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Domestic violence victims struggle in family courts to retain custody of children

https://expo.masslive.com/news/erry-2018/07/1d8d81b44f6371/domestic-violence-victims-stru.html

Lib Senator Sarah Henderson backs reform to secrecy provisions of Family Court psychologists

 

Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym SmithLiberal Senator Sarah Henderson at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith

A FEDERAL LIBERAL MP, WHO LED A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INQUIRY, HAS CALLED FOR CHANGES TO SECRECY PROVISIONS THAT PREVENT ANY SCRUTINY OF FAMILY COURT PSYCHOLOGISTS.THE CALL BY LIBERAL SENATOR SARAH HENDERSON COMES AFTER THE AUSTRALIAN REVEALED THAT STRICT SECRECY LAWS WERE PREVENTING ANY EXAMINATION OF THE WORK OF PSYCHOLOGISTS IN THE FAMILY LAW SYSTEM, INCLUDING ONE CHARGED WITH CHILD ABUSE, ANOTHER FOUND GUILTY OF MISCONDUCT AND A THIRD WHO THINKS THAT 90 PER CENT OF ABUSE ALLEGATIONS ARE MADE UP.

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SENATOR HENDERSON SAID SECTION 121 OF THE FAMILY LAW ACT, WHICH PREVENTS THE NAMING OF ANY WITNESSES INVOLVED IN FAMILY LAW PROCEEDINGS, INCLUDING EXPERT WITNESSES, SHOULD BE REFORMED TO IMPROVE TRANSPARENCY.

“THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW WHEN A FAMILY CONSULTANT OR OTHER EXPERT WITNESS IS SUBJECT TO OR FOUND GUILTY OF PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT OR DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS AS WELL, OF COURSE, OF CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS,” SHE SAID.

“A FAMILY REPORT WHICH GETS ITS WRONG CAN HAVE DEVASTATING CONSEQUENCES INCLUDING FOR CHILD SAFETY. SECTION 121 OF THE FAMILY LAW ACT SHOULD BE AMENDED.”

PSYCHOLOGISTS, PSYCHIATRISTS AND SOCIAL WORKERS PLAY A KEY ROLE IN THE FAMILY LAW SYSTEM — PROVIDING EXPERT ADVICE TO THE COURTS ON WHAT PARENTING ARRANGEMENTS ARE IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF CHILDREN AND HELPING TO ASSESS ABUSE ALLEG­ATIONS.

WHILE SOME ARE EMPLOYED BY THE COURTS, MANY ARE PRIVATE PRACTITIONERS CHARGING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR REPORTS.

SENATOR HENDERSON SAID SHE BELIEVED PRIVATE PSYCHOLOGISTS AND OTHER EXPERTS SHOULD NO LONGER BE INVOLVED IN WRITING REPORTS FOR THE COURTS.

“IN OUR INQUIRY, THE EVIDENCE OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORTED THE ABOLITION OF PRIVATE FAMILY REPORT WRITERS,” SHE SAID.

“AS MANY ATTESTED, SOME PRIVATE FAMILY CONSULTANTS CHARGE EXORBITANT FEES AND PRODUCE SUB-STANDARD, FACTUALLY INCORRECT OR BIASED REPORTS ... WE NEED TO SEE MUCH HIGHER PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS, GREATER ACCOUNTABILITY AND AN END TO THE FEE GOUGING.”

PSYCHOLOGISTS HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED BY SOME LITIGANTS AS THE “GODS” OF THE SYSTEM BECAUSE THEIR OPINIONS OFTEN CARRY SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT IN CUSTODY BATTLES. MANY CASES SETTLE AFTER A COURT-APPOINTED EXPERT PROVIDES A REPORT STRONGLY IN FAVOUR OF A PARTICULAR PARENT.

BUT S121 OF THE FAMILY LAW ACT PREVENTS MEDIA ORGANISATIONS AND RESEARCHERS IDENTIFYING PSYCHOLOGISTS OR SCRUTINISING THEIR WORK. THE SECTION IS AIMED AT PROTECTING THE IDENTITY OF FAMILIES INVOLVED IN LITIGATION, AS WELL AS WITNESSES SUCH AS THEIR NEIGHBOURS AND FRIENDS.

HOWEVER, IT IS DRAFTED SO BROADLY IT ALSO PREVENTS THE NAMING OF EXPERT WITNESSES.

THEY ARE REFERRED TO IN MOST JUDGMENTS WITH A PSEUDONYM SUCH AS “DR X”, WHICH PREVENTS JOURNALISTS AND RESEARCHERS FROM EXAMINING CASES TO SEE WHETHER CERTAIN EXPERTS ­APPEAR TO BE BIASED.

UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND LAW DEAN PATRICK PARKINSON SAID ALTHOUGH­ S121 HAD A VALID PURPOSE OF PROTECTING FAMILIES, THERE WAS “NO REASON” TO PREVENT THE IDENTIFICATION OF PROFESSIONAL WITNESSES.

HE SAID IT MADE IT “ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE” FOR JOURNALISTS, ACADEMICS AND RESEARCHERS TO SCRUTINISE THE ROLE OF EXPERTS.

“THAT AFFECTS TRUST IF WE CANNOT REALLY KNOW WHAT THE PATTERNS ARE,” HE SAID.

IN 2015, PROMINENT SYDNEY PSYCHOLOGIST CHRIS RICKARD-BELL DECLARED IN AN ABC INTERVIEW THAT 90 PER CENT OF CHILD ABUSE ALLE­G­ATIONS WERE MADE UP — CONTRARY TO INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH SUGGESTING SUCH ALLEGATIONS WERE FABRICATED ONLY IN A MINORITY OF CASES.

DR RICKARD-BELL REVEALED HE HAD ACTED AS A COURT-APPOINTED EXPERT­ IN MANY HUNDREDS OF FAMILY LAW CASES.

HOWEVER, THE AUSTRALIAN WAS UNABLE TO NAME DR RICKARD­-BELL IN CONNECTION WITH PARTICULAR CASES IN WHICH LITIGANTS HAD RAISED CONCERNS. IT WAS ALSO UNABLE TO SEARCH COURT JUDGMENTS TO EXAMINE HIS PATTERN OF TESTIMONY IN OTHER CASES.

EARLIER THIS YEAR, THE ABC ALSO REVEALED THAT A PROMINENT PSYCH­OLOGIST HAD BEEN CHARGED WITH HISTORIC CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE. THE PSYCH­OLOGIST IS UNDERSTOOD TO HAVE ACTED AS AN EXPERT IN AT LEAST ONE OR TWO CASES.

MEDIA ORGANISATIONS ALSO CANNOT­ IDENTIFY A PERTH PSYCHOLOGIST FOUND GUILTY OF PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT THIS MONTH.

YET ANOTHE­R INVOLVED IN NUMEROUS FAMILY LAW CASES WAS CAUTIONED BY THE MEDICAL WATCHDOG FOR BREACHING PRIVACY BUT CANNOT BE NAMED.

THE AUSTRALIAN LAW REFORM COMMISSION HAS RECOMMENDED AN ACCREDITATION SYSTEM FOR FAMILY REPORT WRITERS, REVEALING THAT CONCERNS HAD “BEEN RAISED REGARDING THE QUALITY AND INTEGRITY OF REPORTS, PARTICULARLY THOSE PROD­UCED BY PRIVATE PROFESSIONALS”.

IT IS UP TO JUDGES TO DECIDE WHETHER TO ACCEPT OR REJECT THE TESTIMONY OF EXPERT WITNESSES. HOWEVER, RESEARCH SUGGESTS THAT JUDGES FOLLOW EXPERT RECOMMENDATIONS IN ABOUT 90 PER CENT OF CASES, AND THAT AN ESTIMATED 70 TO 90 PER CENT OF CASES SETTLE AFTER LEARNING THE EXPERT’S OPINION.

CLOUD OF SECRECY OVER FAMILY COURT

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SECRECY PROVISIONS ARE PREVENTING ANY SCRUTINY OF THE WORK OF FAMILY COURT PSYCHOLOGISTS, INCLUDING ONE CHARGED WITH CHILD ABUSE AND ANOTHER FOUND GUILTY OF MISCONDUCT.

ANALYSIS OF THE WORK OF A THIRD PSYCHOLOGIST, WHO THINKS THAT 90 PER CENT OF ABUSE ALLEGATIONS ARE MADE UP, IS ALSO IMPOSSIBLE BECAUS­E OF THE STRICT SECRECY LAWS.

PSYCHOLOGISTS, PSYCHIATRISTS AND SOCIAL WORKERS PLAY A KEY ROLE IN THE FAMILY LAW SYSTEM — PROVIDING EXPERT ADVICE TO THE COURTS ON WHAT PARENTING ARRANGEMENTS ARE IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF CHILDREN AND HELPING TO ASSESS ABUSE ALLEG­ATIONS. WHILE SOME ARE EMPLOYED BY THE COURTS, MANY ARE PRIVATE PRACTITIONERS CHARGING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR REPORTS.

THEY HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED BY SOME LITIGANTS AS THE “GODS” OF THE SYSTEM BECAUSE THEIR OPINIONS OFTEN CARRY SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT IN CUSTODY BATTLES. MANY CASES SETTLE AFTER A COURT-APPOINTED EXPERT PROVIDES A REPORT STRONGLY IN FAVOUR OF A PARTICULAR PARENT.

Women’s credibility doubted in many family courts

(WOMENSENEWS)–During an unsettling divorce and painful custody dispute, a woman alleges that her young daughter has been sexually abused by her father. He denies charges. Frightened for her daughter’s safety, she believes that family court will help her, that the truth will come to light.

Instead, the mother, who is required by law to report abuse, finds herself virtually in the dock–quizzed, examined, doubted–treated, she feels, as though she were a perjurer, as though her only objectives were to selfishly punish her daughter and ex-partner.

She is disbelieved by judges, lawyers, child protective services and experts, categorized as an angry, unbalanced woman trying to bring another innocent man down with malicious fabricated allegations.

At the same time, most agree that for a family court to award custody of a child to a parent who physically or sexually abuses that child is contrary to the entire mission of these courts.

Domestic violence shouldn't be a culture war. Can't we all agree killing women and children is wrong?

Abusers job or title:: Father

Hannah Clarke sits with her three children on a picnic rug with a fruit platter and holding flowers.

lPHOTO: Hannah Clarke and her three children were murdered this week by her former partner.

How on Earth did an abhorrent crime like domestic violence become entangled in Australian cultural wars?

It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment commentators began to talk about the domestic violence "industry" comprised of "feminazis" who complain too much about men, and to imply, without evidence, that hordes of women like to fabricate stories of abuse.

Abuser Name or Alias:: The father
Abusers Organisation:: Family Court of Australia
Type of Abuse:: Death
Matter Resolved?: Yes

Tributes flow for ‘loving’ Brisbane mum who attempted to escape her family’s killer

A makeshift memorial is growing as the grieving community deals with the horrific crime.

On Wednesday, Hannah Clarke and her three children set off on their school run.

Within 12 hours, they were all dead at the hands of her estranged husband.

Clarke died in hospital on Wednesday night after suffering “horrific” burns when she and her three children were doused in petrol by the children’s father, Rowan Baxter.

Her children - Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4 and Trey, 3 - died in the car after it burst into flames on a quiet suburban street in Camp Hill in Brisbane’s east on Wednesday.

Children’s advocates say family courts unfairly favor fathers, even when they’re the abusers

“It’s really the same story of the #metoo movement, just in a much more dire setting where children are at stake.” news1main_09.jpg

At a custody hearing in Allegheny County on May 20, 2016, the 9-year-old boy at the center of the case took the stand and was asked a series of questions. His favorite school subject? Math. His best friend? Drew. His musical instrument of choice? The alto recorder.

But according to court transcripts, the questioning soon turned from school and music to the boy’s relationship with his father. “So what happened when your dad would sleep in the bed with you?” the judge asked. 

The boy answered in graphic detail.

“Well, sometimes he would lay on top of me,” the boy said. “He would, like, pull my pajamas down. … Well, the first thing is that I was — I acted asleep, but I was really awake when it all happened. He would stick his penis in my butt crack. … He would do that many times. When under my body he would be squeezing my penis. Sometimes, I get really angry with myself, because I always say that I could have stopped him.”

Custody in Crisis: How family courts nationwide put children in danger

Six years ago, in 2010, an appellate court in Tennessee affirmed a family court ruling that had awarded Darryl Sawyer* primary custody of his six-and-a-half-year-old son, Daniel.

The court ruled in favor of Sawyer despite evidence presented by his ex-wife that alleged he had sexually abused their child.

Three years earlier, Daniel returned from a visit with his father with suspicious bruises on his bottom. His mother, Karen Gill, immediately took the three-year-old boy to his pediatrician. “Your instant reaction is that you don’t want it to be what it appears to be,” Gill said, choking back tears at the memory. “You really hope there’s another reason for why he has these marks on him.”

But the doctor, Victoria Rundus, confirmed Gill’s worst fears. Dr. Rundus reported to the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services that she found reddish blue bruises on the child’s buttocks that could only occur from an adult “holding his buttocks forcibly open.”  Gill thus began a long, arduous battle – that continues to this day – to protect her son.

Statistical Evidence: Gumshoe’s Family Court Survey

This article contains the replies to the survey that I conducted from November 5 to December 16, 2018.  What I was seeking to find is an explanation for the anecdotal reports of unfathomable behavior by the authorities regarding the removal of a child from an apparently good parent.

I was hoping to make some sense of the oft-heard complaint that even where there is good evidence of child abuse, the Family Court orders the child to be placed with the abuser, or in foster care.

Removal of child from good mum traceable to corrupt female police officer

Two Hours on Computer

Female police officer disgraces the South Australian Police for corrupting two child abuse investigations, and acting against a child.

The child “must always be listened
to, believed, and investigated
before anything else.”

— Interagency Code of Practice

ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA, October 9, 2019 /EINPresswire.com/ — After a South Australian mother reported an injury on her daughter last year (2018), the female police officer that took over the investigation made no attempt to investigate the injury. The police officer (code-name ‘Demeter’) not only stalled and corrupted two investigations into child sexual abuse and assault, she colluded with the perpetrator.

The mother is about to release a book on her case — with the book coming out early September 2019.

We reported on this officer back in July, and again in August as further evidence was gathered to substantiate the extent of the malfeasance in this case.

'My husband abused me for ten years - and HE won custody of our children'

'I was told by countless institutions that I wouldn't lose my children - but I did'.

A woman who suffered domestic abuse for over a decade before fleeing her home has said there needs to be 'more transparency' in family courts to protect victims of domestic violence.

Emma Swann*, 40, fled from her family home, with her two daughters aged 9 and 10, to Sleaford in February last year after suffering from emotional, financial and psychological abuse that lasted for 12 years.

Placing children with the parent that abused them: The problematic theory of parental alienation

An unproven–and mostly discredited–theory is encouraging family court judges to award custody–against children’s wishes–to the parent that has been accused of harming them. Moreover, this theory of “parental alienation” has “spawned a cottage industry of so-called family reunification camps that are making big profits from broken families.” That’s the message of a stunning report by the Center for Investigative Journalism aired on public radio’s Reveal program.

The Reveal broadcast focused on two custody cases in which the judge ordered children placed against their will with the parent that they claimed was abusive. In one case, the judge sent a teenage boy to juvenile detention because he was not making sufficient efforts to get along with his mother. He and his sister were then sent to live with their father and allowed no contact with their mother for a period of  three years. In the other case, a fourteen-year old girl who said her mother was emotionally abuse and wanted to live with her father was sent to a “reunification camp” for ten months at her parents’ expense. Her mother was given full custody and the teen was separated from her father father for four years.  The judges in both cases based their decisions on a theory called “parental alienation.”

Eye-watering costs of family law disputes

And the wealthy — rich enough to fight every procedural point — are soaking up more court resources, blowing out court waiting times for low-to-middle-income Australians desperate to finalise their cases.

An appetite is building within the Federal Government to crack down on outrageous gouging by lawyers, who are being accused of getting flush from family misery.

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