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Aug 232016
 
Love-Triangle

Love-TriangleWOMEN have evolved to pursue affairs in case they decide to leave their partners, scientists have suggested.

While men have similar programming, it seems that the trait is more prevalent in females.

The new research challenges the assumption that humans are meant to be monogamous and that breaking up with somebody is a sign of failure.

The “mate-switching hypothesis” suggests that humans have evolved to test their own relationships – and constantly check for better long-term options.

Scientists claim that this theory applies particularly to childless women – whose choice of partner can have a huge impact on any children they may have.

David Buss, Cari Goetz and colleagues, said in a research paper: “Lifelong monogamy does not characterise the primary mating pattern of humans. Breaking up with one partner and re-mating with another — mate switching — may more accurately characterise the common, perhaps the primary, mating strategy of humans.”

For early humans, when few lived beyond the age of 30, experimenting when it came to partners may have been the key to survival.

The researchers argue: “Although break-ups are often moralised as ‘failures’, we propose that selection has sculpted a complex psychology designed to jettison current mates and acquire new ones in circumstances when mate switching would have been evolutionarily advantageous.”

Surprisingly, the paper even cites the actress Jennifer Love Hewitt, whose character in the television series The Client List said: “Husbands are like pancakes: there’s no shame in throwing the first one out.”

Their theory is also reminiscent of the tangled web of affairs featured in the 2004 film Closer, starring Natalie Portman, Clive Owen, Jude Law and Julia Roberts.

However, the ideas are proving controversial among those researching the evolution of human behaviour.

Until now the main explanation for the evolution of female infidelity was the “good genes” theory – that women are attracted to ‘less dominant’ men because they are more likely to stay with them.

Nevertheless, many women seek more masculine ‘affair’ partners — especially in their fertile period.

In evolutionary terms, this means that thy go for the “fittest” genes for their baby from the affair partner, to then have the child cared for by a more reliable long-term partner.

While this may sound devious, women’s real behaviour is more subtle.

David Buss, professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Texas, and Goetz, assistant professor of psychology at California State University, San Bernardino, suggest that women keep track of their partner’s “mate value” – comparing it with that of single men.

They also evaluate “relationship load” — the costs imposed by partners who behave badly or fail to provide for them.

The scientists say: “Affairs serve as a form of mate insurance, keeping a backup mate should a switch become warranted in the future.”

The academics even suggest that women in positive relationships could benefit from affairs, adding: “A regular mate may cheat, defect, die, or decline in mate value. Ancestral women lacking a backup mate would have suffered a lapse in protection, and resources.”

Original Post

Feb 172015
 

male-victim-of-domestic-violenceIn 2007, a New South Wales father of two who we’ll call Kevin Logan fell ill. Paralysed, he went to hospital and stayed there for two months. On returning home, he was bedridden for most of the day and unable to work. That’s when his wife’s verbal taunting began. What started as persistent criticisms intensified into threats. Gradually the emotional abuse escalated into physical violence.

One night a few years later, as she set upon him with shoving and biting, Kevin pushed his wife. She fell and hit her head on the side of the couch. When the police arrived, she was demanding his arrest. But on hearing the full story, the police said she should be arrested. She’d initiated the altercation and her husband had acted to defend himself. Kevin refused to press charges.

After the episode with police, Kevin left his family home and lived out of his cleaning van for three months. “People say to me, ‘Why didn’t you go to your mum’s or your brother’s first?'” Kevin told VICE. “But how do you go and tell your family that your wife’s been abusing you?”

The silence experienced by Kevin is typical of family violence against men. And while this could be said of family violence in general, there is a particular shortage of dialogue and services around male victims.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures from 2013 outline that for the prior 12 months one in three victims of current intimate partner violence were male. In January, NSW Police reported that last year one in every five family violence incidents they responded to involving intimate partners were for male victims. The perpetrators in these incidents were both male and female.

Any man can experience family violence, regardless of socio-economic status, sexual preference, and culture. However, the limited research available suggests that men with disabilities or mental health issues, members of the LGBTI community and those who have grown up in an environment with family violence, are more likely to experience it.

The 2010 Intimate Partner Abuse of Men Report outlines that the physical abuse suffered by men ranges from punching to biting to use of weapons. And there were many reported cases of abuse that were not physical but rather verbal, psychological, or sexual. The effects of abuse can lead victims to develop mental disorders and suicidal tendencies. They can lose sense of their own masculinity and many become unemployed as a result.

At present family violence is very much on the national agenda. Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced last week that a Council of Australian Governments national advisory panel into family violence will be established and a Victorian Royal Commission into the issue begins sitting this month. While these inquiries and others like them are vital, it’s likely they’ll only touch on the issue of male victims, if they do at all.

So as Australia begins dealing with its family violence crisis, what’s causing the almost blanket denial of its male victims?

According to Greg Andresen, senior researcher of the One in Three Campaign, a lot of it has to do with society’s deep-seated views on masculinity, which leave male victims unable to discuss what’s happening to them because they’re too ashamed.

“They fear they won’t be believed or understood, that their experiences will be downplayed, that they will be blamed for the violence,” Andresen said. “They may not even identify as a victim of family violence because they have been told victims are female.”

Many in the community struggle to grasp the idea of a man being physically abused, but as Andresen explained, “a woman with a knife is going to be just as effective as a man with a knife.”

This silence is further impacted by the lack of any specialist services for men. In 2009, when Kevin began his search for help, he found little available. A local case worker told him he didn’t fit the criteria for their family violence program, while a second counsellor advised him to attend an anger management course.

“The services just weren’t there. I rang the NSW Department of Community Services, their domestic violence hotline and they said, ‘Sorry I don’t believe you were abused by your wife. Only men abuse women,'” He recounted.

And little has changed. Frontline services — such as ambulances, Lifeline and Legal Aid — are available to both women and men, but most family violence crisis services that provide support through the court process and help in finding accommodation are available only for women. “That is the link in the chain that is still not available to men,” Andresen added.

But there have been some positive changes in NSW. Recently, small pilot programs at the Downing Centre and Parramatta courthouses have started providing free assistance to men during the court process. The NSW Senate Inquiry into Domestic Violence recognised that men make up a significant portion of family violence victims, yet don’t have access to adequate services. This has resulted in some services being made available to men as well as women, such as the housing subsidy Start Safely.

Last month, NSW Police posted a message on their Facebook page to raise public awareness about family violence towards men. Part of an ongoing family violence campaign, the post sparked a social media debate, simultaneously supporting police for finally addressing the issue, whilst criticising the approach they take when dealing with male victims.

But Andresen thinks on whole the police are doing a good job. “They’re quite aware that male victims exist because they’re out there on the front line going into houses at 3am.” But he added, “Unfortunately there are still individual police officers who may, when a male victim comes to the station, tell him to man up, go home and take it on the chin.”

Over recent years, NSW Police have been dealing with more incidents of family violence, as reported cases against both women and men have increased. Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch from NSW Police told VICE that police provide the same level of service to all victims regardless of their gender, age or social circumstance.

Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulrgregoire

Oct 252014
 

Divorce-Advice-F4EThere was recently an article by David Koch in the Daily Telegraph entitled “Simple money moves to make after Divorce“,  advising the 50,000 couples of divorce in Australia each year on how to financially prepare for divorce.

Whilst some of the suggestions make sense, and in all honesty are basic common-sense, Fathers4Equality would like to put forward alternate approaches not only designed to ensure that each member of the marriage gets a fair share of the spoils in the event of divorce, but where possible, that you both can find enough common ground (as its in your own best interest)  to limit the huge costs associated with the simple process of getting a divorce.

Although divorce in Australia these days is what’s called no-fault-divorce, for too many people it is not no-fee divorce, and as a shared parenting advocacy group, we all too frequently witness couples who would have worked hard for decades to get a nice car, a dream holiday or to pay for those special items that enrich the lives of their children, and yet they wouldn’t think twice about throwing all these savings away, because of the heat and resentment that drives so many people in divorce.

Let us be clear here. Fathers4Equality understands the emotional dynamic of divorce. We don’t blame the parents involved. But more on that later.

1. Protect what’s yours

David Koch: A few simple steps are all that’s needed to protect yourself in the short term. There’s plenty of time to work through the bigger things, like who gets the house, later. Take your money out of any joint accounts, cancel or halt any joint credit cards and change your online banking passwords to avoid any nasty surprises if things get out of hand. Is your salary about to hit the joint account? Speak to your employer about getting it shifted. And if you have to get out of the house quick smart, round up any personal valuables, just in case.

Fathers4Equality: In general, good, practical advice. But of course if these actions catch the other partner unaware and off-guard, it could likely lead to huge mis-trust from the get-go. And who is to say that you own this personal valuables outright, or that the money that you have taken out of the joint accounts was all yours? We are of the view that this is a high risk tactic, that sets the stage for an acrimonious divorce, that will only end up costing you much more in the end.

We would suggest that all bank accounts are frozen, that credit cards are halted, and that you take a video audit of all the household items, and where possible, find the invoices of the original cost of these ietms, and from which account they were paid from.

If divorce can be foreseen long before it will actually happen, it would be prudent to avoid joint bank accounts altogether, except for one joint account for household expenses, which you would each contribute to on an equal basis weekly. These avoids so much confusion later on.

2. Dig out the documents

David Koch: It’s crucial to secure copies of all important financial documentation immediately. Don’t wait around only to find your partner has hidden or tampered with the family files. If things get messy, you’ll want to be fully across your finances.

Fathers4Equality: Good point, but make sure you copy these documents, rather than remove them from the premises. This is again a matter of building some trust, but at the end of the day, it will end up costing more money to recover these documents via lawyers, so transparency is the best policy.

3. Get a family law lawyer

David Koch: Find a good family lawyer fast. Know any lawyers or had a friend go through a divorce recently? Chances are they’ll be able to recommend someone, but if not do some research.

If you’re thinking about going without a lawyer, remember a marriage is a legal agreement and undoing it is a complex and formal process. Even if things are expected to be amicable, your partner could still engage a lawyer so it’s best to be prepared and know your rights and obligations from the start.

Fathers4Equality:  Wrong, wrong, wrong, unless you are one of the super-wealthy families in this country.

And in contrast to David Koch’s assertion, marriage in practice in not a legal agreement. It is riddled with exceptions which one my find staples of contract law, and promises made prior to marriage and during marriage amount to NOTHING, even in many cases when deceit is involved.

No, to put it more accurately, marriage is an emotional bond, and a financial agreement. It is these two powerful forces that you need to negotiate to divorce successfully, without effectively destroying the remainder of your future. In short, you must constrain the emotion, and stay focussed on the bottom line, which includes limiting costs just as much as it does increase your percentage of the marital assets.

Fathers4Equality: Some other suggestions we can offer.

Gifting of Household or other personable valuables.

If you are a male, we find a disturbing trend where men leave the family home, and in some mis-guided gesture of chivalry, gift all the household goods to the soon-to-be ex-wife. As a male myself, I can understand the urge, as foolish as it is, but it must be pointed out that this gesture ALWAYS backfires on the male. Gifting household goods will not necessary be accounted for when you are trying to split the net proceeds of the sale of the family home, or when negotiating Child Support.

Fair is fair is fair, and you must be as fair to yourself as you should be to the soon-to-be ex-wife.

Sub-conscious hopes of reconciliation

We have one member who is Australian but was born and raised in India. He came to Australia, worked very hard, and at one point went back to India and married via an arrangement. His wife was studying to be a doctor, had enormous expenses to pay, and this therefore became his financial responsibility.

Well, at some point she called him from India (while still studying) and told him that she met someone else, and wanted a divorce. She offered however to pay him back what was at that stage about (AU) $250,000 in his support at that point in time.

He refused to take her money. In fact, he insisted that he wanted to continue to pay for the rest of her expenses until she finally graduated.

I can’t tell you how many discussions I had with him to try and understand his motivation, but I (along with a group of other F4E members), could only conclude that sub-consciously, this was his attempt at winning her back.

Well, I bumped into him a about 6 months ago. The long and the short of it is that she graduated, she is working, she has re-married, and she had only called him once since his final payment to her. He is living in  shabby one-bedroom apartment, is all alone, is a really great fellow, but has destroyed his future because of this mis-guided sense that money and support can buy back love. It can’t and it won’t.

Binding Financial Agreements (pre/post nuptial agreements)

Do you know that you can enter into a Binding Financial Agreement even after you are married. Fathers4Equality finds these agreements the most sensible thing you can do before getting married, but if you are on rocky ground, why not start negotiating while you are still on okay terms?

Counselling & Leaving Lawyers Out of it.

If I was your lawyer during your divorce proceedings and told you that your ex has agreed to give you an extra $50,000 more than you you asked for, and end proceedings here and now, would you take it?

No need to answer, but you would be silly not to be tempted. Well, you would be surprised at how many couples spend over $100,000 in divorce proceedings, typically over items that have very little financial value themselves.

Although easy to say, when considering a divorce, be prepared to let the other side get an extra $20,000 more than what you think they are entitled to, if that also provides you with an extra $20,000, or $30,000, or $40,000.

You see, divorce should not be about “it’s not fair that he/she gets that!”.

It should be about “What can I do to get the most in assets, money and a better future for me and my kids.”

Fairness is a nebulous concept that will drive you to devastation. Think like an accountant, and imagine that you are the client of this accountant. Acting in the third person can sometimes make it easier to listen to common sense.

So if you can, listen to the inner-accountant in you, and remember that that $100,000 that you may pay in legal bills for divorce, does not deserve to go towards another Caribbean holiday house for the Judge and lawyers involved.

This money belongs to you and your kids. Keep your eye on the ball and off your heart, and remember that you have a huge history ahead of you, and its cheaper and healthier to start your future sooner rather than later, and richer instead of poorer.

And one final point on family law solicitors. Always remember that the more you litigate, the more money they make. Although they are not supposed to needlessly extend divorce proceedings, in many cases they do, because its just human nature. So think for yourself where possible. Don’t take every bit of legal advise you receive as gospel.

Oct 122014
 

child-support-agency-mistakes-to-avoid-themDads who complain they are being ripped off by their ex-wives for child support are paying former public servants to prepare and lodge their ­appeals to pay less.

Single mothers have ­attacked the practice as “stealing from children’’ despite it being legal to hire help.

While official figures confirm that one in three fathers pay just $7 a week to support their kids, business is booming for companies offering “dispute resolution’’ with the Child Support Agency.

One new entrant has described the government agency that determines child support as a “dictatorship’’ and battles the bureaucrats on behalf of clients.

It boasts employing former CSA staff who know how the system works. “Life is about taking action, so draw a line in the sand and have a battle with CSA’s dictatorship,’’ the Facebook website states.

While the Abbott government has confirmed it has ­refused to deal with some agents who are not acting in the best interests of the clients or are attempting to subvert the system, no complaints have been raised to date about My Child Support.

Human Services Minister Marise Payne said: “Separation is a challenging time for families. My department works hard to advise parents about the payment and support ­options available at no cost.

But angry fathers are claiming that the CSA agency is biased against men.

Barry Williams of the Lone Fathers Association has also recently claimed that many mothers are faking domestic violence in order to secure full custody of their children, simply to get the maximum child support.

The founder of the new service said: “I used to work for the CSA for seven years. A lot of people end up getting financially screwed.

“Most of the staff at the CSA are kids.”

Meanwhile, a Labor MP is pushing for the Federal Government to examine whether separated parents should be forced to provide proof of how they spend their child support payments.

Labor’s Member for Greenway in Western Sydney, Michelle Rowland, has asked a parliamentary inquiry examining the child support system, to consider whether parents should be accountable for how they spend child support money.

“Many parents feel as though their child support is going toward items which provide no direct benefit to their children rather towards expenses which help maintain their former partner’s lifestyle,” Ms Rowland said.

Read the full article at Family Law Express.

Sep 212014
 

 

One in Three Campaign

One third of domestic violence victims denied services

Following last week’s launch of Our Watch,  a new national initiative aimed to prevent violence against women and their children – the One in Three Campaign has released a new analysis of the latest Australian data on male victims of family violence.
Senior Researcher Greg Andresen said, “We are very glad to see violence against women being taken so seriously by the Australian Government. However we are extremely concerned that one third of victims of sexual assault and family violence are excluded by One Watch and its sister organisation ANROWS simply on the basis of their gender.”
The analysis of the ABS Personal Safety Survey and the AIC Homicide in Australia, 2008?10, published today by One in Three, challenges the claim that the vast majority of family violence is committed by men against women and children. Using the same data sources as Fact Sheets recently released by ANROWS, the new data analysis paints a very different picture of gender and family violence in Australia.
“The statistics presented by ANROWS have been designed to over-inflate female victimisation by using lifetime experience of violence instead of current rates, while downplaying male victimisation by taking only the female perspective,” said Mr Andresen.
“75 males were killed in domestic homicide incidents between 2008-10. That’s one death every 10 days,? said Mr Andresen. “1.2 million Australian men have experienced emotional abuse by a partner, almost half a million have experienced violence by a partner and almost a third of a million have experienced violence by a girlfriend/boyfriend or date. Where are the services for these men and boys?”
The vast majority of domestic violence services in Australia are closed to males. There are no shelters for men and their children, no safe rooms or legal support at courthouses, no community education and prevention programmes, no support groups, no perpetrator programs for women or health service screening tools for men.
One in Three is calling upon the Australian Government to comply with its international human rights obligations and provide programs and services for male, as well as female victims of family violence.
“There is simply no excuse for this kind of sexist discrimination in Australia in 2014,” said Mr Andresen.
Male victims of family violence: key statistics
 
  • More than 1 in 3 victims of domestic homicide were male (38.7%)
  • 2 in 5 victims of physical and/or sexual child abuse were male (39.0%)
  • 1 in 3 victims of current partner violence were male (33.3%)
  • Almost 1 in 3 victims of violence from a boyfriend/girlfriend or date were male (27.9%)
  • More than 1 in 3 victims of partner emotional abuse were male (37.1%)
  • 1 in 3 victims of stalking were male (34.2%)
  • Almost 1 in 3 victims of sexual assault were male (29.6%)
Male victims of family violence were:
  • 2 to 3 times more likely than women to have never told anybody about experiencing partner violence
  • Twice as likely as women to have never sought advice or support about experiencing partner violence
  • Up to 40% more likely than women to have not contacted police about experiencing partner violence
  • Half as likely as women to have had a restraining order issued against the perpetrator of partner violence.

MEDIA CONTACT

Greg Andresen, Senior Researcher, One in Three Campaign, 0403 813 925 or info@oneinthree.com.au

Aug 292014
 
parliamentary-inquiry-into-child-supportThe Parliamentary web-site is http://www.aph.gov.au/SPLAYou may be interested in providing a verbal submission at the Teleconference at the evening session on 28 August 2014. Your submission can be up to 3 minutes long. Contact details for prior registration are provided below.

1. Thursday 28 August 2014
Committee room 1R3
Parliament House, Canberra
Time Witness
9.30 am Department of Social Services (DSS) and Department of Human Services (DHS)
11.00 am Close

2. Thursday 28 August 2014
Teleconference
5.00 pm Community statements by Teleconference:
7.00 pm Close

Please telephone, fax or email (for prior registration):
Tel (02) 6277 2223 Fax: (02) 6277 8594 Email: childsupport.reps@aph.gov.au

3. Friday 29 August 2014
Committee Room 2R1
Parliament House , Canberra
Time Witness
9.00 am Bruce Smyth PhD & Bryan Rodgers PhD (Submission 13)
9.45 am Family & Relationship Services Australia (Submission 61)
10.30 am Community Statements
11.15 am Economic Security 4 Women (Submission 64)
12.00 pm Break
12.45 pm Australian Men’s Health Forum (Submission 48)
1.30 pm National Legal Aid (Submission 57)
2.15 pm Close

4. Thursday 4 September 2014
Committee Room 1R3
Parliament House, Canberra
Time Witness
9.30 am Commonwealth Ombudsman (Submission 55)
10.15 am Community Statements
11.00 am Close

5. Thursday 25 September 2014
Committee room 1R3
Parliament House, Canberra
Time Witness
9.30 am Attorney-General’s Department (Submission 95)
10.15 am Dads 4 Kids – Warwick Marsh (Submission 93)
11.00 am Close

Jul 282014
 

centrelinkThere is a not so well known option available for many people who are welfare recipients and have hit a rough patch financially.

Centrelink offers an  “advance payment” to help you get by.

To receive an advance payment, you must be receiving one of the following payments:

  • ABSTUDY
  • Age Pension
  • Austudy
  • Carer Payment
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Family Tax Benefit Part A
  • Newstart Allowance
  • Parenting Payment (partnered)
  • Parenting Payment (single)
  • Widow Allowance
  • Widow B Pension
  • Wife Pension
  • Youth Allowance

There are however conditions on whether you can access the advance payment or not, including how long you have been a welfare recipient.

Generally you have to be receiving some form of income support for three months before you’re eligible but for Abstudy, Austudy, youth allowance (students) and family tax benefit there is no minimum time.

For Parents on the Family Tax Benefit

You can choose to receive the Family Tax Benefit advance as a one-off payment and/or as a regular advance.

A one-off advance is an advance payment you can receive on any day of the year. You can choose how much you receive, as long as the amount is within the minimum and maximum amount you are eligible for.

A regular advance is automatically paid to you every 26 weeks as long as you remain eligible, or until you ask us to stop paying a regular advance. The amount you receive as a regular advance will be the minimum advance amount. You can have only one regular advance in place at any given time.

You can have one or more one-off advances at any time, however the combined total of any regular and/or one-off advances is capped at $1,046.05.

You will need to pay this back and repayments are taken out by reducing the amount of your other payment.

See humanservices.gov.au to find out more.

Jul 202014
 

vHot on the heals of the current Child Support Inquiry being held in Parliament, on the 26 June 2014, the Abbott government agreed to another Inquiry related to family law, which was referred to the Finance and Public Administration References Committee for inquiry and report by the 27 October 2014.

This new Inquiry is stated to have the following goals:

  1. To investigate and report on the prevalence and impact of domestic violence in Australia as it affects all Australians and, in particular, as it affects:women living with a disability, and
  2. women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds;
  3. the factors contributing to the present levels of domestic violence;
  4. the adequacy of policy and community responses to domestic violence;
  5. the effects of policy decisions regarding housing, legal services, and women‘s economic independence on the ability of women to escape domestic violence;
  6. how the Federal Government can best support, contribute to and drive the social, cultural and behavioural shifts required to eliminate violence against women and their children; and
  7. any other related matters.

What is not clear at this stage is whether this inquiry will be interested in investigating all forms of domestic violence against all victims, or whether it will only be concerned with women with disabilities and women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, or alternatively just with women in general as victims.

At this point the information available is contradictory, making references to “as it affects all Australians” in one place, but elsewhere referring to women and/or children exclusively.

It may be, as is too often the case with Parliamentary inquiries, that this is an exercise in public relations first and foremost, and based on past experience, the Prime Minister Tony Abbott is only too happy to promote his apparent new found Liberalism when it comes to women’s issues.

So we at Fathers4Equality would not be  surprised if submissions by men and/or fatherhood groups would be ignored or deleted from the record.

That being the case, we would still encourage everyone with constructive thoughts on how to improve the policy surrounding Domestic Violence to document it and submit it to the Inquiry. You never know, it may make a difference after all.

Please keep in mind that the Inquiry will not be considering or examining any material that relates solely to personal cases or grievances. The Inquiry is however seeking suggestions on the current adequacy of domestic violence policy as it relates to housing, legal services and women’s (and hopefully men’s too) economic independence on their ability to escape violence.

For further information:

Committee Secretariat contact:
Senate Finance and Public Administration Committees
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone: +61 2 6277 3439
Fax: +61 2 6277 5809

Submissions closing date is 31 July 2014. The reporting date is 27 October 2014.

Jul 142014
 

Independant Children's Lawyer family law surveyIf you are one of the many fathers who believe that they have been discriminated against by a Court appointed ICL (Independent Children’s Lawyers) during child custody proceedings, simply because of your gender, well these family law researchers want to hear from you.

Family Law Express have just released a survey asking for feedback from parents who have worked with an ICL during their child custody matter.

Do you believe the ICL was professional, did they understand the family law act, did they treat you differently because of your gender, did they even bother to talk to you?

The Family Law Express Independent Children’s Lawyers survey asks these questions and more, probing the professionalism of a group of effectively unregulated solicitors who are better known for their gender-political ideologies than they are for their focus on a child’s best interests.

Whilst the Australian Government Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has recently released a report aimed towards the better utilisation of ICL’s, Family Law Express is endeavouring to add to the debate through its own direct-to-consumer research. In doing, these researchers wish to both elaborate on and question findings of the AIFS report, and to define the common experience between families and ICL’s in an attempt to uncover truths and offer suggestions for innovative legal reform. Through such research they aim to add to the public debate what many parent’s believe to be the real value of involving an ICL in child related Court matters, without the double-speak or self-justification that often occurs when governments focus almost solely on the opinions of so called experts.

Family Law Express is asking all parents who have been involved with ICL’s to contribute in prompting important and necessary legal reform. We ask you to please participate in our short survey on your experience with ICL’s and to add to this significant debate within family law.

Your help in promoting out survey on your site would be instrumental in our aim to reach out to as many parents as possible from diverse backgrounds in order to truly understand the experience of parents with independent children’s lawyers.

This survey will only take a few minutes of your time but would provide invaluable feedback on the performance of ICL in Family Law children’s matters.

Tell us about your experience with an ICL at http://www.familylawexpress.com.au/family-law-pulse/

If you have any questions please contact Jessica at jessica@familylawexpress.com.au

Jul 012014
 

2014-Federal-BudgetOn May 13th 2014, the Abbott Government released its proposed budget for 2014-2015.

The budget has yet to pass the Australian Parliament and it is in some doubt as to whether many of the proposed reforms will pass the Australian Senate.

If these reforms are passed in their original form, they will have a significant impact on families, and in particular separated families.

Outlined below are some of the effects the proposed budget will have on separated families if passed in its current form.

Separated families and Government Payments

Family Tax benefits

Family tax benefits are payments supplied by the government subject to certain criteria to assist with the cost of raising children. Under the proposed 2014 budget, their payment rates will be frozen for two years. This means that while inflation (and thus prices of milk, bread etc.) rises, these payments will not.

Family Tax Benefit Part A

Family Tax Benefit Part A is a payment per child under 15 years, or aged 16-19 depending on meeting certain education and training criteria. It is awarded if you satisfy a means requirement, a residence requirement, your child is fully immunised and you care for the child at least 35% of the time. Currently, the maximum payment per fortnight is $172.20 for each child aged 0-12 and $224 for each child aged 13-19 who satisfies the criteria.

The main payment itself does not have any changes, but some of the following changes are connected to this payment.

Family Tax Benefit Part A –Child add-on.

Under the current system, the maximum amount able to be earned before the Family Tax Benefit Part A is affected is increased by $3,796 for the second and every subsequent child. Under the proposed 2014 budget, this will be removed.

Family Tax Benefit Part A –New $750 payment

For those eligible for the maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A, a new allowance of $750 will be introduced for each child aged between 6 and 12 years of age. If you receive over $1478.25 in child support or spousal maintenance per year you may no longer be eligible for the maximum rate and consequently not eligible for this new payment.

Family Tax Benefit Part A -Large family supplement

Under the current system a large family supplement exists where, subject to certain criteria, $12.04 is provided for the third and every subsequent child. Under the proposed 2014 budget, this payment will instead be awarded for the fourth and every subsequent child.

Family Tax Benefit End of Year Supplement

The Family Tax Benefit End of Year Supplement is awarded to those receiving Family Tax Benefits based on the final income for the year. Under the proposed budget, these will not rise with inflation and will be lowered to $600 per annum for each child under Family Tax Benefit Part A, and $300 per annum for each family under Family Tax Benefit Part B.

Family Tax Benefit Part B

Family Tax Benefit Part B is a payment for single parents and families with one main income. It may be awarded where the primary earner’s income is under $150 000 per year to a parent, foster carer, grandparent of other carer who has a dependent child under 16 or a secondary student under 18 for at least 35% of the time. Currently, the maximum payment per fortnight is $146.44 where the youngest child is under 5 years old, or $102.20 where the youngest child is between 5 and 18.

Under the proposed 2014 budget, there are two very large differences that may affect separated families. Firstly, the maximum income of the primary earner will be lowered from $150 000 to $100 000.  Secondly, Family Tax Benefit Part B will no longer apply to children aged 6 or older from 2015. However, this restriction will not commence until 2017 for those who currently receive Family Tax Benefit Part B.

Separated families with low incomes

For many separated families, new and increased costs will need to come out of an already tight income.One such change is the heavily criticized introduction of a $7 co-payment for doctor’s visits, where maximum of ten payments applies to children under 16.

Fuel

A further measure that will particularly affect separated families is unfreezing the fuel excise, so it continues to rise with inflation. This will directly impact the separated families with some form of shared custody, which usually involves transporting the children from one home to another on a regular basis.

Concession cards

Many single parents have a Commonwealth Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card. Under the proposed 2014 budget, the National Partnership Agreement on Certain Concessions for Pensioners Concession Card and Seniors Card Holders will be terminated. Without the federal funding for these programs, the State Governments may end concessions for programs such as public transport. However, there is no evidence that this would be the case at this point in time and it is possible that the state governments may find another way to fund concessions.

Separated families attempting to reconcile

The budget also included the unveiling of the “Stronger Relationships” program, where couples can sign up online to receive a $200 voucher to be used on counselling and education. It is available for “all couples in a committed relationship, including engaged, married, de-facto and same-sex couples” to be used on counselling or education, including working through financial management or conflict resolution. This means that separated couples attempting reconciliation may receive some financial assistance to undergo counselling.

Paid Parental Leave Scheme

The federal budget has provided very little detail on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s signature paid parental leave scheme, which has made it difficult to determine precisely what impact this scheme will have on separated families.

The paid parental leave scheme was not included as a separate item in the budget, however the Treasurer Joe Hockey did recently confirm that the threshold had been reduced from $150,000 to $100,000.

Hockey stated that the changes to the paid parental leave threshold was in line with changes to the family tax benefit payments Part A and B, which now cut off or phase out around the $100,000 income level.

Written by Susan Jayne: Family Law Express