Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mediator says no contact, ever, because mum doesn't want it

An acquaintance separated from his partner before the baby was born.

He arrived at the hospital to see his new born child, accompanied by his sister. He was not aggressive. He is polite, soft-spoken and well-mannered.

The mum punched him in the face. The nurse was a witness. He has suffered mild whiplash since. He hasn't asked the nurse to be a witness, but feels it very unlikely she would testify anyway. The courts give mums plenty of lee-way regarding their behaviour around the time of birth.

This acquaintance went to a mediation session at the Family Court. His ex-partner was not present in the room (possibly not present at the mediation). The (female) mediator told him quite categorically that he could expect absolutely no contact with his new born daughter "because the mother doesn't want it."

This was not - say - over the next few weeks while the mother and baby bonded. This was EVER !

He found the mediator very patronising - let's say - 'matronising'.

This acquaintance was reasonably confident going in to the Family Court process and wasn't really looking for advice. He had confidence in a system which he believed was fair and based on common sense. He came out of that mediation session shell-shocked, and immediately began visiting solicitors and groups to get advice and help make sense of what appeared to him outrageous behaviour by the mediator.

It amazes me how many people say to me "but the Family Court has all changed hasn't it ? It is all fair and equal now, no ?"

The government has done a good job of sowing deceptive information in the media to make people think things have changed. As I have said previously, one senior Family Court official said to me that the changes were merely a "repackaged brief".

It because of the lack of a Presumption of Equal Parenting Time, and an unwillngness to enforce orders and impose appropriate penalties (but NOT by reducing access to the children except in extreme and chronic cases where they constitute child abuse) when the mother (or father) contravenes them, that people must continually return to the court system, with all the amplification of conflict and stress this entails.

The Family Court system in Australia is ethically and philosophically bankrupt. The government should be held accountable for the damage they have done and their failure to rectify the situation. But as we know, governments are rarely held accountable except in clear cases of breaking the law (even in cases of genocide, government officials can often get away with murder).

In a true democracy, a class action suit would be brought against the government, and fathers who had had their rights abused would be compensated, and the law would be changed to a Presumption of Equal Parenting Time. But the Dads Movement is not sufficiently organised, and even if they were, the government would continue to control the agenda of the courts in such a way that it would not be able to even consider such a case.

Moreover, no one talks about the rights of parents. It is politically incorrect to do so. Such rhetoric is seen as neglecting the best interests of the child, as if they were somehow mutually exclusive.

Meanwhile, radical feminists like Elspeth McInnes continue to fearmonger. For example Elspeth was quoted in a newspaper article a few days ago as saying that 66% of cases before the Family Court system involve safety issues with the children. Does this include the plethora of cases involving false or grossly exaggerated claims of domestic violence for which a DVO has been handed down whether or not the matter has even been investigated ?

In the case mentioned above, I suggest it reflects a strategy by Family Court staff to fulfill their brief of minimising the number of cases that go to trial by intimidating one of the litigants - nearly always the father, with the objective that they become demoralised and compliant with the demands of the other party - ie the mother. The Dad is more likely to be a self-represented litigant and an easier target.

I suggest the mediator is taking advantage of the fact that the medition session is not recorded and that she cannot be quoted in court proceedings.

I suggest that all mediation sessions be recorded, and that the recordings can be quoted whenever any of the participants deem appropriate. The lack of transparency aids the ongoing injustice.

The mediator mentioned above should be taken to task. I suggest that if she display this type of behaviour again, she should be sacked. But it is almost certain that she continues to behave in this way.

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