Saturday, April 4, 2009

In OZ ~ No bias to fathers, says Family Court

Caroline Overington | April 02, 2009

Article from: The Australian

CASES coming before the Family Court will be decided on merit and not on a formula designed to benefit fathers, Chief Justice Diana Bryant said yesterday.

Chief Justice Bryant said data released for the first time last week shows that the number of shared parenting decisions have more than doubled, meaning that fathers are getting more access to their children.

However, Chief Justice Bryant said that was to be expected after changes to the Family Law Act introduced by the Howard government in 2006.

Under the changes, the court must apply the presumption that shared, equal parenting is in the best interests of children, and that a child has a right to a relationship with both parents.

Chief Justice Bryant said that did not mean children would be forced into contact with violent fathers, or that mothers would routinely lose contact with their children.

The Australian has this week reported on the case known as Irish and Michelle (2009) in which judge Robert Benjamin ordered two children, aged nine and seven, be removed from their mother's home in Tasmania and sent to live with their father in Melbourne. The children had lived with their mother since the couple separated in 2005, and the older girl was starting to resist contact with her father.

The judge said she was at risk of psychological harm, if she was not permitted to have a relationship with her father.

Chief Justice Bryant yesterday directed The Australian to other recent cases, where fathers were denied significant contact with their children, saying the court was heading in no particular direction.

In one case, Handley and Dantes, decided on March 3, judge James Barry ordered that the mother, a French citizen, have sole parental responsibility for two girls, born in 1997 and 1999. The court heard that when the father had access to the girls, he had, among other things, dived fully clothed into a pond at Sea World, so he could swim with the dolphins.

The court heard he smoked marijuana in front of the girls. He had been banned by teachers from visiting their school.

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The work of Fathers 4 Justice and the Pain of Fathers ~ Activism in the UK

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie