"Family Court makes disputes worse"
The Australian Thursday December 30, 1999
Letters to the Editor
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?
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.
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.
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.
Lower Mitcham, SA
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