This issue is not confined to Australia. In England, a new book, The Sex-Change Society by Melanie Phillips, published by the Social Market Foundation, claims that fathers are being routinely denied contact with their children on grounds produced by welfare officers that are so spurious as to be virtually incomprehensible.
Here are some example:
There was the father who, in McDonald’s, spread his arms to his daughter and said: “Bet you haven’t seen me in a suit before.”
A watching welfare officer misinterpreted the gesture and decided the child had refused to return the father’s proffered embrace. As a result, the father was denied all contact with his child.
Then there was the father whose overnight contact with his five-year-old was stopped because “the child has so many milestones ahead of him”; another who was denied contact because he “had to prove his commitment;”; another because “this is the mother’s first child”; another because he was “over-enthusiastic”; yet another because “the child fell asleep in his car on the way home”.
One child of 13 had not seen his father for eight years because he was led to believe that an injunction against his father prevented it.
No one – certainly not his mother – had told him that the injunction would last for a maximum of three months and that for most of that eight years the boy had every right to see his father. And so on and so, appallingly, on.
The UK debate centres on the validity of no-fault divorce. If a mother has gone off with her lover, jeopardising the well-being of her children and demonstrating infidelity to their father, promise-breaking, deceit and selfishness, why should she be automatically regarded as the fitter parent to bring up the children?
The answer is to restore issues of conduct to divorce and the subsequent care of the children.
The spurious argument that “children’s needs” must come before any other consideration means that children are being used as hostages to protect adults from facing the consequences of their own behaviour.
Children’s needs are in fact best met by having both their parents to look after them; failing that, by living with the more responsible parent. This may even bring the divorce rate down, as has happened in America in states where mothers no longer get automatic custody.