Debunking perceptions about bias in the Australian Family Law System

Debunking perceptions about bias in the Australian Family Law System

Most of us are aware of allegations made by certain politicians regarding gender bias in the Family Courts.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies has just released some interesting statistics regarding parenting arrangements post separation and they put paid to some of the more emotional and inaccurate claims of bias.

Some of the more interesting stats are:

  • Only approximately 3% of separated parents use the Courts as their main pathway to reaching parenting arrangements post separation. In these families, issues with regard to family violence and child safety concerns and other complex issues often arise.
  • Almost 97% of separated parents do not go to Court to decide their parenting arrangements.
  • 60% of families do use family dispute resolution services or lawyers.
  • An examination of the Court files has found that in both Court and non-Court Ordered arrangements, it is most common for children to spend the majority of their time with their mother and to see their fathers regularly.
  • Of the cases decided by a Judge, (remember that is less than 3% of matters), in 45% of the cases sole parental responsibility is Ordered to be exercised by the mother and in 11% of the Court cases sole parental responsibility is Ordered to be exercised by the father. That is that sole parental responsibility to a father is more prevalent in Court Orders than in the agreements reached outside of the Court.
  • The Courts are less inclined to make Orders for Children to spend no time with their children than agreements reached outside of a Court imposed Order. Orders made for no contact with one of the parents are extremely rare and are only made in 3% of Court decided matters. I.e. that is 3% of the 3% who use the Court system. Orders for children to spend no time with their father are made in 3% of the cases decided by the Court, BUT this figure increased to 9% of the cases where the parties have reached an agreement prior to final judicial determination.
  • Similarly, arrangements where children spend most of their time with their fathers will occur more commonly at 10-19% of the time under Court Orders whereas only 2% of the time in the general separated population.

 

Photo credit: Courier Mail