This is a Letter that I sent to 13 Diffrent MP’s from diffrent political parties but I tried to focus on the Ministers/Spokespersons for Justice, Courts, Social Development etc.
I have recived some intresting replys, including a Labour MP asking if she can foward my letter on to the Legal Aid Review Panel, and also my local MP asking me to Meet with him on the 27th. The Letter is below, and the responses ill put in separate replies
RE: Family Court, Legal Aid
Dear Dr Wayne Mapp
I am writing to you today, to express my concern regarding the Family Court System, in particular how it treats fathers when it comes to Day to Day Care and Contact Cases.
I am 24 Years old, and have being going though the Family Court for over 2 years trying to Day to Day Care of my Son, or at the very least regular predicable access.
Prior to me and my ex separating, I was the primary caregiver for my son since he was 3 months old, till he was 22 months old when we separated, and yet when a lawyer for child was appointed, he mentioned It would be in my sons best interests to stick with the status quo, and to stay with his mother because she had him in her Day to Day care for the prior 4 months while we were going though the court process.
I have made numerous applications, and allegations, and due to how slow the court is to respond to any allegations that are made eg Drug use, and because the allegation must be automatically sent to the other party in question, by the time the court gets around to ordering a drug test, the other party has had up to 3 months to get clean.
Throughout the Court Process, my ex was able to sit on the DPB, and be a stay at home mum, go drinking on the weekends, do a bit of weed with my son in the house, and even had a live in partner while still on the DPB, with her partner on an unemployment benefit.
While I had to work up to 6 Days a week, trying to support myself, as well as pay child support, as well as a few hundred dollars a month to have contact with my son once a month and attend court. My ex was able to spend 24 hours a day with my son, also been able to get legal aid so all she had to worry about each day was to spend time with my son and let her lawyer deal with the legal side of it.
About a year into the case, we finally got referred to mediation and came up with a pretty good agreement. But due to me joining the Defense Force and undertaking basic training, I had to organise an alternative agreement while in basic training which then lead to a disagreement over Christmas contact.
My ex then contravened the Contact Order for the Christmas period, in which I was left $700 out of pocket in airfares. When I put an application for Costs in, the Judge simply said, there is no way I am going to find in favor of you due to her been on Legal aid.
Which essentially tells me that If you are on Legal aid, a court order does not apply to you as if you break it, nothing is going to happen to you.
In July we came up with another agreement, but due to my ex preventing me having contact over a period of 7 months, I had to be “Reintroduced” to my son prior to having him at my house, and since that agreement in July, there has already been 5 Contraventions of the Order Regarding phone Contact, and the payment towards airfares, which due to the contravention put me another $80 out of pocket.
When I last saw my son, I became aware of Parental Alienation, and saw some disturbing pictures that my son had drawn for me one of which I have attached, and am worried that if the parental alienation continues for much longer, it will create irreversible damage to the relationship between my son and I.
I am due to have contact again in a couple of weeks, but with the 5 contraventions so far, things my ex has said and even not getting confirmation after requesting written confirmation of contact taking place though her lawyer, I am not confident that it will take place and am worried that I will be another $400 out of pocket.
I am getting to the point where it is becoming too much for me to cope with, both financially and emotionally, I am getting to a point where I will just give up the fight to just talk to him, I will always send him birthday and Christmas cards, I will keep all the documentation that has gone though the court, so that one day when he is older, if he comes to me and says Why didn’t you want me, I can show him different.
Talking to other Men in similar situations, the stories are almost exactly the same, some men have protection orders against them, and are treated as criminals until proven innocent, I’ve heard of lots of men at the point where they are ready to commit suicide because the court is so biased towards females, that the only times that men seem to have Day to Day care is where the Woman just doesn’t want anything to do with the kids.
Unlike a lot of the Men I have talked to, I have started a new Family, and now have a 14 Month Old Daughter, and another son on the way, however I still think of my Son constantly, and miss him dearly, some people might say, well you have other kids, why worry about this one… All my Children are dear to me, and I love spending time with them, I work not to support myself, but to support my Children, to give my children the best opportunities I can in life, and to give my children a role model in their father to look up to. My world revolves indirectly around them, and I love all my children equally, no mater where they are, or how often I see them.
As you can see from what I have written there is many things in the Family Court System that needs to be adjusted. When I first went into the court, I had read how there was no bias anymore, and that the Care of Children Act 2004 had made it more fair for all involved. This is not the case, there is still a large bias towards females, the Lawyer for Child and Court Appointed Psychologists especially. And this is where judges seem to go towards.
The Legal Aid system creates a loop hole for people on legal aid, to get away with costing their ex’s hundreds and thousands of dollars and not have any repercussions themselves.
If I could recommend anything towards helping the issues that I have highlighted above is whenever there is a case in the family court, every 3 – 6 months, get them to do a survey on how their experience with the family court has been and if it is anonymous, I’m sure you will receive a lot of real feed back on how the system is actually working.
I would like to also comment that what I have said is only a brief indication of what I have been going though, you can not possibly put 2 years of a court case into 3 pages, I have about 2 Ring binders full of Documents all relating to the Case. And this is a case with no history of any protection orders, violence, or sexual abuse; imagine what a case would be like with those factors introduced.
If you have any questions regarding anything I have mentioned above feel free to contact me