They aren’t your kids, and you will lose them

Whatever your family situation, if you have children, they are your kids – plural. They have two parents and the law in Australia is very clear, both parents are equally entitled to a role in their children’s lives.

They are not your kids – singular. If you take that line, which more and more judges are seeing in highly acrimonious matters that end up in court, you may very well  find yourself severely punished.

Author and journalist Caroline Overington wrote at length on the issue in The Australian on the weekend, triggered by a case that was shocking for the mother, but probably not so surprising to the lawyers.

Perhaps even heartening for those who have found themselves deprived of quality time with their kids.

The children involved, aged 10 and 8, were not neglected or abused, they loved their mother and went to good schools.

But their mother did not encourage a relationship between them and their father and the Family Court held that that was putting the children at psychological risk of harm.

So much so that the judge ordered that the children be immediately removed from their mother’s care to live with their father and that the father could enrol them in new schools – with no contact with their mother for the next six months.

This is not an isolated case, lawyers are reporting seeing it more and more often.

In a similar case, Overington reports, after orders were handed down changing the children’s residence from the mother to the father, to the father’s credit, he quickly agreed to the mother seeing the children more regularly and the arrangements eventually meant each parent spent equal time with the children – the underlying intention of the legislation.

If your family law matter ends up in court the consequences can be disastrous. The law when strictly applied may be a long way off what you think of as fair.

You put the decision into someone else’s hands, someone who doesn’t know you or your children, and has only the hard evidence and the law to decide your matter.

In a recent interview for the ABC’s Law Report, retiring Chief Justice of the Family Court Diana Bryant spoke of the pendulum that has swung back in favour of fathers in Family Court matters.

Perhaps it is even more entrenched than a swinging trend suggests, as the Family Law Act amendments of 2006 – which introduced the shared-care provisions in relation to parenting arrangements – become understood legally and are forced on unrelenting parents.

Most significantly of all, it’s never ever about you and your ex, it’s about the children.

Read Overington’s piece here:


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