I remember the first time I ever sat in the Family Court – it was actually I think the first ever court room I sat in properly. Amongst a whole lot of other things, the judge commented on the ages of my children – one under two and the other only ‘weeks’ old….. I could feel my eyes well up with tears as I looked straight at the judge.
That was 2.5 years ago and I’m still counting waiting to come out the other side. Our Family Court system is in pieces – we have families suffering, not enough judges, children falling through the cracks and mothers and fathers at horrendous odds with each other. Hating the person they once loved so much.
So I am going to break down a few stereotypes people seem to hold with the family court:
💔 the courts are not on the mothers side – it is on no one’s side. It is sort of on the side of the children but even that has limited effects. How can one person really know what’s best for a family? Who does that one person believe – mum or dad? There is somewhat of a scientific method used to calculate time split between houses for children dependent on age etc.
💔 you will not get justice in the family court – Australia has a no fault system so whether your spouse cheated, hit you, left you with nothing, hurt your children – it rarely matters. The court is there to divorce you, decide what do to with the children and then decide who gets what money and assets.
💔 just because one parent doesn’t pay child support – it has little bearing in the family court. The children still have a right to that parent whether that parent actually has a right to them. That question is not fleshed out in any significance.
💔 people have the misconception that eventually someone wins – no one wins. It’s a soul sucking experience where solicitors get richer.
💔 people think ‘oh we will pop it in an order’ – now what happens if one parent breaks those orders? Do you think they go to jail? Are they fined? Are they reprimanded at all?…. I’ll leave you to consider that yourselves.
Now I can speak to these things with some authority – I have had 13 family court hearings and I have attended almost every single one.
Each time you have one, a little bit more of your soul slips away, a little bit more of your family is destroyed, a little bit more of your sanity and trust in humanity goes with it.
Decisions are made in a split second about the future of your children by a stranger who doesn’t know them, in the next split second decisions are made on your long term financial future and then in one more split second, another nail is smashed into the coffin of what was once your family. And with that nail – rust forms and the relationship you once shared with someone is eroded a little further.
When a person enters the family court – you are about the go through one of the hardest, most emotional and gut wrenching experiences you can. You are probably unwittingly grieving your relationship which means you can be anything from angry to sad to numb. And then you add in the children – the heart and soul of two human beings and the most prized gift you can protect is sprinkled on top for good measure. Now while that is all there you are expected to be able to make rational decisions around the future of your children and yourself.
So I will tell you this – it hurts – it hurts in every physical fibre of your being – the ache sits deep within your stomach and feels as though someone has put a fish hook in and is slowing pulling you apart.
The Family Court is about to undergo a major review and overhaul to try and fix some of the issues. So here is a mother’s plea:
♥️ please put a cap on how much solicitors can run up – the future of Australian families are being put at risk because their hard earned money is put into solicitors fees.
♥️ put more judges on – the backlog in the family court is breaking people.
♥️ our judges need to be trained in empathy, domestic violence and compassion. We need more people who can see the pain a person is going through and understand it.
♥️ now I will say most, not all, mothers give up their entire known existence to raise their babies. Career, future relationships, friendships change, their bodies, their mental health at times, their financial independence, their physical health – to rear and raise our future Australians – our next prime ministers, athletes, doctors, medical researchers, defence heroes, environmentalists, teachers etc – let’s give these god dam women more f**king credit in our family court system for what they go through.
♥️ place greater emphasis on couples counseling BEFORE legally marrying – it may not fix the entire issue but some people may realise they are not well suited together before crossing over to get married.
♥️ have real and serious consequences for parents who breach court orders – costs incurred, time lost with children. Parties are paying so much money to get these orders but they are rarely taken seriously.
♥️ put a limit to resolving matters – 18 months maximum – if parties are dropping the ball and not providing what should be given to settle matters – then costs are incurred, orders written to banks, the ATO etc – whatever needs to happen to let people move on.
♥️ have child support linked more thoroughly with the family court.
For the people out there going through it – my heart aches for you and your family, for the people who think it will help them – I hope this helps you realise it won’t and for the people who have a misconception about the family court – I hope this clears it up.
Almost three years of my life has been stolen from this system, it has affected my mental health, impacted my working life, affected my friendships and extended family, contributed to my physical illnesses but most of all and the worst part – it’s stolen part of the early years with my children. It’s stolen what should have been happy moments, it’s given me sleepless nights and it’s sucked the life out of me at times. Australia and our pollies – stop pussy footing around and really help our families trapped in this hell.