Injustice in the Courts & Child-Support Agencies
The courts and child-support agencies are part of the problem
As noted in the previous page, the problems of parental alienation have been worsened by a combination of professional ignorance and deliberate denial by feminists (even though many Mums as well as Dads get alienated). Moreover – as the film "Erasing Dads" illustrates (now followed by "Erasing Family") – many Family Courts around the world are also complicit in overlooking & facilitating parental alienation (although of course the industry claims otherwise) – largely through a combination of ignorance, laziness/indifference and costly, protracted, self-serving inefficient processes (designed to generate work for lawyers). Even in jurisdictions that legally support shared parenting, such as Denmark, when cases become highly adversarial, timid courts often still award full custody to the mother even when she is the abusive, alienating parent. The situation may also be worsened by the prejudices against men held by health, education & other social services, including ignorant, unsupportive schools who rely on good communication between parents and don't appreciate the obstacles alienated parents face to being informed about issues affecting their child, and wrongly shut out Dads from such information.
But until recently there has been little interest from governments in the issue, as was highlighted by the minimal attendance at a first-ever "debate" on parental alienation in the UK parliament (15 March 2017), although CaFCAS in the UK is now finally starting to act on the problem, as is Italy. Here's a video by Bob Geldof about the injustices faced by fathers from the moment they're pushed out the family home, and here's another video of a girl describing how the system failed her & her Dad. Even ex-wives agree that men get a raw deal on child access in UK courts.
In much of this policy debate, a key concern is the use of false DV allegations as a vindictive weapon against former partners and/or as a means to gain an upper hand in financial/property divorce negotiations and to benefit from the Child-Support obligations that arise from custody arrangements - a tactic that 70-90% of Australian judges agree is often used (see also here & here), as does this US feminist lawyer and this US psychologist and this Australian lawyer experienced in criminal & family law (and also another Australian lawyer who discusses some examples in this video). A 2020 survey representative of the U.S. adult population found 8% of Americans (11% of men, 6% of women) report being falsely accused of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, or other forms of abuse, with 62% of false accusers being female and false accusations being 50% more common for people with incomes under $40k (12% vs 8%). Often — in 27% of cases — the false allegation was made during a child custody dispute. The 2023 survey reports an increase to 10% of Americans experiencing false accusations (13% of males and 8% of females, with 31% of false accusations made as part of a child custody dispute). Other US research has found that 3% of males have had their partners threaten to make false accusations, with such accusations actually being made for 1%, but for those men who had experienced female-perpetrated violence, 73% were subjected to such threats, with false accusations actually being made for 56% of them. For comparison, rape accusations are generally said to be false in at least 2-10% of cases (see prior page).
When the Queensland Police Union stated that false allegations of domestic violence are regularly used to gain advantage in family law disputes, feminists from DV organisations claimed this was ‘factually incorrect’, but an executive from the Union reaffirmed the problem, saying domestic violence laws were "unworkable", which other police officers supported in comments on his Facebook post such as, “I have heard countless women in my career advise other women, ‘Just say he raped you or bashes you and the kids. It works every time’”, and this:
"I literally had a woman attend the front counter of a station and the first words out of her mouth were ‘I’ve been told to come and get a DVO against my boyfriend because it’ll stop him from getting custody of the kids’. The system is broken and the legislation appears to be written by someone I wouldn’t trust to tie their own shoes. The people that genuinely need protection can’t or won’t get it and the people who vexatiously complain, get zero punishment."
Discussing these issues with regards to domestic violence & sexual assault investigations and the misuse of DVOs/AVOs (Domestic/Apprehended Violence Orders), former NSW police officer, Evelyn Rae, says that from her 12 years of experience, more than half of accusations are false or inaccurate/misleading/lacking evidence, and that those still in the police force tell her that when they attend violent homes, most often it’s the women who are instigators, but "men are copping it because of their physicality” (which is consistent with DV research and means women are more likely to be injured and hence men are inevitably the ones charged, even when the woman started the fight).
For life in general, four in five women (but only two out of five men) tell lies on a daily basis, with only about half (55%) of these lies excused by a motive to ‘make someone feel better’ (from an evolutionary perspective, women have obviously learnt to be more dishonest and manipulative in order to get what they want because in any physical battle against men they will usually lose). For example, a 2001 survey revealed that 42% of women would lie about using contraception in order to get pregnant in spite of their partners’ wishes. Even ladies lie.
Not surprisingly then, lies of all kinds are also common in the Family Court, with Australian research suggesting one in five accusations about child sexual abuse may be made out of malice. In the UK, claims of abuse jumped 300% (contrary to recorded crime) in the year after legal aid was made available only for accusers and not defendants - making fathers presumed guilty and pushed out of their children’s lives unless & until they can prove their innocence through a long and costly self-funded case against a mother effectively bankrolled by the state (as they are also in Australia through a wide range of handouts for women who only need to claim they are a victim). Some women even inflict injuries on themselves in order to frame their partner (see also the video of this case). And while some feminists say women should always be believed, others actively encourage false allegations in order to "destroy a man".
So given former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, after being appointed as the new Chair of Beyond Blue in 2017, has given priority to the issue of suicide, I'm glad she admits she still has much to learn (although it still showed in a speech she made in mid 2018, in which she amazingly managed to talk about suicide without acknowledging the disproportionate impact on men). A first step should be to understand the impact of her past policies whilst PM - particularly the 2011 Family Law amendments, which "effectively dismantled Australia’s popular and broadly successful shared parenting laws and replaced them with what is largely perceived to be anti-male, anti-fatherhood policies". See this program showing the despair of Dads relegated to a default of 20% time (if they're lucky), or just one weekend a fortnight, and the disdain shown for them by Kathleen Swinbourne, President of the Sole Parents Union.
On the face of it, these law changes understandably prioritised DV considerations over equal parenting, but since protections against DV were already in law and the changes removed penalties for perjurous DV accusations, it is arguable that Gillard's changes were actually a malicious "Trojan horse" to attack father's rights (even idiotic conspiracy theorists can be right sometimes!), especially given her uncritical support for Australia's most toxic, abusive and divisive man-hating feminist, Clementine Ford. In post-separation parenting disputes over the subsequent period 2012 to 2019, research shows family court judges determined that only 12 % of the child sexual abuse allegations involved in contested cases were found to be true and pose a risk of harm, whilst half of these allegations were considered "genuine but mistaken" and another quarter judged deliberately misleading (twice as common as true allegations). However, if false allegations are not proven false, they still unfairly influence family court decisions (because "mud sticks"). Moreover, even in a case where a man was sent to jail despite video proof that the rape allegations were false, prosecutors & "police officers are told never to take action against a woman caught out making false violence or rape allegations, lest punishment of false accusers deters genuine victims from coming forward".
A failing DVO/AVO system
It may be a case of "unintended consequences" from well-intentioned reforms (noting that perjury had never been "prosecuted or even investigated" anyway), but whatever the intention, the result has been widespread misuse of Restraining Orders / Apprehended / Domestic Violence Orders (ROs/AVOs/DVOs) in Australia and the UK, based on false accusations or trivial incidents (e.g. so-called "yelling AVOs", where the woman expresses fear just from being shouted at), which, as this policeman acknowledges, enable women to easily gain unwarranted, heavy restrictions on the father's access to his children, apparently because the police & courts seem to hold the view that her right to 'protection' outweighs the father & children's right to a fair process that would enable allegations to be contested in a timely & affordable manner (which is largely denied in practice).
Commonly ("half the time" according to the NSW Chief Magistrate, telling the Family Law Inquiry on 13/3/20) – even when there is little evidence of genuine risk or justification for an AVO – fathers are advised to (& do) accept the AVO "without admission" (of guilt) and then focus on their family court case – which is logical because if they don't consent the court makes an interim AVO anyway and then the poor guy has to come back and go through the time and cost of contesting it, quite likely to no avail anyway because the courts tend to discount the negative impacts of unnecessary AVOs and order them anyway as a "precaution" ("covering their arses") – often based on uncorroborated evidence/accusations and a judgement that's at best on the "balance of probabilities". Further, despite being accepted "without admission", these unwarranted AVOs can still unfairly affect the father's family court case (read this typical experience) as well as restricting the father's time with his children and/or forcing him to use expensive and often biased & humiliating "supervised access" (even if prior conflict triggering the AVO was confined to the adults). Far from reducing the risks of violence, such unjust, restrictive orders can provoke frustrated reactions and desperate attempts by fathers to get around them – leading all too often to spiralling tragedies of alcohol abuse, violence, imprisonment for breaking an AVO (sometimes for trivial transgressions like even sending a polite text message), unemployment and suicide, along with all the negative social & economic consequences that these outcomes have over the long-term for the affected children, their children & broader society.
Nevertheless, since the law can't ever possibly decree what's best in all the different circumstances of cases that come to court (which is why we have judges!), the problem is really these laws in combination with the courts' failure to demand sufficient evidence of DV allegations or to fully comprehend the psychological damage that parental alienation does to children & fathers. Notably, feminists who oppose a legal "presumption" or default position of equal, shared parenting – because they don't trust the courts to properly assess whether it's appropriate in some cases - seem to think the courts always make AVOs based on good evidence (or if anything, don't order enough AVOs). Yet all too often the deck is stacked against fathers in the family court as well, where under the cover of court secrecy rules, "sub-standard"/incompetent & "biased" (or even corrupt/abusive) psychologists exploit desperate parents with extortionate fees to write so-called "expert reports" (which lack regulation to assure genuine expertise) for ignorant & lazy judges, but fail to properly assess evidence as they support sick, abusive mothers maintaining child custody (leaving many men without a relationship with their children on the basis of unproven accusations). Without adequate expertise, court judgments may also be influenced by superficial acceptance of the expressed views of manipulated children saying they don't want to see their alienated Dad (or Mum), even though there's no apparent or genuine reason for this. A child in this situation is totally dependent on a controlling and abusive parent and will be too scared and confused to hardly know what they think, let alone feel safe enough to speak freely, so if you ask them, all you get is a lie that is just the view of the abusive parent. On the other hand, if there's no abuse, any child with two genuinely loving parents will always want to see them both, and asking them to choose is itself child abuse.
In short, by trying to respond to every DV complaint, yet without devoting the resources to properly investigate and manage each case, current DVO/AVO systems are exploited by those who shouldn't seek them and mainly just used for arse-covering by the police and courts – to look like they're doing something to help when they're actually doing the opposite and just generating a huge amount of pointless (or damaging) legal activity that overwhelms the so-called "justice" system and leaves it unable to properly help those in most need.
The dysfunctional court system effectively enables controlling abusers
In general there seems to be considerable evidence of family court bias against men (especially for fathers seeking access to children under three), as well as in criminal courts, where in the US, men receive 63% longer prison sentences than women for the same crime (see full paper here via here), whilst "females arrested for a crime are also significantly more likely to avoid charges and convictions entirely, and twice as likely to avoid incarceration if convicted". Similar findings are seen in Australia, even after allowing for factors such as criminal history and the number of charges faced (although more of such analysis is warranted), whilst in Canada, mothers who kill their children are more likely to be deemed mentally ill and receive shorter sentences. Other research indicates that "increasing the proportion of female judges decreases the sex disparity" in sentencing, which is interpreted as "evidence of a paternalistic bias among male judges that favors female offenders". Meanwhile, women war criminals escape punishment by blaming men around them, but campaigners for "Women's Justice" want even female serial-killers to be able to stay in "homely" community centres close to their families, and all female prisons to be converted for men (apparently because women make up just 7% of the prison population they are "disproportionately affected by a system designed for men" - are there no logical contortions too great to prevent feminists claiming victim status?!).
And yet the biggest problem with the courts isn't simply just the active bias against men, but rather judges' refusal to take decisive and early action against abusive & controlling parents (of whatever gender), especially before a "final hearing" of all evidence, which the overwhelming majority of people (over 70% - see Fig. 3.3 on p.23 here) cannot afford the years of waiting, emotional torture and $100k+ to get to (most people - if they don't suicide - have to give up earlier and accept a "voluntary" agreement with whatever crumbs the controlling parent offers). With these obstacles to justice, plus the court's secrecy rules that mainly just protect abusers, the courts effectively hand power to the most controlling parent - who inevitably has primary or total custody of the child (most commonly the mother) - enabling the abusive parent to brainwash and alienate the child from the deprived parent who is waiting in vain for court action (a typical example is described here). Thus the courts stymie early, effective action that would be in the interests of children through their own painstakingly slow, bureaucratic & self-serving make-work rules & processes. Voluntary mediation in this situation is futile, and only gives more control & delaying power to the abuser. All too often, by the time the case actually gets to a final hearing, the child will be too alienated (or have become an adult) and the judge will declare it too late to act (e.g. see here).
Courts also commonly fail to sanction parents for breaching child access orders (e.g. in Australia, the UK & Ireland) and almost never imprison alienators (on the dubious basis that this wouldn't be in the "best interests of the child"), who therefore can disregard court orders and/or commit perjury with impunity. In the UK, a mere 1.2% of the 4,654 enforcement applications were successful in 2015. In Italy, alienating parents can be fined, whereas in Mexico, guilty adults can be given a 15-year jail term. Naturally, judges should apply penalties that fit each case, but they could start with a few nights in jail, then a week or two (if perpetrators fail to obey court orders), which would give the alienated parent some much-missed time with their children and give the alienator something to think about - because only if there are serious consequences will the perpetrators stop! And of course it's also important for others to see that there are consequences for child abuse, in order for the law to effectively act as a wider deterrent.
But whilst the law needs to enable tough action when necessary, even more important is for courts to apply the law with efficiency, speed and good judgement (based on sound evidence), with strong court-system monitoring and accountability mechanisms to promote this. Some lessons for immediate improvements can be adopted from the positive changes achieved by the courts in Israel. However, with a rising epidemic of Australian suicides (see here) driven substantially by the continued trampling of men's legal rights (under pressure from dishonest DV claims pushed by immoral lawyers & the well-funded feminist "DV industry"), there is now urgent need for drastic reform of our dysfunctional courts to achieve this.
Yet every attempt at meaningful reform is resisted by the self-serving legal profession, on the basis of claimed 'expertise' that any victim of the system knows is a sham - as these 23 professional Dads write in this 2018 submission to the Australian Parliament (#115 here), in which they say, "Family lawyers turned a blind eye - it was just all so profitable. No hard questions were ever asked... shrinks... were minting it at $35,000 for reports that were constantly identical and vacuous. There was no good faith error. This was about profitability", and conclude, "family lawyers are at very best inept, at worst predatory... The Family Court has zero expertise and needs to be closed down. Ask the judges that you make redundant to issue a public apology to the children whose lives they ruined as they exit the building". After that Inquiry also failed to deliver any reforms, the latest Family Court & Child Support Inquiry in 2020 has at least now formally documented some of the horrors of what people experience, which hopefully will finally create enough pressure for radical court reforms as I propose here.
"Child Support" is crushing Dads
As submissions to that latest Inquiry note, the so-called "Child-Support" Agency (CSA) also encourages parental alienation by rewarding mothers (typically) with extra payments from the father if she can reduce his time with the children. Prescriptive regulation of Australian CSA operations shows a great example of grossly inefficient, process-driven bureaucracy & siloed operations trumping flexible, family-focussed services (probably less flexible & certainly less efficient than this, and the opposite of current reform directions for human services). It creates all the wrong incentives for those willing to exploit the system, especially mothers blocking children's access to Dads.
But as this comment on Facebook reveals, the CSA actively encourages the gouging of Dads and then washes its bloody hands of all responsibility for child welfare & men's suicide (contravening Australia's obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which should be legally enforced) with the wilful delusion that the dysfunctional Family Court will resolve disputes - which is especially ironic given that the original rationale for establishing the CSA, as stated in legislation, was to avoid the inefficiency of court proceedings. And despite this rigid approach, it still incurs a staggering net administration cost of over $1.6bn p.a., which is one third of payments made! The Australian "Dad" documentary provides first-hand accounts of how the Family Courts & CSA destroy lives, including how CSA officers receive bonuses for extracting more money from Dads, ultimately leading to 18% of male suicides, or at least one male suicide every week (see next page).
In the UK, 21% of male suicides are attributed to the revenue-focussed Child Support/Maintenance Service (see more via here), which denies links to suicide despite there being over 1,000 excess deaths p.a. within the paying parent population (≈3⁄4 being fathers), with 93% of these parents being in arrears (12% of all CMS payees) - a group with a mortality rate 14x the national rate.
So it was heartening in 2016 to see that the Australian CSA was being investigated, although sadly nothing seems to have come of it. Meanwhile in the UK, 77% of people (mostly fathers) paying child support/maintenance don't have any regular nights with their children, and another 14% only get one night a week (compare Table 6 to totals in Table 5 here). The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts report of 22 June 2022 says:
'More than two-thirds of Paying Parents on Collect & Pay and over a quarter of those on Direct Pay say the payments are not affordable,
Some Paying Parents face a poverty trap where there is little incentive for them to work more, and
In addition, some paying parents simply cannot afford maintenance payments, meaning enforcement is unlikely to result in any more maintenance actually being paid'.
It concludes that, ‘Ten years after reforms designed to improve child maintenance, the Department for Work & Pensions is achieving no more for children of separated families than under the previous, discredited Child Support Agency (CSA)’.
Hopefully if reform can start in the UK or Australia, it will then trigger the same worldwide for an industry that has become more concerned with money than child welfare - reflected so starkly (though not in isolation) when the US system makes it a higher priority to consider a claim for "child support" from Angelina Jolie, who is worth $170 million, rather than stopping her from blocking her children's access to their Dad, Brad Pitt (a battle that extended for two years before any meaningful court orders were made to ensure at least some contact with the father prior to a full court hearing on custody that didn't start until 4 years after their divorce, before eventually granting joint custody after nearly 5 years). And though this case may be extreme in financial magnitude, every year the US system is sending thousands of men into poverty and then jailing them for not paying child support they can't afford (accounting for about 1-in-7 of inmates in South Carolina, with 98% of them not legally represented but imprisoned for an average of 3 months after a "hearing" lasting little more than 3 minutes). Over 95% of those imprisoned are men, with women in arrears being eight times less likely to be incarcerated. A 2007 study (reported here) found 70% of child-support debtors across the nine top largest US states were making less than $10,000 a year, yet courts were expecting them to pay 83% of their yearly incomes in child support. And in 2018, 1.6 million men in the US were paying child support for children that weren’t even theirs, whilst the film "Erasing Family" reports on parents financially coerced into giving up their children through court-sanctioned adoption (or rather abduction) by alienating step-parents. The film also reports on how much better the situation is in Sweden, where child-support doesn't depend on parenting time or income and equal parenting is the default (with 60% of divorced families sharing physical custody and only 2% of divorces needing to go to court to resolve it).
Considered alongside the many other injustices of the courts, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that these poorly-accountable and grossly-inefficient systems (at least in Anglo countries) are little more than corrupt.
But with an improved justice system that promotes shared parenting, the so-called 'gender pay-gap' would be narrowed and the costs of raising children would be largely shared automatically, so there should be no need for current "child support" bureaucracies other than perhaps to facilitate a standard basic/minimum level, with anything further determined by a single, efficient & family-focussed dispute-resolution body when it also addresses custody issues, taking account of the specific circumstances in each case - which again requires a radically reformed court system. In most cases, child-support payments could then be efficiently collected by the tax office and deposited into a trust account for the child, along with any eligible welfare payments, from which any spending would require an explanation (entered online) and agreement by both parents (with agreement taken by default unless objections are raised).