Is the Family Court a win/lose system?

by Peter Magee on January 14, 2012

Peter Magee
Does the adversarial family law system in Australia have adverse impacts on the mental wellbeing of children? Many argue that when feuding parents cannot reach an agreement on parenting arrangements for the children, the children are ‘dragged’ through the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia as the parties attempt to resolve the dispute by litigating.

Essentially, the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia are adversarial Courts and it is argued by some that they inhibit parties from resolving the dispute, rather than fostering a mutually agreeable resolution. Is it true that when parties engage the services of lawyers and barristers they invite conflict? Some would say no. Is the Australian Family Law legal system set up as a winner/loser system in which excellent legal representation will make one a ‘winner’?

Whatever your answers to these questions are, the paramount question that needs to be addressed in the current Australian Family Law climate is; whether children’s emotional wellbeing is neglected when their parents are parties to legal proceedings in court.

It should be noted that the Federal Government has tried to facilitate people reaching agreement without going to Court, for example, by establishing Family Relationship Centres that provide Family Dispute Resolution conferences. More importantly, the Federal Government’s initiative in requiring that a parent must attempt Family Dispute Resolution with the other parent before they can start legal proceedings in Court, is evidence of the Federal Government’s awareness of the need to resolve parenting matters outside of Court.

Put simply, the topic of this blog is food for thought.

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