Equal parenting rights and responsibilities for the caring of children after a separation.

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Separated parents in Australia do not have equal, shared parenting rights. Many parents (especially fathers) have to justify their rights to be a parent to their children after a relationship breakdown between both parents. Why does the law not recognise that both parents deserve equal rights to care for their children whom they both love, raised and want nothing more but to continue to be in their lives? It is in the children’s best interests that they have BOTH a regular father and a mother in their lives.

I am reaching out to see how many of you out there support the concept of equal parenting after separation. There are a lot of advocates for 50/50 parenting. Just look at Fathers4Equality-australia.org, for example. Let this be known - I don’t want this to be a women hating thing at all. I want this to be liberating for the entire family structure - for the father, the mother and definitely for the children involved. The laws in Australia implicate the mother to be the sole carer/decision maker of the children involved after a separation, until an agreement, ruling or mediation specifies otherwise. This can make it difficult for a father to have any say in when he can see his children or have any impact on their development needs, such as schooling or extra-curricular activities, if mutual agreement cannot be reached early on. Separation is a time where wounds are raw and emotions are flaring. This imbalance of control over the children builds conflict, animosity and gives opportunity for malice. This puts unnecessary stress on the parents, the legal system (and therefore finances) and, most seriously, the children themselves. I am advocating for a 50%:50% ruling between the parents on the care for children, immediately after separation. As a start it should be something like one week on, one week off for school age children, or something more regular for younger children, unless other arrangements can be made by mutual agreement. Where there is major conflict involved, the legal system is available to deal with this. We should not have to inundate the legal system for a regular parent to have regular access to their children. This will remove imbalance of control or power and therefore decrease the tension between the parents, which can also help diffuse emotions between the parties and maybe even allow quicker focus on a resolution process. Think about it. It’s like the ruling “if your car is rear-ended by someone’s car, they are automatically liable”. That immediately diffuses any conflict over fault or what the other person was doing (eg. “”you stopped too quickly” etc). Relationships involving substance abuse or violence can and should be dealt with with intervention orders and Family Courts. That is what the Courts are there for. They are not there to ensue rulings amongst two law abiding, caring parents who just cannot get along or communicate with each other. Remember – this is not about women hating but about stopping further conflict and even further violence perpetrated from parents who are just frustrated with arrangements and dealing with each other after a separation.

So now I have your attention, hopefully. But it doesn’t stop here. I want to push my luck and quickly discuss Child Support Payments also. I have no issue being responsible for the well-being and development of my children post separation. But that’s exactly it. Payments should be related directly to the development of the children involved. I am seeing excessive payments made to the sole-caring party but they are not necessarily being used for the development of the children. They are kept as an additional income for the household and there is no enforcement as to whether the children even receive any development with that money or not. So here is my second proposal. Child support should also be 50%/50% (but income assessed and loaded) purely for the development costs of the children, regardless of the amount of care for each parent. Sounds harsh? Not really. You will find that, really, every party benefits from this. Firstly, it takes away the stress of stopping the other parent from seeing the children, because it is not based on how many nights your children spend with you (which is just ridiculous in itself). Secondly it encourages both parties to discuss and agree on developing the children at good schools and extra-curricular activities because the costs of these are split (based on receipts). This should include books, uniforms, instruments, sport uniforms etc, but not useless calculations currently made by the CSA like “room space in the house they live in, food, bills etc”. Both parents have the responsibility to care for their children. So the children benefit because their development needs are highlighted, and one party doesn’t pocket the child support but leave little focus on the children. Lastly, the 50:50 split is based on income so the heavy load does not fall equally on a low income earner. Remember – the children are both parents’ responsibility and that should not change after separation. Each party knows exactly where their money is going. For the parent who does not want anything to do with their children, they are still paying for their development.

So that’s it. That is my fight to the Australian Federal and Family Courts of Law. I intend to forward a petition to have changes made to the legal system to give both parents equal rights to caring and paying for their children and be responsible for their overall development.

So now I am asking for YOUR assistance. Firstly, please sign this petition for change. Secondly, forward to everyone you know so they can like it too. The more signatures and forwards, the more we can make this a reality.

Let’s be all about PARENT LIBERATION and make a difficult time like separation all about the children.