New press relaease from Parents 4 Justice.
“Family court lawyers advocating for shared care in high conflict parenting situations is an intentional bid to create future work opportunities for themselves” says Amy McDonald founder of Auckland based Parents 4 Justice.
The research suggests shared care under these circumstances is not in the best interests of the child and inevitably the child will become involved in the conflict.
“Yet court officials have the gall to blame this conflict on the parents. It should sit with the system advocating it – the family court” says McDonald.
McIntosh in her research on ‘Shared Care and Children’s best interests in conflicted separation’ published in the Australian Law Journal Vol 20 no 1 cites 21% of children from a sample study in conflicted families as having a higher than average rate of clinical anxiety and, a year after their parents had mediated parenting issues, remained in a high risk mental health bracket.
Stahl also identified the mental health of parents being an issue in high conflict families. In his research on ‘Personality Traits of Parents And Developmental Needs of Children in High-Conflict Families’ he notes many custody evaluators observe that most high-conflict families have one or both parents who exhibit either narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive, histrionic, paranoid, or borderline features.
“What is unbelievable is that this research is printed in law journals and family court practitioners such as psychologists should also be aware of the dangers of shared care in high conflict families but rather than negate the impact that such parents and/or such a situation has on the child the family court is putting children at risk by advocating for shared care. This is child abuse” says McDonald.
“When there is a history of poor communication and a lack of cooperation between the parties the last thing you should be doing is putting them in a situation such as co-parenting that requires both – you are setting them up for disaster and more court intervention” says McDonald.
McDonald cites shared care as being the courts money making machine.
Last year the family court spent $142 million dollars of taxpayers money. Forty two percent of the 65,000 applications heard each year in the family court are over contact, such as shared care.
“We are seeing a lot of clients who, despite it being obvious that shared care is not working, spend a lot of money trying to revoke it unsuccessfully” says McDonald.
Family court consumers can spend up to $30,000 taking such issues to a defended hearing which can take years and involve psychologists, expert witnesses and other professionals, all gainfully employed by the court.
“And we see the same names coming up when issues present, as though some of them are working in collusion with each other” says McDonald.
In 2008 a study conducted by the Australian National University of 5000 parents on the Child Support Agency register showed it makes no difference to children’s wellbeing whether they see the non-resident parent half the time or every second weekend. What counts is how well parents get on.
Parents for Justice is an Auckland based support group representing court consumers nationwide who deem their children to have not been served justice by the Family Court and advocate for parental involvement in a child’s life. They launched their own justice system this month, the same week that the new Family Court changes were announced. They profess that retraining lawyers to handle dispute resolution will not change the outcome of the process for consumers when they are not paid to shut down conflict but rather paid to exacerbate it. For more information contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org