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MENZ ISSUES

MENZ Issues: news and discussion about New Zealand men, fathers, family law, divorce, courts, protests, gender politics, and male health.

Sun 28th November 2004

Male and Female Perpetrated Partner Abuse:

Filed under: Domestic Violence — domviol @ 5:00 pm

Male and Female Perpetrated Partner Abuse: Testing a Diathesis-Stress Model
by Reena Sommer
——————————————————————————–
Table of Contents
Chapter 2 Part 1
——————————————————————————–

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Prior to 1970, studies focusing on family violence were virtually nonexistent. The lack of research in this area seemed to imply that violence within the family was “either rare, dysfunctional or a pathology traceable to mental illness or psychopathology” (Gelles, 1979, p.169). Yet, during the past two decades, abuse between intimate partners has become recognized by social scientists as a serious social problem; impacting on all levels of society.

A national U.S. survey on family violence was first conducted in 1975 by Straus, Gelles and Steinmetz (1980). This large scale investigation marked an initial attempt at estimating the prevalence of family violence in American families. In doing so, it has been responsible for raising our awareness about the problem of family violence. Since the publication of its findings, a plethora of literature including empirical and review works in this area has followed, drawing the attention of policy makers, legislators and service providers.

The approach to studying the problems associated with family violence has changed throughout the course of this literature’s development. Early research into family violence assumed that such behaviour could only be the result of a deranged mind. Support for this notion was advanced by society’s belief that the family as an institution, is committed to nonviolence among its members through the maintenance of benevolent and loving relationships. Since that time, sociologically based research has focused on establishing the prevalence, correlates, and social patterns of family violence (Straus et al., 1980). As a result of these studies, we have come to know that abuse within the family is anything but rare.
(more…)

Sat 27th November 2004

Domestic abuse study ‘misleading’

Filed under: Domestic Violence — JohnPotter @ 11:21 am

A study which found that one third of women are physically or sexually abused by their partners is part of a misleading campaign, a men’s umbrella group representative says.

“The ongoing campaign seems to deny the existence of domestic violence of women against men,” Christchurch Men and Fathers’ Network facilitator, Don Rowlands, said.

University of Canterbury associate sociology professor Greg Newbold said the report should have also addressed violence against male partners.

“It’s not enough to say, yes, he assaulted me. Reports from New Zealand show that women commit low-level assaults more frequently.”

Profile given to domestic violence by the study could be dangerous. “Especially like this when men are not included. It gives rise to uninformed opinions.”

Spokeswoman for the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges, Janet Lake, did not accept that domestic violence against men was as serious as that for women.

Bryce Hawkins, of support and personal development group MensTrust, said that anecdotally he was aware of a high incidence of women abusing men in Christchurch.

“A lot of this research comes out as if men are the big monsters.”

Auckland University senior lecturer in general practice and primary health care, Dr Felicity Goodyear (sic; should be Goodyear-Smith), said doctors should keep in mind that male patients might be victims of domestic abuse. “It can have a huge psychological effect on male patients.”

Women’s Refuge spokeswoman Cheryl Hann says the study proves what they already suspected.

Ms Hann says it is sad the statistics have been confirmed but it is a good wake-up call.

Study confirms family violence is common in New Zealand

Filed under: Domestic Violence — domviol @ 8:47 am

National News Release 9:01am 26 November 2004

Police have welcomed the findings of Auckland University’s research ‘Violence against women in New Zealand: prevalence and health consequences, says Inspector Rob Veale, Violence Reduction Manager.

“The report concludes violence is a common experience in the lives of women, and women are more at risk of experiencing violence from their partners than from other perpetrators,” he says.

Mr Veale said the report released today highlights concerns not just for police but for all communities in New Zealand.

“The first step in reducing violence in homes begins with a change of mind. Domestic violence survives when there is silence — when people believe that it’s private and personal, that it’s not their business.”

Mr Veale says police have always been on the front line when it comes to dealing with family violence. Police have a pro-arrest approach to family violence whenever they find evidence of an offence. “We are continuing to improve our understanding and response to family violence. Police have a number of initiatives in place, including training and improved methods of gathering evidence and identifying risk indicators, which helps Police assess the safety of people who may have been affected by the violence they may have experienced or witnessed.

“Police are committed to reducing family violence and we need the community alongside us to make it happen,” says Mr Veale.

Ends

Fri 26th November 2004

1 in 3 women beaten by partner

Filed under: Domestic Violence — JohnPotter @ 11:24 am

One in three women will face violence from their partners in their lifetime, and the experience will cause long-term health problems, a study has found.

The University of Auckland study suggests New Zealand has a higher domestic violence rate than the United States of America or Australia.

A second study, by Auckland University of Technology (AUT) researchers, published yesterday found that 44 per cent of women interviewed at an Auckland emergency ward had suffered partner violence in their lives, and one in five had been victims of partner violence in the past year. The statistics have prompted fresh pleas for early intervention by doctors.

The first study involved 2855 women aged 18 to 64 in Auckland and Waikato. It found 15 per cent of women had suffered physical abuse from someone they are not in a relationship with, while 10 per cent will face sexual violence from a man they are not involved with.

“We teach women to fear walking into dark alleys and (violence) by strangers, but the biggest risk for women is violence from their partners,” said researcher Dr Janet Fanslow.

“These are very worrying statistics. As men we should be ashamed,” said Brian Gardner, national manager of the National Network of Stopping Violence Services.

“As a man in New Zealand I feel sad and ashamed that so many men are beating, abusing and killing their partners. That’s not how to support and care for those close to us.”

Christchurch Women’s Refuge manager Annette Gillespie said … it was important to remember that physical abuse also included things such as pinching, restraining, pulling and flicking. “And these will be surrounded by a whole lot of other abusive tactics.”

Tue 23rd November 2004

Call for Women’s Refuge Enquiry

Filed under: Domestic Violence — JohnPotter @ 10:04 am

Women’s Refuge, thirty years established in New Zealand, is widely assumed to be universally respected, and to be the only such agency offering help, counselling and accommodation to victims of family violence. In N.Z. it holds an annual Appeal Week every June, complete with much innovative, and even at times highly questionable, media coverage and celebrity support.

Yet all is far from being what it seems with Women’s Refuge, and many have had deep concerns about its operation and huge amounts of public funding, and even long before this most recent call to have it greatly boosted.

Read this recent article by Barbara Faithfull: Public Enquiry Overdue: Let’s Start With Women’s Refuge

Fri 19th November 2004

Pacific Island women and domestic violence

Filed under: Domestic Violence — JohnPotter @ 11:44 am

Intimate Partner Violence within a cohort of Pacific mothers living in New Zealand

Reducing violence by Pacific peoples has been identified by Pacific communities and government agencies as an important issue. However, there is little research into the nature of intimate partner relationships among Pacific families living in New Zealand.

This study reports the 12-month estimated prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) experienced by a cohort of Pacific mothers living in New Zealand. The Conflict Tactics Scale was completed by 1,095 women who had given birth in the past 12 months, and who were married or living with a partner as married.

The 12-month prevalence of “victimization” through verbal aggression was 77%, 21% for “minor” physical violence, and 11% for “severe” physical violence.

The 12-month prevalence of “perpetration” of verbal aggression against a partner was 90%, 35% for “minor” physical violence, and 19% for “severe” violence towards their partner.

Manslaughter verdict ‘right and proper’

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 11:35 am

The father of Christchurch woman Lisa Hiddleston says a manslaughter verdict handed down to her killer is “right and proper”.

Scott John Blackmore, 30, was last night acquitted of murdering his former partner Hiddleston by a jury in the High Court in Christchurch, and instead found guilty of manslaughter. He will be sentenced on December 17.

Blackmore had been the primary caregiver to the children and Hiddleston the breadwinner. He “lost it” when Hiddleston refused to deal with him over the custody of the children, Blackmore’s lawyer, Jonathan Eaton said.

Hiddleston saw what Blackmore was dealing with and tried to help him:

“When (Lisa) had gone, I was helping Scott with what he had been through. I could see he was being ripped to pieces. He was a brilliant father. He was trying his best for the two girls. He eventually just snapped. That’s how the jury saw it too.”

Hiddleston felt no-one had the right to take a life, but he would make his peace with Blackmore.

“At the end of the day he is still the children’s father. He will never get the children again. His punishment will be the loss of the children,” Hiddleston said.

Wed 17th November 2004

Mental health ‘disaster’ looms

Filed under: Men's Health,Sex Abuse / CYF — JohnPotter @ 1:34 pm

The Dominion Post November 13, 2004, NEWS Pg. 2

The treatment of schizophrenics at the Te Whetu Tawera unit is a “disaster in the making”, says psychiatrist Ian Goodwin, who runs the acute section of the Mason Clinic in Auckland.

Dr Goodwin said Te Whetu Tawera had adopted the theories of Auckland University psychology senior lecturer John Read that schizophrenia was caused by childhood abuse and not a medical condition. As a result, many schizophrenics admitted to the unit were being denied treatment or discharged early, developing problems that saw them end up with the police or the courts, he said.

Auckland District Health Board mental health services clinical leader Nick Argyle said though Dr Read’s position was “extreme”, schizophrenics needing medication were being given it.

Dr Read, the university’s director of clinical psychology, recently published a book, Models of Madness, that developed his theory that schizophrenia was caused by trauma such as childhood sexual abuse and should not be dealt with by drugs and other medical treatments. His theories have sparked controversy in New Zealand and overseas.

It is understood that Dr Read, who is British, uses an adopted name. Auckland University refused Official Information Act requests from The Dominion Post two years ago to give details of his background, qualifications or the institutes where he obtained his qualifications. It said publicity would put him at risk.

Tue 16th November 2004

Fathers 4 Justice member visits Men’s Centre

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 6:07 pm

A member of the UK Fathers 4 Justice organisation visited Men’s Centre North Shore last night. Paul Robinson’s mother Sonia told us that she was proud of her son for taking part in a protest which stopped London traffic for hours last February after they climbed onto gantries over arterial roads.

Five fathers are now being charged with criminal conspiracy by causing “banners to be on or over a road in such circumstances that it would have been obvious to a reasonable person that to do so would be dangerous”.

Sonia talked to about 25 local fathers and supporters about the increasing radicalism of the British father’s movement. She said that activists had been working for years lobbying politicians and making submissions “but no-one would listen”.

Since fathers have begun high-profile protests which cause major disruptions the numbers joining the movement have skyrocketted. Fathers 4 Justice has also received some large donations from wealthy supporters. Sonia told us that as well as the well-publicised appearances of superheroes, protests have included supergluing the doors of Family Courts closed and stuffing dead fish into a CAFCAS letterbox slot so that staff could not go to work. She said she thought it a pity that things had got so extreme, but there seemed to be no alternative way to get official attention.

As Sonia demonstrates, it is not just fathers who are behind the UK protests. So many grandmothers and partners of affected men have joined that a new group called Purple Hearts has been formed specifically for female supporters.

NZ Union of Fathers members at the meeting could be seen looking enviously at Fathers 4 Justice’s numerous media cuttings, not to mention their professional brochures and posters. There was no time to look at two videos, including one of Bob Geldorf, so these will be shown at a later date.

Also at the Men’s Centre meeting was a man involved with the newly-formed Fathers 4 Justice in Germany. Michael Hickman has a website set up primarily so his sons can contact him, but it also has extensive resources of use to men dealing with the German family law system.

Sonia Robinson - Fathers 4 Justice Sonia Robinson, John Brett Justice is coming shirt Michael Hickman

Mon 15th November 2004

Law Society Bans Controversial Video

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 10:23 am

A video planned for recent Counsel For Child workshops in Wellington and Auckland run by the Family Law section of the New Zealand Law Society has been banned because it is critical of the NZ family Law system.

A former chairman of Men’s Center North Shore was invited to present to the workshops because of his experience as a self represented litigant in Family Court proceedings.

“I was pleased to be asked to present to the Law Society. I welcomed the opportunity to present the concerns of opponents of the Family Court and engage in constructive dialogue with Family Court practitioners to improve the way the Court deals with self represented litigants”, the former chairman says.

“When I was first approached by the society I was asked to talk about my experience of Counsel for Child as a self represented litigant. I explained to organisers I had only represented myself in a High Court appeal which did not involve Counsel for Child.”

“Organisers were delighted with my suggestion that I produce a video presenting my experience of the Family Court system and interview others who had more experience dealing with Counsel for Child as Mackenzie friends for other self represented litigants.”

“Unfortunately, when Law Society gatekeepers saw a draft transcript my invitation was withdrawn and the video effectively banned.”

“I believe criticism of Family Court professionals including Judges caused The Law Society major embarrassment. Furthermore, the inclusion of comment from National M.P. Judith Collins met with a chilly reception from workshop organisers.”

“In light of Judge Boshier’s recent comments about opening up the Family Court to closer scrutiny I was disappointed my video was deemed inappropriate to be shown to Law Society members. I acknowledge my video raises serious questions regarding the behaviour of professionals within the Family Court system but believed an audience of experienced Family Court practitioners could cope with the material.”

“While the material in the video is of a personal nature the issues raised are of public concern.”

Read a transcript of the video: The NZ Family Court: A Father’s Odyssey

Union of Fathers protestors picketed the Auckland workshop.

A New Approach to the Family Law System

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 10:21 am

On 10 November 2004 the Australian Government released a discussion paper seeking input from the community into the implementation of wide-ranging reforms to the family law system.

The reforms follow the report of the parliamentary inquiry into child custody arrangements in the event of family separation: ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ and include the establishment of a new network of 65 community-based Family Relationship Centres which will help parents reach agreement on parenting arrangements after separation.

The discussion paper A New Approach to the Family Law System is available here

Fri 12th November 2004

Lack Of DNA Paternity testing abuses Dads and Kids

Filed under: General — domviol @ 11:04 am

Press release: New Zealand Child Support Reform Network.

10 November 2004

For Immediate Release

Lack of free Family Court Ordered DNA Paternity testing abuses Dads and Kids.

“The Labour Government is abusing fathers and children by failing to legislate for free DNA testing to establish paternity”, is how Jim Nicolle, spokesperson for the New Zealand Child Support Reform Network, responds to United Futures call for Family Court Ordered DNA paternity tests.

“Paternity fraud is a world wide issue. It’s a deliberate act of dishonesty, with the clear purpose of depriving a child of her right to know her genetic and cultural heritage, usually with the hope of financial gain.” Commented Nicolle, reflecting on a growing number of referrals of parents forced by Inland Revenue to pay child support while believing they are not the father.

“DNA testing removes the problem and should be freely available to all parents. The findings should be binding on the Child Support Agency and any cases of paternity fraud be appropriately dealt with.

“The potential for financial gain from these frauds is huge! If a father is earning say $45,000, who lives by himself and has his daughter on the weekends, he would be paying about $5700 child support for one child. Over 18 years he could pay over $100,000 in child support. That’s a lot of money.” Responded Nicolle when asked what the financial effect on a father a paternity fraud could have.

“This failure by the Government to provide free Family Court Ordered DNA paternity testing is just another example of the basis against fathers that is evident in New Zealand Family Law.” Concluded Nicolle

Ends

NZCSReform is a network of groups and individuals, that grew out of MEN’S Convoy 2004, working in their area of interest, to bring about a fair and reasonable child support system replacing the current unfair and unreasonable Child Support Regime.

Thu 11th November 2004

Family court judges won’t edit media reports – top judge

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 12:26 pm

Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier has moved to allay fears held by journalists that his judges will misuse their power to vet media stories.

Last month the Government announced that Family Court proceedings would be opened to the public and media with tight restrictions in place.

One proposed restriction strongly opposed by journalists was the power for judges to demand to see stories before publication.

Commonwealth Press Union (CPU) New Zealand chairman Gavin Ellis said “the suggestion that journalists should give up their copy to judges for vetting is totally unacceptable.

“I do not see the proposed legislation as an attempt to muzzle the media or prevent them from doing their job,” Judge Boshier said.

“The judges want no say in the content of media reports but only the opportunity to ascertain that any orders made with regard to non-publication of certain details are complied with.”

Wed 10th November 2004

Children’s Bill welcomed by advocate

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 12:21 pm

Children’s advocates are welcoming the new Care of Children Bill.

The Bill has been passed into law this afternoon [9th Nov], thanks to the Greens supporting Labour.

It gives gay partners parental rights, strengthens police powers and increases children’s rights.

Opponents say it negates the rights of parents, but Trish Grant from the Office of the Commissioner for Children says the new law is a great improvement.

Family court opened to media under new law

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 12:18 pm

The Family Court will be open to the media under legislation passed by Parliament yesterday.

The Care of Children Bill, which was given its third reading on a 62-58 vote, carries a provision that accredited media can cover cases with the permission of the presiding judge.

The identities of people appearing will still be protected.

National MP Judith Collins said it did not go far enough and failed to address serious flaws in Family Court law.

ACT’s deputy leader Muriel Newman said estranged fathers would be no better off than they were under current legislation.

“For five years I have campaigned to have shared parenting introduced as a foundation principle of New Zealand’s family law,” she said.

“With the Care of Children Bill, Labour has shattered the hopes of these estranged fathers and children, and turned its back on their plight.”

Tue 9th November 2004

Recidivism Study Highlights Need For Reform

Filed under: General — domviol @ 1:06 pm

Press Release: ACT New Zealand– Social Welfare

Dr Muriel Newman

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader and Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today said a report, that shows nearly two-thirds of recidivist offenders have demonstrated anti-social behaviour by the age of 13, highlights the urgent need for a reform of the welfare system and family law.

“The report, recently released under the Official Information Act, reveals that of the 150 inmates interviewed, 66 percent had demonstrated a pattern of anti-social behaviour before their thirteenth birthday, and, as a consequence, had come into early contact with police,” Dr Newman said.

“What this report doesn’t say is that the level of recidivism could’ve been reduced had early intervention occurred. Strong mentoring programmes working with at-risk families can turn lives around even before the children are born. Unfortunately, successive governments have paid lip service to such initiatives.

“Further, a significant factor in the lives of these recidivist offenders will be having been raised on welfare. Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that over 98,946 out of 200,000 Maori children in New Zealand today live in a benefit-dependent household. Many of these children will not have been brought up with a work ethic. Instead – according to the study – they will have learnt that criminal offending pays.

“Finally, anyone in the law enforcement area – whether police, judges or prison wardens – will testify the majority of recidivist offenders have lacked an ongoing relationship with their father. Statistics show that if present trends continue, by the year 2010, three-quarters of all Maori children will grow up in a family without a dad.

“No matter what worthwhile initiatives are introduced to try and turn around the lives of those who are significant criminal offenders, New Zealand will not become a safer place until we address the root causes of the problem – welfare reform and family law reform would be a great place to start,” Dr Newman said.

ENDS

Sat 6th November 2004

Father on run for days with daughter

Filed under: General — domviol @ 2:03 pm

Father on run for days with daughter

By LOUISA CLEAVE

Lapana Seve had been on the run with his 4-year-old daughter for three days before she was found murdered in the back seat of his car beside Auckland’s Northwestern Motorway.

Mr Seve, 45, picked up daughter Storm Apera-Seve from his estranged wife’s Grey Lynn home on Friday and was supposed to take her back on Sunday night.

Storm was due at pre-school on Monday morning and her mother desperately tried to contact Mr Seve.

She went several times to his home and left notes for him.

The little girl was found dead in the back seat of her father’s car on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Seve abandoned the car and died when he stepped in front of a truck in heavy rush-hour traffic on the Northwestern.

Police are treating Storm’s death as a homicide, but are not looking for anyone else in connection with the killing.

It emerged yesterday that Mr Seve had not returned Storm after weekend visits on other occasions.

Mr Seve had weekend custody of his daughter, but is believed to have wanted full custody.

“He’s been quite wrapped up in his daughter, quite obsessed with his daughter … wanting her with him all the time,” said Detective Sergeant Megan Goldie.

Storm’s mother did not contact police when he failed to return the preschooler.

“She did not have concerns for the child’s welfare, as such,” said Ms Goldie, “more that she wanted her back. She was supposed to be at pre-school on Monday.”

John McKeown, a friend of Mr Seve for 15 years, said Storm’s parents split about a year ago and a problem had developed over custody.

“I gather he wanted to look after her and his parents were talking about helping him look after her,” he said.

Police have examined an area of the Avondale Racecourse where Mr Seve and Storm are thought to have slept rough in his car.

Ms Goldie said Mr Seve was seen there on Wednesday and in the days before his death on the motorway.

Storm was seen with him earlier in the week, but was not seen on Wednesday, said Ms Goldie.

Tests are being carried out on patches in the parking area which may be blood stains.

Police cannot yet say when Storm died and have not revealed the cause of death, although it is understood she had stab wounds.

A forensic examination of Mr Seve’s vehicle has been completed.

Ms Goldie said police were not looking for a weapon. “We think we have what we need in the car.”

Members of the Richmond Rovers Rugby League Club last night gathered in Grey Lynn to remember Mr Seve, a coach, referee and player they knew by the nickname “Squash”.

Friends said Mr Seve was devastated by the death of his close friend Afi Ah Kuoi from cancer last May.

Mr Ah Kuoi died two years after losing his wife, and Mr Seve was close to the couple.

“He was very close with the family, then when this custody thing came up, maybe it was the final straw for him and he just cracked,” Mr McKeown said.

George Apelu-Tumaseve, who had known Mr Seve for 30 years, told 3News last night that any custody battle “would have tipped him over the edge, if it happened that he’d lost custody of Storm, knowing how close he was to Storm … She was the apple of his eye”.

Govt slammed for refusing DNA paternity tests

Filed under: General — domviol @ 12:06 pm

United Future MP Gordon Copeland today expressed his frustration and disappointment at the government’s steadfast refusal to use DNA-testing to prove paternity.

During debate in Parliament on the Care of Children Bill, Mr Copeland outlined a real-life case to the House.

“A young couple became the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl. Not only the mother and the father but also the maternal and paternal grandparents bonded with the child. She became the apple of their eye.

“However the story did not have a happy ending. A couple of years later, for whatever reason, the mother showed the father the door and wanted nothing more to do with him.

“The distraught father, wanting to maintain long-term contact with his daughter, sought access rights. The mother blocked this by suddenly, for the first time, claiming that he was not the little girl’s dad .

“This came as a huge shock, both to the father himself and to the paternal grandparents. They were grief-stricken at being cut off from all further contact with the child.

“More than three years later and in spite of a string of lawyers, the paternity or otherwise of the young man concerned has not been established because a DNA test involving the little girl can only be done with the consent of her mother.

– 1 –
“This is an unmitigated tragedy for the grieving father and the grandparents and even more so, in time, for the child who may never get to find out who her real father actually is.

“Yet none of this need happen. A simple Family Court-ordered DNA test would establish paternity once and for all.

“We have a clear-cut means of establishing the truth in these kind of situations, but the government refuses steadfastly with incomprehensible reasons to go there. In doing so they fail the families of New Zealand.

“We have more than 19,000 birth certificates involving more than 30,000 children where the father’s name is not recorded and yet we have a scientific means at hand to clearly establish paternity.

“The particular instance I am describing represents the tip of an enormous iceberg, a systemic problem which becomes bigger by the day.

“Since I entered Parliament in 2002, together with my colleagues in United Future, we have consistently urged the government to follow the science so that truth replaces confusion, suspicion, dishonesty and the financial impropriety which flows from the current system, but the government continues to stonewall.

“It’s just not good enough,” said Mr Copeland.

ENDS

Govt misses chance to help children of divorce

Filed under: General — domviol @ 12:02 pm

Turner: Govt misses chance to help children of divorce

The Government has missed a huge opportunity to help children whose parents are divorcing by failing to take note of innovative mediation approaches overseas, most notably recent Australian reforms, United Future’s Judy Turner said today.

“They have also failed to consider Law Society recommendations on mediation and the startling results of a North Shore Family Court pilot scheme, where parents in custody disputes have to attend two parent education sessions before getting to court.

Mrs Turner, who has sponsored a Member’s Bill backing just such a scheme, was critical of the Government’s failure in debate on the Care of Children Bill in Parliament this morning.

“Four hours is not a lot for parents to give to focus on the impact on their children at a time when they often get so wrapped up in what is happening to themselves.

“It is about letting them know what their children face in the middle of a family storm. Sometimes that gets lost, even for otherwise good and well-meaning parents.”

Mrs Turner, United Future’s family affairs spokeswoman, said she believed that most parents would see this move as positive. Some 97 percent of those who have been through the North Shore Children in the Middle pilot scheme have since stated that it should be mandatory.

“In the end, parents love their kids and a few hours of mediation and education can make a huge difference,” she said.

“The fact is that by the time a couple are standing before a Family Court judge, their children have already been damaged and they have proved that can’t negotiate a healthy resolution.

“Anything that helps short-circuit this by encouraging sensible, non-legal alternatives can only benefit both parents and children,” she said.

ENDS

Moment Of Truth For Shared-Parenting

Filed under: General — domviol @ 11:56 am

Dr Muriel Newman – Press Releases – Social Welfare

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader and Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today accused Labour, United Future, New Zealand First and the Greens of giving Kiwi fathers false hope about their support for Shared-Parenting.

“Last night, Parliament had an opportunity to change the law, to help fathers, grandparents and children throughout New Zealand who have disadvantaged by our Family Law system – but these Parties threw it away,” Dr Newman said.

“I urged the House to support my amendments to introduce Shared-Parenting as a rebuttable presumption into the Care of Children Bill. My amendment introduced two shared parenting concepts:

· `shared parenting means joint day-to-day care of a child, arranged in such a way that the best interests of the child is paramount, but that the starting point is the equality of parental responsibility and rights’

· `rebuttable shared parenting as a default position for the starting point of day-to-day care determinations is based on the principle that just as two parents are equal in their parenting responsibilities and rights before a relationship breakdown, so too they should be regarded as equal afterwards, unless it can be proved that one of the parents in unfit’.

“Sadly, New Zealand First, the Greens, United Future and Labour voted the amendments down. In fact, the only other Party to support Shared-Parenting was National.

“New Zealanders who believe that Shared-Parenting should be introduced as a core principle of Family Law should realise that Shared-Parenting will only become a reality when ACT and National are in Government.

“All hope of persuading other Parties to stand up for the rights of fathers and children, by supporting Shared-Parenting, has been shown to be false,” Dr Newman said.

ENDS

Fri 5th November 2004

Fathers must ask for help

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 12:49 pm

A plea for fathers to ask for help.

The call comes as police investigate an apparent murder-suicide in Auckland.

Forty-five-year-old Lapana Seve died after being hit by a truck on the northwestern motorway on Wednesday afternoon.

His four-year-old daughter Storm Apera-Seve was found dead in his car.

Union of Fathers national president Jim Bagnall says fathers need to know there is help out there.

He says they should not vent their frustrations with the system by taking drastic action.

Jim Bagnall believes the system is skewed towards mothers, but says the Union of Fathers can offer support and advice.

Thu 4th November 2004

Parliament: Family Court – Mediators

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 1:38 pm

Questions in Parliament for Oral Answer 3rd Nov 2004

8. JUDY TURNER (United Future) to the Minister for Courts: Is he satisfied that the new $1.5 million trial of mediators in the Family Court is sufficient reform to improve outcomes for children?

Hon RICK BARKER (Minister for Courts): The $1.5 million will fund the cost of pilots in four courts, offering families involved in custody, guardianship, and access disputes the opportunity for non – judge led mediation, as recommended by the Law Commission. Evaluation of the pilot will determine whether there have been improved outcomes for children, and this will have a lot of influence on future policy-making decisions.

Judy Turner: Is the Minister aware that research indicates that children are at risk of significant lifelong negative outcomes from ongoing conflict during parental separation, which can be greatly reduced when parents receive training on how to protect children and support them during Family Court cases; if so, does he agree that initiatives to develop mandatory parent education programmes should be given priority if we are to give real effect to promoting the best interests of the child?

Hon RICK BARKER: The Government is well aware of those issues and takes very seriously its responsibilities as a leader in these issues to help parents make good decisions. We will help parents with more counselling, more information, and more advice so that they can better undertake their responsibilities.

Richard Worth: Why is the Minister acclaiming this pilot programme when there have already been three pilots of non – judge led mediation in different parts of the country–this is nothing new?

Hon RICK BARKER: My advice is that it is new. Secondly, this will have a very clear and serious evaluation process and it is following the recommendation of the Law Commission in its report into the Family Court.

Martin Gallagher: Can the Minister outline the Government initiatives that aim to improve the Family Court processes for children?

Hon RICK BARKER: The interests of children are central to the Government’s improvements in relation to the Family Court. For example, the new Family Court website has a special section designed for children that makes the court processes easier for them to understand. The family mediation pilot will enable children to be involved in the discussions about their family’s future, which will make it less scary for the children. This pilot will hopefully lead to quicker processes to resolve a family’s issues, and families making decisions by themselves. If the families make their own decisions, they will be durable.

Dail Jones: Does the Minister intend to make this mediation proposal compulsory in all custody and access cases or only in those cases where a likelihood of successful mediation is possible?

Hon RICK BARKER: No. The mediation can never be compulsory, because mediation is about the parties negotiating and discussing outcomes for themselves. The compulsion part is when the matter is referred to the judge for a decision. That is the compulsion part. We are trying to get better processes in place before that so that families come to their own decisions about their futures themselves.

Judy Turner: Will the Minister extend his commitment to making Family Court processes more child and family-friendly to funding a national roll-out of the Children in the Middle parent education programme that is already piloted on the North Shore by the Family Court Association; if not, why not?

Hon RICK BARKER: I am not familiar with all the details around that pilot, but after the member’s question I will certainly go and investigate the matter.

Wed 3rd November 2004

Parents obstructing return of children face arrest

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 8:25 am

Press Release: New Zealand Government

Parents who use their children to get back at estranged or divorced partners by preventing their return to the parent with day-to-day care, face the possibility of arrest, says Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says the Government will propose an amendment to the Care of Children Bill, being considered by Parliament this week, to ensure the law has the necessary teeth to guarantee court directions are carried out.

An amendment to the Bill will provide the Police with the power of arrest for the existing offence of resisting execution of a warrant to enforce a parent or guardian’s role of providing day-to-day care of a child. The same power will exist in ensuring contact with a child.

“The cornerstone principle in the Bill is that the welfare and best interests of the child must be the first and paramount,” said Mr Benson-Pope. “The Government was concerned that without a specific arrest power the purpose of warrants — the safe return of a child — could be frustrated.

“When decisions have been made about the day-to-day care of a child it is appropriate that Police will be able to take action in the best interest of that child.”

Mr Benson-Pope says the Government intends to make a number of other minor amendments. These include enabling the continuation of professional legal publications to report care of children cases. These legal reports are considered an important resource amongst Family Court professionals. However, they will be prevented from publishing names of parties or children.

The Government is concerned a clause within the Bill requiring consent from an intended testamentary guardian is unnecessary and will impose additional costs on persons making wills or deeds. The Government proposes omitting this clause. Other amendments will be of a minor or technical drafting nature.

“The Care of Children Bill represents the most significant improvements to guardianship laws in almost four decades,” said Mr Benson-Pope. “It includes a range of changes to the law, all with the purpose of improving the situation of children and families who have experienced divorce and separation.”

Tue 2nd November 2004

Fathers Welcome Court Proposals

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 6:55 pm

The Union of Fathers says a new family court model is a small step in the right direction, but warns there is still a long way to go.

The Government is trialling a non judge-led mediation service aimed at resolving custody and access issues.

The Union of Fathers says public debate is needed so the country can get it right on behalf of New Zealand children.

Spokesman Jim Bagnall says any changes to the system need to ensure fathers have a fair say in proceedings.

He says there needs to be a fundamental law change to create a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting, with real evidence needed for another outcome.

Care of Children bill to be pushed through

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 12:52 pm

The Government intends passing its Care of Children Bill next week, and will put Parliament into urgency this Thursday so the legislation can complete its committee stage.

Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope, who is in charge of the bill, said today it was the most significant improvement to guardianship laws in almost 40 years.

The public have also asked for a more open Family Court. It is important that people have confidence in the court while recognising that issues being discussed may be intensely private and personal.

“Access to the court by accredited media, with clear guidelines to retain the anonymity of the parties and children involved, will remove misconceptions that the Family Court’s previously private hearings might have allowed for unfair processes and bias.”

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