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New Press Release from Parents 4 Justice

Filed under: General — roo @ 7:33 pm Sun 27th April 2014

New press relaease from Parents 4 Justice.

“Family court lawyers advocating for shared care in high conflict parenting situations is an intentional bid to create future work opportunities for themselves” says Amy McDonald founder of Auckland based Parents 4 Justice.

The research suggests shared care under these circumstances is not in the best interests of the child and inevitably the child will become involved in the conflict.

“Yet court officials have the gall to blame this conflict on the parents. It should sit with the system advocating it – the family court” says McDonald.

McIntosh in her research on “Shared Care and Children’s best interests in conflicted separation’ published in the Australian Law Journal Vol 20 no 1 cites 21% of children from a sample study in conflicted families as having a higher than average rate of clinical anxiety and, a year after their parents had mediated parenting issues, remained in a high risk mental health bracket.

Stahl also identified the mental health of parents being an issue in high conflict families. In his research on “Personality Traits of Parents And Developmental Needs of Children in High-Conflict Families’ he notes many custody evaluators observe that most high-conflict families have one or both parents who exhibit either narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive, histrionic, paranoid, or borderline features.

“What is unbelievable is that this research is printed in law journals and family court practitioners such as psychologists should also be aware of the dangers of shared care in high conflict families but rather than negate the impact that such parents and/or such a situation has on the child the family court is putting children at risk by advocating for shared care. This is child abuse” says McDonald.

“When there is a history of poor communication and a lack of cooperation between the parties the last thing you should be doing is putting them in a situation such as co-parenting that requires both – you are setting them up for disaster and more court intervention” says McDonald.

McDonald cites shared care as being the courts money making machine.
Last year the family court spent $142 million dollars of taxpayers money. Forty two percent of the 65,000 applications heard each year in the family court are over contact, such as shared care.

“We are seeing a lot of clients who, despite it being obvious that shared care is not working, spend a lot of money trying to revoke it unsuccessfully” says McDonald.

Family court consumers can spend up to $30,000 taking such issues to a defended hearing which can take years and involve psychologists, expert witnesses and other professionals, all gainfully employed by the court.

“And we see the same names coming up when issues present, as though some of them are working in collusion with each other” says McDonald.
In 2008 a study conducted by the Australian National University of 5000 parents on the Child Support Agency register showed it makes no difference to children’s wellbeing whether they see the non-resident parent half the time or every second weekend. What counts is how well parents get on.

Parents for Justice is an Auckland based support group representing court consumers nationwide who deem their children to have not been served justice by the Family Court and advocate for parental involvement in a child’s life. They launched their own justice system this month, the same week that the new Family Court changes were announced. They profess that retraining lawyers to handle dispute resolution will not change the outcome of the process for consumers when they are not paid to shut down conflict but rather paid to exacerbate it. For more information contact them at [email protected]



  1. Sounds like an excuse/reason for the parent with majority care to keep playing games if you ask me. This kind of statement is dangerous and the courts should treat it with caution – if course the conflict is the parents fault! And they should sort it out, along with sorting out how they co-parent in shared care. As soon as possible, for the sake of the kids. Protracted court battles hurt the kids.

    Comment by MumAndDadofSix — Mon 28th April 2014 @ 8:12 am

  2. Parents 4 Justice just lost my support. The Family court labels almost any custody dispute as “high level conflict”. Therefore, in practice Parents 4 Justice is lobbying against shared care full stop.

    Comment by Vman — Mon 28th April 2014 @ 4:40 pm

  3. Um…the ‘clinical anxiety’ and ‘high risk mental health bracket’ referred to by McIntosh was based on ratings made of the children by the parents. Of course parents in conflict, especially those who don’t want shared care to continue, will rate their children as more anxious and less mentally well under an existing shared-care arrangement. Whether or not their children would be unhappy in the situation the dissatisfied parent will see them as unhappy or will make them unhappy by hook or by crook. For someone to make claims about children’s ‘clinical anxiety’, such measurement should surely be made on a more robust basis.

    Comment by Man X Norton — Mon 28th April 2014 @ 5:51 pm

  4. I couldn’t care less if my 2 children were with my ex 80-20, 30-70, 60-40 or 50-50 but what I DO care about is if they are happy. Man X this is the point – your attitude of one parent not wanting shared care can work in reverse as well. If a parent DOES not care if the child is happy or sad or anxious, but has 50-50, is that person going to consider that perhaps it is not in the best interests of the child? Of course not. Shared Care does work BUT let’s be real, if it’s going to work, ex partners have to be great buddies or at least be reasonable, rationale and fair. If the Australian govt thinks I am going to sit on my hands and watch my 9 yr old daughter display clinical levels of anxiety because 50% of the time she has no one to talk to her, well, stay tuned and watch legal history change. And no, I haven’t done the test on her, I don’t have too, any parent in tune with their child knows how they are coping emotionally.

    Comment by The Non-Indigenous Stolen Gen — Tue 13th May 2014 @ 1:20 am

  5. WARNING The McIntosh article referred to above has been well debunked, by 110 attachment and child development specialists.

    I am not meaning to imply anything about roo or Parents For Justice, but I would be very interested to hear their responses. The 3rd reference quoted above is particularly misleading and hazardous for children’s welfare.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sat 17th May 2014 @ 2:26 pm

  6. The Non-Indigenous Stolen Gen (#4) wrote:

    Shared Care does work BUT let’s be real, if it’s going to work, ex partners have to be great buddies or at least be reasonable, rationale and fair.

    No actually, shared care has been shown (by scientific research as opposed to feminist advocacy research) to work better for nearly all levels of quality of the parental relationship, and usually results in a reduction of parental acrimony.

    Regarding cases in which one parent does not care for the children and neglects them, this should be assessed properly. If a parent is not breaking any law then it’s not for either parent to decide the other is not good enough. Once you have mated with someone and produced a child, it’s too late to choose who the parents are.

    And it’s not for one parent to show such arrogance as to claim (s)he is the best parent and the only one who knows what the children really need. And neither parent can have sufficient objectivity to make such assessments. That was the point.

    If children show great unhappiness about spending time with one of the parents, then their voice should be heard and considered. However, it’s important that their voices are considered carefully rather than just taken at face value. For example, it may well be that children prefer spending time with one parent more than the other for various reasons, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for them to spend more time with one parent. Children may well prefer to eat McDonalds more than home cooking but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

    Comment by Man X Norton — Sun 18th May 2014 @ 6:23 pm

  7. #6 Well said Man X Norton. If familycaught$ chooses to use the incentives that it has available in Care of Children Act, then it can dissuade a parent from repeated dysfunctional behaviour. Examples could be:

    1. malicious denied access with large airfare and accommodation costs – order to pay reasonable costs and also add double the access time, to the next access.

    2. giving children dishonest information about the other parent – sit everyone down together and explain slowly what the true situation is. (If repeated, then possibly with further sanctions added.)

    3. repeated sexual abuse allegations – change custody between the parents

    All of these have occurred in NZ, but far too infrequently to be of much use.

    This showed up in the Kay Skelton case, where the familycaught$ set no constructive punishments and milked the two parents, until the whole situation became publicly visible. Then the familycaught$ applied some constructive sanctions. The actual behaviour of familycaught$ lacks the wisdom of a $20 copy of the book Toddler Taming, which says about discipline that it must be applied quickly and severely enough to have an impact. The familycaught$ isn’t serving the child.

    There is no rocket science here – just normal parental wisdom – which the familycaught$ is careful to not apply when it can hide its actions from sunlight!

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Sun 18th May 2014 @ 8:47 pm

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