Family court consumers launch their own justice system
Auckland based Parents 4 Justice have today launched their resolve to the Family Court.
Already many of their clients are writing parenting orders usurping the courts authority and contracting it out to a third party experienced in child development. This party encourages the parents to reach agreement based on the child’s needs, but ultimately has decision making power if they cannot and is accountable to an independent body. Should a party compromise obvious resolve the person who is attempting to cooperate will be duly rewarded.
‘ A stark contrast to the family Court who entertain psychologically abusive parents creating issue because it keeps them gainfully employed ‘ says Auckland based Parents 4 Justice founder Amy McDonald.
‘The changes announced today by the Family Court will do little to curb the injustice that exists there. These reforms are the same package wrapped differently’ says McDonald.
‘Lawyers are trained in adversarial tactics that exacerbate conflict they are not trained in child development, they advocate on behalf of their clients not the child and seem to not be aware of some of the research, especially around shared care that exists, yet they push for it’ says McDonald.
Shared care is often argued on the grounds of shared responsibility between parents but McDonald says that is rarely the case.
‘Typically one parent takes on the majority of the childcare because they have reduced their hours of work or have more flexible work arrangements, whilst the other compromises the child’s schedule (activities and appointments) because they are unable to accommodate it in their contact time. Despite the child often being placed with caregivers, parents who are unavailable because of work commitments will not compromise their contact(146 over nights or 40% constitutes shared care) because it would cost them in child support. This puts further pressure on the main caregiver financially in being able to meet the child’s needs in the time in which they have contact. This person often also has day to day care and is also responsible for all costs associated with raising the child’ says McDonald.
Anecdotally many of her clients report that their ex partner will spend more on lawyers fighting for shared care than paying child support to enable at least one parent to be in the child’s life more rather than the involvement of both parents being compromised.
The cost and time it takes for the Family Court to make decisions McDonald cites as a key injustice which the court themselves recognise.
‘To have an issue heard before a judge (a defended hearing) costs $30,000 per party. Many of our clients went to court on a single issue and up to a decade later are still in a quagmire of legal argument, CYF’s investigations and psychologists reports’ says McDonald.
Albert Einstein said ‘you cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it’. “Neither can the judiciary solve this problem especially when they are paid by the system – that is a conflict of interest. Court consumers know the issues and therefore are the most well qualified to resolve them” says McDonald.
Over a decade ago the employment court abdicated decision making responsibility to an independent body, the Employment Relations Authority. Full time professionals are employed within it and therefore there is no financial payoff to exacerbating conflict.
‘This is what we have modelled our own justice system on and we encourage court users who deem the family court to be ineffective to contact us. Similarly we are looking for professionals trained in child development who would be interested in acting as a third party to resolve disagreements in a timely and cost effective manner to do so, two hours at the most, not years’ says McDonald.
Parents 4 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. For more information contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org