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- Family Court Abuse, Denial and Discrimination
- Survivors of Separation
- Contributed by: admin ( 74 articles in 2003 )
Articles on free speech and democracy such as the article 'Sewing shut lips of free speech' (The Australian 18/12/03) is right on the money with not only journalists being muzzled, so too are self litigants in the Family Court of Australia. Everyday people trying to protect their families, hard earned assets and livelihood through possibly the most gruelling time of their life - family breakdown.
After one passes through the stage of having your finances run dry and experiencing the realisation that your lawyers and the Family Court usually fall short of looking after your families best interests, one usually transforms into a self litigant out of necessity and a quest for what's just and fair.
Many self litigants seem to battle on a daily basis, the brutal effects of a money and power hungry Family Court empire incorporating a feeding frenzy of many unscrupulous lawyers and affiliated parasitic organisations who prey on the breakdown of families. Protecting your rights and that of your children is a constant struggle.
In September 2001 Jack purchased his brother Paul's home so Paul, a self-litigant, could settle up financially with his ex-wife after the marriage break-up three years earlier. This arrangement would allow Paul and his two children to remain living in the family home, where they had lived all their life with family, friends and attending schools.
However, in April 2002 the Family Court made orders in the absence of Paul to sell what the court believed was Paul's home, in order to settle "mystery" costs of a few thousand dollars that had been dealt with at settlement in another jurisdiction. The title of the property had not been changed into Jack's name, but was still in the names of Paul and his ex-wife.
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia for some eight months after the sale, had not attempted to transfer the property into Jack's name. The bank refuses to give any reason for the delay, admit bank error or attend court dates providing valuable evidence explaining why it took so long.
Now, two years on since Jack purchased his home, despite clear evidence that Jack owns the home outright, the Family Court fails to amend orders, allowing a caveat to remain, denying Jack the right to the title of a home he has payed for and is continuing to pay for financially and emotionally.
The reason/s for the judge's error are unclear at this time, due to a denial by the Family Court to make available to Paul the Reasons of Judgement and transcript tapes to listen to.
Written transcripts are unaffordable for average Australians, at over $9000 for a four and a half day hearing. Pleading hardship won't get you anywhere either. Many people also regard the authenticity of written transcripts as not always reflecting a true account of the proceedings.
Why are transcripts edited and by who? Judges? Who else?
Paul has sought to buy the tapes however Family Court policy prohibits the sale of tapes.
This is in contrast with Supreme and Magistrates Courts who supply tapes at $40.15 and $55 per day respectively, in alignment with what Mr Humphries the Attorney-General (ACT) stated over 6 years ago on 15 May 1997.
Mr Humphries said: "It is recognised that the cost of Court transcript may have a significant impact on some litigants seeking access to the Court. It is for this reason that the fee charging regime was recently amended to provide that applicants can be given an audio cassette of proceedings at a cost of $30 and the Court has recently purchased high speed dubbing equipment, which will facilitate this service. Auscript also currently provides assistance to litigants by providing reading rooms for them to listen to sound recordings of proceedings and to read the transcript. Auscript does not charge for this service. Both facilities assist litigants to assess whether or not to proceed to an appeal."
However now, transcript providers such as Auscript and Spark & Cannon under new contracts with the Family Court, forbid the listening of transcript tapes. They say you must contact the Family Court directly.
Are the tapes refused in an attempt to deny affordability and/or avoid accountability?
Quite clearly, if a self-litigant stumbles into a courtroom thinking that if justice and fairness do not prevail he or she will appeal the judge's decision, think again.
Comments by CJ Nicholson [The Age 19 July 2002] saying "The court has an appeal system and does listen to men and women who feel decisions are unfair and wrong" quickly evaporate as an appeal process in the Family Court will almost invariably be denied for most and natural justice thrown out the window.
In addition to obtaining a full transcript of the hearing in which you dispute in order to proceed to the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia, you must also consider the intense financial and emotional burden of preparing the paperwork and arguing the technicalities of law before three judges who are not there to listen to idle chatter. Not too difficult?
Should a parent have to bear this burden?
Paul has written to Family Court's Alastair Nicholson (Chief Justice) and Richard Foster (CEO) requesting assistance with administrative and procedural issues and an investigation into matters, however his letters have been ignored. He has since subpoenaed the court to produce relevant evidence to his case however, he predicts the court will be non-compliant with this process too.
As a father and self-litigant, Paul believes the court has considerable bias toward him. He has been denied three opportunities for appeal, jailed twice without a fair and proper hearing, due process and reasons of judgement, in addition to numerous assalts on his children and family.
Although financially eligible, Legal Aid refuses to fund Paul a lawyer. He has been unable to gain employment and receives welfare as the primary carer of his two children. He owns no assets apart from a 1985 model car and has considerable debt, but none to the Legal Aid Commission. His ex pays the minium Child Support requirement of $21 per month for their two children despite the fact she is gainfully employed.
Paul is suffering ill health from over five years of Family Court abuse through vexatious and unfounded litigation by his ex-wife's lawyers to the point of "burnout". If Paul remains without legal representation much longer, he will again have no choice but to adjourn the hearing set down for early in the New Year. It's a proposition Paul doesn't wish for as he has serious concerns about the health of his brother Jack who has a disability and suffers from epilepsy.
Jack's health has deteriorated since the court orders were made causing him to lose his job of over nineteen years faithful service and be hospitalised on many occasions. Jack's rights are being ignored, as legal advocacy for him seems also unobtainable. It seems Jack, an innocent bystander is being truly victimised and discriminated against by a failing system.
In addition to the Family Court, Paul has contacted and sought help from big law firms, the Law Institute of Victoria, Victorian Bar, Legal and Banking Ombudsman, politicians, Attorney Generals right through to the Opposition leader and Prime Minister.
Although most replied it was only a Legal Assistance Scheme that was at least prepared to give some assistance in liasing with the Commonwealth Bank, however their attempts were quickly met with quietness amd disdain.
Paul believes the current Federal Government's inquiry into 'Rebuttable Presumption of Shared Parenting' should be extended to include an in depth investigation into the Family Court. It appears lawyers and judicial officers who allegedly commit crimes, such as fraud and contempt, remain immune from prosecution, while ordinary families are slaughtered.
It seems three years on, passages such as "the right to be meaningfully heard", from the Family Court 'Litigants in Person' Report August 2000 by the Family Law Council, are still negated through denial of resources and evidence by the Family Court.
"David Luban argues for universal access to the legal system as a fundamental right. Luban's arguments rely on the fundamental of legitimacy. That is, a democratic system of government rests on treating people equally, and to do so in an adversarial legal system, people need an equal right to be meaningfully heard. This right translates to a right to legal services, and can also extend to a right to alternatives to representation."
Simply, the rights of a self litigant in the Family Court of Australia are almost nil compared with lawyers, despite smoke and mirror attempts by Chief Justice Nicholson and others espousing the rights of litigants in person.
Justice Faulks who in a Family Court report [A Challenge Project Report May 2003], makes statements of "access to justice for all...the goal of justice and a fair go for all, justice and fairness, law services are provided fairly, openly, supporting, informing and helping litigants, and recognising their right to a fair go"
It would appear Family Court business and secrecy come before human rights and democracy. It also seems discrimination and hypocrisy are not only rife in the Family Court but indeed flourishing. If the governments of the day have a true desire to serve and promote positive family welfare, an inquiry into the Family Court system beyond joint parenting, must begin immediately to lift the lid on crime.
All in all, it's a disgrace! People must always be allowed the opportunity of free speech.
People need answers - People deserve the TRUTH!
For mutual support write to:
SOS - Survivors of Separation Inc.( www.sos-family.org.au )
Self Litigants Unite for Rights - (S.L.U.R)
**Note: Names in article have been changed to protect people's identities in accordance with s.121 of Family Law Act 1975.
Family Court - NO Access to Justice