FAMILY COURT REFORM & ALTERNATIVES
"We never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something,
build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." Buckminster Fuller
No system that routinely takes two years to reach a decision about a child’s welfare, and that is adversarial in nature at the very time when parents most need to be encouraged to work together, can legitimately claim to be acting in a child’s "best interests".
The Family Court is a failed model of how to address the ever-increasing issue of family breakdown and consequent child abuse. We are advocating the views that:
OUR KIDS ONLY HAVE ONE CHILDHOOD
Decisions about our children all need to be treated as urgent; the costs of not doing so far outweigh the costs of doing so.
KIDS AND ADVERSARIAL LAW DON’T MIX
Adversarial legal processes are entirely inappropriate for the resolution of family matters and for making decisions about the future of our children. Parents in separating families need help to be able to work together for the sake of their children; they don’t need any help destroying each other. Our children – and their mental health and welfare – are just too important for that.
KIDS SHOULD BE KEPT OUT OF COURT PROCESSES
Courts and other institutions that determine the future of our children are increasingly listening to “the voice of the child”, and at ever-younger ages. Although this may appear progressive, appropriate or respectful of children’s rights, it inevitably and strongly incentivizes psychological child abuse by rewarding parents who seek to control their children’s views and behavior.
Furthermore, it is unlikely that there will ever be enough professionals readily available, competent and specialized enough to assess children under these circumstances (nor, realistically and importantly, any satisfactory mechanism for determining which professionals are suitably qualified and experienced).
PARENTING SHOULD NOT BE MEANS-TESTED
Financially onerous processes are inappropriate for making decisions about our children’s futures. It is profoundly wrong, unjust and immoral that the level of financial investment by a parent in legal proceedings should be a determinant of future parental care.
PARENTAL CARE AND FINANCES CAN BE SEPARATED
Decisions about which parent should care for children, and when, can be made independently of any final, financial resolutions between separating parents; in fact, they are best done so given the urgency.
MODERN ALTERNATIVES TO THE FAMILY COURT SHOULD BE PRIORITISED
There should be a substantial shift of resources from the Family Court system into modern alternatives. Families should be genuinely obliged to participate in mediation or conciliatory legal processes for a significant period of time prior to being permitted access to costly, inefficient, protracted and harmful court proceedings.
FAMILY COURTS SHOULD NOT BE SECRET
The Family Court has protected itself and its participants from scrutiny for decades with self-serving legislation that prevents participants from taking legal action against incompetent or negligent psychologists, barristers and judges. And it has prohibited, by law, public discussion of family court cases and exposure of its ineptitude and negligence. It has done so in the name of “the best interests” of the child when, in reality, the beneficiary has been the Family Court itself.
No court should be able to protect itself from scrutiny in the way that our Family Courts have done. Australia’s Family Courts should be opened up to intense and immediate scrutiny.