one further likely and paradoxical implication of the naming of men is that the deconstruction of men may be opened up more fully. Changing future agendas for women involves changing men; changing men involves deconstructing men and reducing men’s power; and, in the longer term still, this may even involve the abolition of ’men’ as such a ubiquitously important social category. Is it time at last for men to change, and both to develop and be subject to new agendas?

Over my dead body. I want my sons and grandsons to be alive and manly.

__________________________

For additional topics relating to the the social changes brought about by radical feminism check the Table of Contents for Feminism and Related Issues.

__________________

Posted 2000 10 14

Updates:

2001 05 01 (added comments on the subjugation of men)

2002 12 22 (format changes)

2003 04 29 (changed link to information on Mary Daly)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Walter H. Schneider

Box 62, Bruderheim, Alberta, Canada T0B 0S0

Tel: (780) 796-2306

e-mail: sheep_@telusplanet.net

Website: http://fathersforlife.org or http://fatherless.net

Children need Both Parents -- Once a Parent, a Parent for Life

";"Why have any men at all?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you think that feminism is benign and has the welfare of all of humanity and equal rights for all at heart, consider"; "117";"JOI";"Federal Inquiry - Public Hearings Joint Custody & CSA";"http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/fca/childcustody/hearings.htm";"2003-08-27";;;"Federal Government Inquiry into Joint custody 50/50 rebuttable presumption and Child support legisalation

Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs

Committee activities (inquiries and reports)

Schedule of public hearings

Date and Time and Media Release Location

Thursday 28 August 2003, 8:30am - 11:30am Centenary Hall, City of Greater Geelong

Cnr Princess Highway and Cox Road, Norlane, Geelong, VIC

Thursday 28 August 2003, 2:00pm - 5:00pm Hungarian Community Centre

760 Boronia Road, Wantirna, VIC (Knox Melbourne)

Friday 29 August 2003, 10:00am - 1:00pm Conference Centre, Doherty's Launceston International Hotel

29 Cameron Street, Launceston, TAS

Monday 1 September 2003, 9:00am-12:00nn WIN Entertainment Centre, The Captains Room

Cnr Crown and Harbour Street, Wollongong, NSW

Monday 1 September 2003, 3:00pm - 6:00pm Blacktown Civic Centre, Nirimba Room

5th Floor, 62 Flushcombe Road, Blacktown, NSW

Early notification of SE Queensland hearing to be held at the Robina Community Centre

between 9 am to 12 noon on Thursday 4th September 2003.

";"Federal Government Inquiry into Joint custody 50/50 rebuttable presumption and Child support legisalation

Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs

Committee activities (inquiries and reports)

Schedule of pub"; "118";"JOI";"Federal Inquiry - Public Hearings Joint Custody & CSA";"http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/fca/childcustody/hearings.htm";"2003-08-27";;;"Federal Government Inquiry into Joint custody 50/50 rebuttable presumption and Child support legislation

Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs

Committee activities (inquiries and reports)

Schedule of public hearings

Date and Time and Media Release Location

Thursday 28 August 2003, 8:30am - 11:30am Centenary Hall, City of Greater Geelong

Cnr Princess Highway and Cox Road, Norlane, Geelong, VIC

Thursday 28 August 2003, 2:00pm - 5:00pm Hungarian Community Centre

760 Boronia Road, Wantirna, VIC (Knox Melbourne)

Friday 29 August 2003, 10:00am - 1:00pm Conference Centre, Doherty's Launceston International Hotel

29 Cameron Street, Launceston, TAS

Monday 1 September 2003, 9:00am-12:00nn WIN Entertainment Centre, The Captains Room

Cnr Crown and Harbour Street, Wollongong, NSW

Monday 1 September 2003, 3:00pm - 6:00pm Blacktown Civic Centre, Nirimba Room

5th Floor, 62 Flushcombe Road, Blacktown, NSW

Early notification of SE Queensland hearing to be held at the Robina Community Centre

between 9 am to 12 noon on Thursday 4th September 2003.

";"Federal Government Inquiry into Joint custody 50/50 rebuttable presumption and Child support legislation

Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs

Committee activities (inquiries and reports)

Schedule of public heari"; "119";"shd";"After divorce, kids need both parents";"The Age (Melbourne)";"2003-08-29";"Bettina Arndt";;"The Age (Melbourne)

29 August 2003

After divorce, kids need both parents

By Bettina Arndt

Children are distressed by divorce. Contact with both parents should

start immediately after separation, writes Bettina Arndt.

Constant exposure to the antics of the small group of seriously

warring parents who end up in the Family Court has meant that judges,

lawyers and mediators often show considerable resistance to more

enlightened views of post-divorce parenting.

Take the issue of contact with very young children affected by

divorce. Research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies shows

that only 38 per cent of children up to two years old living with

single mothers stay overnight with their fathers, compared to 60 per

cent of children aged 3 to 4.

The assumption made by the court and often replicated in advice given

by lawyers, counsellors and mediators is that such young children

have only one "psychological" parent, and that overnight contact with

the father can provide anxiety by separating the child from the

psychological parent. But this assumption is now being challenged.

The notion of an exclusive attachment to the primary parent is based

on an outdated view of parent-child relationships, says University of

Western Sydney law professor Tom Altobelli, quoting recent research

showing infants can form multiple attachments that contribute to

their sense of security.

The researchers quoted by Altobelli conclude that infants and

toddlers should have multiple contacts each week with both parents to

minimise separation anxiety and maintain continuity in the child's

attachments.

Children become stressed by separations from either parent that last

more than three or four days, say the researchers, and blanket

restrictions on overnight contact for these young children

are "unnecessarily restrictive", given the importance of evening and

overnight periods as opportunities for social interaction and

nurturing.

Although there is some disagreement about the appropriate frequency

of overnight contact for these infants, the researchers agree that

even the youngest children can tolerate separation of a few days from

the primary caregiver when parents are communicating well.

The great irony is that as family law experts quibble over how much

contact fathers should be allowed to have with their young children,

these children will not be cared for exclusively by their mothers.

These days, many such infants and toddlers will spend long periods

cared for by unfamiliar child-care workers, and will often be farmed

out to relatives, friends or mum's boyfriend, even for overnight

stays.

Unrationed care is permitted by one and all - with rigid controls

only on the child's actual father.

But the chances of shifting attitudes in the Family Court on such

matters seem slim. A better strategy is to encourage couples to

rethink their own approach to post-divorce parenting.

Parents should be encouraged to start a different conversation -

without ever going near the court - a conversation that might

sometimes lead to shared custody or at least children maintaining

close relationships with not only their fathers but other key people

such as grandparents.

Instead of writing laws trying to change the way the court handles

these issues, it may be better to introduce statutory orders, as has

been done in some American states, requiring that separating parents

ensure that contact occurs from the start of separation, with the

prescribed amount varying with the age of the child.

Such "early intervention strategies" should also include mandatory

mediation on parenting issues for all separating parents. To get in

early, this could be set up through Centrelink and the Child Support

Agency, the two organisations in contact with most parents very soon

after separation.

Financial inducements could be given to ensure participation, similar

to the participation requirements that are now part of our social

welfare system.

At present, when families break up, dad often disappears from the

scene and it is often months or even years before contact with the

children is resumed. The result is distressed children, particularly

young children, miss out on the comfort of attachments vital to their

sense of security at this difficult time.

We have to find a better way.

---

Bettina Arndt is a staff columnist.

";"The Age (Melbourne)

29 August 2003

After divorce, kids need both parents

By Bettina Arndt

Children are distressed by divorce. Contact with both parents should

start immediately after separation, writes B"; "120";"shd";"Marriage on MARS";"Civitas";"2003-08-29";"Nadia Martin";;"Executive Summary

In 1998, the government published the Green Paper, ‘Supporting Families: A

consultation document’, that set out the benefits of marriage, as a component of a

strong civil society, and laid out a strategy to promote and support this institution in

Britain. One of the main provisions to the plan was to establish a Marriage and

Relationship Support (MARS) grant to be allocated to appropriate charity

organisations by the Lord Chancellor’s Department (LCD). Inspection of the

recipient organisations has led to questioning of the validity of the MARS grant

programme, as particular groups appear less appropriate than others to receive these

funds.

In trying to ascertain why certain groups are able to pursue non-marital

agendas as recipients of the MARS grant while other, legitimately pro-marriage

groups fail to secure MARS funding, one must consider the structure of the MARS

programme. Firstly, the LCD’s policy is not only pro-marriage, but also, perhaps

more importantly, pro-‘relationships’. Secondly, the two types of funding, core and

project or research and development (R&D), require separate consideration. While

core funding is to be reserved for groups that promote marriage and lasting

relationships, with regard to R&D funding, the specifics of the funded project

outweigh the overall aims of the organisation considered for the MARS grant.

Moreover, as a government initiative, the MARS grant programme cannot appear that

discriminatory; thus, the LCD supports programmes and institutions to touch different

people, of all walks of life, at all stages in their relationships. The further ramification

of a politically-correct government is an inherent fear to promote any lifestyle at all;

in order to ensure that certain members of society do not feel disadvantage or less

accepted, in this case as a result of marital status (their own or their parents), the

government hesitates to push for marriage at all. Yet the evidence is in the

government’s hands: marriage provides the most stable environment for raising

children and, thereafter, a strong civil society.

Thus, the government finds itself supporting and promoting marriage on the

one hand and chipping away at the institution of marriage on the other. Thereafter, it

follows that the organisations funded by the MARS grant are as inconsistent in their

stance on marriage as is the government. Of the 2002-03 MARS recipients, the

groups that promote marriage include: Tavistock Marital Studies Institute, Marriage

Care, London Marriage Guidance, Jewish Marriage Council, Church of England,

Time for Families/Community Family Trusts, Salvation Army, Family Welfare

Association, Talking Matters Association, Muslim Women’s Helpline, Care for the

Family and Cog-wheel Trust. The organisations that support marriage among other

objectives and receive core MARS funding are: Relate, 2as1.net, One Plus One, and

Parentline Plus. MARS recipients with a weaker case for funding, mainly for

undisclosed R&D projects, include: The Minister Centre, Totnes Family Partnership,

University of Exeter (School of Psychology), CFP Guildford1, Brook in Birmingham,

Richmond Centre, Basic for Life and Sussex (One Stop Shop). The groups which

have agendas outside the objectives of the MARS grant programme and nonetheless

receive core funding are Aquila Care Trust, the Lesbian and Gay Foundation and

Project for Advocacy, Counselling and Education.

As the government has decided to implement a policy on marriage and

relationship support, the LCD must re-evaluate its methodology for funding; the

criteria for receiving MARS funding appear solid on paper, yet too many groups with

alternative agendas are getting MARS grant money to the disadvantage of other, more

appropriately pro-marriage organisations and initiatives.

Full report available at:

http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/MarriageonMARS.pdf

";"Executive Summary

In 1998, the government published the Green Paper, ‘Supporting Families: A

consultation document’, that set out the benefits of marriage, as a component of a

strong civil society, and laid out a strategy to pro";"One might also question why much of the Australian funding, ostensibly provided to assist men in their relationships was given to groups whose major focus was the prevention of violence, based on their belief that only men are the perpetrators. No f" "121";"sol";"Losing at Singles";"The American Spectator";"2003-08-28";"Dariel A. Colella";;"http://www.spectator.org/

http://spectator.org/article.asp?art_id=2003_8_27_23_43_33

28 August 2003

Losing at Singles

By Dariel A. Colella

Those who scoff at government efforts to promote marriage do not understand

the life of a single parent. The glamour girls in Hollywood may believe

single motherhood is a dream, but for the everyday working mother it means

hard work and sacrifice. What could possibly be wrong with community

programs that reinforce the bonds of matrimony? Or programs that prepare

young men and women for the realities of marriage? With the divorce rate at

nearly fifty percent, matrimony clearly needs some assistance. Broken homes

bring hardship to the entire family, but children suffer the most and there

is no government program that will ease that pain.

The news about children growing up in a single-parent household is not

good. Children suffer numerous consequences of divorce, and studies have

shown that they are more likely to fall prey to emotional problems, drugs,

premature sexual experiences, and failing grades in school. But what do we

expect when mothers are forced to leave children home alone to care for

themselves? Even if daycare is provided, young children miss out on

after-school sports and other activities because there is no one to shuttle

them to and fro. Mothers must deal with these troubles while most probably

working full-time and trying to be both mommy and daddy, which is, by the

way, an impossible feat.

While marriage may be the goal, no one is advocating that bad marriages

continue at any cost, and promoting marriage certainly does not mean that

women should suffer in abusive relationships. In a policy brief, Maggie

Gallagher, affiliate scholar at the Institute for American Values, reports

that a study from the University of Denver showed that preparation for

marriage programs may help reduce the risk of domestic violence and the

likelihood of divorce.

But according to Kathy Rodgers, president of the National Organization for

Women Legal Defense and Education Fund (NOW-LDEF), "The Bush administration

is promoting an ideology of marriage and family life that's about image,

not reality. It's a way of avoiding, not embracing, government's

responsibility to really help families." The responsibilities of working

and raising a family alone are enormous, and it should come as no surprise

that marriage eases the burden. That is not an ideology, it's a fact.

Feminists, however, do not like to acknowledge that a woman might still

need a man, but they cannot hide the truth that children still need their

fathers.

The NOW-LDEF write in their position papers that "Federal marriage

promotion diverts welfare funds from basic economic supports, lacks public

support, coercively intrudes on fundamentally private decisions, wastes

public funds on ineffective policies and inappropriately limits state

flexibility." But if it is right and appropriate for the federal government

to spend money on abortions for teenagers, why isn't it reasonable to spend

federal dollars on helping couples prepare for and cope with marriage?

Both are private issues.

In a CNN report on single mothers, Stephanie Coontz of Evergreen State

College says that the number of unwed mothers is an "international,

long-term historical process that involves the increasing independence of

women." Yes, now an independent young woman can go have an abortion (in

most places without parental consent), she can go on to college where

condoms are passed out like candy, she can land a job that requires so many

hours per week that she has no time to even think about having a family,

she can then choose to have a baby without a husband, and she lives happily

ever after. Is anyone still buying that?

Daniel Lichter, co-author of a study on marriage and unwed mothers and

professor of sociology at Ohio State University, claims that other programs

are of more importance: "The findings of this study suggest that government

marriage promotion cannot substitute for other policies to help the

disadvantaged, such as minimum wage legislation, affirmative action, and

education and training programs." Who is promoting an ideology now?

While these programs may help relieve some of the stress and assist a

single mother in training and education, there is no substitute for having

a father in the home. Dr. Lichter suggests that we must solve the problem

of unwed childbearing first, but it seems to me that the two go

hand-in-hand. Promoting marriage may very well reduce the number of women

who have children out of wedlock.

We are in real trouble if the best we can hope for is to continue throwing

money at existing programs that are obviously not working. Once upon a

time, women depended on men to be partners in marriage and the head of the

family. Now women are head of the family, but they are dependent on the

government. Are we better off now?

---

Dariel A. Colella is a writer in Wilton, Connecticut.

";"http://www.spectator.org/

http://spectator.org/article.asp?art_id=2003_8_27_23_43_33

28 August 2003

Losing at Singles

By Dariel A. Colella

Those who scoff at government efforts to "; "122";"sup";"MAFIA - Mothers Against Fathers in Arrears";"Website";"2003-08-26";"MAFIA - AND RESPONSE FROM Bruce Eden";;"Two items follow: An anti-father page from the MAFIA website and a response

to that page from Bruce Eden.

MAFIA = Mothers Against Fathers In Arrears

================================

MAFIA WEBSITE

BILL OF NO RIGHTS FOR NON-CUSTODIAL PARENTS

================================

http://www.mafia-usa.com/nobill2.htm

The liberal policy makers are beginning to show sympathy to non-custodial

parents - without bothering to find out the whole story. The best

statement that custodial parents can make against the public agencies

becoming father friendly is through the adoption of the Bill of No Rights

For Non-Custodial Parents.

Bill Of No Rights

For Non Custodial Parents

We, the sensible and responsible people of the United States, in an attempt

to ensure that all children receive every possible opportunity available to

them, and to promote positive behavior as examples for all children, hereby

establish some common sense guidelines for non-custodial parents and

liberal policy makers within the government who appear to be confused by

the belief that non-custodial parents are entitled to certain rights and

privileges, and that excuses should be made for irresponsible people who,

in virtually every aspect of their lives refuse to accept any

responsibility for any of their actions. We hold these truths to be

self-evident: That the rights of children are more important than the

rights of irresponsible non-custodial parents and that non-custodial

parents and liberal policy makers require a common sense "Bill of No Rights."

ARTICLE I: You do not have the right to start a new family if you are

unable to financially afford the family that you already have. If you did

start a new family, and now argue that paying child support will hurt your

current family, then you need to start making sacrifices for both of your

families. Get another job. Reduce your standard of living. Stop being

selfish and thinking only of yourself.

ARTICLE II: You do not have a right to an easy life. None of us has it

easy - and responsible people are willing to do whatever is necessary to

ensure that their children have everything that they need - even if it

means working two jobs.

ARTICLE III: You do not have a right to expect the American taxpayer to

provide your children with free health care or to provide you with

educational programs or job training. That would be nice - but the rest of

us have made sacrifices to obtain insurance for our families and to learn

the skills that are needed to survive in today's world and there is

absolutely no reason why you shouldn't make those sacrifices too.

ARTICLE IV: You do not have a right to a reduction in your child support

obligation just because you exercise your visitation rights. The emotional

well being of your children and your ability to develop a relationship with

your children should be your highest priority in life and is worth any

financial sacrifices that you will have to make.

ARTICLE V: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American

means that you have the right to pursue happiness as long as your pursuit

of happiness is not detrimental to others. Your children should not suffer

emotionally or financially because of your pursuit of your own individual

happiness. If they do, then you should be entitled to absolutely no

happiness in your life at all.

ARTICLE VI: You do not have the right to blame your inability to get a job

or to pay child support upon your environment; the failure of your own

father to be involved in your life; your race or religion; your lack of

education or anything else that you may dream up. You are the master of

your own destiny and if you can't motivate yourself to learn the lessons to

be successful in life, then you have no right to complain when the judge

sentences you to jail for contempt of court.

ARTICLE VII: You do not have the right to withhold the payment of any

portion of your child support when you have other bills that need paying.

Your children are more important than any other financial obligation that

you may have. The only financial right that you have is the right to

reduce your standard of living so that all of the needs of your children

can be met. You also have the right to get a second job so that you can

meet all of the obligations that you have created for yourself.

ARTICLE VIII: You do not have the right to demand visitation rights if you

do not exercise those rights responsibly and fully. If you have not seen

or talked to your children for a number of years, and then demand to see

them now that you are having to pay child support, the rights of the

children to feel secure with you take precedence over any visitation rights

you may believe that you have. If you have repeatedly failed to visit the

children after promising them that you would, you have no right to insist

that when and if you do show up that you be allowed to exercise the

visitation rights that are contained in the court order.

ARTICLE IX: You do not have the right to complain about the amount of

child support that you are required to pay. When you complain, you are

putting a dollar value on the lives and well being of your children and

demonstrates to everyone that you are self-centered and shallow and do not

have the best interests of your children as your top priority in life.

ARTICLE X: You do not have the right to demand that the custodial parent

provide a financial accounting to you for the child support that you are

either paying, have paid or are required to pay. No matter what amount you

are paying or are required to pay, you are getting an exceptional value for

your expenditures. The amount of support that you are paying does not come

anywhere near the costs of raising a child. The custodial parent is making

far greater financial sacrifices - and devoting his or her entire life to

the children and doing the best that he or she knows how to.

ARTICLE XI: You do not have the right to have the child support

obligation reduced because you buy school clothes for your children or have

the children for a few weeks during the summer or over holidays. The costs

of maintaining a home for the children continues whether they are there or not.

ARTICLE XII: You do not have the right to relinquish your parental rights

just because you do not want to pay child support. If you do not have a

relationship with your children, it is solely and 100% your fault. If you

claim that you don't have that relationship because the custodial parent

denied you visitation you are living in a fantasy world.

ARTICLE XIII: You do not have the right to complain about the manner in

which the custodial parent is raising the children. If you do not like

what is being done with the children, you do have the right to get involved

and help the custodial parent by spending more time with your children. If

you do not exercise that singular right, then you are entitled to no other

rights at all.

ARTICLE XIV: You do not have the right to expect some other man or woman

that is involved in the lives of your children to provide full financial

support for them. That man or woman is not there to replace you, the

biological parent and that person will never be able to take your place in

the lives of your children unless you, by virtue of your own actions, allow

that to happen. If you allow the "step-parent" to replace you in the lives

of your children, then the "step-parent" has every right in the world to

insist that you act responsible for once in your life and insist - and

demand - that you contribute financially to the well being of your children.

ARTICLE XV: You do not have the right to expect - or to ask - the courts

to grant you leniency when you have failed to pay the child support that

has been ordered. You acted irresponsibly, and as compensation to the

custodial parent who had to make sacrifice after sacrifice while you were

not paying child support, you now should be required to make sacrifices as

well. Life is not a one way street. You should be held fully and

completely accountable for your actions and are entitled to no

considerations or concessions. You are not a victim of the judicial system

- or what it may do to you as a result of your irresponsible actions. You

put yourself in that position. At that point, you are no different than

any other criminal who has demonstrated that he or she is unable to live by

the rules of society.

Copyright © 1998 Child Support Intervention. All rights reserved.

----------

Next Stop: More About MAFIA

Order A Copy Of The Bill Of No Rights

This Site Is Unfriendly To Deadbeat Parents

Copyright © 1998 Mothers Against Fathers In Arrears. All Rights Reserved.

Funding For MAFIA is provided in part by Child Support Intervention

Web Development and Design Donated by Ireland2000, Inc.

Web Questions and Comments? Contact Doc

This page was last updated on Monday, 05 March 2001

================================

A RESPONSE from Bruce Eden, Director, Fathers Rights Association of New Jersey and

Mid-Atlantic Region

================================

Subject: Bill Of No Rights For Non-Custodial Parents (re: MAFIA)

Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2003 09:01:00 -0400

Form Confirmation

Thank you for submitting the following information:

Name: Bruce Eden, Director, Fathers Rights Association of New Jersey and

Mid-Atlantic Region

Email:

Subject: Bill of No Rights for non-custodial parents

Visitor_Status: A non-custodial parent

Support_Obligation: Child Support is no owed

Current_Support_Obligation: No longer owed

Arrearage: No arrearage is owed

Comments

As far as I can read your website, you are a terrorist organization

attacking fathers and their children for profit and gain. You are nothing

more than equivalent to the 19 terrorist hijackers who destroyed 3000

families. Liberal, communist policy made by far-left wing leaning idiot

politicians like the Clintons, the Schumers, the Kennedys, the Feinsteins,

et al. have caused the destruction of the family through the usurpation of

fundamental rights by Soviet-era family law child support obligations based

on unconstitutional income shares (communism) rather than true costs of

raising children. Support guidelines in all 50 states are erroneous and

fraudulent based on the fact that no economics experts were called in to

determine what the true costs of raising children were. The income shares

was put into place ad hoc, or states would've lost out on federal funding.

First of all, I had a $30,000 arrearage reduced to $10,000 because the

ex-wife (now remarried a 3rd time, living in a $500,000 house, while I rent

a room) lied about not receiving Social Security Disability benefits for

the children. Also, had child support reduced by over 50% for the same reason.

As for your "Bill of No Rights for non-custodial parents" my answers to

each of your Amendments:

Article I: The Constitution for the United States of America and Supreme

Court of the United States of America held in Zablocki v. Redhail that

child support obligations are not contingent on the fundamental right to

remarry. Owing child support cannot be used to interfere with a fundamental

right. Your article that parents shouldn't marry if they owe child support

is treasonous at best and clearly defines you as anti-American,

anti-Christian, and a terrorist. The name of your organization, MAFIA,

denotes that you are of the criminal element, a bane on society to destroy

the fabric of society, and as such represent a treasonous and terrorist

organization.

Article II: Redistribution of wealth from the non-custodial parent to the

custodial parent without accountability or based on children's needs

provides de facto alimony for the custodial parent, giving her (in 95% of

all cases with child custody involved) non-taxable alimony, and forcing

non-custodial parents (66% whom are unable to pay support according to the

GAO reports in 1996 and 1998) into poverty. Non-custodial parents do not

have it easy. Besides, the only longitudinal study ever done on "deadbeat

dads" shows that only 5% of them are true deadbeats - the rest cannot pay

for a variety of reasons.

Article III: The American taxpayer is providing the custodial parent and

children they make with free health care already, and provide noncustodial

parents with educational programs and job training so they can work and pay

child support. This is due thanks to your liberal, communist politician

friends who are the ones who proposed, designed and forced child support

enforcement laws into existence. Now they realize the amounts of support

ordered are artificially inflated, no one can pay them, so now they have to

re-train and re-educate Americans to earn more to pay more. Communism at

its best. The American taxpayers have been defrauded by child support

enforcement on many different levels.

Article IV: The more visitation rights and parental rights one exercises,

the less money that should be exchanged between parents. Child support is

for the child, not the custodial parent. The more time a parent spends with

their child, the more money they spend on their child. Child support has to

be reduced accordingly. Otherwise, it interferes with a parent's

fundamental right to parent. Any more money than is necessary that is

exchanged from the noncustodial parent to the custodial for the needs of

the child while living with either parent, is nothing more than de facto

alimony and an unlawful redistribution of wealth to the custodial parent.

Article V: Again, your inane argument that one should not have the right to

happiness if one's children are not financially happy is ignorant. With a

visitation interference rate approaching 77% and a divorce rate over 52%,

the government and judiciary are destroying families at an unprecedented

rate. Organizations like yours, being bottom feeders as you are, are

parasites that like the government to interfere with families - that's how

you make your profits.

Article VI: One has the constitutional right to be lazy and slothful if

they want. Most custodial parents do this every day. The courts cannot

force people to work to pay support, especially if they cannot prove that

the children will be put on the welfare dole. As stated above, because of

the onerous and fictitious child support guidelines established, 66% of all

noncustodial parents are unable to pay support. If judges sentence people

to jail for contempt of court for failure to pay support, it is an

unconstitutional abrogation of their oaths of office, unconstitutional

imprisonment for debt, and since child support is a civil matter (or

derives out of a civil matter where noncustodial parents are never read

their rights or given their rights that a civil child support matter could

be unlawfully converted into a criminal matter), there is no probable cause

pursuant to the Fourth Amendment (or any sworn affidavit in support of a

Warrant under the Warrants Clause of the Fourth Amendment) to arrest/seize

someone and jail them for civil, commercial child support debts.

Article VII: Noncustodial parents have a legitimate right to withhold

financial support if they are being unlawfully deprived of seeing their

children for no cause. Parents have a fundamental liberty interest to the

care, custody and nurture of their children. If a custodial parent is

interfering with those fundamental rights, the custodial parent is

committing a crime, perpetrating a fraud and committing child abuse against

the child. Noncustodial parents in some states have the right to go to

court and terminate or suspend child support for visitation interference.

The U.S. Supreme Court has also held that since parents have the

fundamental right to the care, custody and nurture of their children and

reciprocal duty to financially and emotionally support them also, this

doctrine of reciprocals, prohibits the imposition of financial support if a

parent is denied access to their children without justification.

Article VIII: Again, your arguments that noncustodial parents have no right

to exercise visitation if they haven't done so for years or if a support

obligation is foisted on them is erroneous and ignorant. The right to

parenting is a fundamental right, especially so if the other parent breaks

the marriage up (over 70% of all marriages are ended by the women, so they

can become custodial parents) and deprives the noncustodial parent of

access to the children. Visitation is a limited form of custody. If a

parent wishes to exercise it, and their is no justification to stop it,

that parent is entitled to their fundamental rights.

Article IX: Everyone has a right to challenge the amount of child support

paid because it is artificially inflated, is incorrectly awarded by the

state, and is derived from unconstitutional Soviet family law, in direct

derogation of our republican form of government. Child support (financial)

and divorce is communism, and anathema to our way of life. Equal custody

(barring a clear and convincing showing of abuse) is the constitutional

norm. However, the judiciary of this country, do to abuse of power and its

own financial interests, keeps children from noncustodial parents. This is

anti-American and an act of terrorism. Furthermore, child support has been

calculated in an ad hoc fashion, was never properly legislated in all 50

states and was hurriedly put in place so as not to lose federal

reimbursement incentive funding to the states. Child support awards are

maintained at ever higher rates to get more "up front" federal

reimbursement funding which then goes to state treasuries and is

disseminated to judicial and state employee pension funds - hence, creating

a financial and unconstitutional conflict of interest.

Article X: You have an absolute right to an accounting of child support

spent by the custodial parent. Anything else is a fraud and de facto

alimony. Not having accountability not only defrauds the noncustodial

parent, but the American taxpayers as well, since custodial parents are not

paying on the excess monies/de facto alimony, more child support

reimbursement funding is being taken from taxpayers without justification

due to artificially inflated obligations and orders, and most other

government programs require accountability, i.e., Social Security

Administration (which child support enforcement laws fall under). Pursuant

to Social Security, one receiving benefit monies for their children must

monthly and/or quarterly fill out a form of how much they spend on their

children. This same form can be applied to child support recipients since

it falls under the Social Security Acts as well. Otherwise, we may have to

argue that Social Security (or the child support laws therefrom) does not

apply to noncustodial parents, since it only applies to those living in the

"territories" of the United States. See, Nguyen v. U.S., (6/9/03- No.

01-10873, Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals); Reyes v. Secretary of

H.E.W., 476 F.2d 910, 915 (D.C. Cir. 1973)(holding administration of Social

Security Act as territorial).

Article XI: Again, a parent who spends an equivalent or almost equivalent

time with their children has the right to forego transferring child support

payments to the other parent since they are spending on the children. This

is why it is unconstitutional for government to limit noncustodial parents'

times with children to every other weekend, in order to create a fictitious

child support obligation on one parent. The costs of maintaining a home for

the child exists at both parents houses. Noncustodial parents are entitled

to credit for time spent and money spent on their children while with them.

Anything to the contrary is a fraud and an unconstitutional interference

with a fundamental liberty interest to the care, custody and nurture of

one's children.

Article XII: Again, as stated above, a parent denied access to his/her

children, without justification or court process, by the other parent is

not their fault. It is the fault of the government courts for interfering

with fundamental rights. As stated above, studies show that custodial

parents interfere with visitation 77% of the time, and after 5 years

noncustodial parents are usually completely cut off from their children as

a result of alienation and brainwashing. The government courts refuse to

enforce this part of the divorce settlement/judgment/order, thereby

nullifying child support obligations as well. As stated above, there is a

doctrine of reciprocals. Parents have the fundamental liberty interest in

the care, custody and nurture of their children, and with that comes a

reciprocal duty of financial and emotional child support. However, if the

fundamental right is denied or deprived for whatever reason, there is no duty.

Article XIII: One has the right to complain about the manner in which the

custodial parent is raising the children. The custodial parent cannot act

as a prostitute or drug addict in front of the children. She cannot

emotionally and psychologically damage the children against the

noncustodial parent. She must not inject the children into any ongoing

controversy between the parents. A custodial parent that beats the children

is not entitled to raise the children in any manner. Neither is she if she

is a raging alcoholic. However, it is done all the time and government,

professional and private studies show that over 60% of all custodial,

single-women head of household parents cause some kind of psychological

disorder for their children.

Article XIV: If another man wants to get involved in the lives of your

children and wants to fully support them, then that is his perogative. Then

it should come as no surprise that the noncustodial parent's child support

obligation should be reduced accordingly, especially if the new man or

woman intent on raising your children, decides you are not to be part of

their lives. Again, without the fundamental right to the care, custody and

nurture of one's children, there is no concomittant reciprocal duty of

support. In many cases where a new man or woman enters the lives of your

children, noncustodial parents have no control over this, as the courts

block and interfere with the noncustodial parent addressing this problem.

If a step-parent wants to step in and take over your role as a parent, and

cut you out of your childrens' lives, you are no longer obligated to

financially support your children (see, doctrine of reciprocals - no right;

no duty).

Article XV: The Courts have to provide leniency in all matters. The Courts

have to provide significant due process even when civil child support has

been ordered or one has not been able to comply. Inability to comply is a

complete defense to civil contempt (see, U.S. Supreme Court Case of U.S. v.

Rylander). Further, the Courts have a financial conflict of interest in the

awarding, collection and enforcement of child support and cannot sit in

judgment therefore (see, U.S. Supreme Court cases of Tumey v. Ohio, Gibson

v. Berryhill, Ward v. Monroeville). The Georgia and Tennessee appellate and

supreme courts are currently addressing these unconstitutional actions by

family court judges.

One who has not paid child support, other than for being a "deadbeat dad"

(which according to all studies occurs in only 5% of all cases), cannot be

held criminally liable for owing child support. Every U.S. Circuit Court of

Appeals that has addressed the issue has found that child support is a

common commercial and civil debt obligation. We don't criminalize people

for owing debts such as owing car loans, credit card loans, mortgages,

student loans, etc. Since the federal courts are calling child support a

civil debt there can be no criminality involved. Otherwise, the First,

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, Tenth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth

Amendments to the Constitution for the United States of America are

severely implicated. Violations of these Amendments, would constitute a

violation of the judicial oaths of office, thus causing judges, lawyers,

and child support enforcement government bureaucrats, and other related

government officials to commit official misconduct, treason and other high

crimes and misdemeanors. This would lead to government abuse and oppression

- in other words, it would be terrorism by government against its own people.

"The statist notion that government may supercede parental authority in

order to ensure bureaucratically or judicially determined "best interests"

of children has been rejected as repugnant to American traditions. Judges

and state officials are ill-equipped to second guess parents and are

precluded from intervening in absence of powerful countervailing

interests". Zummo v. Zummo, 574 A.2d 1130, 1138 (Pa. Super. 1990), citing

Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U.S. 248, 257-61, 103 S.Ct. 2985, 2991-93, 77 L.Ed.

2d 614, 623-29 (1982).

Sorry, your Bill of No Rights for Non-custodial Parents is flawed and fails

on all counts. You have no position from which to argue, and your website

is nothing more than a website for terrorists against We the People.

Return to the form.

";"Two items follow: An anti-father page from the MAFIA website and a response

to that page from Bruce Eden.

MAFIA = Mothers Against Fathers In Arrears

================================


http://www.couriermail.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,7168496%255E953,00.html

A FEDERAL parliamentary inquiry into child custody arrangements was told yesterday that children were safer living with their biological fathers.

Co-founder of the controversial Men's Rights Agency, Sue Price, told the inquiry despite the "maternal preference" of the Family Law Court in custody battles, statistics showed children were more likely to be abused, or even killed, when in the custody of their mothers.

"The research shows children are safer with their biological fathers," she said.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report had found 42 per cent of substantiated abuse – including physical, emotional and sexual abuse – happened in single-female-parent families, she said.

The report said only 4 per cent of abuse occurred in single-male-parent families.

Mrs Price also said mothers had been identified as the primary suspect/perpetrator in 25 of 40 deaths deemed "family" murders in NSW between 1996 and 1999.

The studies exposed the myth that most child abuse was perpetrated "by all these violent men out there".

In her submission to the inquiry on the Gold Coast yesterday morning, Mrs Price said men were often the victims of false allegations in the Family Law Court where there was "very little testing of evidence and no penalties of perjury".

But she claimed as many women as men supported changes to child custody arrangements in favour of shared parenting.

She also called on parental rights to be reinstated into the Family Law Act.

"Shared parenting is much better for children," she said.

"Where you've got two perfectly decent parents why should a court be saying to either of those parents that they can't see their children or restricting the time they have with them.

"We hope that, if they bring this in, families will then make their own arrangements to see their children as much as possible."

Mrs Price claimed parental rights had been removed from the Act in the mid-'90s "leaving the Family Court as the sole arbiter of what happens to children".

The inquiry was also told of a growing number of children being cared for full-time by grandparents and other relatives.

"This new kind of family group is becoming more and more common in our society and therefore needs to be given serious consideration when new laws and policies for families are being drafted," Kincare spokeswoman Maree Lubach said.

Ms Lubach said recognition and legal rights for custodial grandparents in the Family Law Court was needed to ensure the welfare of the children.

";"http://www.couriermail.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,7168496%255E953,00.html

A FEDERAL parliamentary inquiry into child custody arran"; "124";"sup";"Paternity Fraud - Appeal for funds";;"2003-05-03";;;"PATERNITY FRAUD

Paternity fraud victims in Australia and around the world will benefit from

The MAGILL judgement -magill v magill 22nd November 2002 at the Victorian

County Court MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA.

Liam Magill thought he was the father of three children until he found that

two were not his. The Court found against the mother and awarded him $70K.

Our 4 and a half year legal fight and judgement in favour of LIAM MAGILL

is at risk of being overturned if we do not gather the funds to fight this

expensive appeal.

PLEASE HELP US UPHOLD THIS LANDMARK JUDGEMENT. Just $20 from every man and

woman who reads this will help us to preserve this significant piece of legal

history.

THIS HAS NEVER BEEN ACHIEVED ANYWHERE ELSE. BUT WE NOW NEED HELP !!!

http://www.dnaB4Upay.com.au

You can donate on line via pay pal and its VERY SECURE- It takes just a few

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We have nothing more to give guys. We have SOLD ALL OUR ASSETS.

Please let us know that you can help- Please also pass on this message.

SOME OF YOU HAVE ALREADY KINDLY DONATED AND WE THANK YOU VERY MUCH BUT WE

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";"PATERNITY FRAUD

Paternity fraud victims in Australia and around the world will benefit from

The MAGILL judgement -magill v magill 22nd November 2002 at the Victorian

County Court MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA.


http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/09/03/1062548898574.html Males are increasingly portrayed in the media as either incompetent, repressed or villains. Are they the new victims of gender stereotyping? Andrew Bock reports.

Riding on the back of his fine Arab or Valiant charger, the hard-fighting, tough-talking macho man still saves the day fairly regularly. But in media targeted at women, stereotypes are more likely to depict men as bungling, incompetent, fall guys in the workplace — and in relationships.

Negative images of men are prevalent in advertisements, news, television drama and films. Their effect? Blokes are starting to mobilise with rumblings of complaint.

The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB), one of the few organisations that measures gripes about stereotypes in the media, reports a steady increase in the percentage of men (now more than one third) complaining and one of their most frequent grumbles is about the way men are portrayed. In the first six months of 2003, 29 per cent of complaints about sexual discrimination in advertising were from men.

A survey conducted for the ASB in 2002, revealed that while 40 per cent of all complainants thought women were portrayed offensively, 23 per cent were offended by the depiction of men. The ads that appalled focus groups — both women and men — were those that showed men as "buffoons" or "idiots", according to the researcher, Dr Debora Harker.

Paul Rees-Jones, director of strategic planning at George Patterson Bates advertising agency, said advertisements that ridiculed men had been around for 10 to 15 years. Recent examples include the himbo in Diet Coke ads, the idiot in Coon light cheese, and the selfish father and son in a Kraft cheese advertisement. A television advertisement for Just Jeans recently showed a man cowering from a spider until a woman saves him. Rees-Jones said staff had dubbed the genre, "the Homer Syndrome", in dishonour of the hapless Homer Simpson.

John Marsden, the best selling adolescent fiction writer, and author of the non-fiction books Secret Men’s Business and The Boy You Brought Home, says teenage boys are also among the most maligned group in our society. "They are more maligned than any other age group and gender. The media portrays them as either drug-crazed, illiterate, unemployable, suicidal, failing at school, sex criminals or vandals. So adults tend to treat them more suspiciously and that causes them (unconsciously) to become angry or frustrated or alienated."

Then there’s the pairing of the bumbling male and the confident woman. While this stereotype is as old as the first approach made by a nervous man to a beautiful woman, it has become much more prevalent in recent years. "There are many shows that portray boys being incompetent or stupid in relation to girls. It’s such a boring, tired old joke about boys. And I think it damages their confidence," said Marsden.

In The Secret Life of Us, Claudia Karvan’s Alex is more forthright in relationships, inevitably morally right, and more organised than the often confused and defensive Evan.

In The Secret Life of Us, female characters like Claudia Karvan’s Alex, tend to be more forthright in relationships, inevitably morally right, and more organised than the often confused and defensive, sensitive male characters like Evan. "I should feel guilty about feeling guilty," he declared in a recent episode.

Men prefer to cop jokes and criticisms on the chin but an increasing number are becoming disgruntled if not offended by some stereotypes.

Colin Bailey, 33, says he stopped watching television two years ago "because of all the shows that just show men trying to appease women. Even shows like Malcolm in the Middle, Everybody Loves Raymond and Gilmore Girls. And once you realise that bias is in them, you can’t watch them. It’s as if men don’t make decisions in this society. They’re like boys who do as they’re told." Bailey said his mates used to chide him until he challenged them to look for the bias.

If programs often portray men as repressed, they equally often show empowered women expecting and asking more from men.

Popular sitcoms like Sex and the City, feature women avidly browsing for men, assessing them over coffee, and, sooner or later, moving on out of disappointment. Unlike the men, the heroines rarely get dumped or criticised by their partners. And the show almost encourages women to play the field with a more detached and critical approach. The men are either rich, "Mr Bigs", nice, patient, sensitive guys, or else "toxic bachelors" and "himbos" with all manner of bad habits in bed.

Candace Bushnell said of the series spawned by her book: "It changed the way women look at themselves and the way they look at men. I see it as a subtle feminist tool, a stealth bomber, a secret feminist message."

Another theme is the idea that women have been too self-sacrificing or too servile towards men and not focused enough on their own pleasure. In The Bride Stripped Bare, a diary of an Australian woman’s adultery, currently on best seller lists, author Nikki Gemmell partly justifies her increasing infidelity by asking, "Why are (women) so focused on everyone else’s pleasure at the expense of their own? What happens if they try to live selfishly?" Her presumption is that men do not also sacrifice or repress their desires, and that self sacrifice is not an Anglo Saxon, post-Christian, and even, Australian character flaw.

In a latter day form of witch-hunting, the mere word of a woman, and the possible infidelity of a man, is enough to make headlines, whether for Shane Warne or Bill Clinton. In sitcoms, men are sometimes regaled for not wanting enough sex. In the media, men are charged with wanting too much sex.

Shows like Buffy, Angel, Charmed, and Alias — despite repeating a Hollywood formula of violence against the ugly — have attained feminist approval because they display women’s power over men. There are female villains, and supportive men, but the balance is skewed in favour of female heroines and male villains. "(Female) slayers are rising everywhere," announced Buffy in the final episode of the last series after she and her sisters, with the help of a few men, fought off a horde of male vampires from hell.

The question is whether images of evil men and (counter) attacking women are having an influence on attitudes and relationships. Are they likely to make women more suspicious of men or to encourage women to attack like Buffy the Vampire Slayer if men appear out of line?

Another issue is whether such images increase male resentment and erode their self-esteem. A theory is that the print media may contain more prejudicial generalisations about men partly because women dominate the writing field about relationships and because in an article, unlike a drama, there is no dialogue and, therefore, less need to paint even half-real male characters.

Dr Kerry Hempenstall, senior lecturer in psychology at RMIT University, asks "when does positive discrimination towards women, lead to negative impacts for men."

Criticism of female stereotypes and what they implied about men’s attitudes, was an important platform of early feminism. It would be more than ironic if men were criticised for questioning current media stereotypes of men and relationships.

The other option for men, and one they seem to prefer, is to change the channel or turn the page and tune in to the relatively uncontested battles of sport.

";"Males are increasingly portrayed in the media as either incompetent, repressed or villains. Are they the new victims of gender stereotyping? Andrew Bock reports. "; "261";"fam";"Resolving family law or not?";"MRA News";"2006-01-31";"Sue Price";;"Australians have anxiously awaited the draft bill to implement so-called ‘improved’ changes to the family law scheme. The Bill was finally tabled on December 8, 2005 after a long-running Government inquiry, initiated after the Prime Minister John Howard in June 2003 had declared his interest in the ''broad concept'' of rebuttable joint custody, where both fathers and mothers would continue to share the joys and responsibilities of raising their children on an equal footing after family separation.

The inquiry into Joint Custody 50/50 and child support which was overseen by the House of Representative’s Family and Community Affairs Committee

received 1715 submissions and held hearing across the country between 28th August and 3rd November 2003.

The general opinion in those early days from father’s groups was positive. Women’s groups who claimed rampant domestic violence or child abuse were for the first time challenged and asked to provide statistical evidence; fathers who could not see their children or had been tossed around in the legal system with no result were able to tell their story; second wives disclosed the uncertainly filling their lives as a direct result of unfair and often catastrophic dealings with the Child Support Agency and grandparents told of their devastation in not being able to see their grandchildren. In fact most fathers’ groups were patting themselves on the back, us included, delighted with the impressions gained from the Committee members that fathers would at last be acknowledged as being essential in their children’s lives and perhaps some level of parental rights (removed in 1995) would be reinstated.

The publication of the Committee’s report in December 2003, Every Picture Tells a Story told those of us with a little knowledge of past family law history that the recommendations apart from the proposal to instigate another tier of quasi judicial activity in the form of Family Tribunals signified no change. The principle of shared parental responsibility (previously ‘guardianship) had already been included in the Family Law Act since the 1995 reforms. Understandably, the general public embraced the proposals believing shared and equal parenting would become the norm. Yet the Government made little attempt to correct the impression created by the use of the terminology ‘shared parental responsibility’ until the first draft of the legislation appeared in June 2005, wherein it was particularly stated on page 10 that shared parental responsibility described as Joint parental responsibility "does not involve or imply the child spending an equal amount of time, or a substantial amount of time, with each parent".

Under the current legal situation ‘parental responsibility" shared between the parents could cynically be interpreted as Mum gets the kids, Dad get the bills.

The Committee’s Report also failed to mention the false domestic violence figures and the further evidence sought by MP Peter Dutton to expose the facts that mother’s and mother’s boyfriends, step fathers and siblings and other relatives/friends are far more dangerous to children than their biological fathers. Senior MP Alan Cadman when asked could not tell me where to find the further information about child abuse and who is more likely to offend. He assured me it was included and seemed surprised it was not in the Report. One could perhaps assume that at least one committee member had not read the report, let alone contributed to the wording. Just how many other MPs were content to leave the Report writing and conclusions to departmental staffers? Those who attended the hearings had trouble reconciling the visible reactions of many on the Committee with the final outcome in the Report. No person who sat through the hearings and listened to the desperate plight of separated fathers and their families could sign off on the most significant inquiry in 30 years without recommending shared and equal parenting. Not some gobbledy gook wording of shared parental responsibility which at best could be described as confusing or at worst a deliberate attempt by the Government to deceive fathers into believing this would deliver equal rights and equal parenting time, which they were in no hurry to clarify. Did the inquiry become so hopelessly bogged down due to the suggestion of a third tier of judicial response – family tribunals, which many thought would be subjected to Constitutional challenge or was a deal done, or a favour exchanged within the halls of Parliament? What deal would have been worth the lives of thousands of children separated from their fathers and the lost lives of many fathers who just could not continue in the hostile world that regards them as less important than the mother, apart from their ability to pay the bills of course?

The Government response and the draft legislation was late in delivery, giving people little time to respond and then it was decreed that the response was not up for discussion just whether the draft would deliver the expected outcomes.

Some discussion has taken place with the Attorney General’s department over wording and the lack of acknowledgement of shared parenting and changes have been made to secure a stronger instruction to the courts to consider shared or substantial parenting, but it all comes down to the judges’ decision based on the best interests of the children. Solicitor and previous judge’s associate, Waleed Aly commenting in the Sydney Morning Herald (2/01/2006 ) writes "there are good reasons it (the changes) will be little more than a mirage".

The latest roadblocks, just announced by the Attorney General will call on parents to prove they have had a meaningful relationship with their child, including whether they have made an effort to communicate with and see the child. This will also include consideration of how much financial support has been given and whether parents have tried to obstruct each other from seeing or communicating with their child.

The draft bill is due for debate in the House of Representatives and the 180+ pages are available for download from the AG’s website www.ag.gov.au

The Government’s centrepiece to the overhaul is the creation of 65 Family Relationship Centres which separating couples are supposed to attend before making an application to the court for a hearing. The fairness and effectiveness of the Centres will depend solely on the employees and their beliefs. Some will undoubtedly bring with them the biases evident in the current crop of counsellors and family report writers who must have hated their fathers and others’ fathers with a passion.

The FRCs are to provide separating couples with three free counselling sessions, but appointments are likely to be delayed due to the slow introduction of the centres and the sheer volume of work they will face.

Delay will disadvantage fathers seeking contact/residency as the status quo with the mother will be well and truly established by the time a case makes it into the court.

The details of the changes, according to the Attorney General follow in this news release.

www.law.gov.au/ag

";"Australians have anxiously awaited the draft bill to implement so-called ‘improved’ changes to the family law scheme. The Bill was finally tabled on December 8, 2005 after a long-running Government inquiry, initiated after the Prime Minister John Howard i"; "262";"fem";"Ethical Responses";"MRA News";"2006-01-31";"Colin Lamont";;"Following hard on the heels of being named by Men’s Rights Agency for the Toady Award in 2005 our Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner is once again being quoted in the media on matters affecting men’s rights.

Having just got over the shock of reading that Pru Goward allegedly said that Men’s Rights Organizations should be called "get a life" organizations or words to that effect, (and I have read no denials published by Goward to date despite I’ve seen it more than once) I was stunned to read her answers to some ‘ethical’ questions posed in the Australian to a penal of ‘eminent’ persons.

One of the ethical questions was from a 37 year old woman complaining that she desperately wanted a child and her partner of 18 years (that’s half her lifetime mind) says he doesn’t want one after all. She asks, is she entitled to come off the pill without telling him.

Well, most readers I assume are already staggered the would be mother could even ask. In fact that’s basically what Amanda Keller, radio and TV compere basically said – In black and white terms - you are not entitled full stop. Ita Buttrose was more blunt. "No you are not entitled. You are talking about creating a life – one that might be the result of your decision to deceive the child’s father". Good on yer Ita. It is clearly a man’s right to know he is about to be put at risk of such a huge responsibility and it’s a violation of that right if there is a conspiracy against him.

But the right of the man not to be deceived was not (reportedly) mentioned by our Anti Discrimination Commissioner. "Just do it." Was her first cab off the rank remark. In fairness she did go on to say "Tell him you want a baby and are coming off the pill and let him decide what to do" which looked like she was coming around to a more responsible position but then she returned to what appeared to me to be encouragement to the woman to do as she pleased by encouraging "In the event of a pregnancy you would be amazed how people love babies especially if they also love you and the baby is theirs". Wheew!

I don’t know about everyone else but that left me with the impression of someone who just does not see things in terms of rights of the individual regardless of sex. What price encouraging a woman to believe that there’s every chance if she does trap the man into parenthood it will all turn out ok? Hey, deliberately getting pregnant without telling the male partner, means consciously putting this man at risk of a major financial responsibility for the next two decades, never mind the emotional turmoil, to which he has never consented. Is our Commissioner blissfully unaware that her advice, (as it was recorded) could ruin the man’s life financially and emotionally?

Perhaps the would be mother needs to have it out with herself before having it out with her man. If she’s hung on 18 years without a child maybe deep inside she has made a decision she’d prefer her man without a child than a child without him. Once she confronts that if she really wants the child with or without him she has to give him the choice - parenthood or the end of the affair. ‘Go get another stud lady’ is my advice.

Another ethical question involved whether the writer could sell a tape to a TV program for $10000.00. The tape it seems was footage of an AFL player behaving ‘badly’. (As a rugby fan I’m tempted to ask was he on or off the field at the time). That however becomes clear when it is explained the tape could ruin his career and marriage. Hot stuff.

Former Chief Justice Sir Laurence Street answered "How could you even contemplate profiting from a contemptible invasion of this man’s privacy. Writer Ruth Ostrow tells this cad and rotter "go and earn an honest living". The Australian’s own Imre Salusinszky says it would only be acceptable if footballer played for Essendon but in the final wash suggests "Destroy your seedy video footage now!"

So how did our Discrimination Commissioner assess this little invasion into a man’s privacy? She reminds the villainous owner of the tape that first of all he’d be selling the tape for the money and to accept that fact. Then she suggests that the man would never again be able to criticize the media again nor could he expect privacy if he went into public life. No explicit words of deterrence there.

Seriously, based on the answers published in the Australian I wouldn’t employ Goward to write the Dear Dorothy Dix column in a cheap magazine, in fact, I wouldn’t give her the job of making up the rot in the horoscope section either.

It all seems to display a total unconcern for the rights of a man. I wonder what her responses would have been if the tape has been of an Australia women’s netball player in the cot with the forward pack from the Canterbury Bulldogs. Would she have been so unconcerned about the personal impact?

I recall some years ago when Goward addressed a meeting at the Queensland Rugby club. The media reported she claimed she had never ironed her daughter’s dresses whilst pursuing her career through the glass ceiling. I really did stop to wonder if that was really what she said. I looked for retractions but if they appeared I didn’t see them. .

Personally, I’ve never seen Goward herself abroad in the world other than dressed to the tee’s without an eyelash out of place (someone clearly irons her clothes I can tell you). If the report was true, I asked first, was she really unaware as a mother that pubescent girls would die rather than be seen to be different and that wearing a crumpled uniform to school at thirteen is to die a thousand deaths before little lunch. Second I began to wonder why she would say such a thing to a rugby lunch assuming the media report was fair and correct.

My sons went to my old school and ‘headmaster’ is pretty picky about turn out. I ironed shirts and trousers, often doing so in the kitchen while keeping an eye on the cooked breakfast I was preparing for them and I did it without complaint. Being a single father with one son living with me full time and the other dropping in to stay at least three days a week I accepted the chores that went with that and never once felt my masculinity challenged. I ironed shirts, cleaned their bathroom sink and other amenities, picked up the usual socks and underpants and coached their school’s A grade rugby sides as if all were as natural as, well…. being a father. What’s more, I don’t get up after rugby dinners and boast about it either.

Maybe I’ve really got the whole thing wrong and it’s just the media constantly misreporting the lady. For all our sakes I hope that’s the case. Perhaps I should send her this article as a courtesy and invite her to set the record straight. I’ll keep everyone posted.

Colin Lamont, (B.A. Hons’ M. Lt. Stud., D.B.A. (Business Admin.) (Former Liberal MP South Brisbane and former Lobbyist has been teaching part time in his retirement in Politics and Public Policy at Griffith University.

";"Following hard on the heels of being named by Men’s Rights Agency for the Toady Award in 2005 our Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner is once again being quoted in the media on matters affecting men’s rights.

Having just got over the shock of"; "127";"fam";"Dads on the Air - Shattering the Myths";;"2003-09-06";"Dads on the Air Radio Programme";;"http://www.dadsontheair.com

Dads On The Air

Monday 8 September 2003 2GLF FM 89.3 10.00-11.00am and ONLINE

Shattering the Myths

With Special Guest Dr Sanford Braver

Dr. Sanford L. Braver is the author of the landmark book, Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths (Tarcher/Penguin-Putnam, 1998), co-authored by award-winning journalist Dianne O¡¦Connell.

Later in the show, with Geoffrey Greene from the Shared Parenting Council of Australia, we'll be bringing listeners up to date with the progress of the House of Representatives committee hearings into child custody and other matters, with hearings now having been held in Tasmania, Victoria, NSW and Queensland. We'll also bring you a round up of Fathers Day events, and hope everyone had a great day, no matter now difficult or delightful circumstances were.

Dr Braver has been a Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University for more than 30 years. He is a trained researcher who has received 14 competitively awarded U.S. Federal research grants totaling over $10 million, primarily from the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and from the National Institute of Mental Health. He has published 80 peer reviewed professional articles and chapters. In his investigations, he has interviewed almost 2,000 divorced families.

He says:

"Biggest Deadbeat Dad RoundUp Ever." "Judge Sentences Most Wanted Deadbeat Dad to Prison Term." "Where Are Their Fathers?" "A Generation Without Fathers!" Anyone reading the newspapers or magazines is familiar with headlines like these. The divorce rate has soared through the roof. All the most disturbing social problems of the last decade -- gangs, teenage pregnancy, suicides, drive-by shootings, drug abuse, school dropouts, illiteracy, etc. -- are ultimately traceable to the fact that in the family in the last two decades, in astonishing distinction to our less troubled past, too many fathers have almost no presence whatever in children's lives. An entire generation of youth is being raised without fathers. If you read the stories that follow the headlines, you would read that:

  • Most divorced fathers selfishly refuse to pay their child support and become Deadbeat Dads.
  • Too many fathers also become Runaway Dads, voluntarily disappearing from their children's lives, and depriving them of a male role model.
  • Divorced mothers and children commonly end up in poverty as a result of this appalling irresponsibility.
  • Men "make out like bandits" in their divorce settlements, because domestic relations laws are written and administered "by men for men," creating an economic incentive for men to divorce.
  • The vast majority of divorces are the result of men deserting their families.

But there is a big problem with the previous picture. It is grossly distorted, and parts of it are the complete opposite of the truth.

What he has found has been startling to policy-makers:

  • The large majority of divorced fathers are not deadbeat dads.
  • Relatively few divorced men are runaway dads either. Rather, most divorced fathers strive mightily to maintain a strong attachment to their children.
  • The well-known statistic that divorced women suffer a 73% decline in their standard of living while men actually benefit is a simple arithmetic mistake based on sloppy past research that the researcher/author herself has retracted under pressure. And after they both remarry, women are actually better off than men.
  • Divorced fathers are not far better satisfied or advantaged in the negotiations leading to their divorce settlements. In fact, fathers are significantly disadvantaged and dissatisfied compared to mothers, who feel more in control of the settlement process than fathers.
  • Overwhelming evidence suggests that fathers are far more emotionally devastated by divorce than mothers. Only with respect to more quickly assuaging their anger at their exspouse do fathers have an emotional advantage over mothers.
  • Divorced fathers do not generally trigger the marriage¡¦s demise by abandoning their exwives and families. Consistent evidence suggests that more than twice as many mothers initiate the termination of the marriage than fathers, largely for reasons such as feeling ¡§emotionally unfulfilled¡¨, rather than because of their husband¡¦s philandering or abuse. Further, this is a quite recent trend precipitated by the cultural changes brought about primarily by the women¡¦s movement; this cultural trend best accounts for the unprecedented rise in the divorce rate
  • For those divorced fathers who do end up withdrawing from their children, their experience is one in which their own wishes -- or irresponsibility -- play little role. Instead they feel expelled, kicked out, thrust away from their children's lives. "Driven Away" Dads appears the far more accurate metaphor.
  • Policy changes, such as joint legal custody, greatly expanded parenting time for fathers, and restricting moveaways, are in the best interests of fathers, mothers and children.

The belief that divorced fathers are mostly irresponsible deadbeats seems brought about both by outdated stereotype, media hyperbole and by flawed past research. The "blunders" of past research in turn appear due largely to the ideological "blinders" of the research establishment, based on gender stereotypes in which males are viewed as irresponsible and domineering, and females as helpless victims.

Not only is the conventional wisdom seriously inaccurate, it has led to social policies that are dangerous and harmful. The victims are not only the fathers themselves, whose suffering, anger and frustration is immense, and increasingly registered, but also the over 1 million mothers per year who become divorced in the US. Laboring under inaccurate stereotypes, through their actions many of these mothers unwittingly thwart receiving the help and support that only a cooperative co-parent could provide. And most importantly, our mistaken popular views are dangerous to our children, whom we are inadvertently depriving of the love and the support, both emotional and financial, of involved fathers. All would benefit by a more accurate understanding of the social forces our divorce systems unleash.

We'll closing out the program with a look at the current government inquiry into joint custody. Submissions have been slow to go up on line at:

http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/fca/childcustody/index.htm

Hansard transcripts for some of the public hearings can now be found under the child custody button at:

http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/commttee/r-commaf.htm

Next week: The Role of Fathers in Child Care and Protection, with special guest Damien Hickman

Our website is www.dadsontheair.com Press releases, public notices and other

material for broadcast can be sent to administration@dadsontheair.com Dads On The Air can be heard on Monday mornings 10am-11.00 at 2GLF FM 89.3 in Sydney Australia and is usually up online later the same day.

We are a successful community radio show broadcasting from western Sydney. An entertaining mix of music, news, public information and wide ranging interviews aimed at

fathers and those who care about them, we cover the Family Court, the Child

Support Agency, Legal Aid, child welfare, boys education, male suicide, men's health, gender bias and other father, children and family related issues.


Shattering the Myths

Dads On The Air, Monday 8 September 2003 2GLF FM 89.3 10.00-11.00am and ONLINE

With Special Guest Dr Sanford Br";


"128";"abs";"Children 'safer' with biological dads";"The Sunday Times (WA)";"2003-09-03";;;"http://www.sundaytimes.news.com.au/printpage/0,5942,7185298,00.html

A Federal parliamentary inquiry into child custody has heard that children are safer with their biological fathers.

Men's Rights Agency co-founder Sue Price told the inquiry that, despite the "maternal preference" of the Family Law Court in custody battles, statistics showed children were more likely to be abused, or even killed, when in the custody of their mothers.

"The research shows children are safer with their biological fathers," she said.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report had found 42 per cent of substantiated abuse - including physical, emotional and sexual abuse - happened in single-female-parent families, she said.

The report said only 4 per cent of abuse occurred in single-male-parent families.

Mrs Price said mothers were identified as the main suspect/perpetrator in 25 of 40 deaths deemed "family" murders in NSW between 1996 and 1999.

The studies exposed the myth that most child abuse was perpetrated "by all these violent men out there".

Mrs Price claimed as many women as men supported changes to child custody in favour of shared parenting.

";"http://www.sundaytimes.news.com.au/printpage/0,5942,7185298,00.html

A Federal parliamentary inquiry into child custody has heard that children are"; "129";"shd";"Geldof lashes courts over fathers' rights";"The Times (Britain)";"2003-09-06";"John Elliott";;"

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-807377,00.html

Sir Bob Geldof, the singer and Live Aid organiser, has unleashed a

blistering attack on the legal system for its treatment of fathers in

custody battles. He makes a passionate demand for changes in the law

governing access to children after couples break up in an essay to be

published this week.

He writes: "So many of us are hurting and yet the law will treat the man in

court (if my case is typical) with contempt, suspicion, disdain and

hostility," adding that the law is "unjustly weighted in favour of women".

In an extract published in today's News Review, he says: "The law is

creating vast wells of misery, massive discontent, an unstable society of

feral children and feckless adolescents who have no understanding of

authority, no knowledge of a man's love and how different but equal it is

to a woman's.

"Family law as it currently stands does not work. It is rarely of benefit

to the child and promotes injustice, conflict and unhappiness on a massive

scale. Most custody rulings show no understanding of contemporary society."

Geldof underwent a bitter custody battle with his late wife Paula Yates

after she left him for Michael Hutchence, an Australian rock singer, in 1995.

He eventually won custody of their three daughters, Fifi Trixibelle, now

19, Peaches Honeyblossom, 14, and Pixie, 12, who he has brought up

single-handedly. He is also the legal guardian of Tiger Lily, 6, Yates's

daughter by Hutchence.

Hutchence, singer with the band INXS, was found hanged in a Sydney hotel

room in 1997. Geldof was one of the last people he spoke to when they

allegedly argued on the phone over Yates's rights to see her children. She

died of a heroin overdose in 2000.

After criticising the law on custody on television chat shows, Geldof said

he received more than 70 bin-liners full of letters on the subject. Studies

have shown that keeping in contact with both parents is beneficial to

children, and that 40% of parents not living with their children - the vast

majority of them fathers - lose all contact with them within two years. But

the conflict that can occur when estranged couples arrange contact with

children can be bad for their sons and daughters.

Geldof wants the law to be remodelled around the Danish system, under which

parents are urged to ensure that children divide their time equally between

both parents. Official figures show that nine out of 10 single-parent

families in Britain are headed by women.

Geldof believes the law assumes that women are automatically better at

childcare than men, when in recent decades male and female roles have

become more blurred.

Geldof's essay, entitled The Real Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name: A

Sometimes Coherent Rant, is part of a collection of writings by leading

experts in the field.

Cherie Blair QC is expected to attend the launch of the book in London this

week, which has been compiled and edited by a group of academics and lawyers.

Geldof has attended seminars and meetings with the group to discuss his

contribution to the book, Children and Their Families: Contact, Rights and

Welfare.

Dr Andrew Bainham, of Christ's College, Cambridge University, who is one of

the editors of the book, said: "There has been a lot of debate recently on

the subject of contact. It divides people very strongly. There is a view

that fathers have an uphill struggle maintaining contact with children, and

that the law is stacked against them, and that's Bob's view.

"His contribution is unique because it is written from personal experience.

He has also had an enormous number of letters from people who have been

through the system."

The book also examines the psychological cost to families of break-ups and

the likely impact of the Human Rights Act on battles between couples over

access rights.

Another contributor to the book, Dr Shelley Day Sclater of the University

of East London, said that while men such as Geldof feel that the law is

biased against them for being men, women also often feel hard done by in

custody and access and blame it on a gender bias.

"Both partners say the court is favouring the other and that they are being

badly done by," she said. "The feeling is shared by both women and men."

Geldof told The Sunday Times last week: "My agenda is to change this law.

It's a blunt instrument and if you're subject to it you're freaking out. On

father's day there is a peak of suicides, because of the fathers who are

not allowed to see their kids on that day."

";"

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-807377,00.html

Sir Bob Geldof, the singer and Live Aid organiser, has unleashed a

blistering attack"; "130";"fam";"Did Family Court judges conspire to defeat the Constitution?";"Open letter to all politicians";"2003-09-06";"Sue Price, Men's Rights Agency";;"An open letter sent to all federal politicians:

Dear Member of Parliament,

Re: Did the Chief Justice of the Family Court and/or others conspire to defeat the intention of the Australian Constitution?

The Chief Justice of the Family Court Alastair Nicholson reached his 65th birthday on the 19th August 2003.

It was expected that he would retire on that day, because he was appointed to the Family Court on 1st February 1988, a period during which, S23A of the Family Law Act specified he must retire when he reached 65 years of age.

Parliament, as a result of a referendum on 21 May 1977, altered the Constitution to retire judges at the age of 70, instead of them remaining in a life-long appointment, the Constitution also made provision to vary the retirement age of judges if necessary.

Shortly after the Constitutional change became effective on 29 July 1977, Parliament as a result of an initiative supported by our current Prime Minister, The Hon John Howard MP, introduced a retirement age for Family Court judges of 65 years.

Section 72 of the Australian Constitution clearly states the intention and will of the Australian people for judges to retire when they reach the age specified by the law in place at the time of their appointment, as can be seen by the following extract:

"The appointment of a Justice of a court created by the Parliament shall be for a term expiring upon his attaining the age that is, at the time of his appointment, the maximum age for Justices of that court and a person shall not be appointed as a Justice of such a court if he has attained the age that is for the time being the maximum age for Justices of that court."

The Constitution also clearly spells out that any subsequent changes to the legislation relating to a judge's retirement age is not intended to be retrospective.

"The Parliament may make a law fixing an age that is less than seventy years as the maximum age for Justices of a court created by the Parliament and may at any time repeal or amend such a law, but any such repeal or amendment does not affect the term of office of a Justice under an appointment made before the repeal or amendment."

The sixty-five year retirement age limit remained in force for judges appointed to the Family Court of Australia for some 14 years and was not changed to 70 years of age until the Labour government amended the Family Law Act on 24 October 1991 by removing Section 23A, - the section that dealt with the specific retirement age for judges.

After repeated requests seeking information about a new Chief Justice for the Family Court, the Attorney General's office has advised via a "Talking point" document that "the Chief Justice Nicholson and all other Family Court judges who had been appointed until the age of 65 were offered the opportunity to be appointed until the age of 70".

Furthermore, "On 28 October 1993, Chief Justice Nicholson and a number of his colleagues were each appointed until they attained 70 years of age.

The intention of the Constitution would seem to prevent any such move.

We ask what was this "opportunity" and how was this achieved? Where is the paperwork relating to this occurrence? Where are the changes gazetted? Was the Governor General informed? If so, how was he involved?

If some scheme designed to thwart the intention of the Australian Constitution has been devised by others and entered into by particular judges does not their behaviour warrant investigation at the highest level? If it is determined that a deliberate attempt has been made to avoid the terms of our Constitution should not these "pillars of society", supposedly beyond reproach, be called to account for their alleged deliberate and seemingly successful (to date) attempt to defeat the intentions of the Australian Constitution, in a move that could only provide benefit for themselves?

We await your response with interest.

Following is a chronological description of the changes affecting the Australian Constitution and the Family Law Act in relation to a judge's retirement age.

************************************

The first judges in 1975/76 were appointed to the Family Court of Australia under Section 72 of the Australian Constitution which allowed for

"Justices of the High Court and of the other courts created by the Parliament" to be appointed for life. In other words, a retirement age was not specified at that time.

Constitution Altered to retire judges at 70 years - 29 July 1977

Following the 21 May 1977 referendum, the Constitution was altered on 29 July 1977 to specify that judges appointed by the Commonwealth should retire when they reached 70 years of age.

In our opinion, the change recognised that the judiciary needed to be competent and able to produce reasoned decisions, which could be in jeopardy the longer judges were allowed to remain on the bench once past a normal retirement age.

The Constitution was changed to read:

72. The Justices of the High Court and of the other courts created by the Parliament–

(i.) Shall be appointed by the Governor-General in Council:

(ii.) Shall not be removed except by the Governor-General in Council, on an address from both Houses of the Parliament in the same session, praying for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity:

Shall receive such remuneration as the Parliament may fix; but the remuneration shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.

The appointment of a Justice of the High Court shall be for a term expiring upon his attaining the age of seventy years, and a person shall not be appointed as a Justice of the High Court if he has attained that age.

The appointment of a Justice of a court created by the Parliament shall be for a term expiring upon his attaining the age that is, at the time of his appointment, the maximum age for Justices of that court and a person shall not be appointed as a Justice of such a court if he has attained the age that is for the time being the maximum age for Justices of that court.

Subject to this section, the maximum age for Justices of any court created by the Parliament is seventy years.

The Parliament may make a law fixing an age that is less than seventy years as the maximum age for Justices of a court created by the Parliament and may at any time repeal or amend such a law, but any such repeal or amendment does not affect the term of office of a Justice under an appointment made before the repeal or amendment.

A Justice of the High Court or of a court created by the Parliament may resign his office by writing under his hand delivered to the Governor-General.

Nothing in the provisions added to this section by the Constitution Alteration (Retirement of Judges) 1977 affects the continuance of a person in office as a Justice of a court under an appointment made before the commencement of those provisions.

A reference in this section to the appointment of a Justice of the High Court or of a court created by the Parliament shall be read as including a reference to the appointment of a person who holds office as a Justice of the High Court or of a court created by the Parliament to another office of Justice of the same court having a different status or designation.

Source: Constitution Alteration (Retirement of Judges) Act 1977 (No. 83 of 1977). (NAA: A1559/1, 83/1977)

Family Law Act Amended 11 October 1977

Later on in the same year, 1977, an amendment to the Family Law Act 1975 was introduced by our current Prime Minister John Howard to lower the retirement age for the judges of this court to 65 years of age.

His argument detailed in Hansard on page 818 on Sept 7, 1977 suggested that

"... it is generally conceded that in family law, more than in most other areas of law, judges adjudicating over disputes should be aware of an keep abreast of current social values and attitudes. For this reason, and also because of the demanding and arduous nature of at least some of the disputes - notably, defended custody disputes - there seems to be goods reason for requiring judges of the Family Court to retire at least by the age recognised as the maximum retiring age for most other occupations in the community."

The Parliament accepted this bill and the Family Law Amendment Act 1977 was assented to and commenced on 11 October 1977.

Family Law amendment removed provision to retire judges at 65 years - 25 October 1991

No more changes to the retirement age for judges of the Family Court were made or suggested until the first report of the Joint Select Committee on Certain Aspects of the Operation and Interpretation of the Family Law Act in 1991.

The Report recommended that the Family Law Act be amended to fix a maximum retirement age of 70 years for Family Court judges. The Liberal party in opposition obviously had a complete change of heart since 1977 and supported the introduction and passage of the government’s (Labour) proposed Family Law Amendment Bill (No 2) 1991 which was enacted and commenced on 25 October 1991.

The removal of S 23A that dealt with Family Court Judges’ retirement age meant that the retirement decision would be governed by S72 of the Constitution.

In praising the bill Mr Ian Wilson (Liberal) in opposition during a second reading speech made it quite clear that "future appointments to the court will be governed by section 72 of the constitution which provides, in its form as amended by a referendum in the late 1970s, a maximum age for Federal Court judges of 70 years".

Wilson forgets that the Constitution also allows for the Government to set a judges retirement age up to 70 years should they wish to do so and as they had done with Family Court judges when they set the retirement age at 65 years.

Towards the end of his 2nd reading speech (Hansard 15/10/91) Wilson seemed to confuse the quite clear direction of the Constitution whereby judges retirement age is governed by the condition under which they were originally employed when he stated:

"This enables judges to remain and continue to contribute to the age of 75 (sic should read 70) in lieu of the age of 65, which is the requirement under the present legislation."

The Constitution on the other hand states quite clearly:

"The appointment of a Justice of a court created by the Parliament shall be for a term expiring upon his attaining the age that is, at the time of his appointment,…"

Those few words are enough to raise questions about the retirement of the current Family Court judges.

Were they appointed

1 ) between 5th January 1976 and 29 July 1977 - when judges were appointed for ‘life’ under the terms of the Australian Constitution.

2 ) After 29 July 1977 but before 11 October 1977 - when alterations to the Constitution on 29/7/77, as a result of a referendum, imposed a retirement age of 70 years.

3 ) After 11 October 1977 until 24 October 1991 - when on 11/10/77 the retirement age of judges was reduced to 65 years of age to comply with s 23 A of the Family Law Act and the Constitution.

4 ) After 25 October 1991 to date - when on 25/10/91 S23A of the Family Law Act was repealed, thus allowing Family Court judges to stay until 70 years of age.

As a matter of interest, when the Chief Justice of the Family Court Alastair Nicholson expressed his views to the Joint Select Committee on Certain Aspects of the Operation and Interpretation of the Family Law Act in 1991 he wielded considerable influence that resulted in the recommendation to extend the age to 70 years . Nicholson argued, as detailed by MP Ian Wilson in his second reading speech the following

"But I note the views of the Chief Justice of the Family Court, the Honourable Justice Nicholson, who queries whether the job of a Family Court judge is necessarily more stressful than that of a judge in any other court or the jobs of many other people who are aged between 65 and 70. I quote from Mr Justice Nicholson's submission to the Committee from whose recommendations this Bill has emanated. His Honour said:

The work of Judges in all such Courts is stressful. There is little to choose between the emotional strain of conducting a criminal trial and arriving at an appropriate sentence, for example, than there is in conducting a trial of a custody or access issue. Matrimonial property disputes frequently require Judges to display the same skills and learning as is required of a Court of Equity. "

Nicholson would appear to be one who falls into category 3 – those who must resign at the age of 65 years.

Other Family Court judges who were appointed during the category 3 period would also be required to resign on reaching the age of 65 years on our understanding of the provisions contained in the Constitution and Family Law Act.

Our inquiries indicate that there appear to be 18 judges, including the Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson, who were appointed between 11 October 1977 and 25 October 1991 to the Family Court of Australia. Some have already retired, some were over the age of 65 years at the time they retired, and others should be retiring as their sixty-fifth birthday arises over the next few years.

Nicholson’s retirement date – by the 19th August 2003 when he reaches 65 years of age has already passed, but has not gone un-noticed.

With regards,

Sue Price
Director
Men's Rights Agency
P.O. Box 28, Waterford
Qld, Australia 4133

Tel: 07 3805 5611

Fax: 07 3200 8769

Email: support@.com

Web:

";"An open letter sent to all federal politicians:

Dear Member of Parliament,

Re: Did the Chief Justice of the Family Court and/or others conspire to defeat the intention of the Australian Constitution?

The Ch"; "131";"shd";"The Real Love that Dare not Speak its Name";"The Sunday Times (UK)";"2003-09-07";"Bob Geldof";;"http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2092-806406_1,00.html

This is an abridged version of a chapter entitled The Real Love that Dare not Speak its Name by Bob Geldof, from Children and their Families, Hart Publishing, Oxford, £31

Review

The father love that dare not speak its name

By Bob Geldof

When it comes to access to children, divorced men haven't a chance, writes Bob Geldof. In a world of dual-career couples, the law needs to recognise the hands-on parenting role played by many fathers Family law as it currently stands does not work. It is rarely of benefit to the child and promotes injustice, conflict and unhappiness on a massive

scale. Most custody rulings show no understanding of contemporary society.

The contention that women are inherently better nurturers is wrong. Custody rulings appear to be based on the "sugar and spice and all things nice"  school of biological determination rather than on anything more significant. If a woman "mothers" a child, a warm universe of nurturing is conjured. If a man "fathers" a child it simply implies nothing more than the swift biological function involved in the procreative act.

If the later 20th century saw the transformation of women's lives, then the 21st century is seeing the transformation of men's lives, and by definition the lives of their children. Nearly half the workforce is female and men now hold a different view of parenting. There are no studies which suggest that a child brought up by a man (as I was) displays any psychological or emotional characteristics different to one raised by a woman.

My complaints are not the moans of the unsuccessful litigant at the hands of family law. I, in fact, was "successful". This is someone dismayed by the inappropriateness of the law to the everyday. Nor is this the complaint of the proto-misogynist - indeed the law is so inept that it produces misandrists in equal measure - but rather the irritation and anger of

someone who sees exact parallels with women's struggle against bias and prejudice.

What's sauce for the goose, as they say, is sauce for the gander - except, of course, in the eyes of family law, where the man ceases to be an equal partner in anything but name. A husband had better hang on to his marriage or risk losing everything he has had and be forced under pain of pursuit, prosecution and imprisonment to be a wage slave for life. There is grave injustice here.

Many may read Bob the embittered, abandoned husband in this. They would be quite wrong. My personal response to my situation was shock and dismay,

pain, emptiness and loss. I was embittered only with the law and my consequent lack of rights as a man.

I am only too aware of the pain that women suffer in divorce, but it is equally true that it is as nothing compared with the financial and emotional loss suffered by men. She may lose her man, he loses the lot.

If he is the offending party, people believe that it's right that he should leave the house and kids and pay for them. He even half-thinks this in his guilt. But rarely does he think: I've got a new woman, I'm happier, so I'll

just take the kids and go off to this new life. Indeed, society would view

it askance if he took the kids. Why? We don't if she does precisely the

same. Why?

It is this type of confused thinking, lying at the heart of family law,

that allows it to be unjustly weighted in favour of women. This is

acknowledged by most commentators and lawyers when they are being honest.

I can accept that this was not the intent. The intent is that the law

should always act in the best interests of the child. We all agree with

that. But the unspoken assumption is that the interests of the child are

nearly always best served by the presence of the mother.

This is simply wrong. Only in exceptional circumstances will a man be

allowed to raise his children - something that outside the justice system

and within society is assumed to be inalienable upon his child's birth.

The law is creating vast wells of misery, massive discontent, an unstable

society of feral children and feckless adolescents who have no

understanding of authority, no knowledge of a man's love and how different

but equal it is to a woman's.

It also creates irresponsible mothers, drifting, hopeless fathers, problem,

violent and ill-educated sons and daughters, a disconnection from the

extended family and society at large. So many of us are hurting and yet the

law will treat the man in court (if my case is typical) with contempt,

suspicion, disdain and hostility.

He is a father who has already lost his wife, his children, his home and,

of course, his money, often his health and frequently his job. Good, eh? No

doubt professionals will decry this view. But it is a commonly held one.

Everything can be tolerable until the children are taken from you. I cannot begin to describe the awful pain of being handed a note, sanctioned by your (still) wife with whom you had made these little things and had felt them grow and kick and felt intense pride and profound love for before they were even born.

You had changed their nappies, taught them to talk and read, wrestled and played with them, walked them to school, picked them up, made tea with them, bathed and dressed them, put them to bed, cuddled them and lain with them in your arms and sung them to sleep. You have felt them and smelt them around you at all times, alert even in sleep to the slightest shift in their breathing. And then you're handed a note that will "allow" you "access" to these things who are the best of you.

What have you done? Why are you being punished? When did she assume control? She wants to leave. What's that got to do with the kids and me?

Were I to issue her a similar note, what would happen? I still ask these questions.

Why is the language that of the prison visit? Why is the person (and I'm being restrained because it is nearly always the woman, but we're actually not meant to say that for fear of being labelled misogynist) who has taken the children, or been left with them, given immense emotional, legal and financial power over the other party?

It is at this juncture that things spiral into acrimony, bitterness and hate. Losing control of one's life is a desperate experience - having someone else being able to exert control over it is worse. Some readers will know better than I the incidence of serious illness and alcoholism in

men arising from divorce. Isn't this serious enough to insist on change?

Count the economic and social cost if that means more to you than the

human. What more is required to make men the same in the eyes of the law as

they are in the eyes of their children? Both parents must have equal status

after separation. There must be an immediate presumption, as there has been

in Denmark since January 2002, that the children, where possible, will live

with the father 50% of the time. Isn't that eminently civilised?

The principle of 50% of everything must pertain. Children are genetically

50% of the man and that selfish gene which drove him to express genetic

infinity with his partner through their children cannot just conveniently

disappear in some legalistic, Stalinist coup de théâtre.

We have seen the rise of dual-career couples; now we need dual-carer

couples. An equal child-sharing arrangement would be advantageous in many

ways, not least because it would help both parents to be free to earn a

living and pursue their independent lives, and thereby achieve and maintain

greater amicability between them, which will in turn benefit their

children. As to those who can't or won't participate in this arrangement,

then the parties can work out something of mutual convenience and benefit

to the children.

The implication of any order determining the father's allotted time with

his children is that he was always of secondary importance. Reasonable

contact is an oxymoron. The fact that as a father you are forbidden from

seeing your children except at state-appointed moments is by definition

unreasonable. The fact that you must visit your family as opposed to live

with them is unreasonable. "Contact" with your children should not be

infrequent and odd. In public parks on Sundays you can watch the single men

with children drag themselves through the false hours in a frantic panic of

activity, every second measured and weighed in a moment of state-sanctioned

time.

I know that what I have written spills from coherent thought into pain and

anger. The problem is that this issue is bound up with pain. The law is

profoundly flawed. Its laughable pretext of gender neutrality and

impartiality must be removed and the true face of bias, discrimination and

prejudice fully displayed. There is no harm in being radical when the

status quo breeds injustice. I am suggesting:

Education in schools that would lead to an understanding of relationships

and "familial responsibility".

Marriage classes which outline the consequences of having children and

their impact upon that contractual agreement.

At separation, and before divorce can be contemplated, a mandatory

arbitrator who could insist on a staged withdrawal or conciliation before

the dispute may be permitted to go to court. And should proceedings move to

divorce, a presumption of equal parenting, implying shared responsibility

and equal residency.

My "50%" proposition has already begun to be assimilated into the

mainstream in Denmark and frequently in the United States. I fought for it

myself. I had always worked from home. I had money. I took care of the

children. I had ample accommodation and a stable relationship with a woman

they knew and liked. My former wife worked. Why couldn't the children be

with me for 50% of the time? I could not and still don't understand why

there was so much opposition.

Eventually I succeeded, but I had nearly to bankrupt myself in the process

simply to be able to live with my children. How is that in their interests?

Finally I was granted full custody. But I never wanted or asked for that.

My former wife was not a criminal, so why this punitive measure of taking

our children from her?

If I disagree with it happening to men, equally so with women. I was given

full custody because the professionals involved would not agree that split

residence was acceptable, despite the urging of the judge in the case who

had sat on international benches making those judgments daily.

As I entered court on my first day someone leant over who felt he was doing

me a favour. "Whatever you do," he said, "for Chrissakes never say you love

your children."

Bewildered, I asked: "Why not?"

"The court thinks you're being unhealthily extreme if, being a man, you

express your love for a child."

For two years I shut up while I heard the presumptions in favour of a

mother's love. Finally I began articulating the real love that dare not

speak its name - that of a father for his child. No law should stand that

serves to stifle this.

This is an abridged version of a chapter entitled The Real Love that Dare

not Speak its Name by Bob Geldof, from Children and their Families, Hart

Publishing, Oxford, £31

© Bob Geldof

";"http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2092-806406_1,00.html

This is an abridged version of a chapter entitled The Real Love that Dare not Speak its Name by Bob Geldof, "; "132";"mnc";"Father guilty after taking son to hospital";"Northern Territory News";"2003-09-02";"Rajiv Maharaj";;"http://news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,7138499%5E13569,00.html

A Territory father has been convicted for breaching a domestic violence order after he took his son to hospital at his former wife's request.

Matthew John McDonagh responded to his former spouse, Danielle Loretta Day, when she called him and said their young son had fallen from his bike and needed help.

He drove the boy and Ms Day to Royal Darwin Hospital. He did so again some weeks later for a follow-up appointment with a specialist.

But because a domestic violence order was still in force against Mr McDonagh, he was not supposed to go within 100m of Ms Day.

Police arrested Mr McDonagh and jailed him for three days for the ``technical breach''.

He was fined $250 and convicted.

But Mr McDonagh appealed against the sentence in the NT Supreme Court, and had the fine lifted _ but the conviction was upheld.

Mr McDonagh, who appeared for himself, told Justice Trevor Riley that he should not have been convicted or fined because he was acting in the best interests of the child.

He said at no time during the breaches was there any danger, or threat of danger.

He told the judge that a conviction under the domestic violence legislation would be a serious blemish on his record and affect job prospects.

But Justice Riley told Mr McDonagh, who had previous convictions for other matters, that it was ``appropriate'' a conviction be recorded.

Northern Territory News

";"http://news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,7138499%5E13569,00.html

A Territory father has been convicted for breaching a domestic violence order after he t"; "133";"shd";"Lives in the imbalance";"The Courier Mail (Brisbane)";"2003-09-12";"By Margaret Wenham";;"http://www.thecouriermail.news.com.au/printpage/0,5942,7236465,00.html,/a>

12 September 2003

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community

Services was in town last Thursday.

Its brief? Ostensibly, to hear public submissions to its inquiry into

the residency arrangements of children of separated parents, the child

support payment formula and grandparents' access rights to children.

Prime Minister John Howard announced this inquiry on June 24 on the

basis of "a level of unhappiness with the operation of matters relating

to the custody of children".

And in his words, which have been slavishly echoed by the Standing

Committee, lies a dangerous rub.

Anyone who keeps up with changes in family law knows that the word

"custody" has been deleted from the Family Law Act since 1996.

It was eliminated because it was recognised that "custody" denoted

ownership, or a right to dictate terms, and left non-custodial parents

feeling redundant or disempowered.

The terms "residency" and "joint parental responsibility and contact"

replaced "custody".

This change was a signal to parents that, while a child might live most

of the time with one parent, both parents should have equal input into

decisions concerning their well-being and upbringing.

The Family Law Act as it pertains to residency is now wholly couched in

terms that encourage separating parents to think about what's in their

children's best interests.

For those who wish to formalise residency, the Act accommodates any

combination or permutation of children's residency with their separated

parents that reasonable adults, with the best interests of their child

in mind and taking into account practicalities such as who works what

hours, can make.

That the Prime Minister used the term "custody" and the committee

continues to use it indicates that he and they have launched this

inquiry from a false premise, or are in the thrall of the noisy men's

rights lobby.

Evidence for the latter possibility was provided by the conduct of the

committee during the Brisbane hearings.

There are 10 MPs on the committee - four women, six men; four ALP, six

coalition.

Giving submissions in the three hours allotted to Brisbane were several

individuals, including a married couple, the Pine Rivers Neighbourhood

Centre, the Men's Information and Support Association, and a family law

firm.

The first open hearing submission, given by the married couple, was

measured - politely and thoughtfully against the rebuttable 50/50 joint

residency thesis but critical of current Family Court and Child Support

Agency problem areas such as lengthy case delays, which allow passions

between warring parents to run hot for protracted periods, and child

support collection failures where the payer is self-employed.

So controlled and civil was the couple that both they and the audience

must have been surprised by the aggressive questioning that came from

three members of the committee - NSW MPs Alan Cadman and Roger Price

and Tasmanian member Harry Quick.

Rarely did the honourable members refer to the couple's submission.

Rather they put statements to them and asked whether they agreed or

not. Quick barked at the startled young woman: "Should custodial

parents be made to account for the maintenance they're paid?"

And didn't she agree it seemed unlikely that 95 per cent of people were

satisfied with current family law processes?

After several minutes of this type of questioning, the pair resumed

their seats in the audience appearing faintly alarmed by the

experience.

Next, two female employees of the Pine Rivers agency presented their

submission.

Included was the fact that the Family Court's public policy, reflected

in the Family Law Act, supported joint residency already.

But, the agency rep warned mildly, such arrangements could only work

and be in the best interests of the children if relations between the

parents were amicable.

Again, rather than questioning the two women about their submission,

Cadman and Price leapt in.

Price demanded: "Why can't 50/50 be the starting point?"

The current system was surely wrong given the 80/20 split in women/men

having residency, wasn't it?

Price lowered his brows and leaned forward to render his final

statement on the matter.

"A lot of people, I think, would benefit from a starting point of

50/50," he boomed.

At that point it became apparent the committee was not so much

inquiring as pursuing an agenda.

That the atmosphere between the submissions desk and the committee's

table lightened considerably when the men's association representative

gave its submission, completed the picture.

The MISA representative was spoken to smilingly and courteously as she

affirmed her view that the starting point should indeed be 50/50.

The committee did not even take issue with the suggestion made by MISA

that a man who was violent towards his former wife shouldn't

necessarily be denied access to his children. "Just because he's

violent toward his wife, doesn't mean he's violent toward his

children," the MISA rep said.

There was no questioning about such a man's suitability as a role model

by Cadman et al, merely sympathetic nods.

This inquiry process may not have a skewed premise, but from it's

performance last week, one has to wonder how open-minded it is to the

questions it is charged with examining. It may be difficult to have

faith in the impartiality and soundness of the committee's eventual

recommendations.

---

Image: The Prime Minister used the term "custody" and a parliamentary

committee continues to use it, despite it being struck from the law

years ago, reports Margaret Wenham. Artwork: Jonathan Bentley

---

Margaret Wenham is a Courier-Mail journalist

";"http://www.thecouriermail.news.com.au/printpage/0,5942,7236465,00.html,/a>

12 September 2003

The House of Representatives Standi"; "134";"JOI";"Joint Custody - CSA Federal Inquiry - Public Hearings";"";"0000-00-00";"Federal Government Website";;"Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs

Committee activities (inquiries and reports)

Schedule of public hearings

Date, Time and Details of Hearings and Community Statements Location Transcript Availability

Friday 26 September 2003

8:30am - 2:15pm Jacaranda Room, Joondalup Resort, Joondalup (Perth), WA

Thursday 25 September 2003

9:00am - 1:00pm Litchfield Room, Parliament House, Darwin, NT

Wednesday 24 September 2003

9:00am - 4:00pm Sunset Ballroom, Sfera's on the Park, 191 Reservoir Rd, Modbury, SA

Monday 15 September 2003

8:30am - 12:30pm Committee Room 2R2, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT

";"Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs

Committee activities (inquiries and reports)

Schedule of public hearings

Date, Time and Details of Hearings and Community Statements Location Transcript Av"; "135";"fam";"Internet splits family";"The West Australian";"2003-09-13";"Julie Butler";;" sto112530.html>http://www.thewest.com.au/20030913/news/perth/tw-news-perth-home-

sto112530.html

An internet-sparked romance has left the Family Court ruling on

whether a woman could move abroad with her children, leaving their

father behind.

Chief Judge Michael Holden said in a recent judgment in favour of the

woman that no matter what he decided, one parent would be devastated.

The woman wanted to take her children, both aged under five, to the

United States. She had met an American man, now her husband, in an

internet chat room. Her former spouse opposed the move.

Justice Holden said the case was very difficult to decide, involving

two fundamentally decent, law-abiding citizens, both of whom loved

and were loved by their children.

To let the mother take the children would have a big impact on their

contact with their father and his family members.

But she would be devastated if she could not, believing she had found

true love and happiness with her new husband.

To prevent her living with him, given she would not leave her

children to do so, would condemn her to a time of misery, which could

not be in the children's best interests.

There was nothing to suggest she would not keep promoting a good

relationship between the children and their father. Both could

provide for the children's physical and intellectual needs, but the

mother was better on the emotional side.

Justice Holden said the father had said in an affidavit that after a

visit with the children he usually had a tear in his eye, because of

their great distress at him leaving. He conceded at trial that he

usually cried in front of them and they had drawn-out emotional hugs.

Justice Holden said there was nothing to suggest any reason other

than the father's own behaviour for the children's distress at such

times.

The mother had come across as an entirely credible witness. The

father had shown he still felt bitter towards his former wife, who

had left him.

Justice Holden concluded the mother was the most appropriate

residence parent, notwithstanding her plan to move.

She had agreed to forgo child support from the father, paid at nearly

$8000 a year, to help him afford airfares to visit the children.

Justice Holden said that among other contact provisions, the children

should come back to WA for contact with their father for a month once

a year, with the mother to pay their airfares each alternate year.

Letters to the Editor:

Internet daddies

Judge Michael Holden has been watching too many romantic comedies. A woman's romance is judged to be more important than the needs of her two children under five years old. They are to be sent off to America with a new "daddy" while their biological father has access to them once a year.

And what if this romance should fail? Never mind, there are plenty more daddies on the internet.

MIRYANA GUEST, Wanneroo.

---

No dignity for fathers

FATHERS who show emotion in front of their children are emotionally abusing them, according to Chief Justice Michael Holden of the WA Family Court.

Your report (Internet splits family, 13/9) seemed to suggest that a father's love for his children was used as a means of justifying a decision to allow his children to be taken by their mother to the US to live with her new husband.

Judge Holden's statement that the father's admission of crying in front of his children when having to return them and that he was still bitter that his wife had left him shows the inability of the judge to show any degree of empathy for what fathers go through and gives the Family Court something else it can take from fathers - their dignity.

As widespread debate goes on around the country about the benefits of shared parenting and high-profile commentators such as the Sex Discrimination

Commissioner, Pru Goward, remind fathers of the need for greater involvement

in the lives of their children, we have a Chief Justice putting penalties on

this. The clearest message from this judgment is that the Family Court believes "family" does not include fathers and that fathers should not be part of their children's lives after separation and, most importantly, fathers have no right to be upset about this.

The Family Court, like any other court, should hand down decisions that reflect community expectations. Does the Chief Justice honestly believe that fathers, grandparents, other family members and the general public would agree with his decision to allow the mother's belated choices to be paramount? It was a decision that moulds "the best interest of the mother" into "the best interest of the children" - a common occurrence.

TERRY BOWKER, secretary, Reliable Parents Inc, Welshpool.

";" sto112530.html>http://www.thewest.com.au/20030913/news/perth/tw-news-perth-home-

sto112530.html

An internet-sparked romance has left the Fam"; "136";"fem";"Listen up, boys. Do as you're told!";"The Age (Melbourne)";"2003-09-20";"Bettina Arndt";;"

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/09/19/1063625211965.html

The key to a lasting marriage is the man's willingness to accept his partner's influence, writes Bettina Arndt.

The huge young footballer lay cheerfully baking in the spring sun on the sidelines, his muscular legs spread wide, hands behind his head. With his body covering much of the pathway between the two football fields, the large group of parents cheering on the sidelines were forced to constantly

detour around him.

After almost tripping over him as I excitedly followed my son's run with

the ball, I couldn't stand it any longer and suggested he sit up and stop

blocking the path. His mother, proudly standing next to her hulking young

prince, humphed her disapproval at my comment.

Mother love has clearly blinded her to the fact that males can no longer

get away with that sense of entitlement, that expectation that others will

tiptoe around them. She's raising an endangered species, a handsome young

man destined to be booted out of any future relationship.

Today's harsh lessons of love ensure he's in for a rough ride.

The major lesson was spelt out clearly by John Gottman, a leading US

researcher on marriage and relationships. He had tracked 130 newlyweds,

observing their interactions and then following them for six years to see

which marriages were happy and stable and which ended in divorce.

Gottman's advice to men was as follows: "If you want your marriage to last

for a long time, just do what your wife says. Go ahead, give in to her . .

. The marriages that did work all had one thing in common - the husband was

willing to give in to the wife."

Other researchers have reached similar conclusions - that the key to a

lasting marriage today is the man's willingness to accept influence from

his mate. As British social scientist Adrienne Burgess explains in her book

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (Vermillion, 2001), this doesn't mean that

women's accepting of influence is of no importance.

Having gained economic independence and the power to walk out of

relationships, the woman is now in control.

"In good relationships both partners accommodate the other and to much the

same degree. But the problem is that men's gender-training makes them more

likely to be resistant to influence; it's the man's willingness to

accommodate that shows up in their research as more important," says Burgess.

Gottman reported his surprise at the extent of the "loss of power (in

marriage) that men have experienced in the last 40 years".

Having gained economic independence and the power to walk out of

relationships where she isn't happy, the woman is now in control. And woe

betide any partner who is insensitive to her needs.

The shift has indeed been sudden. It's catching many young men (and their

mothers) unawares. But a male raised to assume a privileged position is now

headed for trouble.

The task of negotiating relationships with women has become mighty

treacherous. There's little tolerance for mistakes, no longer any room for

hanky-panky.

A young teacher recently told me one of her students was in huge trouble

over a prank. He had faked a series of suggestive notes in another

student's homework diary, allegedly written by the teacher herself. It was

the stuff of any teenage boy's ultimate fantasy - sexy blonde teacher comes

on to the student through a series of raunchy messages. But he had been

caught and all hell was about to break loose.

The boy was very, very lucky. The teacher convinced the school authorities

she would handle the issue herself. The result was a talk that may just

prove a major lesson for life for the young man. She talked to him about

harassment, about why his prank put her in an awkward position and

undermined her authority. But even more importantly, she warned him of

today's oppressive climate where, for some, offensive sexual behaviour has

become a hanging crime.

This time he got away with it, but he has discovered that our society has

little tolerance for males who step out of line.

It isn't easy teaching boys the new rules, which aren't always very fair.

Recently I had to adjudicate a children's quarrel that had ended in some

fisticuffs . "She hit me first," wailed my son. (And she's two years older,

he could have added.) But the message I had to give him was that that

didn't matter. As a male, he couldn't afford to hit a woman - never, ever.

It's something good men have always known, but now the stakes are far higher.

There is a very good reason that domestic violence is now taken very

seriously, given the long history of men using physical force to intimidate

women. The new rules are there for a reason. He has to get it, fair or not.

These are tough lessons. No male entitlement, no cock crows or strutting.

Now it is the male who faces a lifetime of carefully tiptoeing, perhaps

even grovelling, with radar finely tuned to women's whims.

---

Bettina Arndt is a staff writer.";"

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/09/19/1063625211965.html

The key to a lasting marriage is the man's willingness to accept his

";"A complete turnaround from an author who normally promotes the status of men and boys. Just what has brought about this apparent change - capitulation or does Bettina Arndt really believe our problems will be solved if all males become "Yes" men? What an " "137";"dva";"Domestic violence saps police resources";"The Courier Mail [Brisbane]";"2003-09-23";"Sean Parnell, state political correspondent";;"NORTH Queensland and the Gold Coast are the state's domestic violence

hotspots, according to leaked police figures which show some districts

spend more than 1000 hours a month dealing with personal disputes.

Cairns police district has registered the most domestic violence cases in

the past three months, with 255 confirmed incidents in August, 247 in July

and 275 in June.

On average, Townsville edged out the Gold Coast for the number of confirmed

incidents in that period, with Logan and Ipswich the next highest,

according to the leaked figures.

Last month alone, Queensland had 2662 domestic violence incidents requiring

the attendance of police, who spent 7584 hours on them.

That means police are spending about 2.8 hours on each confirmed case,

although officers on the Gold Coast last month spent an average 3.7 hours

on every domestic violence matter which required their attention.

Police Minister Tony McGrady is setting up a working group in the

Queensland Police Service which will review police powers and policies in

domestic violence and other cases.

"I well understand that domestic violence is an inherently difficult and

frustrating issue for police and other authorities to deal with," Mr

McGrady said.

"But domestic violence is a crime and it is very important that we continue

to respond to requests for help.

"We have a group in place, ranging in rank from commissioner and assistant

commissioner right down to sergeants, which is set to explore ways in which

police might improve the way they do business, including looking at

improving efficiencies."

Queensland Police Union president Gary Wilkinson agreed that domestic

violence was important, but said members were concerned about the amount of

time it took to deal with such matters.

"Most of the time is being wasted in red tape and paperwork and the Beattie

Government has been ignoring our pleas for the last three years to do

something about this," Mr Wilkinson said.

"In the Brisbane area alone over 50 per cent of general duties police time

is being taken up responding to domestic violence incidents, even though it

takes up only 4 per cent of all complaints."

The Courier-Mail reported yesterday that applications for Domestic Violence

Orders relating to spousal abuse increased by 3326 to 18,907 in 2002-2003,

while extending protection to cover other relationships saw 2027 extra

applications made between March and July.

DVO breaches increased 32.5 per cent between 1998-1999 and 2001-2002, when

weapons were used in 566 of cases.

Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg, who is preparing the Coalition's

policy on domestic violence, has called for more power to be given to

police and more resources to the agencies dealing with the problem.

_______________________________________

Ed's Note: Despite talks with the Queensland Minister for Families

Judy Spence in March 2003 the promise to provide once again, the numbers

of domestic violence applications and subsequent orders issued on behalf

of men and women has not been forthcoming.

Not since 1999 have we been able to access the gender based figures - department

officers claim they are too hard to collect.

Last known 1999 figures indicated 17% of all DV applications were made to

protect men from violent female partners. Victorian police statistics indicate

20% of applications are from men.

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, during the same Community Cabinet session

said he'd never had those figures put to him. He expressed his amazement

and genuine concern.

";"NORTH Queensland and the Gold Coast are the state's domestic violence

hotspots, according to leaked police figures which show some districts

spend more than 1000 hours a month dealing with personal disputes.

Cairns p"; "138";"shd";"Parental rights are a gender issue";"Irish Times";"2003-09-22";"John Waters";;"The wreathed whispers of the sisterhood are issuing forth for Bob Geldof

since he assumed advocacy of the least PC human rights issue on earth.

I wondered if they would. He is after all the man who saved the world, put

charisma into charity and gave rock'n'roll back it's conscience.

In an essay, "The real love that dare not Speak its Name", for a University

of Cambridge book, Children and their families; Contact, Rights and

Welfare, Geldof has attacked the bias in society's systems and culture

which marginalises fathers and damages children.

"The law," he wrote, "is creating vast wells of misery, massive discontent,

an unstable society of feral children and feckless adolescents who have no

understanding of authority, no knowledge of a man's love and how different

but equal it is to a woman's."

The standard response to such interventions is to depict whoever has made

them as hating women and misusing children in the interests of power, ego

and revenge. Geldof is already being targeted with both barrels.

This, he is told in the style of a nun discoursing on the Immaculate

Conception, is not a gender issue and should not be turned into one. How an

issue defined by the transfer of the natural rights of one person to the

whim of another can he discussed without reference to the distinguishing

characteristics of the respective parties is never explained.

Similarly, a charge that men pursuing their right to parent is a misuse of

children is levelled without any acknowledgment that the denial of

fundamental human rights of both fathers and children it at least as

damaging to children as to fathers.

Inevitably, someone mentions Solomon. Geldof was the subject of one

velvet-gloved assassination attempt in a Sunday newspaper last week, when a

female psychologist lectured him thus: "In the Old Testament tale about the

judgement of King Solomon, two women claimed equal right to a baby. Solomon

revealed the true parent when he called for his sword to cut the living

child in two and give one half to one and half to the other ­ out of love

for the child, the real mother relinquished her rights"

Too many children, she concluded, have already been sacrificed on the sword

of inalienable "rights".

Two subtexts are detectable:

1. Mothers are "real" parents; fathers are not

2. If fathers want to be seen as "real" parents, they should walk away from

their children if that is what mothers decide.

Those who seek to deflect criticism of the moral corruption of family law

are remarkably fond of this story, which in truth indicts precisely that

which they defend.

If mothers always behaved as implied incidences of children being

sacrificed on the sword of inalienable rights would be rare.

It is women, overwhelmingly, who make applications to the family courts,

for the simple and rational reason that family law is incentivised in their

favour.

Fathers respond, often because they have no choice and usually they do so

in pursuit of minimal concessions (not rights) which, even when extended by

a court are rarely enforced.

Within days of Geldof's recent appearance on the Pat Kenny show to expand

on his essay the Government told the UN that it "does not believe that men

should have the same rights as women in relation to guardianship adoption

and custody of children."

Fulfilling the objectives of UN conventions, it stated, "does not

necessitate the extension to men of rights identical to those accorded by

law to women."

If the Government gave notice of its intention to discriminate against any

other sub-group uproar would ensue. The woman from the Irish Council for

Civil Liberties would be on radio and TV from morning till night. An

editorial in The Irish Times would thunder about possibly, the wickedness

of splitting the atom of equality.

I do not note the absence of such responses in surprise, but simply observe

that the hypocritical silence of Ireland's mouthpieces of liberal and moral

indignation is the measure of what Geldof has taken on.

Thus far one gathers he believes the injustices he has noted are simply

oversights. It appears not to occur to him that what he is describing is

well known to those in power, and precisely as they intend. "Equality", he

should be aware, comes in liberal society with the quotation marks attached

and removing these is more challenging than feeding the world.

His decision to being his considerable moral authority to this issue is

already rousing massive consternation in quarters which resist with extreme

prejudice any challenge to their liberal gloss. If he persists many who

once spoke his name in awe will shake their heads and say what a pity that

such a champion of the underdog has been embittered by personal experience.

";"The wreathed whispers of the sisterhood are issuing forth for Bob Geldof

since he assumed advocacy of the least PC human rights issue on earth.

I wondered if they would. He is after all the man who saved the world, put

char"; "139";"mnc";"One man in six 'a victim of domestic violence'";"The Independent (UK)";"2003-09-24";"Robert Verkaik, Legal Affairs Correspondent";;"http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/story.jsp?story=446449

By Robert Verkaik, Legal Affairs Correspondent

One in six men will be the victim of domestic violence at some time in

his life, the most senior female judge in England and Wales told an audience

of law reformers at 10 Downing Street.

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the Family Division of the

High Court, said she was concerned that 10 per cent of young women "thought

it was acceptable to hit their partner''. The equivalent figure for young

men is 20 per cent. Dame Elizabeth said it was "crucial'' that such

attitudes for both men and women were reversed.

The judge acknowledged that the majority of victims of domestic violence

were women, but added: "It must be said there is significant violence

committed by a minority of women against men.''

She said: "The term domestic violence covers a wide range of

unacceptable behaviour within the family and may take many forms. Violence can take the form of emotional or psychological abuse as well as physical assault.

Indirect violence (threats, verbal abuse and denigration) may, in

certain cases, be as detrimental as actual violence.''

Although one in four women, Dame Elizabeth said, would be a victim of

domestic violence, and 120 women were killed by a current or former

partner every year, 30 men were killed each year in similar circumstances.

In an unprecedented speech by a senior judge, she said: "Clearly whilst

social awareness of this issue may have been on the rise, offending

rates are still far too high.''

Her speech, supported by Cherie Blair and Harriet Harman, the Solicitor

General, was given to a selected group of judges, lawyers and social

reformers early this month, but was only made public by Downing Street

yesterday. It was the latest in a series of addresses at Downing Street

titled the "millennium lecture series''.

Dame Elizabeth said tackling domestic violence was the responsibility of

everybody in the community. "Domestic violence is a social evil with

implications for society as a whole. We must acknowledge that serious

domestic violence causes harm to the wider community."

She said it affected grandparents and neighbours as well as the

community at large. "The fact that these crimes occur in the home does not make

them any less serious; if anything, it makes them more serious by virtue of

the abuse of trust involved. We must be absolutely clear in the message the

public hears: we cannot shut the door on the home and say it is not 'our

business'; violence is violence wherever it takes place.''

Dame Elizabeth said that her office was working closely with the Crown

Prosecution Service to find ways of sharing information between criminal

and civil proceedings concerning cases of domestic violence.

She concluded that she supported many of the Government's proposals to

reduce domestic violence, adding: "Ultimately, domestic violence is a

problem with complex causes. Whilst we should continue to punish and

deter the crime, we must also be looking to its causes if we are to move

forward.

This problem belongs to society as a whole.''

";"http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/story.jsp?story=446449

By Robert Verkaik, Legal Affairs Correspondent

One in six men will be the victim "; "140";"fem";"Motherhood's new spin";"The Australian also The Times UK";"2003-09-15";"Margarette Driscoll";;"http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/printpage/0,5942,7265338,00.html

A quiet revolution began two weeks ago in an upstairs room at a pub in

London's well-heeled suburb of Fulham. It was the inaugural meeting of the

local Women's Institute and probably the most unusual gathering the

organisation has ever had.

Instead of the predictable crowd of doughty country matrons, the room was

filled with twentysomething career women with expensive shoes and Prada

handbags. The small talk over glasses of wine was of the tedium of fund

management and the law - and the joy of jam-bottling and baking bread.

The stalwart feminists of the 1970s might be horrified but it seems that

their daughters - highly educated and driven since birth to be professional

high achievers - are reaching their late 20s or early 30s and finding that

a career is not all it was cracked up to be.

Instead they are getting in touch with their inner housewife, immersing

themselves in the joys of flower arranging and cooking.

Their mothers' generation, who went out and fought for status and equal

pay, lived by Superwoman author Shirley Conran's maxim that "life is too

short to stuff a mushroom". But for today's educated young women, a life

that is too short for mushroom-stuffing doesn't seem worth living.

Like many of her friends, Lucy Hutchings, the founder of Fulham's Women's

Institute, went to a very academic school followed by university. She and

her parents, a doctor and a dentist, took it for granted that she would

have a career. She was pushed towards law but eventually read English.

Last year, she got a job as personal assistant to the chairwoman of the

Women's Institute and became fascinated by it. "A lot of people laughed.

They said, 'Oh, I expect you'll be making lots of jam now.' At first I

found it funny too, but I soon developed a real respect for the

organisation," she says.

The Fulham WI is only part of a much bigger revolution, however. Young

professional women are not just baking cakes, they are abandoning the

high-flying careers they seemed destined for - and taking up homemaking

full-time.

Yummy mummydom has suddenly become aspirational. London's parks are full of

thirtysomethings who have thrown off the shackles of the bar or the trading

floor to look after their toddlers. For many - maybe most - of these young

women a career was a given. They never expected to enjoy motherhood, let

alone sacrifice their jobs for it.

"We were the daughters of working mothers and we expected the same lives

for ourselves," says a former pupil at St Paul's, one of London's premier

girls' schools. "I remember Shirley Conran coming to talk to us. Margaret

Thatcher was prime minister and it was assumed we would go out and do great

things.

"There was never any mention of the fact that one day we might be wives or

mothers. We were educated to think all that was irrelevant. Now my

generation is saying 'hang on a minute'. We've seen what that life did to

our mothers and we don't want it for ourselves."

If these sort of women, the shock troops in women's assault on the

workplace, are rethinking their lives, something is going on.

The marketing men certainly think so. Smythson, the Bond Street stationer,

has launched a notebook costing pound stg. 39 (A$94) in pink or dark-blue

lambskin with Domestic Goddess embossed on it in gold. It has sections for

food and wine, interiors, garden, household and shopping. Even Gucci

recently turned to producing oven gloves and aprons. Harvey Nichols has

launched its own range of cleaning products based on mint, ylang ylang and

other essential oils. And so it goes on . . . even Sarah Jessica Parker,

star of Sex and the City, has been photographed for this month's Vogue

knitting bootees.

The return to domesticity has several driving forces. It may have something

to do with September 11, which made us all rethink what's important. And

there is the financial equation.

A recent UK study showed that the average woman working full-time is left

with only pound stg. 55 spending money a month once she has paid for

childcare and domestic help.

But more than anything, it seems that a simple disillusion about the

conflicting demands of work and home is asserting itself as never before.

In the US, the most recent census showed that the number of children being

looked after by a mother at home rose significantly from 9.3 million in

1994 to 11 million last year.

Such figures may seem odd at a time when women are doing better

educationally in many countries than ever before and are outperforming boys

at school.

But having a trailblazing feminist for a mother can be distinctly

off-putting in real life. Joanna, one of three children of a partner in a

London law firm, says it was seeing her mother ground down by trying to do

her job and create a decent family life that made her determined to stay at

home with her children.

Although many companies nod towards so-called "family-friendly" policies,

working, for most women, is not much easier than it was in their mothers'

day. It is estimated that a working mother has to earn at least pound stg.

40,000 a year in London just to break even if she is going to employ a

nanny.

For most women the sums do not add up. Because professional help is so

expensive most childcare is informal - but if you rely on mothers or

friends you are always owing favours, which is a strain in itself.

A slew of recent UK studies showed that only one in seven women feels that

her job is central to her life. Four out of five wives think of their

husband as the main breadwinner. Only 16 per cent of under-threes have

mothers in full-time work.

"Whatever a woman's background - and that applies to the highly educated,

too - she tends to choose a man who is even better educated or older or

higher up the career ladder, so maybe she has the idea of looking after

children herself at the back of her mind," says Jill Kirby, author of

Choosing to be Different, published in June by the Centre for Policy

Studies.

"Some of the assumptions have changed. There's another generation of women

coming to motherhood, a generation that hasn't had to fight for jobs.

There's a bit of a backlash against being at work."

The backlash is not just from mothers. Increasingly, people who work in the

law, finance, technology and the media are suffering from burnout, a

condition once associated with only the most pressured of jobs. Many

thirtysomethings are choosing to "protire" - drop out of work with the goal

of self-improvement. Figures show that one in 15 under-35s has already

protired and nearly half plan to ditch their careers for something more

fulfilling.

Stress and boredom are the key factors, plus a feeling of "missing out"

through working long hours.

On the surface, Australia seems to be sharing in the resurgence of

domesticity. Australians are spending more time at home and putting their

money into making their domestic lives more comfortable.

Despite this shift to home-based activity, however, there is no obvious

trend of women leaving their careers to stay at home. Australian women are

overwhelmingly choosing to work.

The number of working mothers - whether married or single - has grown

steadily for the past 20 years, according to research by the Australian

Institute of Family Studies.

The number of mothers (with a partner) who work full-time has grown from

18.3 per cent in 1983 to 25.5 per cent in 2002, while those in part-time

work grew from 23.8 per cent to 37.4 per cent.

University of NSW senior research fellow Michael Bittman says the amount of time Australian women take off from their career to have children is lessthan ever.

There is no evidence that men with high-paying jobs are more likely to have wives at home. "Well-paid men are more likely to marry women with a strong education and a high attachment to the workforce," Bittman says. "The husband's income is in fact a predictor that women are slightly more likely to be in the workforce."

It appears the popularity of cooking magazines, books and home-making

television shows is more about aspiration than reality. Bittman says the

time spent on food preparation has "fallen spectacularly", while the money spent on restaurants, takeaway food and convenience food has risen steadily.


The Sunday Times, additional reporting Caitlin Fitzsimmons

A quiet revolution began two weeks ago in an upstairs room at a pub in

Lond"; "144";"fam";"Child Custody: Where Men Hit a Glass Ceiling";"http://intellectualconservative.com/page1026";"2003-09-30";"By Rachel Alexander";;"A close look at child custody, examining how the courts and society's attitudes towards fathers almost guarantee that fathers will never be much more than a pocketbook to their ex-wives and girlfriends.

Child custody has emerged as an area where men run into a glass ceiling.

"It's awful to take a child away from its mother!" Sound familiar? That is because it is the message that has been repeatedly hammered at society by feminists, as well as some conservatives. But you won't hear the equivalent, "It's awful to take a child away from its father," because the feminists aren't pushing equivalent respect for fathers. Instead, you are more likely to hear this mantra about fathers, "there's so many deadbeat dads." The feminists have successfully changed the law, the courts, and societal attitudes when it comes to the custody and care of children from

split homes. Instead of looking at fathers' capabilities and indiscretions individually, the law makes sweeping assumptions and treats all fathers as second class. Women, if you are successful in no other area of life, read this article closely, because you can easily succeed here, the system is so weighted in your favor. Free money, free legal help, and kind court staff.

If you don't work, or don't work much, you'll make out even better, so it is best not to work much. And all you need to do is get pregnant! Men, all

I offer for advice to you is this: if you have children, you'd better pray

that you remain a couple.

Sad as it sounds, this is where the law is at. When a couple that has

mutual children splits up, the courts examine just a few factors to

determine custody, known as the "best interests of the child." These factors make it very likely that the woman will get custody of the children and hence child support money. Two of the most important factors include who is better able to "take care" of the child and whether there has been domestic violence by one of the parents. Well, these factors "sound" good,

but in reality, they have been specifically selected for their heavy bias

against fathers. There are numerous other factors that address equally as

serious issues, that could affect mothers for the worse, or at least

equally affect both parents, such as drug abuse, but these factors are

conveniently not found in the "best interests of the child" statutes (there

must be an actual drug conviction - which is absurd - one drug-addict

mother was able to take away custody away from the father even though she

snorted meth every single day - the courts had no knowledge of her drug

habit!). "Take care" of the child has little to do with being able to

financially support the child. It should, since almost as many women as men

work outside of the home now, but because a lot of women with children who

split up with the fathers aren't very ambitious and sit around the house

watching soap operas, the law has been crafted to label this as "taking

care" of the children, instead of earning money. Since most fathers work

full-time, they lose here.

"Domestic violence" is another disguised way of guaranteeing that the

fathers lose. Women are now trained by society to call the police anytime

their boyfriend or husband loses his temper, and are using and abusing this

taxpayer funded "helpline" at an increasingly alarming rate. Murray A.

Straus, a sociologist and co-director for the Family Research Laboratory at

the University of New Hampshire, reported that at least 30 studies of

domestic violence, including some he had conducted, found that women were

as equally culpable of domestic violence as men. Yet this information is

not widely publicized, and is downplayed by both police officers and the

courts. Women are also abusing restraining orders. A recent article in

Human Events cited a government study that found that fewer than half of

all restraining orders contained even an allegation of physical violence.

Instead of working out their fights, or leaving the man, women are taking

the easy way out and forcing taxpayers to pay for their "tattling" every

time they take up the time of a police officer or court. Of course, many

times it is the woman who caused the fight, but that is not going to end up

in the court's minute entry. Men are laughed at if they are the victims of

domestic violence. One young father attempted to seek free legal help from

a domestic violence law clinic after his ex-wife continued to hit him, and

the clinic turned him away in amusement. Another young father had the

domestic violence of an ex-girlfriend, who had hit him, used against him in

order to justify taking away his child.

It is easy for mothers to obtain free legal aid in pursuing custody of

their children. There are flyers everywhere - in women's restrooms, in

doctor's offices, and in government buildings offering free legal resources

for women to use. The Legal Aid clinics help out so many mothers with

custody disputes and divorces that recently they have had to limit their

representation of custody cases to cases alleging abuse. Domestic violence

legal clinics are at many of the law schools now, and give women free legal

help with divorces, custody disputes, and restraining orders. If there are

low-income requirements, they are rarely verified; any woman can come in

and say she makes very little money, and on her word alone she will receive

free legal help (just like at Planned Parenthood).

The child support laws are crafted not just to provide for the cost of

raising a child, but to bring the parent receiving the support to the level

she would have been at if she were still with the father! The absurdity of

this situation can be seen in this all too common example: A woman cheats

on her husband and then files for no-fault divorce. She gets custody of the

children, AND the benefit of his salary and payraises until their child

turns 18 - all the money benefits as if they were still married (and she

may even get alimony on top of that, but that is a different issue for

another column, and at least with alimony, once the mother remarries, the

alimony goes away)! Why should an ex-wife be guaranteed, years after having

been married, the same living standard of her husband? Absent unhealthy

circumstances, why shouldn't the parent with the BETTER living standards be

considered the one better prepared to take care of the child? That way, one

parent isn't stuck paying for the ex-spouse too. Currently, though, most

child custody laws do not consider financial responsibility of the parent

as one of the "best interests of the child."

Child support is widely touted by governmental agencies as one of the most

important things government does, and the duty of it is glorified almost

nazilike to the level of a moral authority. Yet what exactly does child

support do? The charts for child support award way too much money to the

custodial parent - does anyone really believe that it costs $800/month to

raise a child? In most situations, the mother has custody and makes

considerably less money than the father. According to fairly standard child

support guidelines, if the mother makes $20,000/yr and the father makes

$40,000/yr, and there is one child, the father should pay $535/month in

child support (the formula adds both parents' salaries together, then comes

up with a random number of how much they think that child costs - here it

was $800 - then has the non-custodial parent pay the percentage his salary

is - here it is 66%). Does anyone REALLY THINK that many of the mothers who

resort to going to court to collect child support are the types of mothers

who would spend a full $535/month on one child, as well as another

$265/month of their own money (particularly if the child is older than 5

and in school)? There is no monitoring of that money, and it is very

difficult to get a court to order any type of accounting by the mother. One

such mother of a 6-year old has stated that she is saving the money for

breast implants.

Furthermore, the concept of child support money discourages personal

responsibility and ambition. It penalizes the custodial parent for working

harder and trying to get ahead, because a higher paying job would reduce

the amount of free money they get from the other parent. It is akin to

welfare - if you work hard, you aren't eligible for it. And it is a double

penalty, because it also penalizes the non-custodial parent for working

harder. The more money the non-custodial parent makes, the more money is

taken out of his paycheck to go to the residential parent.

Do we really want to heap benefits on mothers who split up with the

fathers, essentially giving "reward" money to women who have sex, instead

of letting them suffer the consequences? Everyone knows that sex without

true commitment leads to broken down homes and emotional trauma,

particularly for any children involved. Everyone also knows that when you

have sex, you may get pregnant. In some ways, child support is merely a

disguised form of prostitution - women are encouraged to have sex and

receive money from any man who succeeds in impregnating them. After sex,

the man then has no other contact with the woman except to give her money

for the child, and any modicum of visitation he can squeak out. Instead of

teaching women to avoid gratuitous sex, our society encourages sex with its

condom education and giveaways, and easy access to taxpayer-funded Planned

Parenthoods. Women realize they can have gratuitous sex without suffering

any consequences, because the safety net of a man's pocketbook will always

be there for them, thanks to the long arm of the moral authoritarian

government child support agency that reassures them that they are right.

And what exactly are deadbeat dads? Many "deadbeat dads" are simply fathers

who are going through a hard time economically; they may have lost a job,

or simply are having a difficult time paying $800/month in child support.

Sure there are some fathers who have completely rejected any responsibility

towards their children, but that doesn't mean all fathers should be treated

like criminals and rounded up by Sheriff's Offices and taken into jail. Why

are the fathers held accountable while the mothers aren't?

Why this bias against fathers has been allowed to develop may be the result

of conservatives' neglect of this area of the law. Conservatives have

avoided domestic relations law, not wanting to get involved in this area

because of their strong dislike of divorce as well as their old-fashioned

view that mothers are better nurturers than fathers. Consequently, liberal

feminists have had free reign here. What is interesting however, is the

flavor of feminism which has prevailed - it is not the version that

encourages men to be more sensitive, but instead the version that accepts

prostitution and rampant sexual promiscuousness as a component of womens'

equality.

The feminists' efforts in this area are no doubt driven by both their

beliefs that mothers are better nurturers of children, and their resentment

towards men who use women for sex and then leave them. But punishing all

men equally fails to take into account certain things. First of all, those

men eventually remarry and move on with their lives. The courts consider

the new spouse's salary when computing child support! So punishing the

father also results in punishing another completely innocent woman.

Secondly, child support creates resentment and additional fighting between

the parents, since the paying parent resents the other parent and will try

to change the situation. This clogs up the family courts.

So what should the solution be? For starters, how about ending child

support between parents who both want custody of their children? If someone

really wants their children, they will find a way to make ends meet. It

just doesn't cost that much to raise a child, no matter what people whine.

The message we should be sending is, if you can't afford a child, then

abstain from sex! Foster parents receive around $300/month per child. This

isn't very much money. Nobody seems to complain about those children not

receiving $800/month. Why not let the parent who wants to care for the

child, and is more financially capable, have the custody, or at the very

least cut out the child support? That way, no parent is stuck supporting

the other parent. This would also send a message to parents that they

should be ambitious and set good work ethics for their children, instead of

the current message which encourages parents to be lazy and earn less. If

the mother has to work during the day, and the father works evenings, let

the father take care of the children during the day instead of putting them

in daycare. There are better workable solutions than giving the children to

the mother just because she is lazy and stays at home, utilizing the father

only as a money funnel. One mother sat around the house getting high on her

days off, yet still put her child in daycare, using the father's money!

Finally, "domestic violence," which has been abused by women, should be

looked at more closely by the courts if it is to be a factor in determining

child custody. There may be more to "domestic violence" than appears in a

brief minute entry or police report. For example, the mother may have been

racked out on drugs at the time she called the police, as well as every day

of her life, yet this is not taken into consideration as part of the "best

interests of the child" unless there is an actual drug conviction. The

courts should also examine whether the mother is the type to move from

abuser to abuser, which ultimately creates an unstable upbringing for the

child. Is it really better that a child stay with a mother who cycles

through violent or volatile relationships, or is it better that the child

live with the father whose only "history of domestic violence" occurred

when the mother obtained dubious restraining orders against him when she

was having affairs on him? Unfortunately, the laws do not currently take

these circumstances into consideration when considering the "best interests

of the child." Unless a father has an excellent attorney who is able to get

a hold of hard evidence proving these types of circumstances, and has

success persuading a judge to give these factors some weight even though

they are not in the law, a father is simply out of luck. He has reached the

glass ceiling for fathers in child custody.

Note: The US author has done work with a domestic violence law clinic and has

studied this area of the law in law school.

---

Send email to Rachel Alexander:

editor@intellectualconservative.com

See prior columns by Rachel Alexander:

http://intellectualconservative.com/page1026.html

";"A close look at child custody, examining how the courts and society's

attitudes towards fathers almost guarantee that fathers will never be much

more than a pocketbook to their ex-wives and girlfriends.

Child custody"; "143";"nws";;;"0000-00-00";;"src/MissionStatement.php";"

Looking for more time with your children, shared parenting, fair property settlements, reasonable child support payments, protection against domestic violence and equality in all areas of life?

Check out what we can achieve together!

";"

Looking for more time with your children, shared parenting, fair property settlements, reasonable child support payments, protection against domestic violence and equality in all areas of life?
Check out what we can achieve together"; "145";"shd";"Right forms family lobby";"The Age (Melbourne)";"2003-09-22";"By Annabel Crabb";;"http://www.theage.com.au/text/articles/2003/09/21/1064082866149.htm

Forty-five conservative Coalition MPs have formed a new lobby group in

Parliament to pursue the interests of families, in what is being viewed in

some quarters as a resurrection of the controversial right-wing Lyons Forum

of the 1990s.

The group, which includes 12 ministers including Tony Abbott, Nick Minchin

and Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, holds regular Monday night

meetings during sitting weeks and is working to counteract the perceived

dominance of the maternity leave issue in the nation's work and family debate.

Its convenor, NSW backbencher Alan Cadman, was a senior member of the Lyons

Forum, which lobbied heavily during the 1990s against abortion, pornography

and the recognition of gay relationships, but foundered at the end of the

decade.

Members of the new group believe the work and family debate has been

hijacked by arguments about maternity leave, largely because of spirited

advocacy by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward.

"It's just an informal group - we're trying to get a few people in from

outside to help us look at policy and look at the future," Mr Cadman told

The Age about the new group, which is referred to in correspondence as the

"Family Policy Group".

"We're just looking at the whole thing; Pru Goward raised a number of

issues, but we need to examine the whole area."

Mr Cadman denied the new group would be a resurrected form of the Lyons

Forum, which was named for the 1930s prime minister Joe Lyons and his wife,

Dame Enid.

Dame Enid managed to combine having 12 children with speaking out against

homosexuality and abortion and becoming the first female member of the

House of Representatives.

"That got off the rails a bit, I'm afraid," Mr Cadman said of the Lyons Forum.

"Some of the members pushed it their own political way and most of those

people have gone; that's in the annals."

Another leading Lyons Forum figure, Aged Care Minister Kevin Andrews, whose

private member's bill against euthanasia in 1996 was carried with strong

Lyons Forum support, said the new group was not designed to recreate the

hard lobbying style of the 1990s organisation.

Ministerial members of the new group include National Party frontbenchers

Mark Vaile and Larry Anthony, as well as Foreign Minister Alexander Downer,

Environment Minister David Kemp, Special Minister of State Eric Abetz,

Justice Minister Chris Ellison, Science Minister Peter McGauran and

Veterans Affairs Minister Danna Vale.

Victorian backbenchers Sophie Panopoulos, Stewart McArthur, Julian

McGauran, David Hawker and National Party MP John Forrest are also involved.

";"http://www.theage.com.au/text/articles/2003/09/21/1064082866149.htm

Forty-five conservative Coalition MPs have formed a new lobby group in

Parliament to"; "146";"dva";"Intervention orders 'being overused'";"The Age (Melbourne)";"2003-10-05";;;"http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/10/04/1064988455403.html

Intervention orders are being overused and are too easily breached, lawyers

and psychiatrists have claimed.

They say this has diluted their effectiveness, potentially putting victims

of stalking and domestic violence at greater risk.

The Law Institute of Victoria will try to set up a group with

Attorney-General Rob Hulls to look at changing the legislation to ensure

intervention orders are used properly.

Law Institute president Bill O'Shea said the effectiveness of intervention

orders had been reduced.

"They were introduced, really, to combat domestic violence, and they're now

being used in a whole range of civil disputes, which has the effect of

devaluing the significance of an intervention order," he said.

Intervention orders were being taken out too often by feuding neighbours

and unions in dispute.

"Basically, the whole strength of an intervention order has been devalued

by the excessive use of it in less important areas," he said.

Court figures show a 24 per cent increase in intervention orders in the

five years to 2000-01, and a 282 per cent increase in intervention orders

based on allegations of stalking.

One in four of those complaints involved stalking accusations between

neighbours.

Mr O'Shea said intervention orders could also lead to unnecessary criminal

convictions against people when orders were breached by feuding neighbours,

perhaps unintentionally.

He said criminal law should not be used to deal with feuding neighbours and

in cases where there were no threats of violence.

Michele Pathe, a director of the Stalking and Threat Management Centre,

said intervention orders were being used indiscriminately in stalking cases

without considering how appropriate they might be.

A spokesman for Mr Hulls said the Department of Justice was already looking

at intervention orders and where they were applied.

He said the Government realised much of the increase was due to disputes

between neighbours, which could be resolved in other ways.

";"http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/10/04/1064988455403.html

Intervention orders are being overused and are too easily breached, lawyers

and psychiatrist"; "147";"JOI";"Family Court chief lambasts PM's plan for shared custody";"CCH Newsletter";"2003-10-10";"Sharon Labi, content provided by AAP";;"Family Court chief lambasts PM's plan for shared custody

[MRA Note: After reading the comments made by Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson I believe any legislative changes proposed by the government towards attaining a 50/50 rebutable presumption of shared residency will have little chance of success in the Family Court of Australia under the present regime.]

CANBERRA, Oct 10 AAP - The head of the Family Court today lambasted the prime minister's proposal for shared custody of children from broken homes, saying it would never work.

Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson was scornful of any suggestion the Family Law Act be changed to presume divorced parents receive equal access to their children.

He said the plan did not reflect the reality of Australian life and was unworkable.

Giving evidence to a parliamentary committee on child custody, Justice Nicholson said the court had to assess each case individually and rule in the best interest of the child.

Prime Minister John Howard earlier this year flagged changes so the Family Court would presume both parents had equal and shared custody of children after a divorce.

It would then be up to the parents to argue in the Family Court why they should have more access.

The inquiry is examining the proposal and the circumstances for rejecting equal access.

But Justice Nicholson said the presumption of shared access would pose major difficulties.

"You're saying that there's a legislative expectation that these children will be shared equally and that just isn't the reality of Australian homes, it just isn't the reality of life at the moment," he told the inquiry.

"I think it's so inappropriate to most Australian families that it's just not going to work and I think it's so inappropriate to most Australian children to say to them ... there's a presumption that you've got to spend equal time with your father and mother."

Justice Nicholson said the key in such cases was the quality of relationship between parent and child and not the quantity of time spent together.

The presumption of shared custody could be quite unsettling for children and posed major difficulties in cases where children were conceived through IVF using donor sperm or eggs or through rape.

"It just doesn't seem to me to be a realistic concept," Justice Nicholson said.

Some fathers chose not to have contact with their children or did not show up when they had access on weekends, having to be persuaded by court counsellors to maintain contact with their child.

The Family Court said it would abide by whatever the parliament eventually determined.

The inquiry also heard the system could be less adversarial and the court was considering a pilot program to allow judges to eliminate irrelevant information and rule on cases more quickly, as long as all parties consented.

Any suggestion juries should be introduced to the family court system was appalling, Justice Nicholson said.

";"Family Court chief lambasts PM's plan for shared custody

[MRA Note: After reading the comments made by Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson I believe any legislative changes proposed by the government towards attaining a 50/50 rebutable pre"; "148";"you";"A Cacophony of Errors";"MRA website";"2003-10-10";"A supportive partner";;"We would like to bring you a series of life experiences from people who have struggled through our pitiful family law system. Some have emerged the otherside a little worse for wear; others devastated - their lives destroyed because they lost their children and some who didn't make it through.

We'd like to bring you the full stories, with names as well. These people are crying out for recognition of the wrongs that have been imposed on them and their children just because their marriage/relationship did not work out.

But we cannot. S121 of the Family Law Act prevents identification of the parties.

The following article is written by a very supportive partner. The man in her life was subjected to horrific violence and abuse from the mother and the mother's family. His children are still facing the abuse.

Who is Caring for the Children?

Should I seek to entertain you with our story, chapter and verse, a novel

would be required to explain our plight.

Instead I offer a precise which raises so many questions, not the least of

which is "Who IS caring for the children?"

I have lived through two failed marriages, each of which producing one of my

two beautiful children. Yet, putting aside all differences, resentments and

anguish, the wellbeing of my children has always been the first priority for

both their fathers and myself. Infighting is taboo, as are malicious

behaviours, frivolous financial claims and any competition for affections.

No party is denied contact at any time, care is provided on an entirely

equal basis and decisions are dual. All of this in the best interests of

those who matter most, the children.

Eight years ago my second husband fought his ex-wife for access to his only

child and $20,000 and much trauma later he gained exactly what I had agreed

on civilly with the father of my first child. Sadly the courts were

required to reach such an agreement and the effects live on in the child to

this day. The trauma and accusations I suffered myself I cannot easily

forget.

There came a time when I met David, the most gentle man suffering unbridled

grief at the loss of his own four children and diagnosed with a psychiatric

illness which he did not have. Over time and after much encouragement we

sought professional assessment of David's condition so that he may gain some

effective treatment, heretofore not given.

And this is what we found,

David suffers from a condition known as post-traumatic-stress-disorder along

with depression. The cause of his disorder is clearly noted by his renowned

psychiatrist as "a direct result of prolonged and intense abuse of both

himself and his children suffered during his marriage on the part of his

wife".

"What?" I hear you ask. "Don't men inflict domestic violence on their

wives, aren't they the ones who bash, threaten, stalk, manipulate and

cheat".

For this is what you have always heard, over and over, that the man commits

acts of violence on his spouse and progeny. That he is aggressive and

threatening. That he is to be feared. That his children must be protected

against him.

For so long this viewpoint has formed the basis of our societal beliefs. And

consequently the generalisation has done so much harm.

Granted, we hear reports that family courts are becoming more balanced in

their views and decisions, more able to listen to all parties, less likely

to designate an automatic belief to the custodial parent, primarily the

mother. But all admissions point to the fact that the transition is slow

and many more years must pass before we are able to view the rights of both

parents to be heard equally. And in the meantime who is looking after the

children?

For it needs to be clearly understood now and forever, that women do abuse

men, that they can be violent, unstable, malicious and working on an agenda

which does not fit within the sanctity or the doctrines of marriage.

This is the story the world needs to hear, if they are to understand why men

run with their children, why stories of murder/suicide involving fathers and

children are really so horrifying and how cruelly a mother can push a father

even after the marriage is over and the parties separate.

The man whom I love, the man with whom I live, is suffering a trauma

equitable to that of the death of his children. The silence around him is

deafening, the grief tangible and overwhelming, the fears are intense.

Flashbacks and nightmares are just a part of life now. When and if they will

abate is so dependent on the faceless authorities, their decisions and their

knowledge of a situation they cannot pretend to understand.

Twelve years ago David married a woman from Europe. Only now and years later,

with the benefits of hindsight and distance, is he able to see her true

purpose in the marriage and the puppetry she used to ensure that his part

was played with no risk to her game plan.

Her own admission stands that she sought only the children out of the

marriage, an assurance that all children would have the one father, and that

she would give an appearance of normality to the community, a poor mother of

four, deserted by an uncaring and irresponsible father.

I tell you now, that this father deserted no one. For ten years he

tolerated what he did for the sake of his children and his unscathed belief

in the sanctity of marriage and family. Both the mother and her family

issued uncounted threats to David over the years, about infidelity, respect

of their coven, and always with a stark reminder of their heritage and their

affiliations, they reminded him that leaving his wife would result in a man

hunt culminating in the death of this devoted father.

This family, which claims to be closely knit and supportive, were no more

reassuring to David than the wife. Family dynamics were violent to say the

least. The sisters and the mother would daily engage in vicious

argument, backstabbing was rife and physical public street fights between

the women were a frequent occurrence. This occurred in front of the

children of the siblings who received no reassurance or explanation and who

came to believe that such behaviour was normal and acceptable.

The patriarchal brother gave the appearance and demeanour of a mafia style

street thug. He issued the most direct threats and demanded that the family

follow his directions to the letter. In an archaic fashion he claimed power

of attorney over his own mother, his siblings and their respective husbands.

All family decisions were to be channelled through him and depended upon his

approval. His sisters' husbands were thus emasculated without their own

knowledge, as the power of the brother was never disclosed before marriage

had occurred. In demanding his rights as a husband to make individual

choices in cohesion with his wife David found himself duly advised and

threatened in a manner designed to ensure that he never again questioned the

'family way'.

For ten years he watched as his wife tore relentlessly at the fabric of his

marriage, his children's esteem and indeed his own sanity. Five children she

lost as a result of self-abuse and yet the blame she squarely placed on him.

As with all other blames.

The children were ill from her foul hygiene, malnourished, developmentally

challenged, fearful of her temper, resistive of her mad assertions and

acting out her ways. They withdrew from normal social behaviours and took on

the dysfunctional miens of their mother in their interactions with others.

Should the father seek to provide care for his children the mother's

response was immediate and histrionic. She asserted that these children

were hers and hers alone, that no other would care for them and that only

she was capable of providing their needs.

She sought out medical illnesses in books and magazines and she deigned them

upon the children and herself. She claimed herself to be a victim of cancer

as a means of denying her husband the freedom to pursue his career. If the

children fell she reverted to hysteria creating panic and trauma where none

existed. She sought constant medical attention for both them and herself,

refusing medical advice and shopping the medical profession until she

obtained the edification she sought. Now she could claim more pity.

To this day her use of the Medicare system is so intense that her behaviours

raise eyebrows amongst the authorities and even her family disbelieves her

claims.

She dressed herself as a pauper, she begged pity from every person she met,

laughing hysterically, eyes wild, movements fluttery and mad, feigning

innocent gentility and reverting unpredictably to vile aggression and then

back again.

She regularly sought the advice of clairvoyants and lived in deep and

relentless superstition. On meeting her, and before she spoke or acted, a

renowned clairvoyant withdrew from her in terror, proclaiming her a black

witch and warning DAvid to take care for she would seek to destroy him.

He felt shame, embarrassment and disgust for what he thought she had become

but she was always this thing. Her family had known it and taken great pains

to hide her afflictions in an effort to shift the burden of her to another,

to give her what she wanted so that they would not carry her illness

eternally.

If David fought, if he struggled, the ropes would tighten and the situation

become even more intolerable. So too for his children.

From the moment of his marriage his career fell into ruins. His mates warned

him that she was mad and told her so. They begged him to leave; fearing he

would die his distress was so great.

As a member of the Armed Services for fourteen years and awaiting promotion he

quickly fell from grace. His barracks received 20 calls a day from his

wife, first desperate pleas for him to come home, to help her through her

daily trials. After the children were born she called his seniors with

accusations of molestation and abuse.

Advised he was, over and over, to have her cease her harassment, watched to determine how he was coping, warned he was, to choose the end of

his marriage or of his career. He chose his marriage.

The pressure increased. He became distressed. He required medication and

care. His career ended. She isolated him from peers and family.

She told the children ad nauseum that their father did not love them and

that he would soon go away forever.

The torture continued. The abuse, the torment, the fear increased. Now he

knew that he would die at her hands whether by design or intent. His heart

could not bear this.

And so he left, destitute and depressed. Unfit to work. Unfit to pick up the

pieces, he moved two and half thousand kilometres from his children, in fear

for his life.

She promptly moved the children from their home and sought to hide their

locations. This he did not discover until fourteen months later.

Three months hence she forwarded him a letter demanding that he forget his

children, that he send no gifts or money, and that he move on with his life.

She indicated clearly "if you do this you and your family will not be

harmed".

She issued a domestic violence order 4 months after his departure barring

him from any contact with his children citing violence and abuse.

At 5 months she barred him from calling the children's schools.

At months six, seven, eight, nine and ten she attended the local police

station accusing him of breaching the orders, demanding that he be

imprisoned. The police told her to pull in her head and get on with her

life. They knew she was lying, they suspected she was mad.

All gifts, all letters he sent to his children were returned and marked "Not at this address" in her hand.

David had isolated himself for 14 months, too afraid to walk outside of his door, too afraid to sleep in his bedroom, clinging desperately to his sanity but beginning to believe his wife's assertion that this she had taken from him too.

This is how I found this man. His self-esteem shattered, his fear of strangers intense, his trust in the world defunct. His desire to live depleted.

For months, with the assistance of family and friends we worked with him to try to build up his confidence, in himself and others, and in his ability to

move on with life.

We sought psychiatric advice and his condition was rediagnosed and appropriate treatment commenced. Counselling assisted him in managing his condition and the improvement, whilst slow, was reassuring. His insight and self-awareness was noted as being exceptional. But the fears and the grief remained.

Every night, every day, he cries for his children. His fear for them is intense. He knows well that the dysfunctional child rearing beliefs of their mother will only do them great long term harm.

Feeling defenceless to save them from the aggressive norms of the mother's family we sought the assistance of the Family Court of Australia to gain legal recourse and access to them.

And this is what we found.

As the children have been in her care since the breakdown of the marriage the father's rights are diminished so as to be almost non-existent despite

the fact that his exclusion may well not have been his own fault.

Because the mother has the children in her custody in another state all hearings will take place in that state at the great expense to the father.

Processes within the Family Court are drawn out thereby increasing costs.

The cost of such a case is likely to run into the tens of thousands of dollars and take several years to complete.

The only way in which this father may gain custody of his children is to prove the mother unfit, a nearly impossible task. The burden on the mother

is to simply deny all claims of the father.

It seems that provided that the children are fed, clothed and housed the quality of their care and the environmental aspects and capacity of the parent becomes primarily irrelevant.

David may not claim Legal Aid assistance due to the income of his partner who

also has commitments to meet, children to care for and debts to service.

Although his income is a measly $480 per month (grossly below the poverty

line) from a Services Disability Pension and he receives no Social Security benefits, David is indebted to pay legal fees and expenses that would take him 15 years to service even if he did not have any other financial responsibilities including rent and food.

Family Court Specialist Lawyers indicate that they have seen many like cases, particularly with a woman of this nationality, where no matter

what orders the court issues, the mother simply refuses to comply. The father is thereby forced to either give up on his children or spend tens of thousands more dollars pursing the matter.

Even then it is clearly admitted that the Family Court is reluctant if not unable to enforce the orders that they have made.

This seems a farcical state of affairs to me where the incapacity of the Family Court destroys its own credibility and acts simply as a service which channels community money into the legal profession whilst it feeds voraciously on the human suffering of the most vulnerable members of society, the children.

My questions are these:

* When will society come to realise that domestic violence against husbands is not at all uncommon?

* When will society understand that a father can suffer as

intensely as a mother separated from her children?

* When will men cease to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender?

* Who will compensate the children for the loss of time and achievements shared with a loving parent?

* Who will compensate the father, the grandparents, the cousins and aunts and uncles for the irreplaceable loss of those times with his children, for the lack of photographs, memories and experiences?

* Who will compensate the partner who worked two jobs for 25 years to gain a home and will lose this because one mother decides to be malicious and unreasonable with respect to her children?

* Who truly helps the fathers who do not have partners to assist them financially to survive and to fight for their children? Who pays for their years of treatment and $150 per month in medication? What happens to them if no one does?

* Who assists the fathers to recover from the trauma and go on to live a functional and fulfilling life without their children for whom they have lived for years?

* Who will protect this mother's future partners from her behaviours if she does not receive help for herself?

* Who will provide adequate help to the children to recover from the damages of such a situation and at what cost? Will the children ever recover?

* How can the children recover if they are subjected to the situation without reprieve? What sort of citizens will they ultimately become?

* WHO in God's name IS looking after the children?

We would like to bring you a series of life experiences from people who have struggled through our pitiful family law system. Some have emerged the other side a little worse for wear; others devastated - their lives destroyed because they lost their children.

 

"; "149";"you";"A Cacophony of Errors";"MRA website";"2003-10-10";"A supportive partner";;"We would like to bring you a series of life experiences from people who have struggled through our pitiful family law system. Some have emerged the other side a little worse for wear; others devastated - their lives destroyed because they lost their children and some who didn't make it through.

We'd like to bring you the full stories, with names as well. These people are crying out for recognition of the wrongs that have been imposed on them and their children just because their marriage/relationship did not work out.

But we cannot. S121 of the Family Law Act prevents identification of the parties.

The following article is written by a very supportive partner. The man in her life was subjected to horrific violence and abuse from the mother and the mother's family. His children are still facing the abuse.

Who is Caring for the Children?

Should I seek to entertain you with our story, chapter and verse, a novel would be required to explain our plight.

Instead I offer a precis which raises so many questions, not the least of which is "Who IS caring for the children?"

I have lived through two failed marriages, each of which producing one of my two beautiful children. Yet, putting aside all differences, resentments and anguish, the wellbeing of my children has always been the first priority for both their fathers and myself. Infighting is taboo, as are malicious behaviours, frivolous financial claims and any competition for affections.

No party is denied contact at any time, care is provided on an entirely equal basis and decisions are dual. All of this in the best interests of those who matter most, the children.

Eight years ago my second husband fought his ex-wife for access to his only child and $20,000 and much trauma later he gained exactly what I had agreed on civilly with the father of my first child. Sadly the courts were required to reach such an agreement and the effects live on in the child to this day. The trauma and accusations I suffered myself I cannot easily forget.

There came a time when I met David, the most gentle man suffering unbridled grief at the loss of his own four children and diagnosed with a psychiatric illness which he did not have. Over time and after much encouragement we sought professional assessment of David's condition so that he may gain some effective treatment, heretofore not given.

And this is what we found, David suffers from a condition known as post-traumatic-stress-disorder along with depression. The cause of his disorder is clearly noted by his renowned psychiatrist as "a direct result of prolonged and intense abuse of both himself and his children suffered during his marriage on the part of his wife".

"What?" I hear you ask. "Don't men inflict domestic violence on their wives, aren't they the ones who bash, threaten, stalk, manipulate and cheat".

For this is what you have always heard, over and over, that the man commits acts of violence on his spouse and progeny. That he is aggressive and threatening. That he is to be feared. That his children must be protected against him.

For so long this viewpoint has formed the basis of our societal beliefs. And consequently the generalisation has done so much harm.

Granted, we hear reports that family courts are becoming more balanced in their views and decisions, more able to listen to all parties, less likely to designate an automatic belief to the custodial parent, primarily the mother. But all admissions point to the fact that the transition is slow and many more years must pass before we are able to view the rights of both parents to be heard equally. And in the meantime who is looking after the children?

For it needs to be clearly understood now and forever, that women do abuse men, that they can be violent, unstable, malicious and working on an agenda which does not fit within the sanctity or the doctrines of marriage.

This is the story the world needs to hear, if they are to understand why men run with their children, why stories of murder/suicide involving fathers and children are really so horrifying and how cruelly a mother can push a father even after the marriage is over and the parties separate.

The man whom I love, the man with whom I live, is suffering a trauma equitable to that of the death of his children. The silence around him is deafening, the grief tangible and overwhelming, the fears are intense.

Flashbacks and nightmares are just a part of life now. When and if they will abate is so dependent on the faceless authorities, their decisions and their knowledge of a situation they cannot pretend to understand.

Twelve years ago David married a woman from overseas. Only now and years later, with the benefits of hindsight and distance, is he able to see her true purpose in the marriage and the puppetry she used to ensure that his part was played with no risk to her game plan.

Her own admission stands that she sought only the children out of the marriage, an assurance that all children would have the one father, and that she would give an appearance of normality to the community, a poor mother of four, deserted by an uncaring and irresponsible father.

I tell you now, that this father deserted no one. For ten years he tolerated what he did for the sake of his children and his unscathed belief in the sanctity of marriage and family. Both the mother and her family issued uncounted threats to David over the years, about infidelity, respect of their coven, and always with a stark reminder of their heritage and their affiliations, they reminded him that leaving his wife would result in a man hunt culminating in the death of this devoted father.

This family, which claims to be closely knit and supportive, were no more reassuring to David than the wife. Family dynamics were violent to say the least. The sisters and the mother would daily engage in vicious argument, backstabbing was rife and physical public street fights between the women were a frequent occurrence. This occurred in front of the children of the siblings who received no reassurance or explanation and who came to believe that such behaviour was normal and acceptable.

The patriarchal brother gave the appearance and demeanour of a mafia style

street thug. He issued the most direct threats and demanded that the family

follow his directions to the letter. In an archaic fashion he claimed power

of attorney over his own mother, his siblings and their respective husbands.

All family decisions were to be channelled through him and depended upon his

approval. His sisters' husbands were thus emasculated without their own

knowledge, as the power of the brother was never disclosed before marriage

had occurred. In demanding his rights as a husband to make individual

choices in cohesion with his wife David found himself duly advised and

threatened in a manner designed to ensure that he never again questioned the

'family way'.

For ten years he watched as his wife tore relentlessly at the fabric of his

marriage, his children's esteem and indeed his own sanity. Five children she

lost as a result of self-abuse and yet the blame she squarely placed on him.

As with all other blames.

The children were ill from her foul hygiene, malnourished, developmentally

challenged, fearful of her temper, resistive of her mad assertions and

acting out her ways. They withdrew from normal social behaviours and took on

the dysfunctional miens of their mother in their interactions with others.

Should the father seek to provide care for his children the mother's

response was immediate and histrionic. She asserted that these children

were hers and hers alone, that no other would care for them and that only

she was capable of providing their needs.

She sought out medical illnesses in books and magazines and she deigned them

upon the children and herself. She claimed herself to be a victim of cancer

as a means of denying her husband the freedom to pursue his career. If the

children fell she reverted to hysteria creating panic and trauma where none

existed. She sought constant medical attention for both them and herself,

refusing medical advice and shopping the medical profession until she

obtained the edification she sought. Now she could claim more pity.

To this day her use of the Medicare system is so intense that her behaviours

raise eyebrows amongst the authorities and even her family disbelieves her

claims.

She dressed herself as a pauper, she begged pity from every person she met,

laughing hysterically, eyes wild, movements fluttery and mad, feigning

innocent gentility and reverting unpredictably to vile aggression and then

back again.

She regularly sought the advice of clairvoyants and lived in deep and

relentless superstition. On meeting her, and before she spoke or acted, a

renowned clairvoyant withdrew from her in terror, proclaiming her a black

witch and warning DAvid to take care for she would seek to destroy him.

He felt shame, embarrassment and disgust for what he thought she had become

but she was always this thing. Her family had known it and taken great pains

to hide her afflictions in an effort to shift the burden of her to another,

to give her what she wanted so that they would not carry her illness

eternally.

If David fought, if he struggled, the ropes would tighten and the situation

become even more intolerable. So too for his children.

From the moment of his marriage his career fell into ruins. His mates warned

him that she was mad and told her so. They begged him to leave; fearing he

would die his distress was so great.

As a member of the Armed Services for fourteen years and awaiting promotion he

quickly fell from grace. His barracks received 20 calls a day from his

wife, first desperate pleas for him to come home, to help her through her

daily trials. After the children were born she called his seniors with

accusations of molestation and abuse.

Advised he was, over and over, to have her cease her harassment, watched to determine how he was coping, warned he was, to choose the end of

his marriage or of his career. He chose his marriage.

The pressure increased. He became distressed. He required medication and

care. His career ended. She isolated him from peers and family.

She told the children ad nauseum that their father did not love them and

that he would soon go away forever.

The torture continued. The abuse, the torment, the fear increased. Now he

knew that he would die at her hands whether by design or intent. His heart

could not bear this.

And so he left, destitute and depressed. Unfit to work. Unfit to pick up the

pieces, he moved two and half thousand kilometres from his children, in fear

for his life.

She promptly moved the children from their home and sought to hide their

locations. This he did not discover until fourteen months later.

Three months hence she forwarded him a letter demanding that he forget his

children, that he send no gifts or money, and that he move on with his life.

She indicated clearly "if you do this you and your family will not be

harmed".

She issued a domestic violence order 4 months after his departure barring

him from any contact with his children citing violence and abuse.

At 5 months she barred him from calling the children's schools.

At months six, seven, eight, nine and ten she attended the local police

station accusing him of breaching the orders, demanding that he be

imprisoned. The police told her to pull in her head and get on with her

life. They knew she was lying, they suspected she was mad.

All gifts, all letters he sent to his children were returned and marked "Not

at this address" in her hand.

David had isolated himself for 14 months, too afraid to walk outside of his

door, too afraid to sleep in his bedroom, clinging desperately to his sanity

but beginning to believe his wife's assertion that this she had taken from

him too.

This is how I found this man. His self-esteem shattered, his fear of

strangers intense, his trust in the world defunct. His desire to live

depleted.

For months, with the assistance of family and friends we worked with him to

try to build up his confidence, in himself and others, and in his ability to

move on with life.

We sought psychiatric advice and his condition was rediagnosed and

appropriate treatment commenced. Counselling assisted him in managing his

condition and the improvement, whilst slow, was reassuring. His insight and

self-awareness was noted as being exceptional. But the fears and the grief

remained.

Every night, every day, he cries for his children. His fear for them is

intense. He knows well that the dysfunctional child rearing beliefs of

their mother will only do them great long term harm.

Feeling defenceless to save them from the aggressive norms of the mother's

family we sought the assistance of the Family Court of Australia to gain

legal recourse and access to them.

And this is what we found.

As the children have been in her care since the breakdown of the marriage

the father's rights are diminished so as to be almost non-existent despite

the fact that his exclusion may well not have been his own fault.

Because the mother has the children in her custody in another state all

hearings will take place in that state at the great expense to the father.

Processes within the Family Court are drawn out thereby increasing costs.

The cost of such a case is likely to run into the tens of thousands of

dollars and take several years to complete.

The only way in which this father may gain custody of his children is to

prove the mother unfit, a nearly impossible task. The burden on the mother

is to simply deny all claims of the father.

It seems that provided that the children are fed, clothed and housed the

quality of their care and the environmental aspects and capacity of the

parent becomes primarily irrelevant.

David may not claim Legal Aid assistance due to the income of his partner who

also has commitments to meet, children to care for and debts to service.

Although his income is a measly $480 per month (grossly below the poverty

line) from a Services Disability Pension and he receives no Social Security

benefits, David is indebted to pay legal fees and expenses that would take

him 15 years to service even if he did not have any other financial

responsibilities including rent and food.

Family Court Specialist Lawyers indicate that they have seen many like

cases, particularly with a woman of this nationality, where no matter

what orders the court issues, the mother simply refuses to comply. The

father is thereby forced to either give up on his children or spend tens of

thousands more dollars pursing the matter.

Even then it is clearly admitted that the Family Court is reluctant if not

unable to enforce the orders that they have made.

This seems a farcical state of affairs to me where the incapacity of the

Family Court destroys its own credibility and acts simply as a service which

channels community money into the legal profession whilst it feeds

voraciously on the human suffering of the most vulnerable members of

society, the children.

My questions are these:

* When will society come to realise that domestic violence

against husbands is not at all uncommon?

* When will society understand that a father can suffer as

intensely as a mother separated from her children?

* When will men cease to be discriminated against on the basis

of their gender?

* Who will compensate the children for the loss of time and

achievements shared with a loving parent?

* Who will compensate the father, the grandparents, the

cousins and aunts and uncles for the irreplaceable loss of those times with

his children, for the lack of photographs, memories and experiences?

* Who will compensate the partner who worked two jobs for 25

years to gain a home and will lose this because one mother decides to be

malicious and unreasonable with respect to her children?

* Who truly helps the fathers who do not have partners to

assist them financially to survive and to fight for their children? Who pays

for their years of treatment and $150 per month in medication? What happens

to them if no one does?

* Who assists the fathers to recover from the trauma and go on

to live a functional and fulfilling life without their children for whom

they have lived for years?

* Who will protect this mother's future partners from her

behaviours if she does not receive help for herself?

* Who will provide adequate help to the children to recover

from the damages of such a situation and at what cost? Will the children

ever recover?

* How can the children recover if they are subjected to the

situation without reprieve? What sort of citizens will they ultimately

become?

* WHO in God's name IS looking after the children?

";"We would like to bring you a series of life experiences from people who have struggled through our pitiful family law system. Some have emerged the otherside a little worse for wear; others devastated - their lives destroyed because they lost their childr"; "150";"JOI";"Public Hearings - Joint Custody 50/50 Inquiry";"Parliament House website, Canberra";"2003-10-15";;;"http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/fca/childcustody/hearings.htm

Forthcoming and past dates. Hansard transcripts are available for all hearings prior to October 10.

Date, Time and Details of Hearings and Community Statements Location Transcript Availability

Monday 27 October 2003 (PM)

2:00pm - 5:30pm Auditorium, Gunnedah Services & Bowling Club, 313 Conadilly Street, Gunnedah

Monday 27 October 2003 (AM)

8:30am - 11:30am Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour Education Campus, Block A, Level One, Room 9/11, Hogbin Drive, Coffs Harbour

Sunday 26 October 2003

10:00am - 2:30pm Wyong Council Chambers, Function Room, Hely Street, Wyong

Monday 20 October 2003

9:30am - 6:30pm House of Representatives Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

Friday 17 October 2003

8:30am - 1:00pm Main Committee Room, Parliament House, Canberra

Monday 13 October 2003

8:30am - 12:35pm Main Committee Room, Parliament House, Canberra

Friday 10 October 2003

9:00am - 11:00am House of Representatives Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

Friday 26 September 2003

8:30am - 2:15pm Jacaranda Room, Joondalup Resort, Joondalup (Perth), WA

Proof PDF 677KB

Thursday 25 September 2003

9:00am - 1:00pm Litchfield Room, Parliament House, Darwin, NT

Proof PDF 375KB

Wednesday 24 September 2003

9:00am - 4:00pm Sunset Ballroom, Sfera's on the Park, 191 Reservoir Rd, Modbury,(Adelaide) SA

Proof PDF 609KB

Monday 15 September 2003

8:30am - 12:30pm Committee Room 2R2, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT

Proof PDF 439KB

Friday 5 September 2003

9:00am - 1:00pm Cairns International Hotel, Grand Ballroom, 17 Abbott Street, Cairns, QLD

Proof PDF 355KB

Thursday 4 September 2003

2:30pm - 5:30pm Arana Hills Leagues Club, Apollo Room, Dawson Parade, Keperra, QLD

Proof PDF 25KB

Thursday 4 September 2003

9:20am - 12:00noon Robina Community Centre, Robina Town Centre Drive, Robina,(Gold Coast) QLD

Proof PDF 338KB

Monday 1 September 2003

3:00pm - 6:00pm Blacktown Civic Centre, Nirimba Room

5th Floor, 62 Flushcombe Road, Blacktown,(Sydney) NSW Proof PDF 508KB

Monday 1 September 2003

9:00am-12:00nn WIN Entertainment Centre, The Captains Room

Cnr Crown and Harbour Street, Wollongong, NSW Proof PDF 361KB

Friday 29 August 2003

10:00am - 1:00pm Conference Centre, Doherty's Launceston International Hotel

29 Cameron Street, Launceston, TAS Proof PDF 419KB

Thursday 28 August 2003

2:00pm - 5:00pm Hungarian Community Centre

760 Boronia Road, Wantirna, VIC (Knox Melbourne) Pr