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Child Custody

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

Jun 012014
 

frozen-embryosA judge has awarded custody of frozen embryos to a 42-year-old woman over the objections of her ex-boyfriend who said it violates his right to not procreate.

In 2009, Karla Dunston, began dating Jacob Szafranski, a 32-year-old firefighter. A few months into their relationship Dunston was diagnosed with lymphoma and had to undergo chemotherapy that would ultimately destroy her fertility.

She testified that she longed to have a biological child and asked Szafranski to provide his sperm so that embryos could be frozen prior to her treatment, and he did so, despite neither of them thinking the relationship had long-term prospects.

The couple broke up in May 2010. Szafranski said he changed his mind about being a father after friends and a girlfriend reacted negatively, according to court documents.

Judge Sophia Hall said Friday in a written ruling that oral agreements between Szafranski and Dunston concerning use of the embryos stand and added that Dunston’s desire to have a child outweighs Szafranski’s desire to not procreate.

“Karla’s desire to have a biological child in the face of the impossibility of having one without using the embryos outweighs Jacob’s privacy concerns, which are now moot,” the judge said in the ruling, “and his speculative concern that he might not find love with a woman because he unhesitatingly agreed to help give Karla her last opportunity to fulfil her wish to have a biological child.”

Dunston’s lawyer, Abram Moore, applauded the ruling.

“Using these pre-embyros is important to our client, but it is equally important to her to set a precedent in Illinois which helps other women cancer survivors who find themselves in this heart-wrenching situation,” he said in an email.

Szafranski’s lawyer, Brian Schroeder, said they plan to appeal the decision.

“We’re obviously very unhappy,” he said.

Karla-Dunston

Karla Dunston

Schroeder said lawyers for both parties have agreed that the embryos should not be implanted in Dunston until the appeal is completed.

Through a lawyer, Dunston previously has said she was not seeking any support, financial or otherwise, from Szafranski.

It was by both legal teams noted that despite the intentions to the contrary by Dunston, Szafranski would be liable for child support in the event of a birth, and that this financial obligation will be viable and retrospective if at any time Dunston decides to seek financial support from Szafranski.

In 1985, 260 babies were born through assisted reproductive technology; in 2010, the number topped 61,000, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Yet only a few state higher courts have addressed, with mixed results, what to do with frozen embryos once a couple has separated. Legal experts said they would be watching to see how Illinois handles the complex issue.

Read Story

Nov 222013
 
evil-woman

A pregnant Sydney mother accused of murdering her seven-year-old son will spend her first night behind bars.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested at Woodpark in Sydney’s west on Wednesday morning.

The 25-year-old was charged with a range of offences, including murder, production of child abuse material, failure of a person with parental responsibility to care for child, and common assault.

The woman was scheduled to appear in Fairfield Local Court on Wednesday but the matter was adjourned and she will remain in custody overnight.

She will now make her first court appearance along with her boyfriend and co-accused at Parramatta Local Court on Thursday.

A group of female family members along with a baby were in court supporting the woman.

The woman’s 29-year-old boyfriend, who was in jail, was also charged on Wednesday with murdering the child.

Earlier this year the man was charged with 25 offences including assault, child neglect, taking action resulting in injury or sex abuse and producing child abuse material.

The little boy was found dead in the early hours of May 21 in a unit in Oatley, in Sydney’s south.

Family members had called paramedics, telling them the child had sustained head injuries after falling from a pogo stick the previous day.

Detectives will allege the injuries were not accidental.

A court has already heard the boy suffered “deplorable, prolonged abuse”.

He was allegedly reduced to begging for water from shocked campers in the Illawarra two months before he was found dead, the court was told at the man’s September bail hearing.

A police statement of facts previously tendered in court said an autopsy showed three fractured ribs, a bruise in the shape of a fist, feet injuries and bruises to the boy’s legs, back and buttocks that were inconsistent with normal childhood injury.

The boy and his two younger siblings had been previously well cared for, but police allege that changed dramatically after the family moved early this year to the man’s studio, which was windowless and had no toilet.

NSW State Crime Command Homicide Squad Commander Mick Willing on Wednesday described the case as among the most horrific he has ever seen.

“The circumstances surrounding the death of this child involve some of the most distressing acts that we’ve ever seen,” he told reporters.

Lema Samandar, Sophie Tarr and Isabel Hayes