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  • I Prefer Suicide to Lesbian Mum ( Part 1/2 )
  • By Kylie Smith
  • The Sunday Herald Sun
    Page 1 of 2
  • 24/11/2002
  • Contributed by: admin ( 30 articles in 2002 )
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Runaway boy, 12, in desperate plea as Family Court decides his future


Pain and Bitterness (Part 2 of story)

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The Family Court, criticised for inciting parents into battle.

John at home with his daughter Ellen, who also refuses to live with her lesbian mother.

A 12-YEAR-OLD Melbourne boy has run away five times, and his father has been jailed, because he refuses to live with his mother and her lesbian partner.

The Family Court has ordered 'Peter' live with his mother.

His father has repeatedly failed to regain custody through the court.

The boy's determination not to be returned to his mother has led to him threatening suicide if the court order is not changed.

The Sunday Herald Sun cannot reveal the real names of people involved in the case for legal reasons.

Peter's father, 'John', was jailed overnight by a Family Court judge on Wednesday for not complying with a court order to return Peter to his mother.

Peter turned himself in to the Department of Human Services on Thursday following two weeks on the run.

He was placed in a foster home, and will have no contact with either parent until the case returns to court this week.

At a meeting arranged last week with the Sunday Herald Sun, Peter pleaded to be allowed to live with his dad, saying he would continue to run away if returned to his mother.

During his periods on the run, which have lasted up to 11 weeks, Peter has concealed his whereabouts from his father, keeping in touch by public phone.

Peter and his sister, 'Ellen', 15, lived with their father for more than three years after their parents' separation.

In early 2001 the Family Court ordered they be moved into their mother's custody.

A year later Ellen left her mother's home and returned to John's care.

Peter has been prevented from having any contact with his father or sister since December.
He told the Sunday Herald Sun he was upset and frustrated that authorities were not listening to him.

"I ran away from my mum's because I want to live with my dad," he said.

"There was no other option. No-one will listen to me."

A psychiatrist's report tendered to the court this week confirms Peter has repeatedly threatened to harm himself if returned to his mother.

John said he would continue to do whatever it took to protect his son.

"A father has to protect his children at any cost and if that means going to jail, that is what I will do,"
he said.

John said he planned to launch action in the High Court alleging he was jailed illegally.




Pain and bitterness

PETER'S story is a tragic case of a family torn apart and a system that appears to have failed society's most vulnerable.

At the centre of the drama is a 12-year-old boy with a toothy smile who likes cricket and wants to be a computer programmer; a boy who just wants to see his dad and doesn't understand why no one will listen to him.

Peter has run away five times in the past 18 months. Each time the Family Court has ordered he be returned to his mother's home, which she shares with her lesbian partner, despite Peter's pleas to be allowed to live with his dad.

He and his family cannot be identified by the Sunday Herald Sun for legal reasons.

A psychiatrist's report tendered to the Family Court this week shows the terrible impact of the court order.

"The child mentioned he would keep running away if he was not allowed to see his father, or was forced to live with his mother," the psychiatrist wrote.

"Asked what he would do if running away didn't work, he said he would kill himself."

After the court hearing in which the report was submitted, a judge jailed Peter's father overnight for refusing to reveal his son's whereabouts.

On the day of the hearing Peter was again on the run, after taking off from home for the fifth time.

Peter's dad, John, says he did not know where Peter was, but believed he was safe.

In his desperation, John was prepared to go to jail rather than see his son forced back to his mother.

When the Sunday Herald Sun spoke to Peter last week, his message was simple. His only wish was to live with his father, while maintaining contact with his mum.

"I don't want to stay (at my mother's) because she doesn't let me see my dad or call my dad or my sister," Peter said.

He ticked off a list on his fingers of all the people he had told about wanting to live with his dad: four psychologists, a social worker, a child representative from the Family Court and his mother's solicitor.

"No one will listen to me," Peter said.

"I have talked to everyone, even my mum."

Today Peter is safe in a foster home, after turning himself in to authorities when he learned his dad had been jailed.


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