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  • Sunday: Father's fight Family Court
  • 09/07/2006 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: admin ( 61 articles in 2006 )
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Sunday: The F Word (15:15)

They are bitter, desperate, and they are demanding justice - angry fathers have been picketing the Family Court accusing it of an anti-male bias

The charges are all vigorously rejected by the court.

But, in Australia the men's movement has won reform and there are signs New Zealand may follow.

The Union Of Fathers are men united by grief and anger against a court they accuse of taking their children away from them.

The Family Court sees itself as balanced and reasonable, sorting itself through a thicket of emotionally charged disputes.

But that's not how Guy Blazina sees the court.

These days a video is about all Guy gets to see of his eight-year-old daughter Nadia. This year he has had only eight days with her and that was six months ago.

"She's a wonderful, wonderful child that I, I can't express it, you know. She's part of me. What can I say,"

For Guy the Family Court is the reason he can't see her.

"The whole attitude of the court was like these women were all together. It was a pack, it was a pack kill there they were just tearing you to pieces...not one of them would even consider that I had any rights or feelings or nothing," he says.

According to Guy access has been a battle since the day his ex-wife suddenly vanished to Australia with their daughter. He went to the police station when they disappeared.

"And I said to the Sergeant at the counter, I said 'look what are you people going to do about it? Sorry, we don't want to know, that's all I got, not interested."

Guy believes if it had been the other way around things would have been different. Despite his protest the court gave Nadia's mother permission to keep her in Sydney.

"In my view the courts are so biased, one sided and totally feminist, totally feminist."

For months at secret meetings the Union of Fathers have planned protest action against the courts and the homes of its judges and lawyers.

In May Principal Family Court judge Peter Boshier said the protests were irresponsible, undemocratic and aimed to intimidate judges.

But the campaigners say years of protests outside Family Courts have got them nowhere and they have no choice but to up the ante.

Family Court lawyer Judith Surgenor is one of those who has been targeted. She believes the father's group are embittered and misguided.

"I think that if they put the energy into saving their own families, or building relationships with their children, or looking at alternative ways of resolving the conflicts that have clearly occurred in their lives, then they'd be a lot better off than targeting people like me and others involved in the court system."

In her opinion the men need to accept the child's needs come first, meaning the judge will give primary care to the most suitable parent.

But, in Australia the father's protest movement has forced changes in the Australian Family Court, changes which are likely to be adopted in New Zealand.

Michael Green, QC, says the new model is all about sidelining the courts, keeping lawyers out of the equation, saving time, money and stress.

"The adversarial system that we've simply not appropriate, particularly in, in children's matters. It's not the way to go," says Green,

Instead the new way to go is mediation and more meaningful time for dads.

"Significant and substantial time - to be not only weekends - but also weekdays...ordinary working days. And it's in those areas, not just in fun's in those days, school days, working days, that real deep relationships are engendered and developed," says Green.

New Zealand is following the Australian lead trialling the mediation process, a trial that many father's are no doubt hoping becomes standard practice.

See the related video for the full Sunday story...

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