Friday, May 27, 2011

One in five single moms "live in fear" (Queensland, Australia)

Once again, we see the mounting evidence on how mandatory "shared parenting" has put mothers and children and risk. And yet, with cocksure ignorance of this evidence, courts around the world continue to push for this. Ridiculous.

One in five single parents 'live in fear'
Marissa Calligeros
May 25, 2011

A Gold Coast mother-of-two killed by her controlling ex-partner was among 20 per cent of Australian parents fearful for their safety and that of their children's following a separation.

Research by the Australian Institute of Families released today revealed one in five parents described their relationship with their former partner or spouse as "highly conflictual".

The same number reported having safety concerns for themselves or their child as a result of ongoing contact with the other parent post separation.

And most parents who report a recent experience of being harmed physically by their ex-partner said their children witnessed the violence or abuse.

The figures come less than one week after a Paul Rogers killed his ex-partner Tania Simpson and their five-year-old daughter Kyla, eight months after the couple separated.

The former couple were in the midst of a custody dispute after Ms Simpson left the relationship for a "fresh start" close to her parents in Robina.

"Respondents' safety concerns tended to relate to their child's other parent — a trend that was most marked for mothers," the report says.

"Nevertheless, where the mother was known to have re-partnered, fathers were almost as likely to see this new partner, as much as the mother herself, as a source of their safety concerns."

Jill McKay, manager of Othila's Young Women's Support Service in Brisbane, which supports women on the verge of homelessness as a result of domestic violence, said a majority of mothers seeking support lived in fear of an ex-partner.

"Of the young women presenting to us with children, 95 per cent have experienced violence in their most recent relationship and are fearful for their children's safety," she said.

Ms McKay said legislation introduced by the Howard government that mandated children have access to both parents after divorce or separation "strikes a lot of fear in women".
"The move towards 50/50 shared care has really put women, who have already experienced trauma, into a position of having to potentially leave their children with a violent partner," she said.

"Our [community] has this perception that the perfect family and the healthiest family is one where mum and dad are involved in their children's care ...

"But when there are safety risks associated with that mum's stress levels and that of the children's increase and that actually has a detrimental effect."

The report, Parenting dynamics after separation, examined the behaviour and experiences of more than 7000 parents from families that separated since 2006, when the law was changed to include shared custody requirements.

The release of the report comes as the government today begins debate on new legislation asking the Family Court to consider family violence before granting custody to both parents.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the government would use the research to boost its case for reform in the family law system under the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill.

“The bill continues to promote a child's right to a meaningful relationship with both parents, but with one key difference – it emphasises that the child's safety must come first in situations where there is conflict," he said.

The research was carried out in two phases and the results compared what parents reported from the first survey to the second, on average 28 months after separation.

The study found less parents in the second phase (49 per cent compared to 60 per cent in the first phase) were able to discuss custody arrangements, while more parents (11 per cent compared to five per cent in the first phase) relied on the courts to decide upon custody.

Mr McClelland said the results showed law reform was needed to decrease the prevalence of inter-parental conflict, fear and abuse post separation.