- The courts will protect children
- By Philip Ruddock, Attorney-General, Canberra
- The Age - Opinion
- 22/12/2005 Make a Comment (2)
- Contributed by: admin ( 47 articles in 2005 )
Law ignores the reality of split families
THERE is a fundamental flaw in Renata Alexander's critique of the Government's proposed family law reforms (Opinion, 16/12). The new laws are not about "forcing joint parenting" or "imposing joint custody".
It is about requiring the court to consider whether children spending equal time is practical and in their best interests. When it is not, arrangements which allow both parents to spend "substantial and significant time" must be considered. This means more than occasional weekends and holidays, and include routine activities such as picking up kids from school, helping with homework or tucking them into bed.
Dr Alexander is also wrong about violence. The Government could not be more unequivocal about the need to protect children from violence or abuse. This will be a primary factor in any court ruling.
Under the new legislation, family violence is defined not just as actual violence but as a reasonable fear or apprehension of violence. People will not have to participate in family dispute resolution before going to court if there is a risk of violence; nor will the presumption of joint parental responsibility apply in these cases.