Family Court fugitives and the role of the Police
After 20 years of turning a blind eye to women blatantly ignoring Family Court orders, a father taking the same action has attracted the immediate attention of Judge Peter Boshier.
In a February 1st speech to the Retired Police Members Club he said:
“The much-publicised Jelicich case has recently focused public attention on a recurrent issue in the Family Court. This is the enforcement of orders made in the Court that require the Police taking possession of a child, and the effect this could have on the children involved.
“Recent developments, such as the Jelicich case, have shown that the balance currently sits too far in favour of those who resist Court orders. The enactment of the Care of Children Act 2004, which comes into force on 1 July 2005, shows Parliament’s discontent with this situation. This Act provides a broader range of remedies to ensure enforcement of Family Court orders, and increased penalties for those who contravene them. “
Fathers’ groups thoughout NZ will be delighted if the new Act results in serious enforcement of orders, provided the enforcement is applied equally to women. However it is worrying that Boshier goes on to repeatedly mention enforcement in the context of custody orders, while saying very little about access orders, of which hundreds are breeched every weekend.
“The Jelicich case suggests that the consequences of breaching a custody order need to be clear, to discourage people from taking the law into their own hands. Mr Jelicich was advised by Union of Fathers President Jim Bagnall that “if you want to make the point, you’ve got one option “, meaning to abduct the child.
“Such action needs to be discouraged, as it is currently seen as a legitimate and practical option. In order to ensure that the best interests of children subject to a custody order are upheld, it is essential to ensure they are kept in a stable environment, with the parent the Court has deemed best fits the needs of that child. Stability can only be achieved through certainty, so people need to be clear that breaching a court order is not a viable option. “
I have to agree with His Honour in this regard, and I think the current public attitudes towards the Family Court he refers to demonstrate the extent to which the court has failed in the past to deliver a credible and fair system of justice. If Judge Boshier believes however, that the way forward is to clamp down hard on the few situations where fathers breach custody orders while continuing to condone breaches of access orders by mothers, he is sadly mistaken.