Disgruntled Dads and the Family Court
Muriel Newman’s newsletter is worth reading this week: Nature Knows Best
Over time, human evolution gave rise to the two-parent married family, often described as the most successful child rearing institution ever invented. But by the middle of the 19th century, socialism had begun its march and in its sights, the destruction of the nuclear family: in 1948 Carl Marx called for the ‘abolition of the family’ in his Communist Manifesto and, aided and abetted by the feminist movement, what had taken more than a million years to evolve, has, in just over 150 years been largely undermined.
Each step in this erosion of the family has been incremental: the establishment of no-fault divorce made it easy to walk away from the commitment of marriage; the introduction of the domestic purposes benefit with its built-in financial incentives rewarded mothers who split up from their husbands; the practice of awarding sole custody of children to mothers made it easier to consider separation (I recall seeing research some years ago which showed that around 70 percent of marriage break-ups were instigated by mothers who were confident they would gain sole custody of their children); the enforcement of a punishing child support regime which fails to take into account the financial circumstances of both parents or to ensure the money is spent on the children, often handicaps subsequent families.
Even better, the NZ Centre for Political Debate guest Forum has an article by Stuart Birks: Disgruntled Dads and the Family Court
The Women’s Consultative Group of the New Zealand Law Society has stated, in a submission to the Law Commission, “At the heart of the current law on domestic violence in New Zealand, as embodied in the Domestic Violence Act 1995, lies a very simple concept: domestic violence is about the use of power by men to control their women partners”. This is based on the Duluth patriarchal power and control model, which has been so influential as to dominate policy over all alternative approaches. It has a major failing, however. Numerous large-scale studies have found that women are as likely to be violent as men, and in many cases when one partner is violent, the other is also.
We could ask more generally whether the people who are employed to address family law matters are properly trained, not just in terms of domestic violence, but in the whole range of issues surrounding family relationships, care of children, relationship property, child support, and so on. Proper training requires a theoretical and practical knowledge of several areas of psychology, sociology, social work and economics, in addition to law. We might consider brain surgeons to be very intelligent, but we might be reluctant to have one fix our car. Similarly, even an intelligent lawyer may be poorly suited to deliberating on family matters. At the same time, other specialists may also have limitations. There may be a big difference between the way a psychologist, say, might interact with and assess a client, and the perspective required to obtain suitable evidence for a court. In addition, while courts may be able to make decisions on specific, one off situations (such as a crime, or the interpretation of a contract), it is far more complicated to address issues such as parent-child relationships, which consist of numerous small events spread over years, and which change and evolve as people grow and other life-events occur.