The "future" is being rejected in Australia, which has already experimented with forced "shared parenting" and lockstep 50/50 time splits--the same "reforms" which are still being advocated by fathers rights people elsewhere, including the U.S. and Canada.
Why? These "reforms" don't work. They don't take into consideration the developmental needs of children and don't provide for the rights of children and mothers to live lives free of violence and coercion.
The murder of Darcy Freeman by her father during a "visit" has been discussed here before. But that dad was hardly the only violent Australian father who was still allowed access after a separation or divorce, only to neglect, injure, or murder the children. Check out the "Australia" tab for more examples.
Change to child custody laws will make access harder for fathers
From: The Australian January 13, 2010 12:00AM
One of the most contentious areas of the law has been the way it has been interpreted in cases where the children are under the age of two.
THE Rudd government is preparing changes to the controversial shared parenting laws, to make it harder for separated fathers to argue for a 50-50 time split if their children are under the age of two.
The changes will come after the Attorney-General's Department releases a massive report on child custody for public discussion, probably in the first week of next month.
The report, by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, is believed to be 1200 pages long, with a 30-page executive summary.
It was compiled with input from 28,000 people, making it one of the largest public consultation documents produced in Australia.
Contributors include parents, lawyers, judges, psychologists and others who work at the coalface of family law.
The report was designed to examine changes to the Family Law Act (1975) enacted during the final term of the Howard government.
The Australian understands that the report highlights significant problems with the Howard government's law but, given that it is an election year, and that any changes would be interpreted as a roll-back of the shared parenting law, and therefore would certainly ignite the ire of men's rights groups, no changes are likely to go before parliament before first being referred to a committee, for another long examination.
The report was delivered to Attorney-General Robert McClelland shortly before Christmas, as was a report by retired Family Court judge Richard Chisholm on domestic violence.
It covers a huge number of topics, including whether changes to the Family Law Act introduced by the Howard government have made it more difficult for women to raise allegations of violence in the Family Court, and whether the changes have made it more difficult for women to relocate with their children after divorce. In both cases, the consensus is yes.
The section on violence was strongly influenced by the death of three-year-old Darcey Freeman, who was thrown from Melbourne's West Gate Bridge last year, allegedly by her father.
The shared parenting law suggests only that children have a right to a "meaningful relationship" with both parents after divorce, and that equal time with both parents ought to be considered.
There have been cases where breast-feeding babies have been shuttled between parents at times set by the court, and of babies woken from naps for court-appointed contact with their other parent.
Several experts argue that such arrangements cannot be in the best interests of the child.
Violence against women takes centre stage, in part because the issue is important to many women in the Rudd cabinet. One of the authors of the report, Rae Kaspiew, was in September appointed by the Prime Minister to the new Violence against Women Advisory Group.