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Separated with Children by Adam Cowie – Book Review

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 7:51 pm Thu 12th May 2011

In the preface of this self-published 130 page book, Adam writes that since his separation:

“the torment and legal battles I have had to go through since then I feel are rather unique”

Well, not quite. There is actually not a single thing that happens to Adam that I haven’t seen happen to dozens of other NZ men over the last two decades. There won’t be anything new in this book for regular MENZ readers.
Separated with Children by Adam Cowie - cover

This is a sad, sad story about a psychologically manipulative mother successfully using the Family Court processes to achieve total parental alienation over a period of years. The usual cast of lawyers, court officials, judges, psychologists, CYFS workers, Police, therapists and counselors appear, and at no doubt vast expense, enable and support the mother to carry out her abuse.

By the end of the story, Adam’s daughter is saying: “I hate you, don’t call me, I hate you”, and his 11-yr-old son says: “Don’t ring me or my sister OK?”

This book is a clear demonstration of how the NZ Family Court fails to protect the best interests of children, due to it’s bias in favour of women, and it’s complete failure to recognise and confront this form of female violence.

Would I recommend this book to someone recently separated? No, I think probably not – it could likely cause some men to decide that “shooting through” immediately would be the most sensible option. The fact is, some courts and some judges seem to have woken up to the importance of fathers in the lives of children, so I would encourage newly separated fathers to stay positive, and stay away from horror stories like this one.

If, on the other hand, you are one of NZs many already-alienated fathers, and your children are just a distant memory, you might well find this book useful. I’m sure you’ll understand when Adam writes:

“I got to a point where I wondered if it was really worth going on with my life.”

Fortunately by then he has found a female friend who gives him the support he needs to carry on. I was particularly impressed by his use of “Kia Kaha” as a kind of mantra. Now Adam is able to say he wants to:

“show you how I coped through this distressing time and came out the other side a better person.”

There is some interesting feedback for all of us MENZ members. After asking the Family Court for information about men’s support groups, he was directed here (!) and posted this request for help in 2009. He doesn’t name MENZ in the book (unfortunately), but says:

“I must say I was surprised by the bitterness and hatred shown by the people who passed comment on my article….All in all I didn’t take much from the comments that were made as most of them offered very little in the way of constructive advice.”

I don’t actually consider offering advice as the primary role of this site, but I’m disappointed that Adam didn’t get more of what he needed from us.

The inadequate proofreading became annoying after the first few pages, but then the story grabbed me and I finished it in one, wet afternoon.

I recommend buying a copy for your Member of Parliament, and referring to it in submissions to the Select Committee later this year.

You can purchase copies for $25 (including p&p) direct from:

Adam Cowie
177 Lorn St,
[email protected]


  1. You can see in that thread that I wrote a long and detailed response offering constructive (if blunt and realistic) advice. I wrote several posts in that thread – all constructive. At the time he thanked me. To learn that he wrote the complete opposite in is book is dishearting.

    John et al please read what I (Dave) wrote and then tell me what more could have been offered to Adam based on the limited information he provided?

    I even pushed hard for him to publish his experiences – which apparently he finally did.

    Talk about a slap in the face.

    Comment by Vman — Fri 13th May 2011 @ 10:01 pm

  2. To Dave, At the time I took on board what you suggested I do as my next steps. Unfortunately though most of what was suggested I had already done. I did appreciate the advice I got from you and a couple of others. What I may not have got across well in that chapter was that I was surprised at the amount of bitterness out there in the community among men in a similar situation.
    I apologise if I have offended anyone on this site. I think it is great to have such a place to openly discuss men’s issues. My book was an exercise in highlighting the issues around a marriage break up when children are involved. Yes it could have been better prepared gramatically. I do not confess to be an author but found the whole exercise therapeutic and beleive it gives a honest and frank account of what men have to deal with. As an aside it has been a bit over 2 years since my children last spent any time with me, even though I have a parenting order saying I should be seeing them on a regular basis. Apart from sending them letters regulary there is nothing more I can do except wait for them to seek me out themselves. I look at it this way. Every day that passes is one day closer to me having them back in my life.

    Comment by Adam Cowie — Sat 14th May 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  3. Years since you’ve seen your kids and there is an order in place that gives you access… sounds all too familiar!

    Comment by Scott B — Sat 14th May 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  4. I have actually lost track of how many years it has been since I had contact with my children. It must be 6 years. Court orders? Hahhahahaha! I have High Court orders. What use are court orders? At least toilet paper is useful.
    In all honesty toilet paper is more valuable than court orders that state a child should see his/her father.
    The family court are responsible for creating public contempt for their organisation. They earnt it.

    Comment by Vman — Sat 14th May 2011 @ 8:40 pm

  5. Just picked up this book from Parsons closing down sale.

    Good on Adam Cowie for writing about his experience, which, as John says, is not as unique as Adam thinks.

    Very fair review, thanks, John. Would it do any good to send a copy to our (ex) Chief Family Court Judge? Or to the MoJ Review of the Family Court?

    Perhaps it should be compulsory reading in High Schools.

    Comment by Carrick Bernard — Thu 15th March 2012 @ 12:36 am

  6. I have not read the book but my own story started in 1992 when I was first “accused” of paternity and the denied the paternity of my son. I fought for fourteen years and finally after successfully having the law changed I was the first male to ever win a paternity order in the NZ Family Court (proceedings filed 8am on the day the new Act came into force) My son turns 21 next month. I have met him once and we have an infrequent face-book relationship.

    The system will not change while disenfranchised men continue to pay child support.

    Furthermore the system is in its natural cycle of volatile societal attitude. One day this is trending; the next it isn’t. Its not presently our time but it will be when our alienated children or grandchildren bring their grievance to tomorrows legal and political world.

    My recommendation: Flatly refuse to pay any child support; walk away and get on with your life. It simply isn’t worth it.

    Comment by Rick — Sun 10th March 2013 @ 9:01 am

  7. His book was provided as part (or comprising) a submission to the Family Court Law Reform Select Committee last month. I understand the Committee returned the book and refused to accept the submission, and also banned any other submitters from making any reference to Adam Cowie or his book. Why I’m not sure.

    I agree with you Rick that as the children abused by our Family Court grow up and realize how much their lives and relationship with father were wrecked by that institution, more pressure will be brought to bear. Unfortunately though the brainwashing that many suffered will not have any opportunity to be corrected.

    Comment by Luther Blissett — Sun 10th March 2013 @ 12:31 pm

  8. That’s one of the main functions of this website isn’t it? Where we can write what select committees won’t listen to.

    Comment by Down Under — Sun 10th March 2013 @ 12:40 pm


    Men’s rights campaigners claim they’ve been silenced by a government select committee reviewing controversial planned changes to the Family Court.

    Wellington psychologist Craig Jackson said he was told to cut part of his submission or he wouldn’t be heard; another campaigner, Adam Cowie, appears to have been excluded entirely.

    Jackson and Cowie are among 350 submitters on the bill, but Justice and Electoral Reform committee chairman Scott Simpson says he hasn’t gagged anyone, but has to tread a careful line when discussing custody battles.

    Lawyer and former MP Stephen Franks said parliamentary committees usually “lean over backwards, even to hear nutters” but the justice committee had a “real tension” between hearing the information they needed and not allowing people to air vendettas or say something defamatory.

    “[But] in this case, quite frankly, they ought to want to know the horror stories if they are looking at a reform of a court procedure.”

    Cowie, who wrote a fictionalised account about his bitter custody dispute with his former wife, says he received no reply to his submission, despite indicating he wanted to make a personal appearance.

    Jackson, whose submission quoted Cowie’s self-published Separated with Children, said he was told to excise any reference to Cowie or his submission would be refused.

    “Adam’s case showed a complete failure of the system, that’s why they have tried to draw a curtain of silence around it because it is a damning indictment of the family courts,” Jackson said.

    “His case was a wonderful illustration of the complete failure of the system to do anything effective to protect children’s welfare, if nothing else.”

    Jackson said he planned to use excerpts from Cowie’s book to illustrate his argument that reforms should recognise parental alienation of children as a psychological abuse sometimes perpetrated by women against men.

    But he says he was told to cut all reference to Cowie and that the committee wasn’t prepared to hear Cowie’s own submission: “It was an ultimatum.”

    Comment by Ted — Sun 10th March 2013 @ 3:45 pm

  10. Simpson, National MP for the Coromandel, said his committee had a duty to uphold natural justice and protect identities of children and former partners in individual cases.

    Some submissions, he said, “were quite raw in their content, where people want to tell their personal story or history in court . . . we have to consider natural justice and protect the rights of those that are not present, because there are always two sides to every story”.

    This is probably about the most idiotic statement I’ve ever heard from a politician. There is always two sides to every story, that’s why we have a parliament, that’s what court’s deal with every day, but somehow this simpleton thinks that the a select committee living in the name of our children is absented from dealing with reality.

    How the hell do you make laws for the people of New Zealand if all you want to do is play in your own little select committee sandpit.

    Grow up bunny.

    Comment by Down Under — Sun 10th March 2013 @ 4:02 pm

  11. I’ve been in this position and it still pisses me off.

    You go to court and ask for a judicial ruling on a point of law and the Judge says I don’t believe I can interpret it that way because it is not what parliament intended but there is a select committee dealing with these issues I suggest you put it before them.

    What the clerk of the committee say…

    ‘All I can say is that I been instructed not to talk to you.’

    All that has changed after all these years is that an MP is saying it now instead of the select committee secretary.

    How long is this going to go on for?

    Comment by Down Under — Sun 10th March 2013 @ 4:27 pm

  12. It is not other people don’t see what is going on…

    You’re The Voice – John Farnham

    We have the chance to turn the pages over
    We can write what we want to write
    We gotta make ends meet, before we get much older
    We’re all someone’s daughter
    We’re all someone’s son
    How long can we look at each other
    Down the barrel of a gun?

    Comment by Down Under — Sun 10th March 2013 @ 4:54 pm

  13. Adam Cowie’s book is now available from Amazon, as an ebook, at a very low price.

    I hope that this enables young men and women to be warned about the skills and ethics of what happens in familycaught$, before they decide to have children in NZ.

    I realise that most readers who don’t have direct experience of The Troubles in the familycaught$, will not believe this record.

    First time I tried to read this book, I was nearly crushed by my own recollections of attempting to deal in good faith with familycaught$. 12 months later, I have read it through again carefully. I am amazed at how dispassionately Adam Cowie records his contact with NZ’s institutions of relationship vandalism.

    When dealing with familycaught$ myself, I could not believe the evidence of my own ears and eyes. It took me 2 or 3 years to face the reality of what was going on. It is very hard for a parent to accept that they cannot act to protect their children, for no good reason.

    I suspect that it will only be after 200,000 NZ men and 100,000 NZ women have written books like Adam’s, that something constructive will finally be done about familycaught$, to protect NZ children from poor and dangerous parents and judges, who think too highly of themselves.

    Books in this genre face the communication problem, of trying to communicate to people who reuse to listen, perhaps even to read, until it is too late for them to save themselves. Look before you leap is basic advice.

    Unfortunately, trust in caught$ is well embedded in NZ. Once the public finally face the reality of our caught$, the caught$ will face just as long a delay to rebuild their credibility. I don’t think that they will ever regain public trust, other systems will be created to do this task, not involving legal workers for any roles.

    Adam’s book does not point out the nature of the corruptions in the way familycaught$ is run, as well as Alec Baldwin’s book A Promise to Ourselves. The two books complement each other well and I recommend both. Adam’s book is local and although he presents this as just one experience, it is too common and should be listened to carefully, by prospective parents, voters and parliamentarians.

    Disclosure of conflict of interest: – I would like to have grandchildren, but I am more worried for the safety of my children. MurrayBacon.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Thu 26th December 2013 @ 8:49 pm

  14. Murray (#13) …not wanting to detract too much from your recommendation that we read Adam Cowie’s book; however your comment that:

    … Once the public finally face the reality of our caught$, the caught$ will face just as long a delay to rebuild their credibility.

    really cannot go without further comment. The key issue is that we expect “joe public” to be well informed, well educated (mostly) and endowed with some degree of discernment; sufficiently so that he might make a fuss. Simply, joe public is the guy who really couldn’t care less and this is precisely why we will never see a shift in the way the courts and their jesters do things! Governments depend on joe publics inertia and disinterest to endorse, even promulgate all those practices you and I have come to despise. Joe public is not our friend!

    Comment by Bruce S — Fri 27th December 2013 @ 6:57 pm

  15. Dear Bruce, I agree (alas):

    I suspect that it will only be after 200,000 NZ men and 100,000 NZ women have written books like Adam’s, that something constructive will finally be done about familycaught$, to protect NZ children from poor and dangerous parents and judges, who think too highly of themselves.

    Books in this genre face the communication problem, of trying to communicate to people who refuse to listen, perhaps even to read, until it is too late for them to save themselves. Look before you leap is basic advice.

    People wake up eventually?

    I guess the internal fight is:

    1. trust in the caught$ (and laziness to check these issues out)


    2. the desire for a good family life, even surviving divorce if that happens.

    Cheers, MurrayBacon.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Fri 27th December 2013 @ 8:54 pm

  16. In retrospect, the thought of parents even choosing to go to court makes me sick, where a child/children is concerned, this should be done out of court. The reality is, at least in the many cases I have heard of is that only one parent chooses to go to court, this in itself should be a warning sign from the beginning for any caring professional.
    I have mentioned the theraputic court here recently, we should be thinking more along the lines of helping people forward rather than alienating one parent in order to make the other parents’ life hassle free. No one can change the fact that there are two parents.

    In the case of my alienated Son as a Father, at no time was it taken into account the use of his parenting prowess at the mothers’ convenience, the steadfast and reliable Father that he was, now that is all gone. We were so green but still would be if we had to face it the same way all over again. Talking it out at the beginning, in front of professionals, so as to see the real situation would have been the only way to achieve the better outcome for everyone involved, including the Mother, but definitely the Child, who is now Fatherless, twice now by the way. Her new Daddy and the Father of her new sibling was also thrown down the road.

    Comment by mama — Mon 15th July 2019 @ 11:05 am

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