Friday, May 27, 2011

Abuse claims "rarely used as court weapons" (Sydney, Australia)

The fathers rights people have long promoted the myth that mothers are involved in the wholesale manufacturing of abuse claims. This lie should have been put to rest years ago. But unfortunately, the lies still live, are still being promoted, and are still being used to put women and children in danger. If anything, mothers underreport or minimize abuse.
Abuse claims 'rarely used as court weapon'
Adele Horin
May 27, 2011

"Claims that abuse allegations are manufactured are bogus" ... Kate Ellis, Minister for the Status of Women.

THE Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis, has criticised individuals and groups who claim that separated mothers routinely made false allegations of violence and child abuse to gain tactical advantage in family law disputes.

Speaking yesterday in a debate on the introduction of a new family law bill, Ms Ellis said it was of concern that these groups were gaining increasing prominence and respectability.

''We are hearing their arguments repeated across the nation and indeed in the Parliament and … they are distorting domestic family violence figures, spreading misinformation and propagating the view that family violence and child abuse claims are fabricated during custody proceedings,'' she said.

Advertisement: Story continues below Ms Ellis said of even more concern was that ''this spurious view'' seemed to have got some following in the community, with a survey by VicHealth showing 46 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that women going through custody battles often made up claims of domestic violence to improve their case.

Ms Ellis said research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found the rates of family violence allegation in custody proceedings in the Family Court or the Federal Magistrates Court were similar to the reported rates of spousal violence in the general divorcing population.

''In short, claims that abuse allegations are manufactured are bogus and unsupported by any respectable form of evidence,'' she said.

The opposition has introduced proposed amendments to key parts of the government's Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill, indicating a battle ahead for passage of the long-mooted reforms.

A spokesman for the shadow attorney-general, Senator George Brandis, said the opposition would not support removal of the ''friendly parent'' provision from the act.

The government says the provision deters women from reporting violence in case they are deemed unwilling to foster the parent-child relationship.

As well, the opposition wants mandatory cost orders to be retained as a deterrent to people lying to the court. The government says the provision also deters some people from reporting violence in case they are not believed and have costs awarded against them.

The opposition also wants the word ''reasonable'' to describe a person's fear of violence retained. ''It is not too much for the fear to be reasonably held,'' the spokesman said.

The opposition supports the government's proposed new wording to give greater priority to children's safety over their having a meaningful relationship with the other parent.