Family Court


“How are you, what terrors are you going through? Hiding it from the Abuser, the One you ran from, and are now imprisoned in his home..”

A YouTube video with absolutely no sound leaves an impression even more powerful than the mighty roar of a lion… “Silent Child” by Family Court Abuse is a narrative/poem about the pain, grief and fear a parent experiences after their child has been placed in the custody of an abuser by an unjust order of the family court.  As a result of the ruling, the parent has been forced out of the life of their child, and can only speak through the stark black and white images of this silent video. 

The video description reads: “This is about Family Court decisions to seperate children and mothers who are victims of domestic abuse/violence, giving custody to an abusive father, how they are broken and silenced by courtroom tactics, and the painful silent space left in the home of the child and heart of the mother (and child). The lack of training in domestic abuse for Judges and Cafcass is a strong influence on decisions to force children into damaging and traumatic situations with an abuser.

What is portrayed in “Silent Child” is REAL and happening to parents in the United States, U.K. and all over the world…. family courts are awarding custody to abusive or unfit parents at alarming rates, and punishing the parent who is trying to protect the child from harm.

Studies have been conducted on the intersection of family court and domestic violence and revealed a consistent pattern in the court’s failure to protect children from harm by granting custody and/or unsupervised visitation with abusive parents:

** The Committee for Justice for Women studied custody awards in Orange County, North Carolina over a five year period between 1983 and 1987. They reported that: “…in all contested custody cases, 84% of the fathers in the study were granted sole or mandated joint custody. In all cases where sole custody was awarded, fathers were awarded custody in 79% of the cases. In 26% of the cases fathers were either proven or alleged to have physically and sexually abused their children.” Are “Good Enough” Parents Losing Custody to Abusive Ex-Partners? (Leadership Council)

** “Only 10% of children alleging incest are adequately protected from their identified perpetrators by family courts through long-term supervised visitation orders or no-contact orders. The remaining 90% of children disclosing abuse receive no protection, with 70% continuing in shared custody and visitation arrangements without any supervision, and 20% being placed in the custody of the parent they accused of the sexual abuse, and losing unsupervised or all contact with the parent who sought to protect them.” FACT SHEET CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN CUSTODY DISPUTES (Child Abuse Solutions, Inc.)

** “… A history of violence does not stop batterers from obtaining custody. In fact, a history of abuse seems to increase the likelihood that the batterer will seek custody…In one recent study in Massachusetts, fifteen of the forty fathers (approximately 38 percent) who sought custody received sole or joint custody of the children, despite the fact that each and every one of these men were reportLosed to have abused both the mother and the child/children prior to separation and continued to do so after separation..” “One More Battleground: Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and the Batterers’ Relentless Pursuit of their Victims Through the Courts” by Mary Przekop

** “My own survey of the case law in 2001 identified 38 appellate state court decisions concerning custody and domestic violence. The survey found that 36 of the 38 trial courts had awarded joint or sole custody to alleged and adjudicated batterers. Two-thirds of these decisions were reversed on appeal. –  Joan S. Meier, Esq., Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and Child Protection: RATES AT WHICH ACCUSED AND ADJUDICATED BATTERERS RECEIVE SOLE OR JOINT CUSTODY (Compiled by Joan S. Meier, Esq).

The tragic result of family court failures is that children are being abused and have absolutely no avenue for help or legal protection because the abuser is being protected by the legal system (not the child), and the child has become silenced. As parents and professionals we have a responsibility to protect our children.. and when systems fail, it is our responsibility to fight for justice so these silenced children can finally have a voice. 

 

 

 

Why can’t we just drop everything we’ve said?

All I want is a peaceful night in bed… 

Without these bizarre thoughts all runnin’ through my head

Sometimes you make me wish I was dead…

I Know It Is Hard” describes the experience of Domestic Violence by Proxy/Alienation from the broken heart of a teen.

The powerful words of the rap song “I Know It Is Hard” were written and performed by a teen who has been physically alienated from a parent and used as a weapon since the age of 14.

The video was posted online after being sent to a targeted parent in 2012.

 

Cincinnati, Ohio – Model and YouTuber, Natalia Taylor, revealed in a video that she “experience things a child should never experience in life” (she says her father, Rod, did not abuse her, only her mother) and witnessed domestic abuse her father perpetrated against her mother. Natalia also recalls that Rod threatened to kill her mother.

At age 6, her mother divorced Rod due to his severe mental illness and abusive behavior. Natalia says her father “was never willing to get any help, and never willing to let anyone help him“.

During the divorce proceedings, Natalia’s mother begged the courts to protect her child from Rod, and revoke visitation. Natalia herself begged to be kept away from Rod but says her cries for help were ignored,”basically there was no way of getting out of it. I had to have visitation with my dad, the law prevented me from not seeing him.” 

Natalia was traumatized by being forced to visit Rod – she was neglected in his care, and forced to spend time in a home that was filthy and contaminated with fecal matter. Rod continued to exhibit frightening behavior. Several reports were filed with police and caseworkers. She says Rod was “very defiant” and rejected help. It is unclear why visits continued after so many reports or if CPS was ever involved.

After the divorce, Rod kidnaps Natalia from a relative’s home. She said that during her ordeal Rod “terrified” her and demonstrated bizarre behavior due to his schizophrenia. Rod also threatened to kill Natalia and himself. An Amber Alert was issued, the second ever issued in Northwest Ohio.

After 17 hours, Natalia was recovered. Natalia is thankful that she survived. Rod was charged with kidnapping, and held in jail for 6 months, but later found not guilty by a jury. Rod is now thought to be living in Florida, and is homeless.  He is believed to be “highly dangerous” and has a lengthy criminal record and is registered sex offender with active arrest warrants against him. Rod has attempted to contact Natalia and sends her bizarre letters and packages.

Natalia says about speaking publicly about her experiences,”I’ve come to terms with a lot since I’ve talked about it online and it has been a little bit therapeutic and it has changed my mind a little bit on how I see this story…

I guess what it comes down to is that I am not afraid of Rod anymore. Call me stupid, call me naive once again, but I’m not scared of you.

Thank you Natalia for sharing your story and giving voice to so many children who have survived living in abusive or dysfunctional homes, and giving voice to those court ordered into visitation or custody with an abuser. You have raised awareness to the voice of the children, and shown an inspiring example of a survivor. Thank you for sharing this story – you are in my thoughts & prayers.

My second thought – When courts fail to recognize abuse, and minimize or ignore the dangerous behavior or potential risk one parent poses, children are placed in visitation or custody arrangements that endanger their lives – and often cause lasting trauma. This is unacceptable – the priority of the Courts should be to protect children from abuse, and ensure their well-being. 
Read more: Daily Mail: Come and find me – I’m not scared of you!’ Model who was ‘kidnapped’ by her mentally-ill dad dares him to ‘come forward’ after revealing her identity in viral video seen by MILLIONS

 

 

Commentary on Botched 60 Minutes Child Rescue Also Says Alot About Abusive, and Alienating Parents. 

Amy Stockwell’s commentary offers background information about the non-custodial kidnapping of the el-Amien children and offers deeper insight into parents who use children as a pawn in custody disputes. 

“But here’s the thing: Even if you disagree with your ex-partner about how to raise your kids, you don’t get to steal them.

You don’t get to arrange an access visit and keep them.

You do not get to use the misogynistic laws of another country to get around the fact that you’re not entitled to permanent custody of your children.

You do not get to keep your ex-partner in prison in order to get the child custody you want.

You do not own your kids…”

Commentary written by Amy Stockwell: 60 Minutes: Ali el-Amine now has everything he wants. Because this case was all about him.

Abusive and alienating parents will lie, manipulate, triangulate and create havoc because their feelings of entitlement or feelings of being right are placed higher than the well-being of their own children.

Children should NOT be used as a pawn, or as a weapon, to wield against a former partner or to be used to further one parent’s agenda or interests.

BACKGROUND: MOTHER SALLY FAULKNER ATTEMPTS TO RESCUE KIDNAPPED CHILDREN IN LEBANON

Sally Faulkner and Children. Source: News Talk ZB http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz

April 2016: Australian mother, Sally Faulkner, was given sole custody of her two children (6 year old Lahela and 3 year old Noah) by an Australian court. Their Lebanese-born father, Ali el-Amien, took the children to a holiday in his home country and never returned – that is kidnapping. However, Lebanon is not a signatory to The Hague Convention, so it does not have to enforce or acknowledge  the Court’s orders to return the children to Australia.

Ali el-Amien took the children because he was jealous that Faulkner had moved on from their relationship, and was dating another man.

In a desperate attempt to get her children back, Faulkner and a four-member crew from 60 Minutes went to Beirut to attempt to rescue the children, and were arrested in the process.  They faced up to a 20 year sentence in jail.

60 Minutes Team. Clockwise from top left: Tara Brown, David “Tangles” Ballment, Stephen Rice and Ben Williamson. Source: Facebook Source: Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au

Ali el-Amien’s family has strong political connections in Lebanon’s parliament, and was given custody of the children by a religious court.

After being detained, a deal was struck where no criminal charges would be filed if Faulkner were to relinquish custody of the children, and co-operate in obtaining a religious divorce from el-Amien. The deal was struck after a closed-doors meeting between lawyers representing the parties and the judge.

Faulkner was pregnant at the time, likely agreed to the deal in order to save her unborn child. 

Everybody is happy,” said Nine Network lawyer, Kamal Aboudaher. It is hard to imagine a mother being “happy” to lose custody of her children who will be raised in another country by the father who kidnapped them, and now has total control over both the children and is restricting her access to them.

Channel Nine will also pay a financial settlement, of an undisclosed amount, as a settlement to el-Amien to drop his civil claim. News Corp reports the settlement may be as high as several million dollars. el-Amien says he did not receive financial compensation, and he may be willing to allow a visit between the children and their mother at some time in the future; however he will not allow the children to return to Australia because he is afraid they will not come home (the custody order would be enforced).

Faulkner’s legal rights in Australia mean nothing in Lebanon. Faulkner’s Lebanese lawyer Ghassan Moghabghab said El-Amien will get everything he wants because he has the legal rights in Lebanon. 

Faulkner was allowed a short visit with her children before leaving Lebanon. Her daughter gave her mother a Barbie ring “so you won’t forget me”.  Faulkner reports that she is overwhelmed with grief due to the loss of her children, and has not had any contact with them. 

Ali el-Amien admitted that the children ask to return to their mother. 

Read More: 

60 Minutes crew face jail term over attempted child ’rescue’ in Lebanon by Janet Fife-Yeomans

60 Minutes: Sally Faulkner’s estranged husband admits children want to be with mum by Latika Bourke, Ruth Pollard and Suzan Haidamous

Deal struck in 60 Minutes ‘child-abduction’ case by Latika Bourke

The heartbreaking moment Sally Faulkner had to say goodbye to her now estranged children by Holly Byrnes, with staff writers News Corp Australia Network

‘I call this injustice’: Adam Whittington refused bail with three other men accused over 60 Minutes botched child abduction attempt by Daily Mail

The article Fragmented Child: Disorganized Attachment and Dissociation by Robert T. Muller Ph.D describes how abuse can destroy a child’s sense of self, and cause them to seek refuge from a painful reality by dissociating.

The “Fragmented Child” article was very helpful to me to identify many of the symptoms I have seen in my own children; I am sharing a link to this article along with some of my own experiences to raise awareness about the effects of abuse on children. I also feel a purpose in sharing my story to illustrate the devastating impact of family court rulings that place children in the care and custody of an abusive or unfit parent – much of the harm inflicted on my children could have been prevented if the family court had protected them from abuse.

What is Dissociation?

In “Fragmented Child”, Muller describes dissociation and its cause. The “fragmented child” is one who uses dissociation as a defense mechanism to deal with a stressful, traumatic or abusive situation.

Muller says about dissociation,“As a way of coping, dissociation occurs when the brain compartmentalizes traumatic experiences to keep people from feeling too much pain, be it physical, emotional, or both. When dissociation occurs, you experience a detachment from reality, like ‘spacing out.’ Part of you just isn’t ‘there in the moment.’” Children who grow up in an abusive homes often dissociate because they can not handle the trauma, pain and/or dysfunctional environment.

Dissociation happens when there is a trauma or assault, our first instinct is to go into “fight or flight” mode. When there is no escape, the flight is taken into the mind – away from a present danger. Dissociation is a defense mechanism where a person separates from their memory something they do not want to deal with. There is a range of mild dissociation to full blown dissociative identity disorder (separating a part of yourself from memory). Amnesia may occur with dissociation because the mind is shutting out or erasing a painful reality.

Through dissociation, memory of the trauma is held within fragmented parts of the mind. The trauma causes the mind to break or split off into smaller pieces that make it easier to process what has occurred. Over time those fragments may form their own distinct parts or identities. Triggers or memories of trauma release the memories which emerge (this occurs in a variety of ways).

People who experience dissociation commonly report feeling numb, spaced out, may have amnesia, and feel disconnected. A dissociative disorder changes the way a person sees reality and impairs memory, consciousness and a person’s sense of identity.

For more info on Dissociative Disorders please visit: Dissociative disorders (by Mind for Better Mental Health(

Understanding the Dissociative Disorders by Marlene Steinberg, M.D.

Public Domain: http://absfreepic.com

The Devastating Impact – When Courts Order Children into the Custody of Abusers: What I Have Seen in my own Children

My children are victims of abuse who have been further traumatized when the family court gave sole custody to the identified abuser. My children suffer from debilitating psychological, behavioral and social problems as a result of the abuse. My children have had their childhood stolen from them.

It is distressing to realize that your children are coping with a dysfunctional home environment by dissociating, and that your efforts to protect your children are being challenged, and prevented, by the family court system. Filing protective orders or asking for a change of custody based on abuse or endangerment has resulted in reprieve, and punishment from the courts (financial sanctions, loss of visitation and/or custody, ordered into supervised visitation, gag orders, jail are all common forms courts punish protective parents). Seeking therapy and professional help for my family has resulted in me being accused of harming my children, being told I need to “co-parent” better and otherwise being told my concerns of abuse, and the supporting documentation I offer, is not credible. My legal rights have also been violated in the court process. I am told to stay silent, stop raising concerns, be a more “cooperative” parent. No parent should be asked to enable the abuse of their own children.

I have seen the following indicators of dissociation present in my own children:

1) Talking to my children, they are sometimes triggered or can not deal with a difficult emotion, their response is a blank face (emotionless) and silence. The tone of voice may sound monotone. Or their mood may not match the current situation or the prevalent emotions of the day (for example, it’s a birthday party, everyone is happy but the children are silent and withdrawn).

2) The child withdraws into their own world – retreating into distractions, video games or computer time, imagination or an intense interest that draws their attention away from the present and into an inner world. The interest dominates the child’s focus, and they have trouble staying emotionally regulated without it.

3) After a long separation from my child, I am finally able to reconnect or have some contact with the children. I am overjoyed, and emotional. The child appears detached, appears emotionless, eyes are blank, voice is flat and mood is somber or withdrawn. At times a glimmer of my child once was will appear. Maybe I will get an unexpected hug. Or my child will create a card or picture for me, showing love or affection. It is confusing to see the dramatic changes – the conflicting closeness followed by the coldness, some children reject the targeted parent entirely.

4) The child is reminded or triggered by a memory of past trauma or abuse, and they freeze or lock up. They are unable to talk or move – sometimes they blank out. Other times they are aware of what is happening around them but unable to move or interact with their environment. Amnesia often follows these events. Or the child is unable to identify how they are feeling or what they are thinking.

5) When the child is overwhelmed by memories of trauma or abuse, they have violent or intense tantrums. Often there is very little or no memory of the tantrums. They may fall asleep after the tantrum due to exhaustion. There may be physical or emotional signs of dissociation that is associated with the onset of the tantrums – regressive behavior, mood swings, a drastic change in facial expression or appearance (this is an emotional change), banging their head on the wall, etc

Other signs of dissociation in children may include: Memory loss, inability to concentrate or focus, hyperactivity, mood swings, nightmares, a flat or monotone voice, appearing weak or lethargic, anxiety, and changes in personality.

When Family Court Professionals Fail to Recognize the Impact of Abuse on Children

The judges, Guardian ad Litem, evaluator, attorney for my abusive ex and other family court professionals working with my children, etc who do not understand the effects of abuse and trauma on children, commonly assign blame to one parent for causing reported behavioral and emotional problems in a child. Other times the court will deny any problem exists with the children (this happens even when there is ample evidence and documentation) and falsely accuse the targeted parent of having some kind of mental illness that causes a parent to report abuse and seek help for this child. In this way, victims of abuse are not being protected by the family court, and are being re-victimized.

Where there is no safety for children, some have chosen to escape the abuse, pain and ugly world they live in through dissociation.

— EJ, May 2016

“ReMoved” is a two part short film told in the first person narrative of a young girl named Zoe who is removed from her home, along with her little brother Benaiah, due to domestic violence and child abuse. Zoe begins a new life in the foster care system, which in some ways is an improvement, in other ways is just as chaotic, and unpredictable as the life she has been taken from. When placed in the home of foster mother, Ms. Law, Zoe is faced with her most difficult struggle of all — finding what is lovable in herself. “ReMoved” is an emotional, raw film – that wisely uses the power of its emotional scenes, and the insightful messages Zoe provides to give a voice to vulnerable children, and help people to understand what is happening, in the foster care system.

“ReMoved” was written by Christina Matanick, directed by her husband, Nathanael, who were inspired to write a movie about foster care from a child’s perspective after taking training on how to become foster parents. The film’s goal is to “serve as a key tool in raising up and training good foster parents, social workers, court-appointed special advocates, and the many other adults who interact with children in foster care“.

“ReMoved” is also based on Hebrews 12:2, a Bible verse about Jesus enduring pain and humiliation because of his great love for humanity. The Matanick’s say Hebrews 12:2 offers reminds them of foster parenting – that they take on the pain of the foster children when offering a home to them, and offer their love just as Christ offered his, even when challenged. Hebrews 12:2 has a hopeful message as well, one of healing and restoration, though not explicitly stated, it becomes the conclusion of “ReMoved”.

“ReMoved” may be triggering for some. As a domestic abuse survivor, whose children suffer from PTSD and many of the emotional issues that Zoe does, alot of the scenes hit home. Zoe drew tornadoes to depict her struggles at home. My daughter did the same – drawing squarish pictures of “home” with a scribbly tornado ripping through. Zoe is also like the tornado – she has recurrent PTSD flashbacks, and feelings of helplessness, which may trigger fits of rage where she becomes destructive and out of control. I saw those same kinds of outbursts in my son, whose anger and violence was modeled after what he experienced from his abusive father.

It was interesting to see the different adult reactions to Zoe’s struggles – her behavior became what defined Zoe, because the adults failed to understand how abuse impacts a child, and her own need for healing. I saw similar reactions when seeking help for my family, and was told several times to just spank my child to get him to behave. There was no real understanding of how abuse affects children, and that these children are traumatized and in need of help. Even when staying in a domestic violence shelter, I was given a safe place to stay with my children (temporarily) but their emotional needs were neglected. There were no services for children available at the shelter during our stay.

In “ReMoved”, Zoe’s behavioral and emotional struggles resulted in her being moved from one foster home to another, being rejected by her mother (the film did hint at a possible reunion) and finally, being medicated with instructions to double the dose if she did not calm down. Finally, when placed with a patient and caring foster mother, Ms. Law, did Zoe begin to receive the nurturing and guidance she needed to begin her healing journey.

Another issue revealed in “ReMoved” is that what is happening with the family is kept totally separate from what is happening in the foster care system, when the two should be working together. At many points in the film, the foster care system seemed punitive towards the mother, and placing a greater weight of responsibility on her (directly) rather than dealing with the abuser and the abuse.

This is also a theme I have experienced in family court, that somehow the abuse victim is responsible for the harm caused by the abuser. Only in family court, there is no emphasis on restoration of the family, limiting visitation or removing custody from a parent is a routine practice, that is quickly and easily done. Abuse victims are particularly vulnerable to loss of custody because the family court sees their efforts to protect their children as signs that they cannot “co-parent” or are otherwise “difficult”, even with CPS findings of abuse, family courts will routinely place children into dangerous custody or parenting time agreements with abusive, unfit parents.

Throughout the film, the mother struggled with her own issues from domestic violence. Taking the beatings and emotional abuse, could not protect her children from being abused by her husband. The mother is largely disconnected from her children, and the daughter takes on the role of caretaker for her younger brother Benaiah. After the children are removed, the mother is placed into supervised visitation where she attempts to reconnect to her children. What the family really needs is therapy, and supportive services, but you don’t see that being offered. For example, The mother is told to “get her life together” by a social worker- and the system is ignorant to the hurdles an abuse victim faces trying to start their entire life over. Many victims of domestic violence become homeless in the process of escaping the abuse and are forced to abruptly cut ties, and remove themselves from the only life they have ever known. They face financial hardships. And deal with their own trauma, and emotional scars. To blindly tell a victim of abuse to “get her life together” is not only insensitive but unrealistic. What is really needed is a more holistic approach, to protect the safety of the children while also assisting the parent to rebuild their own life.

I was inspired by the foster mother Ms. Law – she modeled the best of what the system could be. Ms. Law put the child’s interests above her own time and time again. Zoe was extremely close to her little brother, but was constantly being separated from him in the foster care system. Ms. Law took Benaiah in,even if it was not convenient for her to do so. Ms. Law patiently waited through Zoe’s rage, and lashing out against her – and saw past her struggles to nurture Zoe into growth and healing. Ms. Law advocated for Zoe in the therapist’s office, that there are other options than drugging a child into compliance. So many examples depicted in the portrayals of Ms. Law offered ideas on how foster care parents, and the system as a whole, could better meet the needs of children, and the families they are working with.

For me, the hardest part of “ReMoved” was the ending (which is in Part 2). There was some sense of closure but also a lot of unanswered questions. I took it as this where the film meets our lives, that each person viewing is challenged to bring something they learned from the film, or where inspired by the film, into their own life, into the community around them.

I highly recommend “ReMoved”. It has an impact watching alone but would also be beneficial to watch as a group or organization – with discussion following. This film has the potential to inspire needed changes in the foster care system, and the motivate everyday people to become heroes in the lives of needy children.

— EJ, 2015

 

For More Information:

Visit the “ReMoved” website: ReMoved

Watch “ReMoved”:Watch Removed

“Foster Care – It’s Not for the Praise” by Megan Pyrah (Brassy Apple). A foster mother shares her experiences raising foster children, and offers her thoughts on ReMoved: Foster Care – It’s Not for the Praise

“Writer/Filmmaker Christina Matanick discusses her film ReMoved” by Meka (Scream Loudly), Nov 19, 2014: Writer/Filmmaker Christina Matanick discusses her film ReMoved

Judge Matthew Myers (Wikipedia Commons)

Don’t breastfeed any more. Seriously don’t. It’s not in the best interests of the child…I don’t care if it makes the front page and it probably will.” Federal Circuit Judge Matthew Myers banning a mother from breastfeeding during an interim hearing on June 3-5, 2015. Judge Myers ruled that because the mother has a tattoo she poses a health risk when breastfeeding her child.

June 2015, New South Wales, Australia – “Judges must not mistake their own views for being facts” Australian Family Court Justice Murray Aldridge made this strong statement after an appellate court overturned a ruling from a Federal judge who issued a court order prohibiting a mother from breastfeeding her 11 month old son. There was no motion before the court to restrain the mother from breastfeeding when the ruling was made. The order was unanimously thrown out on appeal because the Federal judge based his decision entirely on his own opinion.

The case came to court after the child’s father, known as, Mr. Macek, refused to return the child at the end of his parenting time, and the mother fought for return of the child.

Judge Matthew Myers heard the case in Federal Circuit Court and set aside issues raised to ban the mother, known as, Ms. Jackson from breastfeeding because she recently had a tattoo placed on her finger and another on her toe. Judge Myers said the tattoo put the baby at risk of contracting HIV, and based his ruling on articles he read on the internet – which is bias. The father, Mr. Macek, was also given increased parenting time.

Ms. Jackson filed an urgent appeal heard by a full bench of the Family Court in Sydney. The Family Court overturned the ruling of Judge Myers because they felt there was no evidence to support that Ms. Jackson presented a risk to the baby should she continue to breastfeed.

Another questionable aspect of this case is that the father Mr. Macek has a domestic violence order issued against him, but is allowed to have extensive visits with the child, unsupervised. Mr. Macek also pleaded guilty to assaulting Ms. Jackson. The original order granted the father to spend 6 hours a day, 4 days per week, with the child. In coming to its determination, the Family Court (who heard the appeal) determined Judge Meyers erred by failing to consider s 60CC of the Family Law Act when making orders about the time the child is to spend with the father and specifically,”The orders provide for an 11 month old child to spend six hours with his father every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Quite simply, how such an arrangement is in the best interests of an 11 month old baby is beyond me. Such an arrangement is of its very nature unsettling to the child and likely to lead to instability. It requires a constant change of households and, in this case, would require eight changeovers per week between parents who accuse each other of violence and drug taking and have difficulties with the other members of each other’s family. Such orders are likely to be productive of conflict.” The Family Court temporarily changed parenting time with father to 2 days per week for five hours per day pending the conclusion of another hearing.

Judge Myers’ focus on breastfeeding as being the sole concern about the safety of the child is misplaced.

That Mr. Macek, refused to return the child after his parenting time, should be considered non-custodial kidnapping and that act alone, is harmful to the child.  The child has primarily been cared for by the mother, Ms. Jackson, since birth. According to court records, “It was common ground that the father had only seen the child on four occasions since separation. To put this in context, it is common ground that prior to separation the mother was primarily responsible for the care of the child and the father was involved to the extent that his full time employment permitted. Of particular relevance to the challenge to his Honour’s order concerning the child’s time with the father is the fact that prior to separation the longest period of time the child spent in the father’s sole care was one hour.

That combined with the Mr. Macek’s history of domestic violence, creates a real risk of harm for this child. Yet, the response of Judge Myers to ignore these issues and award Mr. Macek with additional parenting time; makes no sense. The family court should recognize the need for sensitivity, and not exacerbate an already tense situation by issuing a court order that unfairly punishes one parent and ignores the real safety risks.

— EJ Perth, 2015

Sources:

“Australian Court Orders Mother to Stop Breastfeeding After She Had Tattoos” by Jonathon Pearlman, The Telegraph, 6/18/2015:

“Breastfeeding Ban on Tattooed Mother Overturned by Family Court” by ABC News, 6/19/2015:

“Mother asks court to let her breastfeed her son after ban by judge for getting tattoos” by Louise Hall, The Sydney Morning Herald, 6/18/2015:

Jackson & Macek [2015] FamCAFC 114 (19 June 2015) – Family Court of Australia

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