Australian family law, the Family Law Act, and the Family Court all have a lot to answer for. They have regularly and systematically treated fathers with contempt and derision, depriving them of the most basic of human rights, including the right to see their own children after the breakdown of a marriage.
A devastating critique of the Family Court was penned by La Trobe University historian John Hirst in the Quarterly Essay, 2005. Entitled “‘Kangaroo Court’: Family Law in Australia,” it highlighted the gross injustices which men receive at the hands of the Court. Said Hirst, “The Family Court condemns itself. If its orders have been conscientiously framed to advance the best interest of children, then by its failure to enforce its orders it has been systematically damaging the children under its care.”
He rightly points out how fathers are especially being disadvantaged and discriminated against in the Family Law process. Many have a theoretical right to visiting their children, but in reality they often have no access at all.
Mothers overwhelmingly end up with the children in custody disputes, and often the last thing being considered is the actual best interests of the child. A recent case which became headline news provides a glaring example of this. This is how one report covered the story when it broke last month:
“A mother found by the Family Court to be violent, untruthful, lacking moral values and responsible for the psychological and emotional abuse of her children has been given custody of them. The father, deemed ‘principled’ and with ‘much to offer his children’, has been effectively banned from seeing his daughters. The case will spark renewed debate about family law and the issue of shared parenting.
“The father, who we will name ‘Bill’ because he cannot be identified for legal reasons, is described by a Family Court judge as no threat to his daughters, a successful parent who is ‘courteous’ and intelligent. The same judge found the mother, whom we will call ‘Jasmine’ and who abandoned her first daughter at two and spurned the child’s subsequent attempts at reconciliation, had displayed ‘dreadful’, ‘cruel’ and ‘malicious’ behaviour.
“But the judge still ruled that because of time spent apart, the children had become estranged from their father and it was in their interests that ‘the children spend no time with the father’. This was at odds with a ruling in February 2008 that Bill should have contact with his daughters.”
Sadly this is not an isolated incident. Many other cases of gross miscarriage of justice have been perpetrated by a biased, anti-father Family Court. Many men have endured misery, depression and despair over the treatment they have received from the system. And far too many men have taken their own life as a result.
Patrick McCauley has just penned a strong criticism of such matters for Quadrant Online, entitled “Killing Fathers”. In this article he asks the telling question: “why do an entire generation of children lack fathers?”
Says McCauley, “The statistics are in, so are the studies – children do not travel well without their fathers, and the levels of unfathered children is at least ten times greater than it was at the beginning of the 1970’s. The Family Law Act of Australia sealed the fate of millions of Australian men and their children. Fathers were reduced to 20 percent access or every second weekend. Many wandered off in despair. Probably less than ten percent were truly irresponsible or violent, dangerous men. The state enacted a law which effectively ‘stole’ children from their fathers (without any apology). For the crime of marriage failure, most men lost their fatherhood.”
He continues, “Women, freed into the massive freedoms of the sexual revolution and the feminist metanarrative, decided to have children without fathers. Single motherhood became a status symbol, an emblem, of the truly liberated woman. Both heterosexual women and homosexual women, even sexually confused women, were given state funded access to IVF programs on the grounds of being ‘psychologically infertile’. Fatherhood was portrayed as undesirable, and inconvenient. The state made no requirement that these children have fathers.
“The demise of fatherhood was possibly an unintended consequence of the subtle misandry (the hatred of maleness) which suffused society throughout the late twentieth century. Schools, universities, TAFE Colleges, the public service, hospitals, families became Male Unfriendly Environments (MUE’s) as they were overrun and dominated by women who were both ambitious and maintained an idealistic and fundamentalist feminist narrative. The domestic matriarchy delivered to women the quickest and most significant redistribution of wealth this country has ever undertaken.”
McCauley concludes his piece this way: “Up until the enactment of the Family Law Act of Australia in 1974, Australia was a patriarchy, as were, and are, all aboriginal societies. The Australian patriarchy demonstrated its commitment to fatherhood by taking unfathered part-aboriginal children into the care of the state or the church. It is the new domestic matriarchy, which, almost by stealth, has overtaken Australian society, which has declared this act of welfare – ‘The Stolen Generations’. I would contend that the children stolen from their fathers since the introduction of the Family Law Act are in fact the real stolen generations. And they have been stolen by a fear and hatred of maleness that permeates our whole society. Thus they have banished the fathers and now the children (both black and white) run ragged, confused and directionless throughout the bush and suburbs of the land.”
I certainly agree that we have here a genuine Stolen Generation. It is one thing when wives become single mothers through no fault of their own (eg., the death or desertion of the husband). They need a lot of support, since they must now do twice as much work with only half the resources.
But it is another thing altogether when there is a deliberate act of bringing children into the world without a father. Single-parenthood by choice, lesbian parenting, and a monstrously lop-sided Family Court process are all conspiring against the rights of a child to have his or her own father. In my book that is a type of child neglect, if not child abuse.
The divorce revolution has unleashed a trail of social destruction and devastation. And the Family Courts have done their bit to decimate fatherhood. The Family Law Act and all that goes with it has done so much damage to so many that the best thing may be to simply put it out of its misery, and start afresh.