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

Tue 28th June 2005

ACT supports equal rights for men

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 9:31 am

Dr Muriel Newman

Speech to the Christchurch Mens Political Forum, Christchurch Community Law Centre, 7pm.

Today we are being asked what our parties would do for New Zealand men. For a long time I have been extremely concerned about government policies, which disadvantage men and marginalise fathers. Since entering Parliament, ACT has consistently campaigned to right the balance in our laws.

As a priority, ACT would reform family law to introduce shared parenting. This means that in the event of a family breakdown children would have the support of their mother and father, as well as both sets of grandparents and wider family. It is disgraceful that in spite of a Private Members Bill to introduce shared parenting having twice been debated in Parliament, the Labour party, the Progressives, the Greens and New Zealand First failed to consider the issue important enough to send it to a Select Committee.

As a consequence of the present system, which gives the custody of children almost exclusively to mothers – and tolerates the frequent use of false allegations against the fathers of the children — many fathers lose contact with their children. That not only causes intense heartbreak and trauma for children, fathers and grandparents, but it leads to far higher levels of non-compliance with child support orders than would be the case if dads were able to take part in parenting.

Loophole in DPB payments to be shut

Filed under: Child Support — JohnPotter @ 9:25 am

The Government will close a loophole that enables DPB recipients to block the collection of child support payments.

Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey revealed the planned change yesterday, after being questioned about assertions by National that more than 200 fathers on the Domestic Purposes Benefit refused to “name” the mother of their child – preventing the state collecting child support from them.

In fact Work and Income knows the identity of all the mothers, because it requires a birth certificate with the mother’s name to be presented before the father can claim the benefit.

But Mr Maharey said there was differing advice on whether the department could demand a liable parent contribution from either non-custodial fathers and mothers without the signed agreement of the custodial parent on a benefit.

Some beneficiaries are penalised by $22 a week a child for failing to sign the liable parent form – but if the liable parent is working the state would recover significantly more money per child.

There are 223 men – down from 250 earlier this year – who have not signed the consent forms and about 15,000 women who have not signed.

National welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins, who raised the issue of fathers not naming the mothers at her party’s weekend conference, claimed victory for the law change.

The Government had taken the matter more seriously since leader Don Brash had announced National would introduce stiffer penalties for non-liable parents in his Orewa welfare speech, she said.

Mon 27th June 2005

Labour Government’s feminist agenda undermines the family

Filed under: General — Scrap_The_CSA @ 7:42 pm

This week Newman Online looks at the Labour Government’s feminist agenda and how it is undermining the New Zealand family.

It is difficult to understand how a government that deliberately undermines the family – disadvantaging children and marginalising fathers – can retain popular support? That is unless the unsuspecting public is not really aware of their anti-family agenda.

That extreme agenda is deeply embedded within Labour’s radical feminist and lesbian factions and has been a significant force driving not only the Party, but also parts of the public service, for more than thirty years. There is no doubt that while many New Zealanders have suspected that this is the case, it was former Minister John Tamihere who confirmed it in the recent “Investigate Magazine” interview.

The feminist vision was to end the oppression of women by liberating them from the shackles of a husband and family. They wanted to see power firmly in the hands of women, with women ultimately taking over the country’s top jobs. With four of the major players in the feminist movement having now become Prime Minister, Parliament’s Speaker, Chief Justice and Governor General, their agenda is extremely well progressed.

But while seeing women winning top jobs by competing equally with men is one thing, three out of four of those top positions are appointments made by the Prime Minister: by appointing her mates, Helen Clark has shown that she puts cronyism ahead of merit and can’t be trusted.

The march of modern-day feminism was given a significant boost in 1984 when the Labour Government established the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Over the years the Ministry has focussed exclusively on women’s rights and if those rights have been achieved at the expense of family wellbeing and the rights of men, then that is the price we have to pay for giving the radical activists within Labour who were driving the driving force, a free reign.

The male backlash

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 9:53 am

By Farah Farouque The Age (Melbourne)

What has made the dominant sex feel like victims?

Paul Black is not the sort of bloke to take to the streets in protest. But this week he did something atypical: fuelled by intense feelings of frustration, he got in his car and made the long trip from Mulgrave to Canberra to attend a two-day conference of the Lone Fathers Association.

“I don’t see myself as a radical, I’m not the sort who wants to go ripping out letterboxes or shouting slogans,” says this new recruit to the men’s movement. “But the inequalities that were there for women 20, 30 years ago are now there for men. The pendulum has swung from too many opportunities for men to too many opportunities for women.”

Black has entered the organised men’s movement along a well-worn path: relationship breakdown. There are up to 200 men’s groups in Australia, according to estimates – and many could be called estranged fathers’ groups. They bear names from Dads in Distress to the cuddly sounding Fatherhood Foundation, and typically attract men in midlife. While the groups claim a growing membership, the extent of their support is unknown. The Lone Fathers Association says it helps 30,000 men a year, but their paid-up membership is 9000 nationally. However, La Trobe University researcher Michael Flood says the number actively agitating in the men’s movement would be no more than 2000.

What makes them remarkable is that they subvert the traditional paradigm of social activism in that they represent the interests of the dominant group in society. Or do they? The argument these men’s groups mount, with growing political muscle, is that they are getting an unfair deal, not only when it comes to family law issues but in other areas such as men’s health. There is a growing lobby for free prostate screening, boys’ education – crystallised in a federal push for more male primary teachers – and even domestic violence.

Barry Williams, the president and founder of the Lone Fathers Association, prosecutes some of the familiar themes of the men’s rights movement in a mild tone sometimes at odds with the strength of his rhetoric. “Both men and women are, in fact, equally likely to be perpetrators of violence in relationships, although women are somewhat more likely to be seriously injured,” he declares.

He warns his membership to be on guard against “further development of an ideologically based domestic-violence industry funded by the taxpayer”. “There is a very serious issue of discrimination here,” he says.

Sun 26th June 2005

Mist of ritual child abuse rises again

Filed under: Sex Abuse / CYF — JohnPotter @ 10:36 am

Martin Van Beynan Christchurch Press

You would have been shocked, as I was, by a story from Britain last week about the latest terrible turn in child abuse.

The story, which would have found its way into most major world newspapers, was about a study done for the London police by a social worker and lawyer into the beliefs of immigrant African and Asian communities in ritualistic abuse.

I’m sensitive to this sort of stuff because I wrote one of these sorts of articles in 1991, during a sad period in Christchurch’s history when a mist of unreasoning belief in sadistic and organised child kidnapping and abuse seemed to descend on the city.

Covering the Family Violence Conference in September of that year, I interviewed specialists in the field of ritual abuse in New Zealand. Two Wellington counsellors, Jocelyn Frances and Ann-Marie Stapp, talked of having interviewed three people who had survived horrific satanic rituals undergone from an early age. They claimed about 20 more were seeking their help and said the floodgates were about to open on the practice.

Fri 24th June 2005

Three Great Men’s Events in Queensland

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 9:40 am

Announcing the Manhood 2005 Conference (open to women).

The Men’s Health and Wellbeing Association (Queensland) Inc. is delighted to announce the Manhood 2005 Conference, to be held on the 20th — 23rd October 2005 at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort, on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

This inaugural conference will bring together organisations and individuals who are involved in grassroots men’s work with government departments, agencies and private sector men’s and boy’s health providers.

The Manhood 2005 conference will provide an opportunity to see and hear keynote speakers and presenters showcasing current programs, initiatives, research and trends associated with the health and wellbeing of men and boys. The title ‘Redefining the Roles’ has been chosen so that the relevance and importance of what contemporary masculinity means can be reviewed, openly debated, highlighted and celebrated.

A number of notable speakers have already been secured including Steve Biddulph, Richard Fletcher, Jed Diamond, Alan Blackburn and Dr Arne Rubinstein.

Australian and New Zealand Men’s Gathering

The Conference will be followed by the biennial ANZ Men’s Gathering, which will be held at a camp on the sunshine coast. This will be followed by the:

Queensland Manhood Festival

This is the local Queensland men’s gathering for the men of that area, however they are looking forward to Kiwi men joining them.

Manhood 2005 incorporates 3 events in 11 days!
Conference OCT 20 – 23
ANZMG OCT 25 – 28
Festival OCT 28 – 30

Costing for NZ Men and attending all 3 events: AU$ 990 GST included.

Attend 2 events – Manhood Conference and ANZMG: AU$ 800 GST included.

or ANZMG + Manhood Festival: AU$ 420 GST included.

If you are attending only 1 event we can only really offer a discount on ANZMG and Festival

AU$ 250 for either, GST included

ANZMG and Manhood Festival costs included accommodation and food.

Conference registration documents can be found on line, link below. Conference accommodation at Novotel Twin Waters has been negotiated at good rates and up to four adults can share in one room to save on costs.

We are looking forward to sharing this time and space with a strong group of men from across the Tasman.

To view more information on Manhood 2005, including registration, venue, accommodation, and flyers, please visit; www.menshealthandwellbeing.org.au .

We welcome email enquiries to— manhood@menshealthandwellbeing.org.au .

Wed 22nd June 2005

Solo parents a political football

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 2:32 pm

Across New Zealand society, marriage has become unfashionable. Sole parents have increased from 10 per cent of families with dependent children in 1976 to 29 per cent today – higher than in any other developed country except the United States. By the age of 20, 35 per cent of Pakeha children, 49 per cent of Pacific children and 57 per cent of Maori children have lived in homes without one parent, usually the father.

Forty-one per cent of Pakeha babies, 55 per cent of Pacific babies and 76 per cent of Maori babies were born last year to unmarried parents.

The Labour Government sees nothing to worry about. In a Herald interview five years ago, Social Development Minister Steve Maharey said that as long as sole parents were “able to provide love, discipline and sound nurturing, things are going to be okay”.

But National leader Don Brash told the Orewa Rotary Club that the domestic purposes benefit (DPB) had contributed to the growth in fatherlessness and births outside marriage: “It is idle to pretend this is anything but a disastrous trend.”

Sole parents are accustomed to being political footballs, but Brash’s proposals would be tougher than any previous regime since the DPB was created in 1973. They raise questions. Why does New Zealand have such a high rate of sole parenthood? Does it matter?

Young women flock to NZ

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 2:22 pm

Women of “marriageable age” are flocking to New Zealand at rates of up to one-third higher than men.

A new study has found that New Zealand has a higher ratio of women to men in the peak childbearing ages of 30 to 34 than any other industrialised country, with 9 per cent more women than men.

Researcher Paul Callister says the surplus of women in their 30s is higher today than it was after thousands of men died in the Great War.

“In New Zealand in 1921 and 1926 we were busily building war memorials in small towns to ‘missing men’,” he said.

“The overall picture of sex ratios in 2004 is even more dramatic than the ongoing effects of loss of men in World War I.”

“It could be to do with how the economy is changing,” Dr Callister said. “We have always had historical immigration that has been gendered. When we had a lot of tree cutting, we had more men than women.

“Now that we want more nurse-aides, childcare workers, cleaners and, dare I say it, prostitutes, we are going to bring in a different sort of labour and it’s going to be predominantly female.”

Sat 18th June 2005

ACC Sponsored Conference Under Fire

Filed under: Sex Abuse / CYF — JohnPotter @ 12:27 pm

An ACC sponsored conference dealing with sexual and physical abuse is creating a stir over comments made by some of its speakers.

Streaming Video of TV One News item

The National Party’s Katherine Rich says: ACC must clarify role in abuse conference.

“This fringe conference has a wacky, and what appears to be in some cases a dangerous programme.

“I am not denying the right of people to gather and debate their ideas. What I am questioning is why taxpayer money is being diverted to fund the conference.

“ACC is being promoted as a major sponsor. The Minister needs to explain ACC’s involvement and divulge the level of sponsorship,” says Mrs Rich.

But it is MUCH worse than that!

A plenary speaker is Anne McDonald from Melbourne, who cannot talk, walk or feed herself. Her communication is ‘facilitated’ by Rosemary Crossley, the inventor of Facilitated Communication – a technique whereby a facilitator supports the hand or arm of a severely disabled person and thereby enables that person point to letters of the alphabet. This technique gives severely disabled people the ability to spell out words, sentences and even whole paragraphs of astonishing, unlikely and often wildly pornographic prose. As a result of Facilitated Communication (FC), 100s of families and caregivers worldwide have had their lives and careers destroyed by devastating and subsequently-discredited allegations of sexual abuse.

FC is not a valid technique and has clearly been demonstrated to be quackery.

The use of FC is opposed by organisations such as the AmericanPsychological Association, the American Association on Mental Retardation, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. In the UK Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, President of the High Court Family Division has condemned FC as dangerous and that it should not be used by British courts to support or reject allegations of abuse.

NZ speakers at the conference also include group-action lawyers Roger Chapman and Sonja Cooper. Their workshop is entitled, “Damages claims for abusive treatment at psychiatric and psychopaedic hospitals.”

Fathers want to be left holding the baby

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 12:18 pm

By Alexandra Frean, Times Online

A HUGE shift in attitudes towards fatherhood has occurred, with the present generation of fathers considerably more willing than their fathers were to stay at home to change nappies and warm bottles.

A survey by the Equal Opportunities Commission of 1,200 fathers of 3 to 15-month-old children disclosed that almost 8 in 10 would be happy to stay at home and look after their baby. Nine in ten said that they felt as confident as their partner when caring for their child.

In a bold attempt to move the debate on parental leave on to a more challenging level, the commission said that if men were expected to take a more active part in bringing up their children, they should be able to become fully involved from the moment of birth.

Jenny Watson, the acting chairwoman of the commission, said that the findings showed just how much men’s attitudes had shifted within the space of a generation.

“All the evidence shows that fathers today are different from their own fathers and grandfathers. Policymakers need to keep up. Dads no longer see themselves solely as the breadwinner. They want to spend more time at home, actively sharing the responsibility of caring for their baby,” she said.

Duncan Fisher, the chief executive of the charity Fathers Direct, said that it was vital for long-term child welfare that new fathers be closely involved with their newborns.

Revaluing the family

Filed under: Child Support,General — JohnPotter @ 12:15 pm

By Kate Legge, The Weekend Australian

Thirty years after the introduction of no-fault divorce, Australia is experiencing a grand correction of the 1970s revolution that provided unhappy couples with an escape clause and introduced benefits to help single parents. Changes that brought adults greater freedom are being corrected at the shrine of personal responsibility.

Sole parents and disability support recipients are being encouraged to work or train in return for payments, while fathers and mothers who separate are being persuaded to settle up out of court and share the child-rearing between them. The importance of contact with our biological footprints has been borne out by the stolen generations and the efforts of adopted offspring who search out blood ties.

But the shadow of an ageing population lends an economic imperative to many social policy reforms that shape family life, even though this week’s recommendations to the Government for an overhaul of child support after relationship break-up was presented as a win for the interests of children. Almost two-thirds of these fathers will pay less in child support under about 30 recommended changes to the system for child support, although the Child Support Agency would be given more power to investigate the wealth of the non-custodial parent.

The costs of children would be distributed between the parents according to their capacity to pay and the time they spend with their children. Divorced fathers would be able to quarantine some of their income for their new children before having their income assessed for maintenance payments.

The breadwinner model is resting in peace. The nuclear family is being recast. Both parents in the majority of intact families are working full or part time and the ministerial taskforce addressing child support went to great pains to remove obstacles blocking single mothers’ return to employment.

The new child support formula is another brick on the pathway to creative parenting solutions. “Child support policy can no longer just be concerned with enforcing the financial obligations of reluctant non-resident parents,” the report says, referring to the gains that flow from the continuing involvement of parents as children grow.

Ideology behind anti-smacking lobby

Filed under: Domestic Violence,General — JohnPotter @ 12:08 pm

Trickery, ideology and a largely sympathetic media behind anti-smacking lobby
Barbara Faithfull

As usual with the corporal punishment issue, with the publicity surrounding Sue Bradford’s bill to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act I see a mass of misleading and biased media coverage. Having followed attempts to ban smacking in N.Z. for 25 years, I can say categorically that it is ideologically driven. Therefore, instead of reasoned and informed debate the N.Z. public is constantly being deceived and misinformed.. The issue is invariably masked with devilishly fallacious argument and extreme and emotive rhetoric to sway public opinion.

Hence the latest pretext for this push to abolish CP: that the present law is inadequate because it “allows” parents to even use whips etc. on children. It allows no such thing. It only allows for reasonable force to be used, and if the courts/juries make problematic judgements and cannot even determine that using whips etc. is unreasonable, then that is a problem for the courts/juries to sort out, or for a clarification of the definition of what constitutes “reasonable force”. It is not good reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater and abolish a parent’s right to administer reasonable force to an errant child.

Fri 17th June 2005

Bitter feminist hissy fit

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 8:34 am

Alexis Stuart

God does not think like MP John Tamihere and feminism hasn’t gone far enough. Men don’t wake up in the morning to give power away.

One can only assume that these claims from the Wellington Town Hall explain why Telecom and Westpac chose to sponsor the 2005 Women’s Convention June 3-7, their banners dwarfed by “Lesbian Nation”.

The sponsorship from five government departments was predictable: the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry for the Environment, Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs armed everyone with a copy of the Action Plan for New Zealand Women and I heard ‘two ticks Labour’ more than I care to remember. The conference was to have an influence on government policy, but the decisions were already made. The ideologues could then talk to themselves via the authority of a public convention.

Feminism is imploding. The ideologues might still have power but contemporary feminism is no longer attractive to the average suburban mother because it is no longer feminism; it is recycled Marxism.

The Women’s Convention was not about women. Nor was it about equality. It was about state control. A dour Leninism barely stifled under the breath of a bitter hissy fit.

Thu 16th June 2005

Where Have All The Real Men Gone

Filed under: General,Men's Health — MAN @ 1:51 pm

Marc Alexander MP – United Future NZ

“There is more difference within the sexes than between them.”
Ivy Compton-Burnett

What do our Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Governor-General, Speaker of the House, Chief Executive of Telecom NZ, and 60 per cent of those with degrees and post-graduate qualifications, have in common? They are the so-called weaker sex — the tender gender. These days it seems like it’s getting harder and harder to be a man. Either we’re too in touch with our feminine side (and therefore must be gay) or we’re misogynist macho red-necks whose idea of the perfect woman is pregnant, stupid, and in the kitchen. The men in between aren’t considered ‘balanced’ but wishy-washy and confused. And why shouldn’t they be?

Male role models are distinctly unreal. Males are scarce in all the places that matter. They’ve been chased out of kindergartens, primary schools…and increasingly from their role as fathers. And it starts with the young; we’re now called birthing partners not fathers! We have become so PC that we can’t discriminate against any alternative domestic arrangements!

Whatever happened to gender equity? Men are now relegated to lifting heavy things, being blamed when the toilet seat is left up and are a convenient excuse when our corporate partners want to opt out of social engagements.

Wed 15th June 2005

PM rules out total ban on smacking

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 9:49 pm

It is inevitable parents will lose the defence of “reasonable force” when punishing their children, the Prime Minister says, but she would not ban all smacking.

“The Government has been on quite a careful course with respect to this issue,” Helen Clark said yesterday. “That led us to absolutely rule out legislation banning smacking. That would be a very silly thing to do.”

Earlier, Miss Clark said on TV One’s Breakfast that the repeal of Section 59 was only a matter of time. “My view is that it has to go; the question is when. (However) it would be quite wrong to have a law which banned smacking. That wouldn’t be tolerable because no one wants to see parents dragged before the courts for lightly touching a child.”

Ms Bradford’s bill is due to have its first airing in Parliament on July 27, but there will not be time to pass it through all stages before August 11, the last possible sitting day before the election.

The law change has won the backing of the Plunket Society and Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro.

Plunket president Kaye Crowther said the 560 delegates at Plunket’s national conference saw it as a way of changing the culture of violence and sending a clear message that violence against children was not condoned.

ACT and United Future have said they will oppose the bill.

Better deal for [Australian] divorced dads

Filed under: Child Support — JohnPotter @ 9:31 pm

A radical new formula for calculating how much divorced parents should contribute to raising their children is the centrepiece of an overhaul of the nation’s child support system to be released today.

Under the more controversial of two models being proposed, the biological parents’ incomes would be combined and fathers would then pay a percentage of the cost of raising their child, irrespective of how much they earned.

Under new formulas being proposed, both parents would contribute a percentage of the cost of raising their child based on how many nights a child spent in their care.

The most radical plan would see the cost of raising a child calculated at a standardised rate and applied to all children of divorced parents, regardless of their income.

Many fathers to pay less child support

Single mothers’ groups reacted angrily while lone fathers cautiously welcomed yesterday’s release of the recommendations made by a Federal Government taskforce.

The changes would recognise the time both parents spend caring for their children. A non-residential parent – usually the father – who looks after the children for at least 14 per cent of nights each year could pay less child support in recognition of the costs involved.

About 60 per cent of parents currently providing child support, mostly men, would pay less than they do now under the recommendations.

The president of the Shared Parenting Council of Australia, Michael Green, welcomed the recommendations as a “monumental achievement”.

“For the first time, the mother’s income is assessed in the same manner as the father’s, acknowledging the principle that both parents are responsible for the upkeep of children,” Mr Green said.

But the president of the Sole Parents Union, Kathleen Swinbourne, said there was too little in the report to force people to pay a fairer amount when they under-estimated their income to avoid their obligations.

Download the Taskforce Report:
‘In the Best Interests of Children – Reforming the Child Support Scheme’

Children made vulnerable to disinheritance

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 9:21 pm

Children can be disinherited under radical changes to property laws giving new power to estranged, de facto and surviving partners.

The “last will and testament” is no longer that say legal experts who want an overhaul of laws relating to the division of relationship property after death.

Under the death provisions of Property (Relationships) Act 2001, a surviving estranged partner, de facto partner or spouse can have children from previous relationships disinherited, superseding a will in the process.

Otago University associate law professor Nicola Peart said the law change went too far and should be reversed.

“The whole thing is very unbalanced. It has created for a lot of people enormous uncertainty – I have real problems with the legislation.”

The law change is resulting in complex and acrimonious legal battles between family members.

The law was changed to bring equality to the property rights of a surviving spouse or de facto partner.

Peart, Professor Mark Henaghan and other Otago law faculty staff recently won an award for a critical analysis on the effect of the changes.

Henaghan said the law was particularly unfair in the way it dealt with de facto relationships, giving an advantage to the person left alive.

He said only the two in the relationship knew what property was shared and how long they were together.

If one of those people died, the other was free to make claims over a will that could not be contested.

Henaghan said the public was generally unaware of the law change because it was ignored in the debate about amendments that gave de facto and same-sex couples the same property rights as married couples.

Henaghan’s advice to people was to settle property disputes at the end of all relationships.

“Otherwise it could came back to bite you when you die.”

Mon 13th June 2005

Sidelined partners cashing in

Filed under: General,Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 2:37 pm

Women who put their careers on hold to raise children or support their partner’s career are getting bigger payouts when they separate.

Changes to property laws in 2002 allow men and women to sue estranged partners for lost earning potential as a result of being in a relationship. So far most payments have been made to women.

Payouts are lumped on top of the 50-50 split of property and child maintenance responsibilities.

Law Society family law section chairman Simon Maude said that when changes to the act came into effect, courts conservative with compensation amounts.

That changed last July when a man was ordered to pay $142,000 to his ex-wife. The court recognised the woman’s 20-year career break while raising their two children.

Maude believes the $142,000 will be exceeded in future awards. He said compensation was not only awarded in cases when a partner had made sacrifices to raise children, but when couples decided on a lifestyle that would reduce the income of one partner in a relationship.

Canterbury University senior law lecturer John Caldwell said a huge number of cases were going through Family Court, and courts were struggling to determine compensation figures to reflect what was lost.

Claims were dealt with on case-by-case because there was no range of set tariffs for a court to refer to when awarding a payout.

Caldwell said some men had used the new law to seek compensation after giving up their career to become househusbands.

Maude said the law change also affected how trusts or companies were treated when a relationship ended. Before the law change, it was difficult for a partner to gain equity when assets were transferred into a trust or company structure by the other partner.

He said some lawyers were now trying to have courts determine that any interest in a trust should be classified as property, which would make it easier for an estranged partner to seek compensation.

Sun 12th June 2005

The Evils of Child support.

Filed under: General — Downunder @ 4:18 pm

“The Test of Parenthood Editorial” The Press – Friday, 10 June 2005

This goes beyond a load of tripe — it’s the offal of journalism. Such unbalanced articles should be offensive to any self respecting journalist, and a discredit to the Editor who allows publication.

This article concludes by saying “ the need for parents to accept their responsibilities in an adult fashion, and to realize their first priority must be the welfare of the child they helped create.”, yet started by suggesting that the 21 year case of Gordon Dowler was a fault of the system and not of the integrity of the women involved.

The lines in between however are the usual unwelcome diatribe of feminist propaganda that demonize the father and promote child support.
The media should not shoulder the blame alone — a repugnant state of politics that worships the incontestable occupation of the moral high ground could not represent our people and guide the state but only represent the state and guile our people.

A distinction needs to be drawn between the fatherless child and the de-fathered child. It is the state that must be called to account for the welfare of the child. If it should place but one obstacle in the way of the Father, then the state has assumed his role. The suggestion that the remedy is solely financial comes with the assumption that a father’s contribution can be quantified in a dollar value, and his absence compensated for by the ruthless and relentless application of a financial formula.

The state admits to its own negligence by describing fathers through the social consequence of their absence. If there is something unsavory in this country, it is not masculinity; it is arrogance of the law that has exceeded its purpose in the pursuit of power, and the butchers that have promulgated it.

To be as polite as possible about the states attitude toward fathers, one might say it is unfortunate that those in this country, who have assumed a greater responsibility than parenting, are perfectly inadequate and inadequately perfect.

Child Support has no integrity as it purports to be something it is not, and for that reason it will continue to be the case that some will challenge its deceit, some blindly comply and some wander off and wonder why.

Fri 10th June 2005

The test of parenthood

Filed under: Child Support — JohnPotter @ 9:34 am

The current focus on DNA paternity testing to deal with child support disputes should not divert attention from the real problem — the growing burden of child support debt and the disheartening number of parents who blithely abdicate their responsibilities towards their children, writes The Press in an editorial.

The fact that the amount owed by errant parents spirals upwards every year — more than doubling since 2000 — does demonstrate significant problems with the Child Support Act, which has often been criticised as being too soft on parents who won’t pay up and too harsh on those who will. But at the root of this is a deeper failure. Parenting is a job for life and the most important responsibility most of us will ever take on. That this fundamental message seems to escape so many New Zealand men is disheartening. It says something unsavoury about the state of masculinity in this country that so many men feel untroubled by turning their backs on their children. Although fathers’ support groups reject attempts to label this as solely a men’s issue, it is nevertheless true that the large majority of non-custodial parents are men.

Although there are likely to be other Gordon Dowlers who are frustrated by the difficulty of proving a child is not theirs, there is a more significant element of ducking for cover by men who do not want to accept their duty.

The [law] commission also makes the valid point that the legal status of parent-child relationships has not kept pace with the increasing diversity of family structure arising both from social changes and new birth technologies. These are increasingly complex issues and ones that need addressing in law to bring both certainty to parents and children, not only in familial relationships but also in matters of child support. But again, at present these issues are still only a fraction of the picture.

Of course, deep hurts and emotions are involved in many cases — often bound up in fraught custody disputes — but often it is simply a case of parents not facing up to their responsibilities to the life they helped create. Those who criticise the Child Support Act for being too rigid around the rights of non-custodial parents do have a valid argument. Certainly, many cases of non-payment arise when the father feels alienated from the life of his child and wants better access. But there is no indication that these emotive cases make up the bulk on unpaid support.


Comment by JohnP:

With repeated anti-male / anti-father vilification and repeated assertions about incidence based on no known facts; this nasty bit of propaganda could have come straight from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. I thought ‘blaming the victim’ had become passé, but it seems that males are still considered fair game.

This ‘editorial’ is the standard feminist response to complaints by fathers that the family law system treats them unfairly, and does nothing to advance the debate or inform readers about the true state of affairs. I was very disappointed to read this in what has until now been one of the best newspapers in the country at presenting gender issues in an unbiased fashion.

Thu 9th June 2005

Call for DNA testing at birth

Filed under: Child Support,Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 9:54 am

A pro-fathers’ group wants to see DNA testing at birth to help men who are paying for children that are not theirs.

The suggestion comes as the Ministry of Social Development is reportedly having to pay $10,000 to a Christchurch man who was forced to pay for another man’s child.

Spokesman for the Union of Fathers Darrell Carlin says Mr Dowler is not the only one, and instituting a system where DNA testing is carried out at birth would solve the problem.

Lobby group wants free paternity tests

“Devastated” men are battling to prove they are not the biological fathers of children they are forced to support, says a group seeking changes to the child support system.

James Nicolle, a spokesman for the group Parents for Children, said his organisation was dealing with four other men in the same situation as a Christchurch man who has just won a 21-year battle to be repaid child support payments for another man’s child.

Mr Nicolle said the Inland Revenue Department would not accept the results of a paternity test unless they had written approval from a child’s mother.

Mr Nicolle told NZPA the men being helped by his group were devastated and saw “no way out”.

In one case he could only talk to the man’s partner, because the man became so upset when he discussed the problem that he could not sleep.

Parents for Children wanted a system that provided “fair and reasonable” child support, and for changes to the laws involving the way separated parents were able to parent and support their children.

The amount taken by the IRD depended on a person’s income, with one of the men he was working with at the higher end paying $1200 a month.

Mr Nicolle said children and parents had a right to know if a man was a child’s father.

“If they aren’t the father an awful lot of damage can be done for both sides. It’s a terrible thing to have to face.”

It was not just about money, with many other issues related to paternity. A person’s genetic heritage had cultural and health implications, he said.

Parents for Children would like to see free DNA testing for any father who chose to have it done, without a child’s mother being able to act as a “gate keeper”.

That 70s show

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 9:37 am

By Rosemary McLeod

Feminists are out in force this weekend in Wellington, and they’ll be crowing. The Janus Women’s Convention celebrates 30 years since the United Women’s Convention in the capital in 1975, a Great Leap Forward into success.

I don’t blame them if they’ve come to gloat. There’ve been victories un-dreamed-of 30 years ago that warrant war dances of victory.

The ’70s feminists gathering in Wellington have achieved more than they ever dreamed of, all in the time it took to abandon crimplene flares and take to designer black. To be a woman has become an advantage anywhere near policymaking and power; to be a politicised lesbian a passport to success. The suffragettes of the 19th century wanted only votes, but women who attended the 1975 conference wanted nothing less than social revolution. And amazingly, they got it. For some.


Wed 8th June 2005

Compo wanted after 21-year fight with bureaucracy

Filed under: Child Support — JohnPotter @ 9:39 am

A Christchurch man who has won a 21-year battle against bureaucracy will continue to seek compensation after being forced to support another man’s child since 1984.

The Ministry of Social Development has agreed to pay Gordon Dowler $10,000 after a battle that has dragged on since 1984, first with Social Welfare and then with Inland Revenue after the IRD took over collecting payments.

Dowler, a specialist welder, is now applying for expenses and interest which may exceed the amount he paid from 1982 to 2003.

Dowler said he had been “harassed” by the child support officials every month since 1984, over money he knew he should not be paying.

The 51-year-old said he was not able to prove his case with a DNA test until 2003, when he contacted the now grown-up child and arranged the test which proved he was not the biological father. The mother had previously blocked his attempts to get a test, he said.

The Inland Revenue Department promptly paid him the $8000 he was owed after the DNA test showed he was not the father.

The Ministry of Social Development was more reluctant, holding out until yesterday, when it agreed to pay Dowler the $10,000 he had paid for child support before 2003.

Dowler’s story began in 1981, when the mother of the child called him while he was overseas to tell him she was pregnant with his baby.

Dowler returned to New Zealand and bought a house for his new family. Three months after the birth, however, he found out the baby was not his after speaking with an ex-boyfriend of the mother.

Despite knowing he was not the father, Dowler helped look after the baby for the next 18 months, saying little about its parentage because he felt embarrassed, he said.

He found it difficult to part with the baby when the couple separated in 1983.

“I remember taking the little (baby) in my arms and walking around the block and I explained to her Mummy was going to take her away,” he said.

“It ripped my heart out.”

He started paying child support, but soon after began to contest the payments, which were about 20 per cent of his income.

“It has definitely influenced the course of my life because I have had no money to do anything. Every month I have been harassed. You get the letter and you don’t eat for two days…it really knocks you,” he said.

“You have this hopeless feeling that you’ve got no rights.”

More on this story:

TVNZ Streaming video: Social Welfare Refund

Christchurch a ‘living hell’ for Asian brides

Filed under: Domestic Violence — JohnPotter @ 9:35 am

Christchurch has become a “living hell” for some Asian women married to abusive Kiwi husbands, a Chinese-language newspaper reports.

iBall, a bilingual, weekly paper, says under the headline “Living Hell” that at least eight Chinese women were assaulted by their Christchurch husbands last month.

It published harrowing first-hand accounts from two women, brought to New Zealand after meeting their husbands over the internet or through a dating agency, about being beaten, and in one instance being forced to have sex with other men.

The eight women in the report had contacted the Shakti Ethnic Women’s Support Group for help.

The group then approached the newspaper to help it to publicise the women’s plight. Even the limited number of copies already distributed had prompted more Asian women to complain to the newspaper, Tan said.

One woman complained she had no control over money in her relationship with her New Zealand husband, and another woman was not allowed to associate with other Asians.

A spokeswoman for Shakti said the police were dealing with the issue case by case.

“The only thing we can do is work with the women,” she said.

“This is a relationship with two consenting adults.

“We can’t do much more than educate women about their rights.”

Christchurch police Asian liaison officer Rakesh Naidoo said he was not personally aware of any cases of domestic violence by New Zealand men on their Asian wives, but added: “If it’s taking place in one particular community, we would have a chat with them.

“If there are women who are being abused, it’s serious,” he said.

“We’d like to hear from them.”

Police family violence co-ordinator Pegeen O’Rourke said the problem had to be seen in the context of Christchurch police attending more than 400 incidents of domestic violence a month.

CYF social workers’ inexperienced

Filed under: Sex Abuse / CYF — JohnPotter @ 9:32 am

Press Release: Dr Muriel Newman, ACT New Zealand

New information on the Department of Child Youth and Family shows the organisation is being staffed with inexperienced social workers, the majority of whom have had less than five years experience, ACT Deputy Leader and Social Welfare spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

Answers to Dr Newman’s parliamentary questions show 75 percent of CYF social workers have less than five years’ experience, while almost half (44 percent) have less than two years’ experience.

“Yet, the staff of the department have to deal with the country’s most complex and critical cases; to force inexperienced staff to cope with extremely difficult situations is a recipe for disaster.

“The figures show that 27 staff hired by CYF in the 12 months till the end of April had already left the organisation, 363 staff had been employed and 313 staff had left.

“These figures are an indictment on the leadership given to the department. It is leadership that determines the culture of CYF and if the department is suffering from the poor leadership that is provided by the Minister, she should either shape up or ship out,” Dr Newman said.

“In politics, the buck stops with the Minister. If over-worked and over- stressed staff are leaving the organisation in droves, only to be replaced by brand new social workers who have barely finished their training, then it is little wonder that the organisation is struggling. It makes it extremely difficult if inexperienced social workers are thrust in at the deep end without the support of experienced colleagues.

“Labour is continuing to restructure the organisation to death and impose such a ‘risk averse’ requirement on social workers they are increasingly having to spend their precious time filling in reports and forms instead of getting on with their real jobs.

“Around 5000 at-risk New Zealand children are in the care of a floundering organisation which not only lacks enough staff with experience, but is also quite obviously failing to keep the staff it does have,” Dr Newman said.

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