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Family Matters No. 65 - September 2003

Opinions

Opinion: Shared parenting - in the shadow of the law

Geoffrey Greene

The author argues that, if you genuinely acknowledge and accept that every child has the right to experience the love, guidance and companionship of both their mother and father, you must support having societal structures defending those rights - especially in troublesome emotional times such as parental separation and divorce. While noting that the vast majority of cases reach agreement without proceeding to defended hearings, he cautions against assuming that both parties are happy with the outcomes in these cases. He argues that the original intent of the Family Law Act was a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting, and that we need to return to this position.

Opinion: What's wrong with a presumption of joint custody?

Elspeth McInnes, Gerry Orkin, Kathleen Swinbourne and Michael Flood

The Positive Shared Parenting Alliance argues that a presumption of 50:50 joint custody of children would mean that, right at the point when parents decide they can no longer cooperate sufficiently to stay in a relationship, they would be required to begin the complex cooperative task of joint parenting across two households - a task which has often not been attempted even when the parents lived in the same household. The presumption is unrealistic, unnecessary and undermines children's best interests in favour of a rigid universal model of parents' rights. They argue that the best interests of the child require each case to be given unique consideration, without any presumed model being imposed.

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