Make the Australian family law system inquisitorial instead of adversarial

Make the Australian family law system inquisitorial instead of adversarial

11 April 2022
Signatures: 23Next goal: 25
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Why this petition matters

Started by Kate Godyn

Do you know?
If you knew, would you change it?

Do you know that children from a relationship of family violence are very often court ordered into the hands of their abuser?
Do you know that children who have been sexually assaulted by a parent are often court ordered into the hands of their assaulter?
Do you know that often in these scenarios the children’s time, and even communication, with their protective parent is limited or removed altogether?

The family law system is a failure. The current system is perfectly designed to facilitate coercive control and traumatises already damaged children.

Making the family law system adversarial, particularly parenting proceedings, was a critical mistake. It supports our children being used as pawns in a fight to punish a victim who dared to escape family violence.

The family law system does not afford Australian children the human rights they apparently have but cannot enforce.

The Australian government has had so many opportunities to fix this broken system. Inquiries and commissions and any number of reports with large numbers of recommendations remain unactioned.

There has been so many opportunities to improve the system. So much information highlights the harm being done to children and suggests the government has been negligent in not protecting our children. 

Yet our children continue to be harmed. Every single day. 

Every day wasted sacrifices more Australian children.

We lead the world in many things so of course, on balance, our system must be doing the right thing for our children. So why do we have these horror stories which are only partially told that hide a much deeper crisis? 

The Australian Family Law system is hurting our children.

Not just for a little while – ‘just’ those few years where their development into human beings really occurs – but creating life-long trauma and changing their path in life and who they ultimately become.

Who they become is our country’s future – what we are creating for our families and their families.

Parenting proceedings in our family law courts are adversarial and bound by stringent rules on how to provide evidence. They allow one parent to make unlimited, baseless allegations over many years that cannot be refuted until the final hearing. Yet they enable changes of care in the meantime based on those unfounded allegations. The important thing – the welfare of our children – is secondary to the rules of evidence.

Essentially this system makes significant changes to kids’ lives based on what may well amount to lies.

If you think about it, the only children that become the subject of lengthy parenting proceedings are those from a relationship with a power imbalance – where one parent used the relationship as a weapon and then is offered the opportunity to use the proceedings as a replacement weapon.

Children should never be pawns in a battle, yet that is what our system facilitates.

How to fix it
There are simple fixes that could be made immediately, that would put our children first and the adults with all the coping skills squarely where they belong – with responsibilities toward their children instead of rights over them.

  • Transform an adversarial process into an administrative process to take away the opportunity for a party to use the proceedings as a weapon.
  • Wherever family violence exists or other criminal acts on or witnessed by children, the children’s wishes are followed immediately. Ensure the offending parent cannot force them to interact against their wishes. Any interaction to occur with the guidance of independent mental health practitioners focused only on what is best for the child. 
  • Rules of evidence varied to allow parties to provide a fair representation. For example, relying on lawyers and judges interpreting a medical practitioner’s clinical notes to come to any conclusion be replaced with requesting the medical practitioner to provide the details.

What are you going to do about it?


Support now
Signatures: 23Next goal: 25
Support now