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More False Hope for Parents Kept from Their Children

The following article is in response to Adele Horin's story in the Sydney Morning Herald on May 30 2008, titled "Parents kept from children get new hope".

The Family Law Council, which is the Australian Federal Government's advisory body on family law matters, has called for the establishment of a Child Orders Enforcement Agency, along similar lines to the Child Support Agency.

Aggrieved non custodial parents who have been denied court-ordered access to their children since the inception of a Draconian Family Law Industry some 35 years ago, and who have been calling for such measures to be taken for more than three decades, do not hold their breath. They have long ago lost faith in a system in which the scales of justice are tilted firmly in favour of custodial parents. Any suggested changes to what has been shown to be such a gross travesty of justice for so long, are viewed with great skepticism.

Alarm bells ring immediately when it is noted the council's report, "Improving Post Parenting Order Processes", was prepared by a committee of eminent judges, magistrates and legal academics who wrote the report under Patrick Parkinson, professor of law at the University of Sydney, whose term as council chairman has since expired.

Hundreds of thousands of the nation's victims of the Family Law Industry, both parents and children, have witnessed at first hand how the odds are stacked against them from the moment a parent becomes a Non Custodial Parent.

Where have the above judges, magistrates and legal academics been for the past 35 years? Why has there been such a deafening silence all these years from the above committee members? Were they not aware of what was going on or were they too busy plundering the family wealth from separating families? Did the eminent members of the bench not hear the cries of anguish from the non custodial parents and their children all these years, when they turned a blind eye to the forcible removal of children from non custodial parents by vindictive, and in many cases disordered and dysfunctional Custodial parents. Why for the past 35 years, have members of the bench refused to use the punitive measures at their disposal, in order to ensure that non custodial parents and their children remain connected following parental separation. Their failure to do so is a crime against humanity and an abuse of the rights of our Nation's children.

For the past 35 years we have witnessed the mockery of a Family Justice System pretending to uphold the principle of equality and impartiality in what can only be described as a mal- administration of Family Law matters. Millions of the nation's parents and children, who have had the misfortune to become victims of this Industry, have for the past 35 years protested against the way the scales of justice in Family Law are tipped heavily one way, in order to help maintain the frenzy of the Law profession and their mercenaries, in the pursuit of plundering the family wealth from unsuspecting separating parents.

The Laws governing Family law matters were drafted by Lawyers, with the main beneficiaries being the law profession and associated mercenaries, who have now joined in a growing melee to capture a share of these ill-gotten spoils. The law profession's success depends on how much conflict and animosity is present or can be created, for them to mount an economically successful case. The sole custodial parent model following separation has provided them with a guaranteed high level of ongoing conflict, and by definition it has provided them with a lucrative economic outcome.

Family Laws which were drafted in the early seventies were supposedly designed to help solve the problems associated with the highly emotive issues of parental separation, especially the issue of child custody and the right and need, to ensure ongoing contact of non custodial parents with their children, unless it was unsafe for them to do so.

However whether by accident or by intent THE RELEVANT SOLE PARENT CUSTODY LAWS WERE ADOPTED, SO AS TO GUARANTEE FAILURE, with the resulting horrendous ramifications for all those who incorrectly believed that justice would prevail, and that by using the family justice system, at least enduring contact with their children would be ensured.

This effectively means that any Court Orders you may have obtained, mostly at great expense, have a totally different meaning depending on whether you have been made a custodial parent or a non custodial or contact parent. So there are two totally different outcomes for one set of Court Orders.

1. From the moment you are made a custodial parent, you have effectively been given absolute power and control over every aspect of your children's life, can ignore the Court Orders with impunity, and can eliminate the other parent and extended family members out of the children's life with ease. The methods used have been well documented for decades.

2. From the moment you are made a non custodial or contact parent you no longer have any say in any aspects of what happens in your children's life. You are no longer able to protect them, love, support and care for them and you can be totally eliminated from your children's life with frightening speed and ease. To add insult to injury, you can then be accused of abandoning your children and subsequently labeled a deadbeat parent.

The adverse impact of such injustices are further highlighted by the fact that if a non-custodial parent contravenes articles of the Court Order, such as not returning the children on time from a contact visit, the CUSTODIAL PARENT simply picks up the phone, calls the police and the offending parent is immediately labeled a kidnapper, hostage taker or child abductor, and set upon by various federal and local police agencies. The only cost incurred to the Custodial Parent is the cost of the phone call.

By sharp contrast if the CUSTODIAL parent decides to ignore and contravene the same set of Court Orders, and refuse to let a child have anything further to do with their non custodial parent even if they live in the same street, the non custodial parent's only recourse is to take the matter back to the very Court which failed them so miserably in the first place. No simple phone call for them, but rather further expensive legal proceedings which ultimately lead to nothing, if a recalcitrant Custodial parent decides to ignore the directions of the Court. In their twisted logic the Industry reasons that to upset the Custodial parent would be detrimental to the "Best Interest of the Child". This is what the Family Justice Industry sees as an equitable outcome.

Following 35 years of silence, these eminent members of the Family Law Council committee, have now recommended that a "small, independent (enforcement) agency with offices in each capital city" would be the best way to respond to serious breaches of contact orders. They have suddenly decided that serious and willful disregard of parenting orders was a matter of public interest and that a child's best interest was at stake when a parent breached an order that a court had deemed beneficial to the child.. They also belatedly consider that such breaches brought the Family Court into disrepute.

With their collective tongues firmly planted in their cheeks, they suggest these enforcement agencies would encourage parents to resolve disputes without litigation. But then true to form and making sure to protect the lucrative status quo of their Industry and in order to maintain the standard of living of their fellow members of the Law fraternity, they recommend litigation should be instituted against the offending parent in the Family Court with the aggrieved parent able to instruct a Lawyer provided by the agency.

The committee acknowledges their recommendations would be an expensive exercise, and therefore propose that extra funding be made available to legal aid commissions in order to help parents fund enforcement matters before the Family Courts.

To all those who have been a victim of this badly flawed system, it would appear to be nothing more than an attempt to create a growth in public funded ineffectual pursuits of enforcement of contravention orders in the Family Court. Perhaps there is a downturn in the numbers of aggrieved parents seeking justice from this farcical institution.

You don't have to be a brain surgeon to recognize that a court which refuses to punish habitual offenders for contravention of their own orders, is going to do anything different just because the aggrieved parents are represented by legal aid Lawyers.

The eminent members of the Family Law Council Committee suggest that such legal actions in the Family Court as they recommend would ensure compliance. With all due respect eminent members, could you please explain how you see your recommendations ensuring compliance?????

This is all smoke and mirrors gobbledygook, designed to make it look as if they are a caring Court with "The Best Interest of the Children" at heart. However all the available evidence would suggest otherwise.

If this committee was even remotely serious at trying to resolve the ongoing flagrant contraventions of Court ordered Contact Orders, it would have been better to consider the proposal by Mr Simon Hunt of a "CONTACT RECOVERY ORDER" or (CRO)

Unfortunately all the available evidence shows that when practical commonsense suggestions are made to resolve this travesty of justice against non custodial parents and their children, it is either ignored or ridiculed by all those engaged in maintaining the status quo for their own self interests.

The following is an explanation of the CROs by Mr Hunt. I believe this would also be a practical and effective low cost mechanism to enforce Court Ordered Contact Orders

The Recovery of Contact Order (RCO) mechanism is a simple way of protecting children facing the separation of their parents and will prevent most custody cases from even starting (because there is no aggrieved party to initiate litigation).

Immediately enforceable Recovery of Contact Order (RCO)

POLICY Protecting children from having of their parents removed by the other upon separation.

THE MECHANISM That any parent denied equal parenting time of their child or children can apply for immediate relief by way of a Recovery of Contact Order (RCO) protecting the child's relationship with both its parents. The excluded parent would obtain the RCO from the police or the magistrate or district court clerks office. Like an AVO or Intervention Order the Recovery of Contact Order (RCO) would be effective immediately and immediately enforceable by the police. It would provide the applicant up to a maximum of seven days of contact with their child per fortnight (or less by agreement).

Like an AVO or Intervention Order the application would go to court within days so that the respondent party, the parent withholding the child or children, has the opportunity to oppose the order.

If the RCO is not opposed it stays in force.

If the RCO is opposed, the arguments and evidence of the respondent parent will be assessed by the court and a decision made to either;

i) dismiss the respondent's case,

ii) refer the matter to the Family Court or Federal Magistrates Court whilst making an interim order for the contact requested by the Applicant Parent up to 50% ie: 7 days a fortnight (or less as agreed), or partial or complete exclusion of the applicant parent. The court may also order that allegations of child abuse or neglect are investigated by an appropriates child protection agency.

Prior to hearing the RCO would be effective immediately and immediately enforceable by the police unless the withholding parent lays criminal charges of abuse or serious neglect with the police, in which case the matter would be heard by the Magistrate or District Court before restoration of contact (50% or less by agreement) can be enforced.

VERY YOUNG CHILDREN RCOs would not be effective immediately or immediately enforceable when the child is less that one years old or is being breast fed but would none the less be promptly adjudicated by the Magistrates court.

FAMILY VIOLENCE Allegations of violence, be they genuine or contrived, would not be grounds to exclude one the child's parents when third party change over arrangements can be made.

Peter Van de Voorde, June 2008