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Wed 17th July 2013

Is the Family Court unfair to Mothers – North and South article

Filed under: Domestic Violence,Gender Politics,Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 5:55 pm

Statistics show men are doing slightly better in the Family Court since the protests (by un-identified “father’s rights groups” according to the article) of the early 2000s. Currently fathers win 45% of contested orders instead of 41% or less previously. While this is little cause for celebration by men,  according to feminists interviewed by North and South, this is a disaster.

The new Principal Family Court Judge Lawrence Ryan is criticised by Associate Professor of Law Ruth Busch, one of the principal architects of the 1996 Domestic Violence Act. She claims that vindictive, exagerating drama queens are only voicing “real concerns” about their children’s safety,  and are being falsely labled “obstructive”. Note that according to feminist dogma,  “women and children never lie about abuse”. Busch even uses the previously forbidden word “alienating” to describe parents (you can guess which gender).

Their are a couple of surprising comments from two Family Court practitioners, who have the advantage of working in the real world rather than pontificating from the ivory towers of academia.

April Trenberth also uses the “A” word, this time appropriately:

But ar other times [mothers] are absolutely alienating their children inappropriately from a father who would otherwise be a positive influence on their children’s lives

Trenberth feels it necessary to claim that she has a feminist perspective herself, but says:

“It’s very distasteful for a lot of feminist researchers and theorists to wrap their head around the fact that there are some really disturbed women out there as well…There are just as many damaged, troublesome and toxic mothers impacting on their childen as there are damaged, toxic fathers.”

It’s interesting that Trenberth’s report confirms what non-feminist researchers have known for many years: family violence is perpetrated by both women and men and at similar rates.

West Auckland family Lawyer Judith Surgenor also makes comments that would have been considered heretical a few years ago. She makes the important distinction between a man who has a long term pattern of using violence to control his partner, and one who reacts inappropriately the context of an acrimonious breakup. She  goes even further:

“We do get people who claim violence in order, dare I say it, to  manipulate the situation and perhaps for control. It’s not uncommon.”

Surgenor says she doesn’t believe that false accusations are “incredibly rare” as Bush and psychology lecturer Neville Robertson claim.

Psychologist Fred Seymour says that starting with an assumption of 50-50 care is “ridiculous”, especially when the mother has gone to the trouble of excluding the father from before the birth. He is worried that inadequate training of family court lawyers and psychologists will “skew the outcomes in a worying way”. He does not elaborate on what his desired outcomes might be.

I think this article shows that the pendulum is definitely swinging back to a more balanced position. The family court is still far from a sympathetic environment for fathers, but there is a somewhat better chance of receiving justice than a few years ago, when the court  could opperate in secret.

This quote (commonly mis-attributed to Gandhi) might eventually be prophetic:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

All men interested in the NZ family court will find this article educational.

26 Responses to “Is the Family Court unfair to Mothers – North and South article”

  1. Peter says:

    Back in 2003, I wasn’t even permitted to have a solicitor (political intervention). The devil woman telling me, “I know that you have them a lot but it’s mostly treats”. Sickening what is considered to be ‘treats’ for children in new zealand.

  2. roo says:

    great post John and I believe the article is worth reading. I was disappointed April Trenberth actually sounded reasonable, as this is not what I and several other people have experienced with her. There are some who believe she is more toxic than the parents she refers to.
    When she is with her feminist lawyer friends within the family court she will show her true colours and vote with the pack!! Unfortunately April Trenberth does not always practise what she preaches. She is amazing as she is able to make decisions which damage families for years based on a short conversation!
    Be warned she is not as nice or as honest as she makes herself out to be, and she is definitely one riding the gravy train ladling out the cash to her appointed friends in the counselling industry.

  3. Gwahir says:

    I Have not read the original article YET! To hear Ruth Busch’s exhalted status is worrying. See http://www.waikato.ac.nz/law/research/waikato_law_review/volume_2_1994/4 This in conjunction with Neville Robertson (Totally brain washed Male)

    The nice bit Men are inching forward, and the hidden complement to Jim Bagnal, Jim Bailey, and others now in the background.

  4. Skeptic says:

    Thanks for the report JP.
    If possible a link to the whole N & S article would be appreciated.

    How typically bigoted of feminists to bleat on by even raising the question of father involvement. Men start to stand up for themselves and win some well deserved contact with their kids and same old same old – feminists such as Busch come out brandishing the tired stupid old victim card as though anyone not brainwashed gives a damn about their poxy propaganda.

    I did notice the cover of this particular N & S issue advertises the article by showing a woman (presumably the Mom)training her young daughter to walk in 6 inch high heeled shoes – sexualised man-bait stilts.
    Of course the father (like legions of alienated NZ Dads) is totally absent from the picture and nowhere to be seen. You can bet though his hard earned money got filched by the IRD as child tax. A welcome windfall for Mom who kicked him to the curb so she could get on with the business of buying the provocative ass lifting leg extenders for daughter – a tradition she can pass down to ensure another lost generation.

    Pictures say a thousand words.
    Very telling.

  5. Steve Taylor says:

    My “Letter to the Editor” response:

    I was delighted to read Donna Chisholm’s excellent article on the Family Court, however I was less than delighted reading some of the “opinion pretending to be evidence” from some of the so-called Family Court “experts”.

    I am a Counsellor, Family Mediator, Social Service Outcomes Researcher, and the Convenor http://www.nzfamilycourt.com a Family Court Consumer Advocacy website that now boasts over 5000 readers accumulated in just 3 weeks since the launch of the site.

    I am an enthusiastic supporter of the upcoming Family Court Reforms initiated by the Ministry of Justice in 2011, because the outcome evidence of the Family Court is woeful, according to a 2012 Consumer survey report published by the Ministry of Justice, which found:

    “¢ 38% of respondents had a case still proceeding in the Family Court;

    “¢ 79% of respondents had to attend the Family Court to settle a dispute.

    “¢ 53% of respondents required a Court order in order to settle a dispute.

    “¢ 61% of respondent’s lawyers had advised them to take Court action in the first instance.

    “¢ 47% of respondents felt that their Lawyers were not helpful to them in their dispute.

    “¢ 84% of respondents felt that Counselling was not helpful to them in their dispute.

    “¢ 35% of respondents nominated none of the Family Court services as being helpful to them in their dispute (including Counselling, Mediation, Parenting through Separation, and negotiation between lawyers).

    “¢ 46% of respondents found no relevance for a final Parenting Order.

    “¢ 54% of respondents rated their Lawyer for Child as “not competent”

    “¢ 51% of respondents rated their Counsellor as competent, while only 32% of respondents rated their Court-appointed Psychologist as competent (If Counselling is to face the axe in these reforms, then by this result, Court appointed Psychologists should be facing the axe even quicker than Counsellors, who are deemed by service users to be more competent than Court-appointed Psychologists).

    “¢ 43% of respondents nominated none of the available Family Court professionals as being helpful to them in their dispute (including Judges; their own Lawyer; Lawyer for Child; the Court appointed Psychologist (who rated “0”); Counsellors; or Mediators).

    “¢ 74% of respondents nominated preferences to dispute resolution away from the Family Court.

    “¢ 82% of respondents nominated the Family Court process as having had a negative impact on their children.

    “¢ 72% of respondents were very dissatisfied with the time it took the Family Court to settle their dispute.

    The “best interests of the child” so enthusiastically championed by Family Lawyer Stuart Cummings is actually best served when the voices of the parents of the child hold sway in a relaxed, collaborative environment, as opposed to an adversarial court setting. Cummings criticism of Mediation is absent of the awareness that Mediation meta-analysis research results illustrate a 36% better outcome for families than a Court process.

    Longitudinal population studies have chillingly illustrated that every child who endures the Family Court process loses an average of 5 years life expectancy – regardless of the care arrangements. Even Principal Family Court Judge Laurence Ryan is on record as stating that the Family Court should only ever be a last resort – Ryan encourages private settlement away and apart from the Family Court, as the best outcome option, and the international outcome evidence supports his position.

    Academic ideologues such as Professor Mark Henaghan, Associate Professor Ruth Busch, and Psychology Lecturer Neville Robertson display a staggering arrogance and ignorance of practice-based evidence in the Family Court, and display a none-too-subtle bias in their choice of research in women’s experience of protection orders – how about having a closer look at men’s experience of false allegations by women? Henaghan is on record signing off academic theses which illustrate the abject failure of the Care of Children Act, yet claiming in the media that the same Act is being constructively applied within a Family Court setting – a ludicrous double-standard.

    Sociology senior Lecturer Vivienne Elizabeth, associate Professor of Psychology Nicola Garvey, and associate Professor of Law Julia Tolmie champion a very small 21-member snowball sample group, all of the same gender, and with no practice-based evidence secured from the children at the business end of the custody disputes they are investigating, and with no corresponding grounded enquiry data from the other partners, invite the reader to take the outcomes of their work seriously!

    Auckland Psychologist April Trenberth is seemingly so focussed on some of the dangerous, toxic, and disturbed parents, she forgets to mention some of the dangerous, toxic, and disturbed service providers in the Family Court, including for example a Lawyer for Child having an intimate relationship with the Psychologist she sought a Court report from within the same case; a Family Court report submitted to the Court when the Family Lawyer knew that it was error ridden, and then claiming that she was not responsible for the accuracy of the report; and a Family Court Judge losing the plot from the bench, and then having to seek professional help for her personal issues. Trenberths enthusiasm for “specialist report writers” fails to mention that there is not even a formal template for such a report – Psychologists pretty much make one up for each report they write.

    West Auckland Lawyer Judith Surgenor, claiming over 20 years experience in the Family Court, once referred to Family Court litigants as “violent parents, drug users, and nut bars” during a radio interview – yet Surgenor has the temerity to raise the issue of ethical practice for Family Court Lawyers. No wonder she was picketed by the men’s groups.

    Fundamentally, until routine service outcome measurement is an embedded feature of the New Zealand Family Court for all service providers, then consumers and readers alike will continue to be hoodwinked by the “experts”. Family Court consumers are the most important stakeholders in the Family Court – more important than Judges, Lawyers, Psychologists, Counsellors, & Social Workers, because all of the aforementioned are simply guests within the process – the family system remains long after a case is closed, and long after the professionals have left the building.

    It is the voice of the service user, not a particular lobby or special interest group, that should be heeded above all others

  6. Ministry of Men's Affairs says:

    Good letter Steve, well done.

  7. Skeptic says:

    Great letter Steve.

  8. andrew says:

    Back in 1988 my wife and separated. The question of custody was a contentious one. Luckily we never went to court nor did we involve cyfs. The result was that by mutual agreement [including a decisive voice being given to the children then aged 9 and 11] the younger girl lived with her mother spending alternative school holidays with me and the older girl while for the other holidays the arrangement was reversed.
    The older girl went on the University and is now married and working for the University of Auckland, the younger girl died at Cave Creek while living with me after she had left school.
    I thank God from the bottom of my heart that we never involved cyfs or the court or anyone else to interfere with our arrangements. It was a daunting prospect to be the “major” parent of a teenage girl while continuing in employment.
    However both parents did despite the difficulties arrange things as best we could.
    My moral to this story is to avoid outsiders interfering at the crisis points of our lives and to do the best you can.
    andrew

  9. Allan Harvey says:

    Totally agree Andrew. If you can reach agreement then that will be the best arrangement for all.

  10. Gwahir says:

    Congratulations Andrew and a strong feeling of grief at the loss of your daughter. The same situation about 10 years previous. The “Experts” (Lawyers and headmasters) attempted to stick their noses in but were ignored. Outcome 2 well ballanced children successfully raising my grands. Way to go!

    One thing that would prevent it today is the OSH laws! “Experts” again!

  11. Jim Bailey says:

    Its nice to hear some think we did some good, though I beleive nieve – (See in this and google search engine JimBWarrior – HandsOnEqualParent – War4KidsWagon ). I eventually won real **Equal Parenting** after firing 3 Lawyers and Self Litigating thru the so called Family Court to have it STOLEN from my Son Javan and I by MSD-WINZ once invalided onto the Invalids Benefit due to Heart and diabetic troubles – WINZ refused to recognise those Family Court orders and paid ALL Govt. help toward raring our Son to Mother even though she only had him HALF the time and paid very few of the bills – I eventually ran out of money and thus are today even more convinced that NZ Family Law and Social Policy is deliberately designed to destroy the **Whole Natural Biological FAMILY** wherever possible – Javan near 18 years old, has lived with his mother for about 5 years now and shows the Govt. intended result caused by lack of Father/Mentor but reasonable good Nurturing – The way fwd is as mentioned in 2Chron 7:14 – Onward – Together – Many Blessings – Jim – jimakbailey@gmail.com

  12. Gwahir says:

    Nice to see the fire is not Quenched Jim!

  13. Downunder says:

    I just came across a copy of this article – definitely interesting reading.

    I didn’t spot who the journalist was but they did a good job of bringing out the feminist thinking rather than pure ideology.

    Is it possible to scan it John or link to a scan? Some of the comments from particular people are worth framing.

  14. JohnPotter says:

    The journalist was Donna Chisholm.

    I have asked the North & South editor for permission to re-publish this article.

  15. JohnPotter says:

    Sorry Downunder, it appears I don’t have the necessary permission.

    Donna had all kinds of personal abuse directed at her the last time one of our articles was posted, so no, I don’t want this story re-published on your website.

    Best regards,
    Virginia Larson
    Editor
    North & South

    I hope none of the abuse was from MENZ supporters – especially as other North & South articles I have published on the site have generally been positive towards men.

    The August 2013 edition in which this story appeared may still be available in public libraries if anyone is interested.

  16. Man X Norton says:

    I doubt it, in my experience few MENZ participants ever bring themselves to do anything beyond engaging in discussions here. Maybe one or two people did express some home truths to Donna, but quite frankly I question the accuracy of the claim by Ms Larson and I would like to see evidence of it.

  17. Scott B says:

    Why write something and then hide from it? People could still find the magazine rather easily I reckon and then they could still write to her too.

  18. JohnPotter says:

    North & South paid for this article so they own the copyright and are well within their rights to refuse publication permission.

    I suspect that the abuse will have come from people who think Donna is too sympathetic to men. I have seen comments on feminist sites badmouthing her about this article she wrote about Felicity: Witness for the Defence .

  19. Scott B says:

    I know but it’s just a strange reason to give.

  20. MurrayBacon says:

    I apologise for saying this, but North & South have published meaty articles, both favouring and disfavouring men.

    So what?

    It is quite a few years since other profit media have dared to address issues around protecting children, stupid fights between mothers and fathers and Family Court. A few of those media companies took financial hits from the mafia in the familycaught$ that would sink most of us. With cruelly tightened financial margins, is it any surprise that they now shy well away from tackling the rorts that are still going on.

    So – North & South published one article that some men felt was unsympathetic and presented more from one side than the other. Is this really a reason for so many men to bitch, hiss and spit?

    In my opinion, the article would remind most readers of the experiences of their wider family members and undecided readers can make up their own minds anyway.

    North & South and Investigate are the only mass media outlets who are still prepared to address these uncomfortable issues. North & South take risks with much of their readership, for publishing anything to do with familycaught$.

    There is a saying, don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

    OK, in this situation not exactly relevant, but if North & South are prepared to open high risk discussions, then why be rude at them for this?

    I hate to say it, but the ladies at North & South seem to be doing more to raise public consciousness about parental fights and protection of children from them, than all of the PMS girls at menz.org.nz put together.

    In particular, Donna Chisholm investigated the conviction of David Dougherty and through her sustained, time consuming investigation, David Dougherty was finally freed, albeit after suffering terribly as a result of police incompetence and malpractice and court narcissism.

    She has done more on her own, than all of the moaners on menz.org.nz put together. Teamwork to achieve anything requires listening, understanding and hard work. Are the menz-girls totally devoid of these skills?

    Is there any testosterone left?

  21. Skeptik says:

    “Teamwork to achieve anything requires listening, understanding and hard work.
    Are the menz-girls totally devoid of these skills?
    Is there any testosterone left?”

    A great example of how to display insult and self contradiction, and thus shoot yourself in the foot in only two sentences.

  22. Scott B says:

    21 my thoughts exactly.

  23. MurrayBacon says:

    I stand guilty – as charged, of bitching at the other bitches on menz.org.nz!

    Nonetheless, Donna Chisholm has put in a huge amount of time and achieved constructive results. I take off my hat to her and to Pat Booth too.

    By comparison, the moaners on menz.org.nz talk and as far as I can see – take no constructive action?
    It looks to me, that most of the commenters here, see moaning as a substitute for constructive action?

    If I am wrong, then please show me up. Please show examples of where men, individually or as a small group, have put in a big chunk of hours and achieved something useful?

    Also, a question mark after a sentence, might alter its meaning! Skeptik did copy my question marks!?

    I hope this is a constructive challenge. I am trying to say that we have better opportunities, if we work together, rather than hide behind nom-de-plumes. Maybe the occasional thank you might pay better dividends, than jumping for critical words?

    Besides, it really pisses me off, if some women are achieving more for men’s rights, than all of the men put together?

    After these comments, I would rather save up for a sex change operation and be on the winning side, than be with the negative, critical, losing moaners.

    Moaning has better uses than being critical!!!!!

    MurrayBacon – axe murderer.

  24. Skeptik says:

    Murray,
    I didn’t take your comment personally, just thought it was ultimately self defeating.
    There’s also the point which Warren Farrel made that for many men complaining is the first step. Heck, I can remember a time not so long ago when men even complaining about things was seen as somehow taboo and ‘unmanly’.
    There’s another plus to men complaining or “bitching” as you put it too. When guys complain online the words get picked up by the better search engines which have deeper algorithms, so that when others go online and search for say “women making false allegations” their comments can get picked up. This process quickens consciousness raising and folks linking with one another (at least online).

  25. Ministry of Men's Affairs says:

    Please show examples of where men, individually or as a small group, have put in a big chunk of hours and achieved something useful?

    Well actually Murray,some of us give a fair bit of time, effort, expense and personal sacrifice writing letters to relevant people, making media releases, preparing submissions for select committees, travelling to Wellington to speak to parliamentary submissions and so forth. The results of these efforts are limited but not due to lack of effort or merit, mainly because feminist ideology is the fashion of the day. All manner of nonsense spouted without eloquence by feminists is readily published. Nevertheless, our efforts do have significant impact. You might notice that politicians and many other spokespersons on such matters as domestic violence now usually remain relatively gender neutral where they previously referred to victims exclusively as women and violent parties exclusively as men. Without our letters (and probably even the ‘moaning’ here on MENZ Issues) they would not have become aware or made any change.

    Also, in a few days the Family Courts Amendment Act 2013 will come into force. While the changes go nowhere far enough, they are nevertheless the biggest change to NZ Family Court since its inception. In most cases mediation will be required before matters come to Court and before lawyers become involved, and the Bristol Clauses will be no more. At the select committee hearings there were plenty of lawyers with tear-jerking stories of damsels in distress needing their services so let’s not reduce lawyers’ role, and there were plenty of feminist groups demanding that the Bristol Clauses remain (and continue to wreck fathers’ relationships with their children on the basis of any and all crackpot allegations). You can be sure that without the few men’s voices of reason and sound argument a lot more of the law changes would have been scuppered.

    Maybe the occasional thank you might pay better dividends, than jumping for critical words?

    Yes indeed, but that is the opposite of what you are doing.

    By the way, after the law changes come into force on April 1 the feminist groups and lawyer groups will be out in force claiming the sky will now fall in and blowing out of proportion any teething problems. So all of you keyboard warriors, please be ready to send letters to editors etc in support of the changes, humble though they might be.

  26. Nikki Waddel says:

    My experience has been that April is very guilable to the charming mail at the expense of children disappointing as she is a professional who should be able to see past this

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