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Lies, Lies and more lies ... why the Family Law courts fail children

There is no doubt that the under resourcing of the Family Courts (Family Court and Federal Circuit Court) children's rights are being harmed. Additionally, parties who are often on the end of, put simply, dishonest allegations of abuse and blatant lies of one party against the conduct of the other.

The system as it stands, is rightfully cautious in accepting "at their highest" allegations of abuse and risk of harm. Accordingly, in the most sinister of cases (which are becoming more and more common) a party simply sprays a pile of lies on affidavit - the court "takes the allegations at their highest" and then because of lack of resources it can be in excess of two years before the truth of the allegations are tested. In all too many of these cases the allegations simply disappear before final hearing and surprisingly consent orders are entered into when "the game is up".

In the middle of this are children who are, effectively, alienated from a parent who has done nothing wrong.

In the starkest of examples of this type of case, a client had the partner (I have excluded the sexes of the parties to add to anonymity) make allegation after allegation of violence against that party - none of which were sustained. However, by the time the matter eventually reached a final hearing the Court Appointed Expert recommended that there would be more harm in permitting the child spending any time at all with that parent as the child was suffering the effect of a deep seated concern and awareness of the alleging parents disdain and allegations about the other parent. Accordingly, if the child was by order required to spend time with that parent there would be continuing emotional and psychological harm to the child, greater (in the experts opinion) than not spending meaningful or substantial time with that parent. This matter ended back before the Court (not surprisingly) and by the time the Court had any ability to deal with it the child was 16 years of age and well beyond any interest or practical impact which the Court might have had.

The alleging parent clearly "won" by contravention and the delay enabled the alienation of one parent with success. What a disgrace !

The Federal Government needs urgently to:

a. review the effectiveness of the Court as a proper mechanism to deal with parenting disputes (and I am of the view that it is not); and

b. Apply real resources

One day a longitudinal study will be conducted to evaluate the harm caused by the delays and innapropriateness of the Family Law courts in dealing with Childrens matters.


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