I have met and heard the tragic stories of many parents. PA is a function, by and large, of a custodial ex-partner, although some alienation can start while the couple is still together.

This blog is a story of experiences and observations of dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW), an arena pitting parent against parent, with children as the prize. Due to the gender bias in Family Law, that I have observed, this Blog has evolved from a focus solely on PA to one of the broader Family/Children's Rights area and the impact of Feminist mythology on Canadian Jurisprudence and the Divorce Industry.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In OZ ~ Because Lying in the Family Court is Child Abuse

Wednesday, September 16, 2009
By Amfortas

The Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, Diana Bryant, has recently launched an extraordinary attack on Australia’s internationally regarded 2006 Family Law amendments, by writing to the Attorney-General and asking him to urgently repeal important provisions within the amendments.

According to Ash Patil, President of shared parenting group Fathers4Equality, “These provisions in the family law act were specifically implemented to reduce the epidemic of false allegations and parental alienation that permeate every corridor of the Family Law Courts, to the clear detriment of the innocent children caught in the cross-fire.

But Bryant wants them removed, and fails to explain how the innocent victims of maliciously false allegations would be protected without them.

James Adams adds, “What is more astonishing it seems is that unlike the parliamentary committee that recommended these laws in the first place, the Chief Justice has not consulted widely before making such an extraordinary intervention (in fact she has not consulted with any fathers’ groups at all).

Rightly or wrongly, Bryant will now be perceived to have compromised views on this issue, denying her the opportunity to have played a unifying force in the process of family law reform in this country, much like the wasted opportunities of her predecessor.”

The two provisions Bryant wants specifically removed include:

*the order of costs, at the Judge’s discretion, against a parent who has been proven to have “knowingly” made false allegation in Court,


*unspecified actions, at the Judges’s discretion, against a parent who has purposely alienated or deliberately maligned the children against the other parent.

The importance of these provisions Patil explains. ”These provisions have been specifically implemented to reduce the disturbingly common practices by some separated parents in making contrived and sinister allegations in Court against the other parent, and to otherwise engage in concerted efforts to destroy the relationship between the child and the other parent. This is done knowing full well the children will be irrevocably harmed in the process, both psychologically and emotionally.

Yet it goes on and will continue to go on given human nature, unless we have laws to help it stop.

“So these are ‘good’, modest provisions designed to stop misguided parents from misusing the system and abusing innocent children” were introduced only after extensive community consultation.

According to Adams “These provisions were agreed to by a bi-partisan parliamentary committee (both Labor and Libs/Nats) that went around Australia canvassing the views of all Australians for over two years.

Finally this committee was so appalled at the extent of institutional abuse in the Family Court that it recommended measures to protect innocent children and parents who were victims of contrived allegations and parental alienation by spiteful ex-partners.

” But Bryant wants to override the will of the Australian people and the will of Parliament, and to completely remove all disincentives against lying in the Family Court.

Really soft penalty for a very serious crime.

Patil, who claims that many F4E members are subjected to false allegations, states that “Proving that someone has ‘knowingly’ made false allegations rather than ‘mistakenly’ or ‘recklessly’ is quite a tall order. The standard of proof in these matters is a very tough hurdle to pass, and as a result ‘knowingly false’ allegations have only been proven in a relatively few cases in recent years.

If they are proved, they may result in a costs order, although this has been rarely applied in children’s matters by the judiciary. “Now given that perjury in any other Australian court may result in 10 years or more jail time, one must be mindful of the fact that this is a really soft penalty for a very serious crime.

It is a provision however that can work as a disincentive, albeit a modest one, in dissuading many parents from lying in the Family Court in the first place.” So these are “good”, modest provisions designed as a disincentive to those misguided parents who may in a moment of weakness be tempted to make contrived allegations in Court.

Measured responses to issues of concern Patil and Adams are frustrated by the logic used by the Chief Justice, and Patil adds that “Bryant justifies the need for these changes by suggesting that some people have misunderstood these provisions.

Even if this is true, her suggested fix is a remarkable over-reaction to an issue that could be addressed through a number of simple measures.” “Given that most parents in family law proceedings are either represented by lawyers, have visited a family relationship centre or have sought government funded legal services, a simple review could identify the cause of this misinformation from within these service providers, and provide an opportunity for corrective measures to be implemented.”

Adams wonders why the Chief Justice needs to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and opines that “a request to the Attorney General to implement an educational campaign to educate parents about these provisions would go a long way in addressing any existing misconceptions, and would be a more measured and effective approach to the issue at hand.”

Adams continues “Given the unprecedented nature of these family law amendments, what is required are sensible, well-measured & ultimately timely approaches to these issues, in order to allow for proper outcomes based research to develop. Anything less than this would put at risk the very wellbeing of those we are trying to protect.”

Broader consultations as a first step Fathers4Equality would like to encourage the Chief Justice to put some thought into what checks and measures she would alternatively suggest be implemented, if the current provisions are removed, to protect children from the devastating damage resulting from alienation and perjury in Court.

Given that lying in the Family Court and parental alienation are forms of child abuse, we stress the importance of carefully considering the implications to the welfare of children if these safeguards are removed.

Secondly and in reference to a recent campaign that has promoted a less than accurate reflection of these new laws, we would ask the Chief Justice to consider making a public statement to the effect, as is the case, that no evidence exists of any escalation of child abuse as a result of the new amendments.

This would be an important statement from the Chief Justice in the interests of an informed community discussion on this matter, and would help ensure that the debate is discussed in terms of facts, not innuendo.

Finally, we would like to draw attention to the increasingly under-resourced and overworked child protection authorities in this country, and the fact that too many cases of genuine abuse are not thoroughly investigated, in part because of the level of false allegations emanating from the Family Court.

It must be recognised that for every hour that a child protection officer is investigating a false allegation, it is one hour less protection that can be given to a child in genuine need, and this is a cost that the children of Australia simply cannot afford. Fathers4Equality would be open to discussing these important issues further with the Chief Justice, if she is willing to accept our invitation.

Amfortas is a Psychologist and Men's Rights Advocate living in Tasmania; the mania inflicted by Feminist-Socialism. He is the Past-Chairman of mensnewsdaily.com Ask, Who Does the Grail Serve. | More from Amfortas

No One Believed Me

When men are victims of domestic violence.

By Glenn Sacks, M.A. and Ned Holstein, M.D.

Four Sacramento County Sheriff's cars pulled up in front of David Woods's house. He tried to explain to them what happened. But the lead deputy cut him off: "Yeah, that's fine. Put your hands behind your back." David said, "No, wait, she stabbed me ... there's the knife. See the knife? See my neck wound? See?" "Put your hands behind your back. Turn around," the deputy replied. "No," David protested. "She stabbed..." The deputies drew their weapons. David's little daughters came running out of the back bedroom pleading, "Leave Daddy alone! Mamma tried to hurt him with a knife!" One deputy, a woman, took the children in the bedroom and shut the door. David stood there, cuffed. How the fight began David's wife Ruth had taken the kids out for a walk in 39 degree weather -- for seven hours. "By the time she got back their fingers were blue, their lips were blue, their ears were blue," David says. The children were soaked; she was soaked. We argued for an hour. "We had to put them in a warm bath to warm them up; they were hypothermic.

Then she started cutting up vegetables for dinner. She had a serrated vegetable knife with a blade about seven inches long. She turned around and she stabbed at me. "I tried to block it, but I was surprised. I was off balance...the knife went right through my collar and gave me a little nick on my neck. "She reared back to stab me again. I tried to block it again...I hit her in the mouth. She dropped the knife, ran to the telephone, called 911, and told them, 'My husband is hitting me! I think he's gonna kill me.' "When she dropped the knife, I stood over it. I wouldn't let her hide the knife. I was going to say to the police, 'See? She tried to stab me.'"

The truth came from the kids After 15 minutes, the female deputy returned from the bedroom after talking to David's children. She told the other deputies, "It's true. Both of the daughters saw it. She tried to stab him with the knife." They took the cuffs off David. "Your wife obviously needs help," the lead deputy said. "She works for Kaiser, you've got health insurance that covers mental health, you need to call the emergency number and get her an appointment." David says there's a double standard when it comes to charging men. "Now, isn't that strange? When she had a fat lip, it was a felony and I was going to jail. But when they finally realized that she tried to stab me in the neck, it stopped being a crime, and instead it was a mental health issue."

The history of their case David Woods is a partially disabled former Marine who endured years of abuse at the hands of his wife Ruth and the law enforcement and domestic violence system which unwittingly enabled her. Woods, a former construction worker, suffered disabling work-related injuries early in his marriage. He says: "The violence really began in our family about 10 days after Ruth realized that she had all the power [financially]. I knew I had to get my kids out. I called the largest domestic violence shelter agency in Sacramento County several times. They told me, 'Men are perpetrators of domestic violence; women are victims of domestic violence,' and hung up. "I had no way out. I had no money. Whenever we bought a car, Ruth insisted that the car be in her name only, so that if I took it and went to the movies without her approval she would call the police, and report, 'I'm estranged from my husband, and he stole my car.' She did that several times." Worst of all is what David's children endured. One daughter says, "No one would help. Teachers, parents of friends, anyone I tried to talk to about what was going on at home told me I didn't understand, that my mother couldn't possibly be the violent party. When the police came to our home, they would always be ready to arrest my father, sometimes putting handcuffs on him. It was up to me to scream as loud as possible that it was my mom and not my dad, so they wouldn't take him away and leave me alone with her."

Domestic violence committed by women against men is generally ignored or minimized, yet more than 200 studies have found that women initiate at least as much domestic violence (DV) against their male partners as males initiate against their female partners. Research shows that men comprise about a third of DV injuries and deaths. Women often compensate for their lack of physical strength by employing weapons and the element of surprise -- just as David Woods' wife did, and just as recently murdered former NFL star Steve McNair's girlfriend allegedly did. But in 2008, David Woods was partially vindicated. He was the principal plaintiff in a successful lawsuit against the State of California. The Third District Court of Appeals ruled that it violates equal protection that California's funding of domestic violence programs that offer services only to women but not to men. Recent research on domestic violence The most recent large-scale study of DV was conducted by Center for Disease Control and Prevention researchers and published in the American Journal of Public Health. The study, which surveyed 11,000 men and women, found that according to both men's and women's accounts, 50 percent of the violence in their relationships was reciprocal (involving both parties). In those cases, the women were more likely to have been the first to strike. Moreover, when the violence was one-sided, both women and men said that women were the perpetrators about 70 percent of the time. The Obama administration recently appointed Lynn Rosenthal as the first-ever White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. Vice President Biden, who wrote the Violence Against Women Act, said that creating the post will help the White House focus on stopping domestic violence. Many of the world's leading authorities on domestic violence recently gathered at the "From Ideology to Inclusion 2009" conference in Los Angeles and detailed new research contradicting this view and offering solutions that will benefit all. Researchers emphasized their findings that ignoring female-perpetrated DV puts children, men, and also women in harm's way. The conference was presented by the California Alliance for Families & Children and co-sponsored by the Family Violence Treatment & Education Association. DV researcher Deborah Capaldi, Ph.D., a social scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center, told the conference that the most dangerous DV scenario for women is that of reciprocal violence, particularly if that violence is initiated by women. The best way for many women to be safe is to not initiate violence against their male partners. "The question of initiation of violence is a crucial one ... much DV is [reciprocated], and initiations -- even that seem minor -- may lead to escalation," she explained. Dr. Capaldi's research shows that whereas men are often thought of as the only abusers and also as serial abusers, a young woman's DV is just as predictive of her male partner's future DV as the man's own past DV. While Rosenthal and numerous others have created many programs and services to help abused women, there are very few services available to abused men. Those who seek help often face hostility or indifference from domestic violence hotlines, service providers, and law enforcement. Denise Hines, Ph.D., of Clark University in Worcester, Mass., has studied why many abused men hesitate to leave their female partners. Hines told the conference that while some of the men's reasons for not leaving were similar to those of abused women (love, not believing in divorce, hoping the partner will change, etc.), the men's overwhelming concern was for their children. Men often don't want to leave their wives because this would leave their children unprotected in the hands of an abuser. If the men choose to take their children away from the home, when they're found, the children are likely to be taken away and given to the mother, and the men might be arrested for abducting their children. Moreover, they would possibly lose custody of their children in the divorce anyway, again leaving their children in harm's way.

In Hines's study of male victims of domestic violence, 64 percent of the men who called a DV hotline were told that they "only helped women," and over half were referred to programs for male perpetrators. Overall, only 8 percent of the men who called hotlines classified them as "very helpful," whereas 69 percent found them to be "not at all helpful." Worse, when an abused man called the police, the police were more likely to arrest him than to arrest his abusive female partner.

Children end up victimized

In any kind of spousal violence, children often end up being victimized. In the highly publicized Socorro Caro murder case, Socorro often abused her husband Xavier, a prominent Northridge, California rheumatologist, and once assaulted him so badly he had to have surgery to regain his sight in one eye. Trapped and not knowing what to do or where to go, Xavier endured the abuse, once telling his wife, according to reports, that "One day you are going to do something that cannot be undone." A short time later, Socorro shot and killed three of their four children. Their baby survived only because Socorro ran out of bullets. She was later convicted and sentenced to death for the murders.

According to John Hamel, LCSW, a court-certified batterers' treatment provider, even when the children themselves are not abused, "There is an overwhelming, irrefutable body of research indicating that children are adversely affected by witnessing inter-parental violence, regardless of the perpetrator's gender."

David's daughter gives her example:

"I grew up paranoid and feeling like the safety in my house was something only I was responsible for. If Mom became violent, it meant I failed. I learned the only way to survive was to watch every argument they had and be ready to interject myself as a distraction before violence happened.... My next task was to try to break it up: the screaming, threatening, pleading, whatever. I had to make sure no details escaped me, because if the cops got called they'd just believe my mom without question. It was my job to make sure the truth got heard." Glenn Sacks, M.A., is the Executive Director of Fathers & Families. His columns have appeared in dozens of the largest newspapers in the United States. Ned Holstein, M.D., is the organization's Chairman of the Board. Their Web site is www.FathersandFamilies.org.