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Australian Politics

Family Court of Australia – Men’s Experiences

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It is time for a National inquiry into the Family Law Court. This inquiry should seek to understand if decisions are balanced and fair for both parties. A system of review and redress should follow.

Listening to the stories of men

Over the past year, I have engaged with men online and their stories about their experiences with Family Court matters. I have also been privy to the stories of men I know personally and their experiences within the Family Court system in Australia. I have found these stories to be quite alarming.

I believe there is a system of unfairness. There are indeed enough personal recounts that I have personally come across to conclude that some/many men appear to be on the receiving end of injustice and unfairness within the Family Court system. It is fair to assume that this extends beyond my own networks and could indeed be a prevalent experience amongst men.

The child should always be placed at the centre of the policy framework. The best outcome for the child should be to have regular physical and emotional contact with both parents, wherever possible.

I am a strong believer that if there is no violence, where neither parent, nor child is in danger from the other; that both parents have the same right to be involved fully in their child’s life. That should be seen as fair and just. If that means that neither parent can leave the geographical area, then so be it.

For some men, this is not a complex matter of whom the child lives with; but it is simply a matter of being given ‘permission’ to have physical contact with their own child on a regular basis – to simply be involved. That basic right should always be decided upon in a fair and just manner, with the child at the centre of the decision. Not the desires of either parent placed at the centre of the decision.

Just one of the stories

One personal story told to me recently, was from a young father.  He has fought to be able to spend time with his child since the day she was born. The mother had already decided “her baby” did not need a father, prior to the birth (his personal recount and he showed me text messages to the same effect). The father has seen the child for only 32 days out of 530 days, despite a mediated parenting agreement being in place. I am reassured that there was/is no violence and no unusual circumstances. The existing mediated agreement also support this is not the case. This is just a simple story of a father who wants to be involved in his child’s life.

In this instance, the mother has moved five times. The father has travelled to various places to see his child all in the relatively close geographical area, up to an hour and a half away. However, recently the mother took the child and moved 2,500 km’s away across three states without telling the father. One day she did not show up at the agreed place to deliver the child to the father for his scheduled visit at his home. The mother was unable to be contacted for months.

The mother ignored the parenting agreement already decided upon in mediation in the court system during the first round of appeal by the father to spend time with his child (Legal proceedings commenced from the day the child was born). The mother removed the child and took the child to live three states away in the period between the court mediated parenting agreement and the official court ruling (which I understand confirms the parenting agreement agreed to at mediation).

After a court battle instigated by the father (which has been ongoing since the birth of the child), the judge decided ‘although it is not ideal’ he will be at least ‘allowed’ to Skype his child twice a week. The judge acknowledged the mother broke the parenting agreement but ruled that the mother does not have to return the child to the same geographical area so the father can have regular access.

This was because the mother has relatives in the state she moved to. The mother also has relatives in the area the child was born and removed from. However, this was not taken into account. Most importantly, the fact that the child has the other parent – a key and major relative back where the child was moved from – was completely ignored.

His new reality

The father’s involvement in the child’s life will be via a screen on an I-Phone – twice per week. The Skype calls so far have been about 15 minutes long. The child is under two years old. The father is around 20 years old. For this young man, the legal battle to see his child continues. He has been informed to appeal this, he needs to travel three states away and appeal the matter in the court where the mother now resides.

For men with little income, how do they cope with this, let alone the emotional turmoil?

The most difficult part for me as the recipient of this story, was the feeling of helplessness for the father who is so distraught at being punished because, in his own words:

“I have done everything the court has said to do. I followed the agreement. I have done nothing wrong. She has done everything wrong. How is that fair? How is that fair?”

If listening to this brings forth such distressing emotions for me, a third party – what is the actual emotional toll on the father? I conclude it is insurmountable.

How many stories similar to this young man’s story are there?

Why does this matter?

The impetus for my writing this is a question from this father: “What is the point of a parenting agreement, if one party can just break it?” How is that fair? After hearing this story, it appears that mediated agreements have no weight as a legal mechanism to protect the rights of either parent. In this case – the father’s rights.

If there is no case for violence, danger or unusual circumstances (drugs/alcohol etc.), laws need to be reviewed to ensure that the child is placed at the centre of decisions made and fairness for both parties prevails.

I am not a family law expert and I declare that I have no experience in studying family law and I do not understand the complexities of the system. However, I am an individual who sees patterns in narrative. It is patterns in narrative – in stories of lived experience which set the foundations of how our society is shaped. I have developed the belief that there is something wrong with the shape of this part of our society at present.

The patterns in narrative I am seeing are raw, emotional, frightening and alarming.  I simply have to say… or do something. I cannot have a platform such as a blog and remain silent on this matter.  I don’t see the point of being someone who is actively engaged politically just to ignore what I am hearing. I don’t see the point of labelling myself a liberal feminist, or a democratic socialist, if I ignore a blatant area of inequality which can be redressed by a review of the existing law and on what basis decisions are made.

The stories I have engaged with online and amongst others within my own networks, all point to that men are overwhelmingly experiencing injustice and inequality in Family Law cases and there is an pool of emotional pain that is as vast as it is deep. There simply must be a better solution. With same sex couples also with families, the notion of the woman having prominence of all decisions can no longer be the norm and should never have been. This should never be about gender. The child simply must be at the centre of this policy debate.

For those of us who claim to be for equality and social justice, we must ask why more attention is not being paid to men who are self harming, who are in severe emotional distress and who are also taking their own lives, because of decisions in the family court.

This is not my story. I am merely the story-teller. As a woman, I do not have this experience as a father. I have been told by men that this is their reality – this is their lived experience due to decisions of the Family Court of Australia.

Gathering evidence for a proposal

I simply seek to bring a proposal to the two political major parties and advocate that they take a serious view of the stories of men. I will be seeking that they agree to bi-partisan support.

Once I have gathered enough evidence for a proposal, I  will ask that they recommend a National Inquiry into the Family Court of Australia. I will also ask that they seek to implement an operational strategy where cases can be re-heard and a system of redress is put into place.

To assist me in gathering evidence for a proposal, I have developed a short questionnaire (see below). Please feel free to share your story and opinion by completing the survey below. The purpose of this short questionnaire is to collect stories from men who feel they have experienced injustice in the Family Court of Australia.

These stories will be used to identify main themes to highlight where there may be consistent areas of inequality.  You may use a pseudonym and please do not include any identifying details.

This proposal will be sent to Ministers and politicians relevant to this area, to advocate for a national review of the Family Court of Australia; including a proposal for a system of individual review and redress, where inequality is identified.

From the information gathered, other suggestions will also be proposed, as per the lived experience of men who have completed this survey.

My aim is not about one gender winning or one gender losing, but ensuring that this is brought to light so we have an actual system of fairness and the child is placed at the centre of any decisions made.

Please note this is a point of advocacy. It is not a guaranteed solution. I do not know what the outcome will be, but this needs to start somewhere.

Click HERE to complete the Survey.

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About trishcorry

I love to discuss Australian Politics. My key areas of interest are Welfare, Disadvantage, emotions in the workplace, organisational behaviour, stigma, leadership, women, unionism. I am pro-worker and anti-conservativism/Liberalism. I am a proud member of the Australian Labor Party and you will find my blog posts written from a Laborist / Progressive Slant.

Discussion

41 thoughts on “Family Court of Australia – Men’s Experiences

  1. Thankfully my relationships have been long and based on trust so I have never been in this situation, but if I had been, I would like someone like you advocating for me Trish. In my humble opinion you would make a great Union Organizer/Secretary.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by townsvilleblog | December 17, 2016, 11:28 am
  2. This is a important issue as is domestic violence. Please don’t play off one against the other. This is a game both genders are known to play.

    A good starting point could be that children belong to nobody, They are privilege not a right.

    All Decisions made must put child first and foremost,

    The sad part about this story is the length of time it has been allowed to fester. The child will now suffer more no matter what decision the courts make.

    Like

    Posted by Florence nee Fedup | December 17, 2016, 12:05 pm
    • I’m just checking you are female Florence…… I’m copping a beating out there! Regardless I will stick with this. I have been very vocal about all areas of equality. I see no harm in observing a phenomena to the point where I believe it is saturated enough to collect more data on the topic and raise it as an issue. It is the same process I use for all areas of inequality. Yes, It is a huge issue. A delicate issue that can, with level headedness be looked at and some changes made.

      Liked by 1 person

      Posted by trishcorry | December 17, 2016, 12:22 pm
      • I am 75 female. I suffered and still suffer to this day from DV. So do my kids. I have also worked most my life in child welfare. Seen damage that can be caused by both parents. Even grand mostly mothers who turn their grand mostly daughters against their mothers.

        They are different issues that need different courses action. has nothing to do with feminism that I can see.

        Proving which parent is the better for the child is no easy task. Children see the situation and answers different,

        Parents only have right to the child,if in interest of the child. Sorry, only way it can work. Up to parents to come to a workable solution.

        Like

        Posted by Florence nee Fedup | December 17, 2016, 4:20 pm
    • Sorry, but until you can prove the parent is unfit the parent should (and according to the supreme court does) have a right to parent the child.

      As far as it being gendered, it may not be explicitly gendered. But there is a lot of implicit bias against men in courts. The statistics back this up. The whole primary care giver can be shown to do harm to the child, but is mostly beneficial to women. While many studies show the child is often better off with the parent who’s responsible enough to work.

      Liked by 1 person

      Posted by SlyNine | December 17, 2016, 1:14 pm
      • I have worked in Children’s Courts. I have gone in fighting for fathers were circumstances warranted it. Have even had to convince fathers they has a right to fight for their kids,

        Like

        Posted by Florence nee Fedup | December 17, 2016, 4:49 pm
        • Thanks Florence. I certainly do not intend for my post to be a them versus us. Basically, I have observed a phenomena, and I want to collate more evidence and stories. I believe there are certain themes in stories which do show inequality and someone with much greater knowledge than me, should sit down and review why and how it can be fixed. I have had quite a number of survey responses already and themes are already showing.

          I hope one day everyone where we can reach a point where we can talk about how different genders experience inequality, without having to dampen the experience of one side, by insisting we talk about the other gender. Something as delicate and sensitive as family law needs all sides heard.

          So far, I have been accused as being the same as Pauline Hanson which I find absolutely offensive and other women have also been quite scathing. I am not even coming from a point of view where there is violence, or any unusual circumstances. Yet some women who have commented elsewhere, are implying all men are violent or there ‘has to be a reason.’ Well no not necessarily. Sometimes there is no good reason why a parent doesn’t get to spend time with the child.

          One woman even said that a woman has a right to have a child and exclude the father and fathers should not impose themselves in the lives of the woman. Apparently if I disagree, I’m not a feminist! I didn’t know that was ‘a thing’ Unless there are violent/dangerous circumstances, I didn’t realise that was ‘a thing’ a woman could just ‘choose to do.’

          There are simple straight forward cases where there is no reason both parties cannot parent the child amicably. It does happen. Some of the stories I heard, they just want to spend time with their kids. That appears to be a huge hurdle, let alone getting into discussions regarding primary residence or custody of children.

          Liked by 1 person

          Posted by trishcorry | December 17, 2016, 7:36 pm
  3. Great read, so over the Feminazi propaganda. Thanks Trish.

    Like

    Posted by Johnny | December 17, 2016, 12:20 pm
  4. family law court is a crock….. my experience was many years ago and . at the end of a Grueling court case i was given access 1 time a year at xmas…. of course there was no point ,,, they were already working on turning my daughter away from me.she was 3.. they lied in court non stop, the family came to my house one night and beat me and anyone else in the house up…. and stole from us cash and stuff..a home invasion they had a gang of 5 boys who all hated me..took the judge 2 minutes to make her decision it has led me to never seeing my daughter again…… i hate the family law court all it did was support my x and take my kids from me and leave me a shell of who i was and afraid of children because of the lies this family pulled out…… i will never understand how a lawyer can sleep at night when they support low lifes who are in the wrong and the lawyer knows it but still will go to a court and lie for them… i would never trust the family law courts …. they are over protected fools who seem to be unable to work out right from wrong..oh and i was a good dad who tried his best to take care of my child…. didnt mean a thing in court…. the girl was right and the man was suss…. thats family law for ya…

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by paul white | December 17, 2016, 1:41 pm
  5. long before the Family Court existed….

    I married at 18 to a girl of 21, I was a Uni student, she was at Tech doing gold and silver smithing

    We lived above an antique shop run by her old mum that hobbled around after 2 hip replacements

    We had 2 children before we both graduated

    Then her Mum retired from the shop and took her daughter and the kids to live far away in a fishing/tourist village near where we had been for our (traditional sexy) honeymoon

    Shortly after, I finished studies and had options for jobs (those were the days of plenty of jobs) so I found a job closer to where they had moved

    I used to drive down to see wife and kids every month or so… we were friends, occasional sex, we enjoyed the beach and picnics with the kids

    She applied for a no fault divorce, in those days meant 5 years separation. At court my (drunk) barrister asked for my rights of access (to the kids) to be reserved, something I would not have thought to ask.

    She found an older guy and seemed to be happy with him and she said he loved the kids.

    So I decided that that was good and it would be better for the kids if I faded away from their life.

    My daughter made contact when she was in her early 20s, while on a business trip I met her for dinner, we chatted, hugged each other, laughed and she said she just wanted to see what I was really like. I asked if she thought I was OK, she said yes and we have not had any contact since.

    On a business assignment overseas when I was about 30 I met a lady who came back to Australia with me, we had one baby together and are still happily married after 40 years. In earlier days she was curious about my previous family, if they had lived closer we might have made contact.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by David Brown | December 17, 2016, 2:10 pm
  6. Hi Trish

    I have written a report on the family court to the Attorney Generals office with irrifutable proof of what I describe as “a perfect storm of dysfunctionality”.

    The Human Rights Commission is also investigating my case as there were some shocking breaches of due process including
    1. I was denied Legal Representation by the judge despite having paid for representation & not getting any of my money back even though funds remained in trust. I was forced to self represent against my will & certainly not in the best interests of my children. I havnt seen thrm now for over three years.
    2. I experienced systemic overt discrimination that I can prove as I have the court transcripts. The judge made a derogatory remark towards me (she said I was “clearly a narsisist”) & later had it removed from the court transcript as it proved her bias. How is this even legal?
    3. The mother admitted to interfering with the children’s relationship with me during my cross examination of her. Neither the ICL nor the Judge said a word in response. I tried to inform the court expert of the mothers testimony but the judge stopped me saying not to talk about the past. Simply horrific.
    4. The worst thing they said I did was to keep my youngest daughter on rhe phone too long which the mother claimed upset her. For this they ordered no contact just as the mothers solicitor had put in orders.
    Its hard to believe that this could happen in a first world country like Australia

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Pete Willson | December 17, 2016, 3:29 pm
  7. Hi,
    I have had nothing but bad experiences with the family law court, the judge I had was rude as hell to everyone, I was taken back the way he spoke to people. My ex threatened me with AVOs continuosly (I did all changeovers in front of cameras so I had evidence I had done nothing) She also told me she could accuse me of sexually molesting my sons and then it would be dragged through the courts for 12 months. I had orders saying I can see my sons but she has told me I will never see them or speak to them until “they are old enough to make their own decisions” which I assume will be 18. If I had them as per the court orders I would pay $101 a month, because she will not let me see them I pay $480 a month because she is breaching the order. I suppose I could go back to court but I have given up to be honest. I have been suicidal and am currently in a Pschyc hospital trying to get myself together.

    I am ex Army, in the settlement she got 33% of my military pension for life (we were married for 3 1/2 years and I did 24 1/2 years in the Army) and I pay child support as well so she gets nearly 50% of my pension, she also now works full time as a teacher. I am in the position where I can hardly afford to live and all up with my pension and her wage, super etc she would be on close to $120,000.00. I have to say I am just stunned by the whole situation and I can not get my head around it. You talk to Lawyers and they want $50,000.00 in a trust account “to start” I think it is disgusting you have to pay tens of thousands of dollars just to try and see your kids.

    I am at the point where I have nothing to loose, there is no way I can recover from what has happened.

    Like

    Posted by Chris Walker | December 17, 2016, 9:14 pm
  8. Trish, woman also get treated badly. Maybe Solomon got it right when he suggested they split the baby, Yes some women might accuse father of abuse. Trouble is many do abuse their children, The woman isn’t always believed, Believe me it isn’t a good position for any mother to be in.

    Like

    Posted by Florence nee Fedup | December 17, 2016, 11:44 pm
    • Hi Florence. My article specifically talks about about circumstances where violence is not the case. I don’t believe it is an unreasonable proposition to believe that there are men who are not violent, but do not get to see their kids. Lying, manipulation etc., are not gender specific. I don’t think it is fair to counteract a story about men where men perceive unfairness with ‘It should be about women” Men do this to women all the time when we try to talk about women’s issues. I believe that is unfair and I also think doing the same to men is unfair. As I said, I have witnessed a phenomena and I am using this article to hopefully collect more stories and more data to have experts look at it. I am not an expert in this field, but when I see patterns in narrative, I cannot ignore that. This is not about any type of story that villifies women. I would never do that. This is about understanding one segment of unfairness for one segment of the demographic in one segment of our society. I can’t see how that should be shunned or why it should be.

      Like

      Posted by trishcorry | December 17, 2016, 11:48 pm
  9. Trish, Thank you, Thank you. This is an area that for too long has been ignored.
    Family Law needs a review, and fast. There are so many stories, so many men that are not given the chance to be fathers to their children, and so many children missing out on meaningful relationships.
    I’m glad someone is stepping up to the plate and highlighting this issue.
    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Amanda | December 18, 2016, 12:08 am
  10. In these situations, it is difficult for the male to make a vigorous argument against his perceived injustice..; to disclaim against the woman is viewed by both other men and much of the public in general as “unmanly” or a cowardly act against what is STILL perceived as “the weaker sex”…There can be no use of emotive “props” like the broken-voice or the teary tissue wipe. But then the stoic reserve / stiff-upper-lip tactic brings no respect either, rather, it can be seen and used by the clever lawyer to demonstrate an uncaring personality and play right into the hands of an opposition. All these tactics are but methodology for the experienced divorce lawyer. I was fortunate in my case that the children were in their teens when all this happened to me..but I just played the “dead-bat” of the Family Court Bureaucracy against my ex-partner’s legal team and it went through well..it was the mediation that infuriated me for the heavy bias against myself as a working tradesman. But of course..the entire process is more a band-aid patching against the failure of decent social support for the working parents so they can try to make their partnership work best for all parties and genders..sad days indeed.

    Here’s a piece based on true events that I feel is relevant to the situation..
    https://freefall852.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/fields-of-deceit/

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by freefall852 | December 18, 2016, 10:22 am
  11. Did you interview any women who were treated unfairly by the family court? My children were given to their father in spite of a history of emotional abuse and alcoholism, including driving a car while drunk with our six month old son on his lap.
    These one sided stories about men being treated unfairly disgust me with their lack of investigative fairness.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Rachel Robinson | December 18, 2016, 6:25 pm
  12. I worked for nearly twenty years as a lawyer and had male and female clients. First thingI learnt was what clients tell other people and what comes out in evidence in Court can be very different things. Never had a client admit they were a lousy parent. I saw very few bad decisions by the Family Court. Majority of male clients in Family Court proceedings still tend to think of their child as a possession to which they are entitled, and the mother as an enemy. Very few seem capable of looking dispassionately at their child’s best interests, and a few would rather their child was homeless and starving, than give money to the mother to help her do her best for the child. Asking for anecdotal evidence from men is of dubious value unless you hear from other, more objective parties familiar with the family situation. There are no guilty people in prison and men never get a fair go in the Family Court! Actually what they experience is the child’s interests for once being placed ahead of theirs.

    Like

    Posted by Alison Rixon | December 18, 2016, 9:32 pm
    • Inclined to agree.Has been my experience. as well. Good and bad in all camps.

      Like

      Posted by Florence nee Fedup | December 18, 2016, 9:53 pm
    • I hope the young man in my case does not land you as a lawyer. Another person who assumes there is some type of violence going on, when there is none, or the dad must be bad, even if he is not. Another one who uses extremes as an example and ignores that there are just regular, normal, law abiding men and women who break up and are now battling to see their children. Another who has assumed it is the males fault when the mother has broken every single thing in the parenting agreement with zero consequences. Even the judge acknowledged all that, and acknowledge the dad had done nothing wrong. Roused on her apparently and basically shrugged and said ‘oh well…skype will have to do for dad.’ The stories in the surveys I have been sent are heart breaking. This young lad’s story I used as an example, is nothing on their stories. I have been reduced to tears reading them, sickened and horrified. Thanks for your feedback. But regardless of the abuse and judgements from other women, I’m going to go ahead with this. How is it in a child’s interest to not have any physical and emotional contact with one parent, when that parent is deemed to be no harm to the mother or the child’? How is that in the child’s best interest?

      Like

      Posted by trishcorry | December 18, 2016, 10:14 pm
    • My experience with Lawyers is that the longer they draw it out the more they get paid, Lawyers have a vested interest to keep things in court and to keep the conflict going. Charging between $360 and $500 an hour is criminal and they are taking advantage of people who are already in a bad position. A few of the lawyers I saw I would not describe as competant, certainly not worth the money they were charging.

      Liked by 1 person

      Posted by Chris Walker | December 18, 2016, 10:50 pm
  13. I would presume that not TOO MANY bastards in relationships would bother to come to a site like this to give their story..so I must then also presume that those who DO tell their experiences here are volunteering their experiences in at least honest-to-them manner..So putting personal judgments to one side, the mutual problem remains… eg; What and how does one handle the “other bastards” in the relationship? As I stated above..it wasn’t the Family Court that upset me, but rather the (to me) gender bias of the mediation that presumed on my maleness that..I..was the unyeilding one.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by freefall852 | December 19, 2016, 6:52 am
  14. Trish
    Domestic violence is an issue that hit too close to home for me as my daughter/son in law left my grandson parentless after a murder/suicide some years back now
    I congratulate you comrade in having the guts to write an article knowing beforehand that a section would jump right onto you.
    That takes guts.
    Issues need to be addressed and both sides are entitled to having there views put and just because you put forward one perspective doesn’t mean you don’t understand the issues from the other perspective
    Great work

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Ned Hockey | December 19, 2016, 3:56 pm
  15. I just read that link, sounds pretty standard to me, disgusting but standard. There are so many fathers who want to see their kids but a LOT of mothers seem to see it as some perverse victory if they can keep the kids away from their fathers. There would be a lot of cases where the mother tells the children that the father does not love them and wants nothing to do with them. Sure it really hurts the father and causes them a lot of pain but what does it do to the kids? You also have the cases where the mother threatens the father with AVOs or threatens to accuse the father of molesting the kids if the father does not walk away. It is just beyond comprehension and it seems to be pretty standard practice without any negative consequences for the mother. The other thing is the less access the father has to the kids the more money the mother gets in child support = restrict access get a big financial reward.

    Liked by 2 people

    Posted by Chris Walker | December 19, 2016, 4:20 pm
  16. There are many ore dad/mums who want what is best for their kids. Are able to come to agreement when they separate that gives kids access to both their lives. Parents who realise one can divorce, be no longer married while understanding they remain parents.

    Only small number end up in the courts, At least one often both not willing to give a inch. The fight often has nothing to do with thye kids. More about revenge,

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Florence nee Fedup | December 19, 2016, 4:35 pm

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Trish Corry

trishcorry

trishcorry

I love to discuss Australian Politics. My key areas of interest are Welfare, Disadvantage, emotions in the workplace, organisational behaviour, stigma, leadership, women, unionism. I am pro-worker and anti-conservativism/Liberalism. I am a proud member of the Australian Labor Party and you will find my blog posts written from a Laborist / Progressive Slant.

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