Sunday, May 6, 2007

Why did children go to Brisbane in the first place ?

Letters to the Editor
Daily Telegraph

When Anita Quigley speaks of custody breach, ('Anxious reality of family break-up' 05 May 07), she mentions only fathers. In fact most custody breaches are committed by mothers. This is a common mistake which results from the bias of the Family Court and society in general.

Nobody in the media has yet questioned why the mother, Philippa Yeland, was allowed to take the children to Brisbane in the first place.

The Family Court system certainly is to blame. Expect crises like these for children to continue until we end discrimination, and implement and enforce a Presumption of Equal Parenting Time.

Geoff Holland
Cairns, Qld


The Daily Telegraph 5 May 2007
Anxious reality of family break-up
By Anita Quigley

All around the state today divorced and separated parents will hand over their children to their estranged partner for their weekend custody access.

While many will be pleased at the prospect the freedom a child-free weekend may offer, others will feel uncomfortable.

Particularly this weekend.

Some may even return home to watch the clock, anxiously counting down the minutes until their child/children are returned safely (and on time) from the court-ordered access visit.

Philippa Yelland knows the feeling.

Late on Thursday night she was reunited with her three children Bokkie, Matilda and Barney who had spent almost two months on the run with their father.

After a national police and airport alert, the children – aged 10, 9 and 7 – were found in a house in Launceston with her ex-husband Murray Robertson.

When found, Mr Robertson said: "The kids made the decision, not me."

While not privy to the circumstances of the couple's divorce, I am confident that this custody breach – rare to be publicised – is not infrequent among other families.

Whether it is a loving, but frustrated, father who in a moment of madness fails to return his children at the set time because he simply wants to spend longer with them (and they him) or a bitter one wanting to upset and scare his ex-wife.

Many news reports referred to the "happy-ending" of this case. It is only to the extent the children were found safe. Not when you consider the future Family Court hearings ahead and the loss of trust. Any decent parent should view their children as a joy and a responsibility, not a handy bargaining chip to screw more money out of the ex when the marriage fails.

How many divorcing parents do you see forget that the most crucial part is to protect their children and put their own selfish instincts on hold?

Stopping being married doesn't mean stopping being parents.

Unless the child's father happens to be of the likes of Ivan Milat or mother Katherine Knight, they are entitled to have a relationship with their child.

There are many dysfunctional, angry, unhappy children as a result of divorce.

But the Family Court can only be blamed for so many of them.

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