“The Family Law System Discriminates Against Fathers”

“The Family Law System Discriminates Against Fathers”

These are the words of Mick Clarke, whose son was killed by his own mother.

Mick Clarke’s seven-year-old son, Jacob Clarke, was murdered by his mother Tanyia Hewson on the 5th of June 2017. Jacob was under her care at the time. Jacob and his mum were found dead in their Beach Home in South Australia. The bodies were discovered by Mick Sutton- Jacob’s stepfather. Mr Clarke claims the tragic murder-suicide is due to the court system’s discriminatory attitude towards fathers. He is advocating for an overhaul of the Family Law court system.

The bodies were discovered by Jacob’s stepfather. Mr Clarke claims the tragic murder-suicide is due to the court system’s discriminatory attitude towards fathers and is advocating for an overhaul of the Family Law court system.

Mick and Tanyia had been battling a bitter custody dispute over Jacob for 18 months. The dispute ended 2 months prior to the murder-suicide, as Mr Clarke could not afford to continue the legal battle. During the 18 months, Mr Clarke asserts he had repeatedly explained to the Federal Circuit Court via his lawyer that his ex-partner, Tanyia, was mentally unwell and Jacob was not safe with her.

However, he insists ‘the judge didn’t want to hear anything about it’ and his concerns were ‘completely disregarded’. During that 18 months, Jacob remained in the care of his mother Tanyia.

Mick says the judge was ‘too one-sided’. He says that if his concerns had been listened to, Jacob would ‘definitely’ still be alive today.

Mick claims fathers ‘out there’ have ‘brought up pure…and provable information (but) the judges don’t want to listen to it’ and in doing so, the family court system is endangering the lives of children.

The grieving father claims he sought aid from ‘Families South Australia’ but was told ‘we don’t have the manpower’.

In support of Mr Clarke is the advocacy group Australian Brotherhood of Fathers, which seeks social justice reforms in government and the Family Courts in relation to the important role fathers play in families and the Australian society.

Leith Erikson, the group’s spokesperson, sympathises with Mr Clarke’s declaration. He says that ‘the laws need to be changed’ in order to create a fairer system. Mr Erikson further contends that these views are shared by many fathers across Australia, in that they view the Family Court System focusing ‘only…(on) issues affecting women’ and ‘ignoring the obvious when a man presents it’.

Does the Australia’s Family Law System favour women?

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) does not contain any bias in relation to gender when it comes to making parenting decisions. The law requires the court to prioritise ‘the need to protect the rights of children and to promote their welfare’.

There are a number of Australians who disagree with these claims. They argue that the ‘real-life’ application of the Family Law Act is exclusive to the perspective of women.

Aftermath of the Incident and Future Reforms for the Family Law System?

Following the incident, the child protection department stated the family in question was known to them but that in the past two years, no alarm bells have been sounded. However, it is notable that police had been sent to the Tiddy Widdy Beach property a number of times for welfare checks on the family. These statements will form part of the police report for the Coroner.

In regard to an overhaul of the Family Law System, it seems as though reform may be on the horizon. In May 2017, as part of the 2017-2018 Budget, Attorney-General George Brandis announced the Australian Government would fund the first comprehensive review of the Family Law System since the introduction of the Family Law Act 41 years ago in 1976. The Review will be conducted by the Australian Law Reform Commission and the findings will be reported by the end of 2018.

Furthermore, the Federal Government also announced $80 million would go towards frontline family law and family violence services. Specifically, $12.7 million of the $80 million is to create Parenting Management Hearings. These are designed to simplify family law disputes between self-represented litigants. Additionally, $10.7 million has been pledged for extra family consultants to deal with family law cases.

It is possible that with the proposed review and amendments, the Family Law System will see great change over the next few years. In doing so, hopefully, the lives of the vulnerable will be afforded greater protection by the law

Hayder Shkara
Hayder Shkara

Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.

  • Avatar
    Posted at 11:17h, 18 August

    The system is designed to strip every cent from families. It’s full because it isn’t fair. If there was a law stating automatic 50/50 custody at time of separation unless there’s a proven history of dv the courts would be empty and parental alienation would become illegal. Then mediation can start if required.

  • Avatar
    Posted at 12:40h, 05 February

    Hi can you tell me the truth, will your company actually fight for the rights of the father, when we know he has been done over….

    • Hayder Shkara
      Hayder Shkara
      Posted at 21:50h, 18 February

      Our firm represents people that have a genuine love for their children and want to be an active parent in raising them. We always take a child orientated approach to all of our cases.

  • Avatar
    patrick shea
    Posted at 11:39h, 15 February

    I have been in the family law courts for now 14 years .It took 9 years before i was eventually given sole custody of my son . In the 14 years the court has accepted her allegations of violence and vro allegation yet she never succeeded with any vro yet the mother has had 6 vro 2 assault convictions and 2 of wlifull damage to my property . 2 phycologists have deemed her to be a threat and she has lost 3 jobs for being aggressive to staff and management . .On 3 occassions in court she has admitted to making up stories regarding violence abuse and pedphile behavior yet i am the bady . It is now my last resort to get justice and i have contacted the dpp to investigate and have her charged with perjury then i intend to start legal action to seek compensation for the last 14 years for my son and i .He lives with me and has made unbelivable progress and just an amazing young man . Iam very proud of him . But no man should have to endure years and years in court just because his ex is pissed off at him . The family law court only adds fuel to the fire and has it own hidden adjender to create a backlong and demand more wages because they are stressed and overwork f&^% the family law court The only court where you are not charged with perjury and contempt of court .

  • Avatar
    Posted at 07:40h, 23 February

    Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act
    Sect 80 Trial by jury
    The federal jurisdiction on indictment of any offence against any law of the Commonwealth shall be by jury,….
    So they are unconstitutional to start with!

  • Avatar
    Broken hearted father
    Posted at 00:52h, 18 May

    The entire Family Law systems in many ‘westernised democracies’ (Australia being no exception) is an enormous gravy train industry that lines the pockets of lawyers, judges, psychologists, counsellors, mediators and a whole myriad of so-called experts. According to Alec Baldwin’s ‘A Promise to Ourselves’ in the US the ‘industry’ is worth some $23 billion!
    The liberal/leftist/marxist/feminist/victimhood nature of these societies provides fertile ground for the parasitic Family Law Industry to peddle it’s racket, bouyed by a mysandrous political hysteria and held very securely in place by the protectionist vested interests of the law society and it’s incestous, nefarious relationship with it’s bedfellow politicians (25% of whom are lawyers).
    The result? Countless destroyed lives, damaged childhoods, suicided fathers and not a whisper from the feminist agenda-driven media who are too busy waging their anti-masculinity war.
    This is the worst human rights abuse since the stolen generations here in Australia and no one goddamn person gives two hoots because men cannot be victims of anything other than their own criminalised masculinity here in this golden land ‘girt by sea!’

  • Avatar
    Frank Majury
    Posted at 02:46h, 21 May

    Family Law Court??? What a joke. It should be re-named THE WOMEN’S SCREW THE MAN COURT. The man gets dragged through the court, huge legal bills to pay, child maintenance to pay, takes unpaid leave from his employment, but all the women have to do is cry poor mouth to Legal Aid and then lie like hell. No legal bills, no unpaid leave from work because they don’t work outside the home anyway, no child maintenance to pay, and they get a nice comfortable living, paid for by the Government.
    Why not make it a level playing field?
    No handouts for legal bills, no government handouts for living expenses.
    The Family Law Courts operate outside normal business hours, including weekends and free legal aid for both parties including the kids. The family home remains vacant (unless rented premises) until a fair and just custody arrangement is agreed or ordered.
    Both parents to undergo psychological assessment to determine the best parent for the child/children..

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