Monday, June 8, 2009

In OZ ~ Lives torn asunder

It would appear Judges, if given the chance, will end up all over the map interpreting what constitutes "best interests" or under the Oz Shared Parenting regime defining what constitutes a "meaningful relationship". To some it would appear email is meaningful. Sadly they ought not have any discretion in these matters. A meaningful relationship has to be both parents are involved directly in the children's lives on a 50-50 time basis unless the parents agree otherwise.MJM




Caroline Overington | June 09, 2009

Article from: The Australian

MOST of what used to be called child custody cases are settled between divorcing parents well before the case gets to the Family Court. Those that aren't typically involve couples who loathe each other with such intensity that they cannot agree on even the smallest matters regarding their children.

They need a judge to decide where the kids will live after divorce, how often they should see the other parent, what surname the children should have and where they should go to school.

Then, too, there are the so-called relocation cases where one parent, usually the mother, wants to move and take the children with her. Sometimes it's because she escaping an abusive, violent marriage and wants a fresh start. Other times it's because she wants to move to be with her new partner. Sometimes she wants to be nearer to her own mother or to other family members who may be able to help her with the children; or to an area where there is cheaper housing; or where she's likelier to find work.

In almost every case, if she gets permission to go, it will mean her children will be able to spend much less time - sometimes hardly any time - with their father, who naturally enough will fight to stop the relocation.

Not for nothing, then, did former Family Court judge Richard Chisholm describe relocation cases as the "San Andreas fault" of family law. They are cases that lead to rupture and ruin in families.

There was some hope in 2006 that this might change. In July that year the Howard government introduced what is known as the shared parenting amendment to the Family Law Act. The idea behind the amendment was simple: it was in the best interests of children that they had a meaningful relationship with both parents after divorce and that usually meant spending significant time with both parents, during the week, on weekends and during the holidays. On the subject of relocation cases, the amendment was silent. It didn't say that mothers couldn't move with their children after divorce; it didn't say that they were still allowed to move after divorce.

There was a feeling, however, that the amendment would make it more difficult for mothers to relocate after divorce because it was difficult for a child to have a meaningful relationship with their father, if they lived in, say, Colorado, and he lived in Melbourne.

Three years on, it's clear that the law has made it more difficult for parents to relocate after divorce. Two academic studies have independently reached that conclusion, and both agree that an international relocation is harder still. As far as the Shared Parenting Council of Australia is concerned, that's a good thing.

After all, before the law came in, mothers were generally allowed to go wherever they wanted after divorce. They could meet someone on the internet who lived in the US, for example, and as long as they were the primary carer of the children there was a good chance the Family Court would let her leave the country to pursue that relationship, in the process rupturing whatever relationship they had with their real dad, who most likely loved them very much and was a critically important person in their lives.

That kind of thing is now less likely to happen but it's still not impossible for mothers to leave the country with their children, as fathers are finding out.

In one recent case, known as Bletch and Douglas, a mother was allowed to move with her nine-year-old son to the US after developing a "unique communications skill" that landed her a media profile, a $450,000 book advance and interest from talk shows. The father, who has fought for years for greater access to his son, was told that he could have access during the school holidays, and make use of emails and webcam. The father could not believe the shared parenting laws would support such an arrangement. He flew to the US and tried to see the boy there, landing himself in trouble with local police.

In another case, known as Bradley and Bradley, a mother was permitted to return to her native Sweden with her two children after her marriage ended. She alleged child abuse. It was never proven and the judge did not accept that it had occurred. He acknowledged the distress the relocation would cause the children's father, saying "communication with the children will be difficult" since they would be living on opposite sides of the world. But he thought the father could stay in touch by email. The judge said the mother would have access to superior child care and affordable acommodation in Sweden. She also would be close to her family. The children would fly out to visit or else the father could visit them in Europe.

Groups such as the Shared Parenting Council were stunned that such decisions were possible under the law.

As lawyer David Alexander told a seminar in March, the laws didn't introduce a specific presumption against relocation. Instead, Alexander explained, the starting point for the court was that a child's best interests were served by having parents who had equal shared parental responsibility after divorce.

But that didn't mean a 50-50 time split was the automatic outcome. It would sometimes mean that the mother was restrained from moving the children too far from the father, but not always. To illustrate, Alexander used several recent cases in which the mother wanted to move the children, but was restrained by the Family Court. In one such case, the mother had in mind a move from Sydney to the NSW Hunter Valley. She thought it would be better for the children to live a rural lifestyle and she'd be able to afford a larger home. The judge restrained her, saying such a move would make it "impractical for the father to spend substantial and significant time with the children".

In another case, two children aged six and three were living with their mother on the south coast of NSW. She moved to a town 144km from the children's father. The court ordered her to return the children, saying they were entitled to significant time with their father and that was best achieved by having them live nearby.

Alexander concluded that there was a "fresh approach to the involvement of both parents in the lives of their children" and it "seems likely that the court will find it easier to deny an application to relocate".

"It's now a relatively simple matter for the non-residential parent to claim that even a short-distance relocation will preclude substantial and significant time (with the child)."

It's not always the case that a mother won't be able to move overseas or interstate.

In Godfrey and Sanders, for example, the Family Court allowed a mother to move from Melbourne to Brisbane, over the objections of the father. The court said the shared parenting law promoted a child's right to a meaningful relationship with both parents, but meaningful didn't mean optimal and while it obviously wasn't ideal for the children to be living in one state while their father lived in another, there was still opportunity for them to have a meaningful relationship on school holidays and by email.

That different judges in different states are making difficult decisions under the law is vexing for lawyers, who are finding it difficult to advise their clients. But the case that really has brought confusion about the law is that known as Rosa and Rosa, which came before the Family Court last month.

Mr and Mrs Rosa (pseudonyms) were married in Sydney in 2000 and had a daughter in 2002. In early 2007, when the child was five, the couple moved to a remote town in Queensland so the father could take up a job as a mining engineer. Six months later, the marriage ended. (Under law it's irrelevant for the purposes of child custody who ended the marriage, but for the record, the father told the mother it was over, packed up her things and put them out on the deck.)

The mother took their daughter back to Sydney, but the Family Court ordered her to return the child to the remote town where her former husband lived, while the parents fought over where their daughter should be reared. The mother wanted to move her back to Sydney, for good reason. In the remote town, where rents were high and men outnumbered women by a considerable degree, she could afford only to live in a caravan park. She had no family in the area and few friends.

The mother told the court she was isolated and broke, and wanted to go home to Sydney, where she would be able to find a job and would have the support of her own mother.

Federal magistrate John Coker, presiding over the initial hearing, asked the mother whether she would go to Sydney without her daughter. She said she would not, and in fact said she would never leave her daughter.

Coker asked the father if he would go to Sydney, if that was where his daughter was living. He said he would not because he wanted to keep working at his job. Asked whether he could find work elsewhere, the father said that yes, but he enjoyed this job in Queensland and wanted to keep it.

Given that the father would not leave Queensland and the mother would not leave her daughter, Coker decided that the only way the child could have a meaningful relationship with both parents was to have her live with her mother in far north Queensland in a week-about arrangement with her father.

The decision effectively ties the mother to the father's job, which itself presents an interesting condundrum for the future. What, for example, should happen if the father decides to take a new job in another mining town? Will he be allowed to take his daughter with him and, if so, must the mother follow? It seems likely that parliament did not intend to hobble women in this way.

Zoe Rathus is a senior lecturer in law at Griffith University. She is cautious about reading too much into the Rosa decision, saying it may not be precedent-setting.

"Playing the devil's advocate here, there are some cases that have gone the other way," she says.

"Whatever has been decided in this particular case, it doesn't mean that every parent in Australia who needs to relocate after a divorce should assume that they won't be able to do it. There is nothing in the (new) law that says that. And another judge might have made a completely different decision in this case." But, she says, the laws "create a complex set of ideas, and it's a set of ideas that crash into each other and there is a great deal of confusion at the coalface of family law about what the new law says and what it actually means, and how it is working, in practice, and it's usually not a good idea for confusion to reign".

The federal Attorney-General's Department is believed to have an appetite for change to the shared parenting law but is proceeding with caution. Before it does anything, it wants to see the results of a review of the law by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, a review that was built into the original law. That report is due in December. Attorney-General Robert McClelland has commissioned his own report, which is due by the end of the year.

The Australian has put questions about the shared parenting law, and the confusion it seems to be creating, to Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant.

Her office says there are three points for separating parents to keep in mind.

First, each case will be determined on its unique facts, and judges must consider the best interests of the individual children in each case.

Second, there is no particular pattern that can be relied on to predict a decision and, therefore, it makes no sense to go to court, believing that a particular outcome is certain.

Third, an appeal court may be comprised of judges who will have decided a matter differently at the first hearing and who may indeed believe that the lower court's decision is an awful one, but they can't overturn a decision unless there has been an error of law.


Court allows mums to take kids overseas

Caroline Overington | June 09, 2009

Article from: The Australian

THE Family Court is allowing mothers to leave their home state and even the country to establish a new life for themselves and their children, despite the introduction of a shared parenting law that encourages a meaningful relationship with both parents.

A recent study of the reform introduced by the Howard government in 2006, shows mothers are still being allowed to relocate to countries such as the US, Sweden and Switzerland, even if it ruptures the relationship between the children and their father, and where there is no evidence of violence.

The study concedes that such moves -- known as relocation cases -- succeed less often than they did before the shared parenting law came into effect, but they still happen.

The report by Kate Harkins and Patricia Eastel of the faculty of law at the University of Canberra, considered 50 relocation matters heard in the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court between 2003 and 2008.

The authors sought evidence that the reform introduced in mid-2006, had affected the primary carer's (usually the mother's) ability to relocate after divorce. They concluded that relocation had become more difficult, especially in cases where children had strong relationships with both parents and where there was no history of family violence.

In 50 cases examined by the authors, 60 per cent of parents wanting to relocate were allowed to do so. However, when the authors compared the outcome of relocation cases post-2006 with those cases decided before the new shared parenting laws came in, they found that relocation had become more difficult.

"Pre-amendment, three-quarters (15 in 20 cases) of those wanting to move were allowed to do so," the report said.

By comparison, just half of relocation applications (15 of 30 cases) have been approved in the years since the shared care amendment was enacted.

Edward Dabrowski, the federal director of the Shared Parenting Council of Australia, which supports strong relationships between fathers and their children after divorce, said the trend toward keeping parents in a close proximity to each other after divorce was encouraging.

"But since 2006, there have been cases where people have gone overseas with their children," he said. "It is more difficult to move, but it's not impossible, and there are cases where it has come down to the views of judges, and their wide discretion.

"In our view, it's axiomatic. The legislation says children need to see mum and dad frequently, and it's difficult to see how that came be done if one parent is in Brisbane and the other in Melbourne."

He said it was hard to find any factor that would mitigate against shared parenting, other than proven violence to the children, or to the mother.

Jailed parent Amir Sanjari has refused food for two weeks

By Teri Stoddard
Go to Teri's Home Page
June 8, 5:56 PM ·


creative commons photo by corrieb



Claiming civil rights violations, British citizen and father Amir Sanjari hasn't eaten for two weeks. Sanjari, who sits in the Sacramento County jail, was picked up for a warrant out of Indiana. He was arrested at a bus station where he and his adult daughter were about to say "Good bye" after their first visit in years.

Both were hoping their reunion would be permanent, but neither had the financial means. Once a successful nuclear physicist, Sanjari hasn't been able to return to the UK to continue his carreer or get a job in the US. Instead, he's been helping other parents who are faced with civil rights violations in family court.

According to Sanjari, and documented on his website the warrant stems from his divorce case, which is rife with injustice and corruption. Bob Norton, a MA advocate for reform of divorce courts said, "I know Amir. He ran this up the appeals court but it seems the judge is very politically connected and influenced decisions by making contact with appeals court and other gov’t agencies. Sanjari has learned enough 'real' law to be dangerous, expecting that the courts would honor this law."

Sanjari's website tells a story of one injustice after another, and how he has tried to fight back. As an example: he was once ordered to pay a thousand dollars a month in child support, even though at the time he and his wife shared equal custody and had similar incomes. Another: Sanjari took the girls on a pre-arranged and agreed upon vacation to the UK. He didn't return with them, but had plans to follow shortly. When the terrorist attacks on 9/11delayed his return, their mother fraudulantly claimed abandonment and filed for sole custody of the girls.

You can hear Sanjari's December 2007 interview during a Children Need Both Parents internet talkshow.

Donald Tenn stated, "this is a federal issue, not a state issue," after he and other members of Fathers 4 Justice in Sacramento filed a writ of habeas corpus on Sanjari's behalf in Federal court this morning. They're hoping to stay his extradition to Indiana. His original hearing is set for Tuesday.

Updates to follow on this blog. Subscribe by email HERE. Get RSS feed HERE.

Have you had a similar experience with the family court?

Amnesty International ~ Dine Out to Help Stop Violence Against Women ~ When do we do it for Men in the interests of all gender Human Rights

Amnesty International
312 Laurier Avenue East
Ottawa, ON
Canada
K1N 1H9

From your web page: http://www.amnesty.ca/tasteforjustice/dine_out.php

"Form (SIC) June 1 to 15 restaurants in select cities across Canada will be supporting Amnesty International's work to stop violence against women by donating a percentage of their sales proceeds to Amnesty."

I read your web page, complete with typos, and its campaign with selected Canadian Restaurants favouring 50% of the population involved in Domestic Violence. DV is a serious issue but do you have plans for a similar campaign for men who suffer from this same affliction perpetrated by the gender you favour today? Somehow I think not. I will personally be boycotting these restaurants and asking my fellow men who are victims of female perpetrated violence to do so as well. In fact I would encourage them and all fair minded women to picket these restaurants for active discrimination. I will also be advising all fair minded men and women to avoid making any donations, support or "sweat equity, to Amnesty International in the future. If this is the level of research you carry out before starting a campaign you have no credibility with me at all.

You are obviously unaware that DV is pretty much equal in most western democracies including Canada. You may be unaware that female perpetrated violence in some age categories exceeds that of men in the same age category. I point you to Stats Can studies, Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2005. An estimated 7% of women and 6% of men representing 653,000 women and 546,000 men in a current or previous spousal relationship encountered spousal violence during the five years up to and including 2004, according to a comprehensive Statistics Canada report on family violence. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/Daily/English/050714/d050714a.htm

US department of Health studies showing women as the main killers and abusers of their children, www.acf.hhs.gov/.../index.htm and several peer reviewed studies that will obviously surprise you. Australia's most recent stats also show mothers in concert with their boyfriends as the predominate killers of their children. Unfortunately Stats Can will not break out this data for Canada and, as a result, their information is less reliable.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Women are more likely than men to stalk, attack and psychologically abuse their partners, according to a University of Florida study that finds college women have a new view of the dating scene.

DURHAM, N.H. -- A 32-nation study of violence against dating partners by university partners found that about a third had been violent, and most incidents of partner violence involve violence by both the man and woman, according to Murray Straus, founder and co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. The second largest category was couples where the female partner was the only one to carry about physical attacks, not the male partner.

When it comes to nonreciprocal violence between intimate partners, women are more often the perpetrators.

These findings on intimate partner violence come from a study conducted by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The lead investigator was Daniel Whitaker,
Ph.D., a behavioural scientist and team leader at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (which is part of the CDC). Results were published in the May Journal of Public Health.

Regarding perpetration of violence, more women than men (25 percent versus 11 percent) were responsible. In fact, 71 percent of the instigators in nonreciprocal partner violence were women.
This finding surprised Whitaker and his colleagues, they admitted in their study report.

Martin Fiebert maintains the most up-to-date bibliography in the English speaking world on peer reviewed studies showing DV is not a male only perpetrated offence and it can be viewed here. http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm. SUMMARY: This bibliography examines 249 scholarly investigations: 194 empirical studies and 55 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 241,700.

I want to repeat DV is a serious issue but it is not a single gender female problem. It will never get resolved by castigating males and placing females as martyrs. Those of us who have been attacked with 4.5' rake handles, 10 lb water jugs, had heavy objects thrown and been physically attacked with fists flailing and been financially and emotionally abused at the hands of females are not impressed. We are a larger population than you would have thought and we can also become "battered men." Most of us are too ashamed to report it when it happens and go public after the fact due to social mores. Only about 10-18% of males report DV to the police. Hardly any report emotional or financial abuse. At least in my community the police do arrest females and there is less to fear by men in reporting DV when it happens. In many communities the man gets arrested even though the female was the perpetrator.

I am also including an article by Don Dutton, in the National Post from 2006, to demonstrate an example of DV designed to capture the essence of the problem and its optics.

Michael Murphy

Sault Ste. Marie ON P6A6J8

http://parentalalienationcanada.blogspot.com/

Cc Lucie Ogrodnik, Manager, Family Violence Program, Stats Canada





Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Domestic violence isn't one-sided


Don Dutton, National Post Published: Wednesday, June 14, 2006


A few years ago, a woman arrived home from work in Saskatoon to find her husband, who had obviously spent the day drinking, complaining of irritation with their fractious child. She insisted she needed to rest before making dinner. She awoke to find him in a rage straddling her and brandishing a kitchen knife, which he used to cut her abdomen. Bleeding, terrified, she managed to call 911. The police arrived within minutes. They observed her plight, spoke to her husband and then, responding to the unspoken but powerful institutional guidelines routinely applied in such cases, arrested ... her. In spite of her wound, she spent the night in a jail cell, and was released the next morning.


As it stands, this story makes no sense -- and indeed would have aroused national indignation if it were completely true. But I deliberately misled the reader on one particular. In the real story, by no means a unique one in police archives, the genders were reversed: The man arrived home after a 12-hour shift; the child's mother was drunk; the man lay down; the woman stabbed him in a rage; the police didn't take his injuries seriously; they accepted the woman's explanation -- probably self-defence -- and arrested the man.


Unfortunately, such gender bias in the law-enforcement system and beyond is typical, not exceptional. A double standard for men and women, applied in cases of intimate partner violence (IPV) -- as well as in family law, including spousal support and child custody cases -- has become commonplace in most Western societies over the last 25 years. And in spite of a widening stream of incontrovertible statistical evidence to the contrary, the myth persists that it is women, and only women, who are the victims of IPV.


The stereotype that unprovoked men purposefully assault women, and never the reverse, is so ingrained in our public discourse that participants in research on IPV -- not just lay people but health professionals as well -- presented with a scenario in which one partner abuses another, perceive it as abuse only if the assaulter is identified as male.


The reality, borne out by independent peer-reviewed studies as well as StatsCan, is that women commit more severe IPV, and more IPV in general, than men. For all kinds of relationship types, females are unilaterally more violent than males to non-violent partners. More females strike first in IPV (men are conditioned not to strike first in our society) and, contradicting received wisdom, fear of their male partner is rarely a factor amongst violent women. Actually, both male and female victims of IPV report equal fear levels of "intimate terrorism".


Of course, some battering males abuse passive women -- about 3% annually, far fewer than implied in skewed studies by women's groups. But in spite of sensationalized cases, spousal homicide perpetrated by either sex is extremely rare. As many mothers as fathers practice child abuse alone or in tandem, and far more women than men murder their children.


Interestingly, IPV occurs more frequently in lesbian than in heterosexual relationships, supporting the view that relationship dynamics, not gender, fuel domestic violence. Honest research points to a norm of "assortative mating": The violence-prone tend to seek each other out for anti-social behaviour.


And yet our government, our social services and our judiciary prescribe remedies based on a false and simplistic view that denies not just the unprovoked violence committed by women in relationships, but the number and severity of the assaults engaged in by both partners in mutually violent couples.


Indeed, it is fair to say that no other area of established social welfare, criminal justice or public health depends on such weak and biased evidence in support of mandated practice as does IPV. The model of "treatment" for IPV that flows from this false understanding is not the kind of therapy that could benefit both male and female perpetrators. Instead, our system prefers "intervention" -- against men, never women --and a "psychoeducational" model of behaviour modification that essentially amounts to inculcating the radical feminist political viewpoint.


Where does the gender bias come from? Ideology. Radical feminism insists that men -- all men -- by their nature pursue power and control for its own sake. As a result, we become complicit in the myths of gender politics. So when a crazed individual male with a bizarre personal back story shoots women, we hold candlelight vigils. But when a vengeful woman cuts off a man's penis, he becomes fodder for standup comedians, while she is hailed as a symbol of female empowerment.


IPV is a serious issue in our society. Responding to it through the default demonization of one sex and victimization of the other is an insult to scientific integrity, a stumbling block to rehabilitation, a strong contributing factor in many arbitrarily ruined lives, and a shameful blot on our human rights record.


- Don Dutton is Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia and the author of Rethinking Domestic Violence.


Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Manufactured Fatherlessness in America




Fathers 4 Justice US Purple Hand

Fathers 4 Justice US®


F4J-Today

This Issue of F4J-Today focuses on raising awareness of Manufactured Fatherlessness in America as explained in the first article.

As many of you are aware we will be hosting the Second Annual ***NATIONWIDE*** Fatherless Day at the State Senates and House of Representatives across the country on Friday June 19th 2009. There will be lobbying from 9:00AM until 12:00PM and rallying from 12:00PM until 3:00PM.

Click here for the Fatherless Day Flyer.

To find out more about what is going on in your state, or to help organize join your state yahoo group listed here .

If you are an active participant please send stories and pictures to action@f4j.us

Can’t Make it?

Support the people on the ground and in the lobbies by sending an e-mail mentioning Fatherless Day and Manufactured Fatherlessness to your State Senators, State Representatives and local media. Be sure you mention that you support the people that are there in person lobbying and rallying.

To find your state legislators go to www.congress.org and enter your zip code in the “My Elected Officials” box. Feel free to send the same message to all of them.

We would like to see what people are saying and doing so please send a copy of your letter to action@f4j.us

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

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie