Shared Parenting Rollback-government Promoting Fatherless Society

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31st January 2010, 09:30am - Views: 778

People Feature Dads4Kids-Fatherhood Foundation 1 image

Media Release

Shared Parenting Rollback

Government Promoting Fatherless Society

It would appear the Rudd government has embraced a campaign to roll back the very moderate

2006 changes to Family Law Reform endorsed by both Government and Opposition on


bipartisan basis to give children equal access to both their

mother and father in the event of


Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland released three reports of reviews of the

Family Law Act on 28 January 2010.  

One report by Professor Richard Chisholm recommends complete dismantling of the 2006 shared

parenting reforms. Warwick Marsh, Dads4Kids said, “Shared parenting is only happening in a

minority of cases.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) reports that only 26% of

children aged 5-11 whose parents separated after the 2006 reforms were in place are experiencing

‘shared care time’, that is, at least 35% of nights with each parent. Why is this outcome considered

by the Attorney-General to be ‘regrettable’?”

“The real problem in the Family Law Court is that the court operates in a moral vacuum as it

is based on the premise of ‘no fault divorce’. Fault has always to be apportioned and so the new

fault became the male of the species. There have been some terrible judgements by the Family Law

Court in the last few years, but this has been because of the courts blind belief in moral relativism,

not the very moderate changes to the family law act approved on a bipartisan basis by both houses

of Parliament in 2006. It is important to acknowledge that this area of Family Law is difficult at the

best of times and the Shared Parenting changes of 2006 have to be seen in the big picture. If

anything, these reports show that fathers are still being excluded from their children's lives in

far too many cases. Further reform is needed to help turn the tide of fatherlessness.

Marsh continued, “The Attorney General has proved he is party to this campaign to roll back shared

parenting as he has released these three reports on the day


the anniversary of Darcy

Freeman’s death. As one family advocate said,

"The timing of the release of the reports by the AG

was not unplanned,

and that they deliberately released the three

reports the day before the

anniversary of Darcy Freeman's tragic death in order to play upon and take advantage of her death,

so as to manipulatively garner and harness a 'guilt' motivation for change".”

“It is good that we remember and mourn the horrific death of Darcy Freeman at the hands of her

deranged father at the Westgate Bridge on the 29th

January 2009 but we should also mourn the

horrific death of 18 month old Oliver Garcia, killed by his deranged mother in a jump from the

Westgate Bridge, just 8 months earlier.”

“It is a sad day in our history when politicians continue to promote the gender war by cheap

political stunts. As Bettina Arndt said; "No gender has a monopoly on vice" and to suggest

otherwise is to fall into the ideological trap of out-dated man hating Marxist feminism. As Martin

Luther King said; "Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that".” 

Marsh said that both genders need to work together to stamp out domestic violence. Such

violence against any member of the family whether by a man or a woman is utterly despicable. 

People Feature Dads4Kids-Fatherhood Foundation 2 image

Warwick Marsh believes that, “The promotion of fatherlessness by our government in wanting to

roll back shared parenting legislation is a form of domestic violence against our children. Our

children need a mother and a father. Research shows that fatherless children are much more

likely to engage in domestic violence themselves

as adults. We must break the


generational cycle of violence that is occurring in our society. The only way forward is to reject

the demonisation of either male or female and support values-based education, strengthen families,

support mothers and fathers in their

marital relationships and turn the tide of fatherlessness.

Together we can make a difference.”

Warwick Marsh, Dads4Kids Fatherhood Foundation, Mob: 0418 225 212, Tel: 02 4272 6677  


Please Note: Richard Egan from Family Voice Australia is one of the most careful and reasoned

family researchers in Australia. His comments on the proposed changes to family Law are quite

alarming. We include them below for your perusal.


By Richard Egan - Chief Researcher for Family Voice Australia

Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland released three reports of reviews of the Family Law

Act on 28 January 2010. 

The one by Professor Richard Chisholm recommends the most complete

dismantling of the 2006 reforms.

In doing so, Professor Chisholm seems to have exceeded his terms of reference which were

strictly limited to inquiring into “matters before the federal family courts where issues of

family violence arise”. Chisholm proposes radical changes that could profoundly affect all

separating couples with children, not just those where family violence is an issue.

Chisholm proposes removing the qualifiers “equal” and “shared” from the key provision introduced

by the 2006 reforms. 

These provisions affirm as a fundamental presumption of family law “that it

is in the best interests of the child for the child's parents to have equal shared parental responsibility

for the child”. 

This presumption is not absolute – it doesn’t apply if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a

parent (or someone who lives with the parent) has engaged in child abuse or family violence. It can

also be rebutted by any other persuasive evidence that the presumption is not in the child’s best


Chisholm’s recommendation would see this key provision reduced to the meaningless

statement that both parents are presumed to have “parental responsibility”, but not

necessarily in equal measure.

The Attorney-General has already responded to the reports by repeating the claim that the “equal

shared parental responsibility” presumption has

given rise to an allegedly 

false understanding that

parents are entitled to equal time in caring for the child. McClelland said: “... regrettably, there have

been instances where people have resolved cases, settled cases, on the assumption that the law

intends an equal split of time.”

Well, the law does require the courts, when proposing to make orders for shared equal parental

responsibility, to consider making an order to provide for the child to spend equal time with each of

the parents, as long as this is considered to be reasonably practicable and in the child’s best


The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) reports that only 26% of children aged 5-11

whose parents separated after the 2006 reforms were in place are experiencing even “shared care

time”, that is at least 35% of nights with each parent. Why is this outcome considered by the

Attorney-General to be “regrettable”?

Interestingly, Professor Chisholm confirms that prior to the 2006 reforms there was a de facto

presumption in favour of an “80:20 outcome” in which one parent, usually the mother, was

given care of the child for most of the time with the other parent, usually the father, being

given care of the child for every second weekend and half of school holidays. 


opponents of shared equal parental responsibility have consistently denied this.

Professor Chisholm’s proposal to deprive the court of any guidance favouring equal shared parental

responsibility would, if implemented, most likely result in a return to this old de facto 80:20


This backward step would only increase the incidence of practical fatherlessness already

being experienced by too many Australian children. The AIFS reports that of those children

whose parents separated between July 2006 and September 2008, one in three never stay

overnight with their father, and one in nine never see their father at all.

Professor Chisholm further recommends replacing the presumption that both mum and dad have

equal shared parental responsibility with a sort of “parental responsibility” test in which the court

would rate mums and dads on how they have performed so far as parents and what capacity and

willingness they have to parent well. This recommendation would seem to invite mutually

hostile assessments of each other’s parenting record and capacity by separating parents. How

would this be helpful?

The Attorney-General has seized on a recommendation to abolish the 2006 provision for a cost

penalty for a party who “knowingly made a false allegation or statement”. Disturbingly, Mr

McClelland wrongly states  that there is “a potential cost disincentive” to raise allegations of family

violence “if the allegation is made and not sustained”. This is not correct. The courts may well find

that an allegation is “not sustained” – that is the evidence to support the allegation is not persuasive

without being satisfied that a party has “knowingly made a false allegation or statement”. As the

premier law officer of the Commonwealth, the Attorney-General should be more careful not

to make misleading statements about what the law says.

The AIFS reports that in 2009 some 81% (up from 77% in 2006) of parents with a child under 18

“agreed that the continuing involvement of each parent following parental separation is beneficial

for the children”.

This commonsense presumption in favour of shared parental responsibility was finally incorporated

into the Family Law Act in 2006, after a prolonged and vigorous democratic process of public

consultation and exhaustive parliamentary inquiry. All those who support this presumption that

kids need both mum and dad involved in their lives need to express their outrage to the Rudd

government at the appalling recommendations of the Chisholm report.

The 2006 family law reforms need to be reaffirmed as reflecting the best interests of children

and the consensus of most thoughtful Australians.

Richard Egan, FamilyVoice Australia, tel 1300 365 965,

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