MENZ Issues

Is the Family Court unfair to Mothers – North and South article

Statistics show men are doing slightly better in the Family Court since the protests (by un-identified “father’s rights groups” according to the article) of the early 2000s. Currently fathers win 45% of contested orders instead of 41% or less previously. While this is little cause for celebration by men,  according to feminists interviewed by North and South, this is a disaster.

The new Principal Family Court Judge Lawrence Ryan is criticised by Associate Professor of Law Ruth Busch, one of the principal architects of the 1996 Domestic Violence Act. She claims that vindictive, exagerating drama queens are only voicing “real concerns” about their children’s safety,  and are being falsely labled “obstructive”. Note that according to feminist dogma,  “women and children never lie about abuse”. Busch even uses the previously forbidden word “alienating” to describe parents (you can guess which gender).

Their are a couple of surprising comments from two Family Court practitioners, who have the advantage of working in the real world rather than pontificating from the ivory towers of academia.

April Trenberth also uses the “A” word, this time appropriately:

But ar other times [mothers] are absolutely alienating their children inappropriately from a father who would otherwise be a positive influence on their children’s lives

Trenberth feels it necessary to claim that she has a feminist perspective herself, but says:

“It’s very distasteful for a lot of feminist researchers and theorists to wrap their head around the fact that there are some really disturbed women out there as well…There are just as many damaged, troublesome and toxic mothers impacting on their childen as there are damaged, toxic fathers.”

It’s interesting that Trenberth’s report confirms what non-feminist researchers have known for many years: family violence is perpetrated by both women and men and at similar rates.

West Auckland family Lawyer Judith Surgenor also makes comments that would have been considered heretical a few years ago. She makes the important distinction between a man who has a long term pattern of using violence to control his partner, and one who reacts inappropriately the context of an acrimonious breakup. She  goes even further:

“We do get people who claim violence in order, dare I say it, to  manipulate the situation and perhaps for control. It’s not uncommon.”

Surgenor says she doesn’t believe that false accusations are “incredibly rare” as Bush and psychology lecturer Neville Robertson claim.

Psychologist Fred Seymour says that starting with an assumption of 50-50 care is “ridiculous”, especially when the mother has gone to the trouble of excluding the father from before the birth. He is worried that inadequate training of family court lawyers and psychologists will “skew the outcomes in a worying way”. He does not elaborate on what his desired outcomes might be.

I think this article shows that the pendulum is definitely swinging back to a more balanced position. The family court is still far from a sympathetic environment for fathers, but there is a somewhat better chance of receiving justice than a few years ago, when the court  could opperate in secret.

This quote (commonly mis-attributed to Gandhi) might eventually be prophetic:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

All men interested in the NZ family court will find this article educational.