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Anthony Mahon: ten years ago very justifiable concern about gender bias in Family Court

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 12:25 pm Thu 14th June 2012

The 7th June edition of The Court Report on TV7 featured an interview with Anthony Mahon, co-author of the Law Society’s submission on the current Family Court review, and Deborah Hart, executive director of the Arbitrators & Mediators Institute. They were discussing the recent 70% increase in costs of running the Family Court, with no corresponding increase in productivity.

It’s well worth a watch.

Linda Clark made the important point that public perception is one of the drivers of Family Court dysfunction:

“Whenever you look at any of these issues, one of the things that bubbles under the surface is an unease about the Family Court because of persistant claims from father’s groups that this is a Court which has a gender bias.”

Mahon responded by acknowledging that up to 30% of children loose all meaningful contact with their fathers within five years of parental separation. Then to my surprise, he admitted:

“There was a very justifiable concern about gender bias ten years ago.”

He then went on to claim the Family Court has since made huge strides to change, that society has changed but legislative processes lag, etc.

He also told Linda that part of the blowout in costs was caused by “more complex cases”, which Linda not only failed to challenge, but even repeated as if it were fact when later interviewing Minister for Courts Chester Borrows. Have people and their relationship issues really changed significantly in the last ten years? I don’t think so.

It was interesting to see Borrows proudly wearing his white ribbon to signal his open allegiance to a gender-biased social campaign! I don’t think he gets it.


  1. The problems of the family court are that;
    1) It is adversarial and not inquisitorial.
    2) The behavior of lawyers protracting cases in order to make more money or because they have a feral feminist attitude.
    3) The anti father attitude that prevails throughout most of the family court.

    Comment by Andrew Wotton — Fri 15th June 2012 @ 9:09 am

  2. Reply to Andrew Wotton#1

    Its more then ‘The anti father attitude that prevails throughout most of the family court.’…Its anti Male right through N.Z society thanks to to the feminist movement agenda of demonizing Manhood and Fatherhood

    Kind regards John Dutchie Free at long last

    Comment by John Dutchie — Fri 15th June 2012 @ 9:16 am

  3. He then went on to claim the Family Court has since made huge strides to change, that society has changed but legislative processes lag, etc.

    What evidence is there of this?
    That is an easy claim to make but the results show this is not true.
    These same organisations were saying there is no bias until they were blue in the face 10 years ago. Now they say that 10 years ago they were lying but everything is so much better now.

    yeah Right!

    Comment by Vman — Mon 25th June 2012 @ 1:09 pm

  4. Is there an echo in the room? I seem to remember similar statements by “judges” Trapski, mahony and boshier, through the last 30 years. It shows how poor NZer’s memories are, that such a shallow form of spin could have succeeded for so long. [Those who cannot remember history, are doomed to repeat it.] Of those, only Trapski was honest enough to realise that positive changes weren’t happening and to quietly resign and move on with some integrity intact.

    To me this suggests that those “judges” have no credibility at all, in suggesting that any further reforms that they might be involved in could have any social value for NZ families, especially children.

    On the contrary, I would suggest that any reforms should make very sure that those “judges” and present familycaught$ legal workers have no role at all, in which they have monopoly power, or protection from honest well-informed competition and proper accountability. All of their proposals offer the same child-protection deficient service, just moving around who they want to pay their bills.

    I do suggest that women’s interests are often damaged within familycaught$ too, through overcharging for low quality and dangerous “services”. How many women get through familycaught$ with intact house ownership? They suffer when they are not able to parent properly, because they have put themselves into a solo parent situation.

    The people suffering the most damage in familycaught$, are children. In auctioning off custody, the proper interest of children to maintain a constructive working parenting relationship with both parents, is severely compromised to the paramount financial interests of the legal workers.


    Comment by MurrayBacon — Mon 25th June 2012 @ 2:15 pm

  5. #4..’They suffer when they are not able to parent properly, because they have put themselves into a solo parent situation.’..they did it to themselves and have noone else to blame

    Comment by Ford — Mon 25th June 2012 @ 4:41 pm

  6. Having dealt with Anthony Mahons directions, there is no longer a gender bias.
    The courts simply discriminate against individuals regardless of their sex. (this has been a convenient distraction to have victims of family court abuse fight each other instead of a systematically flawed court)
    Parents are individuals and their sex does not equate to their capability to raise their children well. Co parenting should be encouraged and there should be more emphasis on support services (such as family counselling and play therapy) to protect the children from the courts monetization of parents inability to communicate and negotiate appropriately.

    Comment by Taz Dunstan — Sun 30th May 2021 @ 2:32 pm

  7. Taz Dunstan – I agree with you in part. How can anyone think the adversarial nature of the family court has the children’s interests at heart? Regardless of the parents fighting, the parental relationships with children should be at the core of the court. Those relationships should be protected.

    Sadly I still think there is gender bias. I had a lawyer for child tell me that the mother is often favoured as she is normally the primary care giver. There will be exceptions of course. More value is placed on a mother’s relationship with the children. This has flow on effects for child support and relationship property. It’s perceived women have sacrificed their careers to raise children. No value is put on the sacrifices men make as the primary provider. The main sacrifice being time spent with the children. No amount of money can replace this sacrifice but it is always over looked.

    Comment by ErasingDad — Mon 31st May 2021 @ 9:04 am

  8. Anthony Mahon you say 30% of children loose contact with their fathers within 5yrs. How about the children who have never met their father because of lawyers supporting mothers who have vindictive attitudes towards their former partner. I know you were that lawyer who supported my mother so my father never got visitation rights. I would have liked to have spoken to my father just once Anthony.

    I have now been in your court room as a father myself and you still show the same disgusting behaviour that was happening in the 1980s I don’t know how people like you and your associates Sharyn Otene, Maureen Southwick, Margret Rogers, Anna Skellern, Joanna Attfield and Janice Harland sleep at night.

    I see you all as corrupt people of the NZ legal system and are nothing more than child abusers.

    I will never forgive you Anthony Mahon for the hurt you have caused me, and with the other names I have mentioned I have nothing but pure hatred towards them.

    Sharyn Otene just because Janice Harland was a former employee of yours at your law firm, does not give you the right at protecting her for corrupt behaviour now that you are a family court judge.

    Comment by Quinn Morrison — Wed 19th January 2022 @ 12:40 pm

  9. Anybody involved in Family Law, and the Law Commission is corrupt.
    How was the Guardianship Act and others, made without them.
    They legislated, banning men from being fathers.
    Nodding and winking, all the judges were involved.

    Far worse, the person quoted for this post.
    Lawyers for clients, and failing to protect them from bigoted laws.
    Advocating for laws, that are sexually bigoted.
    Judging on laws, that are sexually bigoted.

    My guess is the chief judges seat, is a hot seat.
    Dare not be in it, when justice arrives.
    Time may run out, when my distance limit is reached.
    A police officer, gave me instructions on what to do.

    Comment by DJ Ward — Wed 19th January 2022 @ 5:11 pm

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