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Government acts on domestic violence

SingleMum.com.au Expert Opinion Panel Stephen Page - Lawyer


go to Stephen Page's Biography

Stephen Page for SingleMum.com.au | April 19, 2011












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  • For the first time ever, to legislate to adopt the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is long overdue. Australia has been a signatory for many years, but did not enact law to bring the Convention into force.It is likely that the enactment into law of the Convention will result in a change to at least some litigation and procedures in the Family Court. Recognition of "rights" has that effect. Key features of the Convention include:



  • o "the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration";
    o Countries "undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents";
    o Countries "shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child's place of residence."
    o In any court proceedings to remove the child, "all interested parties shall be given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings and make their views known."
    o The child shall have a right "to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child's best interests";
    o "A child whose parents reside in different (countries) shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis, save in exceptional circumstances personal relations and direct contacts with both parents.";
    o The child shall "be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body";
    o Countries "shall render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children.";
    o Countries "shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.";
    Quote o Countries "recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child's active participation in the community.";
    o In countries in which "ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.";
    o Countries "shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances";
    o Countries "shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment";

  • For the first time ever, when there is an inconsistency between the right of the child to maintain contact with the other parent, and the right of the child to be protected from family violence and abuse, the latter has priority;
  • Repeal of the friendly parent provisions of the Family Law Act. These provisions were seen to be essentially critical of women, who were criticised for not being a friendly parent when they asserted that all they were seeking to do was to protect their child;
  • Replacement of the provision that specifically ignored temporary domestic violence orders, with recognition of all domestic violence orders;
  • Making family lawyers and counsellors focus more on the effects of family violence, in their advice to their clients;
  • Repealing section 117AB of the Family Law Act. This section was inserted at the behest of father’s rights groups, over the opposition of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, which said that there adequate costs remedies already under the family Law Act, and that if someone committed the crime of perjury, then they ought to be prosecuted for it. The section provides that when the court is satisfied that a party to the proceedings knowingly made a false allegation or statement in the proceedings, the court must order costs against that party. The section has been blamed for men seeking to intimidate women from raising allegations of domestic violence or abuse, for fear of a costs order being made against the women

Stephen Page




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go to Stephen Page's Biography

Stephen Page is a partner of Harrington Family Lawyers, one of Brisbane’s oldest boutique family law firms. Admitted in 1987, Stephen has been an accredited family law specialist since 1996. A co-founder of a domestic violence service, Stephen has been a member since 1999 of a committee for a court based domestic violence service and since 2008 a board member of a charity linking business with the domestic violence sector. read more...




What does it mean to be a single mum?Of course, the

kids

are the most important thing in a single mum's life. Kids are the focus and always have been. But along with the children, there are other matters that can confuse a single mum's life.

Centrelink

plays a big part of a single mother's life, mainly because this is where a large percentage of single mums get their finances from. Centrelink are the source from where the

single mother pension

, or as it is otherwise known, the single parent payment comes from. The single mother pension is a subsistence amount, but just the same, it is money to live on, and so it is important, no matter if it is called single parent payment, single mother pension or whatever Centrelink welfare classes it at the time

Often, single mums come out of a

divorce

or defacto relationship only to find that their troubles have just begun, and find that their first step leads them towards Family Law - it's time to engage a lawyer.
There are more than just Centrelink finance problems to worry about, as mentioned before, but also

child custody

issues. Child custody is something that hits right at the heart of

single mums

. If a single mother's ex husband or ex partner has been a domestic violence perpetrator, the mum may be greatly worried about child custody. They worry that their kids won't be safe with their spouse, who has already proven to be abusive because they caused

domestic violence

, which resulted in a divorce or separation.

Even so,

Family Court

will often still order a form of child custody named

Shared Parenting

. Shared Parenting is a form of child custody division of time or parental responsibility between the parents. Mother's often look for a good divorce lawyer to try to avoid share parenting with an abusive ex-spouse after divorce, however in many cases Shared Parenting is still the outcome after the divorce, no matter how good the divorce lawyers have been. They will often settle for visitation at a contact centre or access centre where fathers or mothers are supervised during child custody access.

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