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Threat to shared parenting PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ken McGregor   

PROPOSED changes to widen the definition of domestic violence will slash shared-parenting rights and flood the courts, a lawyer says.

Jane Miller, of Tindall Task Bentley Lawyers, said the Bill represented a "watering down" of the shared parenting reforms that were introduced by the federal Liberal party in 2006.

The laws would give the court greater power to decide which parent has custody. The court could also deny equal parenting rights to spouses who:

DENY their partner, or their children, the financial support and autonomy by controlling, dominating or coercing them unreasonably.

THREATEN to commit suicide or self-harm, with the intent of intimidating or tormenting their partner.

PREVENT their partner from making or keeping connections with their family, friends or culture.

"For the last five years we have enjoyed a period where it has been easier for both mum and dad to have a balanced custody arrangement for their children, but there is a possibility that these changes could make parenting more one-sided after separation," Ms Miller said.

She predicted the number of parents hauled before the court would also skyrocket if the law was passed.

"A quarter of our cases fit under the current definition (of domestic violence)," she said. " Under the new proposals, probably half would meet that definition."

"Children who do not witness the violence themselves, but are part of the victim getting medical treatment or are part of the clean-up, will be covered by these laws."

"The amendments place a greater emphasis on protecting children not just from physical violence, but also considering what they might have been exposed to or are aware of," Ms Miller said.

"It is already a concern that violence is a major factor in our daily relationship matters, and this is sure to open up many more."

A recent report revealed around two-thirds of separated mothers and just over half of separated fathers reported their former partner had emotionally abused them before or during separation.

The proposals are being examined by the Federal Parliament with a vote on the Bill expected to be held in August.


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