UK Family Law Reform

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Children of break-ups 'safer with their dads'

By Phil Bartsch

A federal parliamentary inquiry into child custody arrangements was told yesterday that children were safer living with their biological fathers. Co-founder of the controversial Men's Rights Agency, Sue Price, told the inquiry despite the "maternal preference" of the Family Law Court in custody battles, statistics showed children were more likely to be abused, or even killed, when in the custody of their mothers. "The research shows children are safer with their biological fathers," she said. An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report had found 42 per cent of substantiated abuse – including physical, emotional and sexual abuse – happened in single-female-parent families, she said. The report said only 4 per cent of abuse occurred in single-male-parent families.

Mrs Price also said mothers had been identified as the primary suspect/perpetrator in 25 of 40 deaths deemed "family" murders in NSW between 1996 and 1999. The studies exposed the myth that most child abuse was perpetrated "by all these violent men out there".

In her submission to the inquiry on the Gold Coast yesterday morning, Mrs Price said men were often the victims of false allegations in the Family Law Court where there was "very little testing of evidence and no penalties of perjury". But she claimed as many women as men supported changes to child custody arrangements in favour of shared parenting. She also called on parental rights to be reinstated into the Family Law Act. "Shared parenting is much better for children," she said. "Where you've got two perfectly decent parents why should a court be saying to either of those parents that they can't see their children or restricting the time they have with them."We hope that, if they bring this in, families will then make their own arrangements to see their children as much as possible." Mrs Price claimed parental rights had been removed from the Act in the mid-'90s "leaving the Family Court as the sole arbiter of what happens to children".

The inquiry was also told of a growing number of children being cared for full-time by grandparents and other relatives. "This new kind of family group is becoming more and more common in our society and therefore needs to be given serious consideration when new laws and policies for families are being drafted," Kincare spokeswoman Maree Lubach said.

Ms Lubach said recognition and legal rights for custodial grandparents in the Family Law Court was needed to ensure the welfare of the children.

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