During the past decade, the Australian court system, by means of the Family Law Act of 2006, has supported joint custody as an important way of maintaining family life after divorce. The Act, which surveys in Australia have shown has high levels of support among Australians, presumes that joint custody is the arrangement that works best for both children and parents, and establishes shared parenting as the norm for post-separation custody arrangements.
Recently, an organized movement, formed mainly by government bureaucrats, feminist extremist and the family law industry itself, has opposed these advancements and has requested changes to family law, changes that in practice would bring Australian family law to the previous anti shared parenting policies. This movement argues that the current shared parenting laws put children in harms way, using as example several recent cases on which children have been murdered during visitation time with their fathers.
Several issues have to be discussed here. First, as recent horrendous cases have tragically proved, violence and filicide are not the exclusive realm of fathers. There are violent fathers, but there are many violent mothers too. Second, if the current law has loopholes through which inadequate parents have contact with their children, those loopholes should be corrected without removing the shared parenting concept, as the anti joint custody movement is requesting right now. Being the proved best option for children of divorced parents, shared parenting should be protected always. If we follow the logic of the anti joint custody movement, we would abolish marriage because many married women have been killed by their husbands. Of course, we should not, because marriage, as joint custody, has proved that its benefits for the whole society are far more numerous and important than its setbacks.
This type of step backwards is not new in history. In New Jersey, women were granted the right to vote in 1776, bust they lost it again in 1807, when the right was restricted to white males only, with the excuse of avoiding electoral fraud and simplifying the electoral process. As long as a right is not accepted as right but as a concession, there will be always a chance the forces against it would find a way to take it away.
The case of the Australian Family Law Act proves something important for the shared parenting movement. Having a pro joint custody legislation approved is not, I repeat, is not end of the road. It is just the beginning. Once a country has a good family law, we should stay vigilant, knowing that a law that is not enforced is dead, and that many retrograde forces will try to move back to the previous regime.
Sadly, many people like to live in the past.
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PRO-JOINT CUSTODY ORGANIZATIONS
- Asociación Española Multidisciplinar de Investigación sobre Interferencias Parentales (ASEMIP)
- Canadian Equal Parenting Council
- Center for Parental Responsibility
- Children's Rights Council
- Grandparents Rights Organization
- Joint Custody Association of Norway
- Kids Need 2 Parents
- National Parents Organization
- Padres y Madres en Acción
- Parental Alienation Awareness Organization
- Plataforma por la Custodia Compartida
FATHER'S RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS
- American Coalition for Fathers and Children
- Amor de Papá
- Asociación Catalana de Padres Separados
- Dads America
- Dads4Kids: Fatherhood Foundation
- Fathers 4 Justice
- Glenn Sacks
- Great Dad
- Illinois Fathers
- Louisiana Dads
- Padres de la Guarda
- The Fatherhood Educational Institute
- The National Fathers Resource Center