CONGRATULATIONS one and all: we have failed this year at tackling the broken family law system. Loving fathers, good men, won’t be opening presents with their kids around the twinkling Christmas tree, through no fault of their own. They won’t be eating yummy treats, watching movies, singing carols or playing fun games together. And their kids miss out on creating those memories too.
This is the real stolen generation, our gift to each other.
And it could happen to any parent after a bitter breakup. This is the Kris Kringle of everyday separation. What you get comes down to luck — or lack of. Who knows?
Driving yesterday I heard an ad on the radio, which if I wasn’t writing this column may have passed me by. “Contact us … before your partner does,” the grotesque family law call to action said. What is this: a race for the house, assets and kids? Even a Family Court judge this week slammed the bitter, aggressive, mercenary culture. The Child Support Agency, too, has sweated buckets under scrutiny as 2017 ticked along.
Anyone with any experience knows the legal system is stacked in women’s favour thanks to gender-biased family violence initiatives, which plant the seed of malice in society’s war against men. It is gendered domestic violence policy that starts this carousel of spite-sp inning.
The power play of false allegations by a mother of children leaves men drowning in pain. The legal system will predominantly support a woman’s word regardless of any evidence.
A meme circulating on social media says: “The Gillard 24.6.10 coup and her immediate DV legislation reforms introduced October 2010 was the goose that laid the litigation golden egg. An act of treason against the Australian people.”
Imagine a Christmas where the closest you’ll get to your children is “liking” that meme, just to connect briefly with others who und erstand the nightmare you are trapped in.
Picture a Christmas where you quietly wrap a small gift and place it on a shelf with the others you’ve collected since your children were taken, before quietly closing the door and forcing yourself to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Multiple surveys show how difficult Christmas can be for people ­estranged from family members.
In an online support group this week one person wrote, “We lost another good dad this week. I won’t name him here and I won’t point fingers, but I am tired of being quiet about this issue. I have met way too many people lately that are grieving the loss of their living children, for no good reason, other than the fact the other parent can’t or won’t co-operate.”
“Grieving t he loss of their living children.” Sit with those words for a moment. How heartbreaking that echo.
“I will buy my kids presents, as I do every Christmas and birthday. I will wrap them and put them in the cupboard. I am not allowed to send them gifts. One day I hope to be able to watch their little faces as they open them,” says one alienated father. He will go through the motions for the third Christmas without the feel-good highlights of the festive season.
CORRINE BARRACLOUGH: The secret grief of abortion
CORRINE BARRACLOUGH: Child support: Stop bullying dads. It’s not fair.
Alienated fathers are barely breathing in every state across Australia. These are men you see silently shrouded in inexorable grief.
Thi s is a tough time of year. There is a luminous benchmark of how ­society sees Christmas that puts ­pressure on most of us.
Multiple surveys show how difficult Christmas can be for people ­estranged from family members.
Loneliness, isolation, sadness and despair wrap themselves like withering tinsel around TV ads of happy families raising glasses around the dinner table with warm, fuzzy faces.
For all those whizzing around in a whirlwind shopping for presents, food and last-minute decorations, spare a thought for the fathers who this year just wish they could see thei r kids.
We can’t wave a magic wand and fix this biased, broken legal system and create gender equality under the law. Politicians are too busy gorging on prawns and quaffing Moet.
But we can all play a part in trying to help alienated fathers reach the other side of this emotional, haunting holiday season. To every single one of you: when you’ve closed the door to that cupboard, leaving a present wrapped inside one more time, know our hearts and thoughts are with you.