DIVORCE: KIDS CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
Sunday, May 20 from 9am-11am
This week, SUNDAY presents a forum on divorce – an issue which affects more than 40 per cent of Australian marriages.
Host Ellen Fanning moderates a discussion featuring Federal Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock, experts in family law, and those caught up in the system who dissect the changes to the Family Law systems which promises shared custody of children for warring parents.
In 1975, the Family Law Act was introduced and following that a growing number of fathers weren’t happy spending every second weekend and half the school holidays with their children. They are hands-on dads, who changed nappies and took an active role in their kids’ lives and expected that to continue after the separation. But for thousands of men, it never happened.
Men’s groups such as Dads in Distress were formed, and began lobbying the Federal Government for changes to the Family Law Act.
New legislation was introduced last July which compels the courts to consider letting children spend equal time with both parents after separation. At the very least, fathers should be able to spend significant time with their kids unless the court has good reason to prevent this, such as violence or abuse.
The Child Support system has been overhauled to enforce payments to primary carers – usually mums – while generally relieving the often crippling financial burden on the non-residential parent – usually dads.
There’s also a strong emphasis on keeping families out of court. From July this year, any separating couple must attend mediation sessions before applying to the Family Courts. It’s these new changes which the Federal Government hopes will enable separated families to live happily.