Best Interest of the Child
A western Sydney father has won the right to vaccinate his children after a drawn-out legal battle with their mother, who is strongly opposed to immunisation.
The Family Court rejected the mother’s claims that the children, who will turn 14 and 12 this year, were at an increased risk of experiencing ”vaccine damage” due in part to various allergies she believes they suffer from.
Sitting at Parramatta, Justice Garry Foster said the 42-year-old woman, given the pseudonym Ms Duke-Randall, had submitted hundreds of documents about the risks of vaccination, such as the link to autism.
Justice Foster said much of it ”is comments, submissions, irrelevancies” and Ms Duke-Randall had become ”narrowly focused on it, perhaps to the point where the best interests of her children have been subsumed”.
The father, Mr Randall, 52, said during their marriage he agreed with Ms Duke-Randall’s anti-vaccination view ”for the sake of peace in the household” but since their divorce in August 2011, he had come to realise his son and daughter were missing out on extra-curricular activities because they were not immunised.
Some of his relatives were unwilling to have their children socialise with his children and he was worried they would be excluded from school during an outbreak of an infectious disease.
But he said he ”was simply unable to negotiate with [the mother] on the issue”.
While the parents fought over other issues including custody and property, the court restrained both parents from vaccinating the boy and his younger sister until a three-day hearing into the immunisation issue could be held in January this year.
But last month Justice Foster discharged the order, finding the mother had been deliberately delaying proceedings and ignoring directions, which led to the ”strong inference that she has done so to suit her own end that the issue as to vaccination be delayed for as long as possible”.
The mother claimed any delay in presenting her case was caused by the court not permitting her to use medical evidence regarding her children’s susceptibility to being adversely affected by vaccines.
Justice Foster accepted evidence from a senior consultant in immunology, given the pseudonym Professor K, that both children are healthy and do not have any allergies or any other contraindications to vaccination.
Both children had been kept on a low-salicylate and low-amine diet but once the father gained primary custody, they had begun to eat a normal diet, Professor K said.
She recommended the children be bought up to date with the routine childhood immunisations.
I often crow about the virtues of constructive activism, having seen too many father’s lament in their own misfortune, and spend the rest of their lives complaining and becoming increasingly bitter at a system that seems immovable and unchangeable. It can change of course, but it takes the actions of many to make it happen, and these actions begin and end with the individual.
Simon Turner is one individual who has done just this, he has done his bit, by turning an ugly event in his life into a strong message of support, and adds another voice that in a positive way encourages change. Ask yourself whether you too can measure up to his standard. If not, then maybe taking a few notes from this book might be the next best thing.
“Straight forward honest advice that could have saved me eight years of pain and heartache, not to mention a few dollars.” - John Anderson, (Radio Surveyor)
In any case, well done Simon, you have written an important book, which will hopefully support many men in their darkest hour of need, and maybe, just maybe, it may also inspire another father to do their bit too, to add to the growing body of work that collectively is screaming out for change for a family law system that is compromised, broken, and discriminatory against children and fathers. See Simon’s description of his book below.
My name is Simon Turner, I am a single father who has recently written and published a book called “Out on a Limb- A single fathers guide to his family’s lore of the jungle” for other single fathers on a similar journey to obtain a shared care agreement for their children.
The book is a practical easy to read guide based on the three golden rules I received from a Family Court Judge that dramatically changed my situation.
Out on a Limb is not legal advice or the gospel but it does make a lot of man-sense and provides the reader with a number of answers to multitude of questions any single father may have. For when it’s time for a man to take on the task of applying for the care (be it shared or otherwise) what they will discover is all they need is some guidance, a lot of patience and a bit of help to reach an agreement on what’s best for their kids.
“Out on a Limb” is a much needed, practical, down-to-earth, easy read for any bloke battling to avoid a war and remain a father to his children. This book proves that strength is a virtue not a weapon, well done Simon.” - Ian (Watto) Watson, Founder of “Shed Happens” and author of “Every Bloke’s a Champion – Even You!”
I am seeking your help to distribute the message to as many Australian men as possible. It seems these days that most people “know of” someone in this situation and although we want to help, we don’t know where to start. I wrote this book over 72 consecutive nights about a year or so after my son’s case had been successfully resolved. The book contains 72 easy to read chapters that focus on what a single father can do – to give himself the best chance of parenting after a divorce or separation.
Out on a Limb is constructive, easy to read and very affordable. It is written for the bloke in the pub with his head in his beer to the man behind his desk with his head in his hands.
The book costs $25 and we are happy to further publish any reviews from members who may have purchased the book.
Well known social researcher Bettina Arndt is researching an article focussed on the recent academic paper in which 110 leading family researchers supported overnight care of infants and toddlers.
She’s urgently seeking men to interview whose contact with their young children has been adversely affected by assumptions in our family law system that such overnight care is damaging for young children. She’s particularly interested in cases where the research by Jen McIntosh was used to justify such decisions.
As she needs a father willing to be named and photographed, this precludes men who have had a Family Court ruling – although she would still like to hear from you if you have had a recent (2010 or later) Family Court ruling where such contact was denied. In this case the law requires she can only write about the cases without naming the individuals concerned – but she’d still like to mention relevant rulings.
But most important is finding fathers who can speak openly about their experiences with mediators and lawyers regarding overnight contact with very young children. Perhaps you have been unable to negotiate overnight contact in a mediation session or were told by your lawyer that the courts were unlikely to allow this. She only wants to talk to men who have had this experience in the last five years.
If you are interested in contacting Bettina Arndt to discuss your experience, please send her an email here.
The first ‘March for the Voice of the Children’ is being held in Hyde Park North, Sydney on Father’s Day, 1st Sept 2013. The march aims to raise awareness about the risks and problems associated with parental alienation, to make Australia a better place for children to grow up and a fairer place for fathers and their families.
This is a serious issue for society as according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2009-10 2 out 3 children do not have meaningful relationships with both their parents if they are no longer together. In nearly all cases the father is the alienated parent, sometimes by choice and sometimes by necessity – but frequently not. So according to the Government’s numbers there are 750,000 Australian children alienated from their fathers.
This is more than the combined populations of the Sunshine Coast, Wollongong and Geelong – just imagine these towns full of fatherless children and you begin to realise the scale of the problem. And these are not just children from broken homes, disadvantaged groups or those with bad fathers. These are children from everyday families from all walks of life.
The march is a peaceful and silent march, representing the voice that our children do not have when they are alienated from loving parents. There will be speakers prior to the march, including the legendary Alby Schultz, former MP for Hume and long time campaigner around issues associated with parental alienation.
• Judges are merely experts in the law but make major decisions about children’s safety and lives and lack expertise in this field. They rely on the advice of Independent Children’s Solicitors who have basic degrees in law and usually avoid contact with the children whose best interests they supposedly represent.
• Judges take advice from court appointed clinicians who are not usually professionally qualified in child development or child abuse.
• Judges are knowingly placing children into the care of abusing parents or guardians with little forethought as to the ramifications of their actions, and thus failing their duty of care as civil servants of the crown.
Mediation expert Peter Sheehy said couples were often not aware of the costs of a court battle.
“All the asset pools are down, real estate is down or static,” Mr Sheehy said.
“An $800,000 pool may be reduced by $100,000.
“Why would you spend $200,000 on legal fees when the asset pool is only worth $800,000?”
The Federal Government has just increased the Family Law Court fees, with the cost of a one-day trial now $638.
Research by The Courier-Mail shows it costs $300 to $400 an hour for a lawyer and an expert witness, such as accountants and property valuers, and $4000 to $5000 per day for a barrister, which includes fees to read legal documents.
Editor: This article leaves out a lot of important information. For example, were the previous Orders “by consent” or handed down by the Court (which would be highly irregular)? Why was every weekend ever agreed to by the mother? Why was the father not provided with weekday plus weekend care (as in shared parenting), to share the burden equally? If anyone can post the citation to this case it would be most helpful.
The dad was also accused of failing to acknowledge the six-year-old girl was suffering from separation anxiety after spending every weekend of the school year with him.
The custody deal was described as “unusual in the extreme” and was pared back yesterday after the mother lodged an appeal in the Federal Magistrate Court in Brisbane.
Federal Magistrate John Coker granted a variation to the custody orders, allowing the girl from the “fairly brief” relationship to spend every second weekend with her mother, who is her primary carer.
But this mechanical engineer from Bedford, N.H., is also a married father of 1-year-old Ella, and he says being a dad has tempered his outlook.
He did a few jumps on the trip, he says, but “the very first thing that popped into my mind was ‘I can’t do that’ ” on “some of the higher-risk ones, where you have to clear some trees.”
Liadis isn’t alone in his altered frame of mind. While many studies in the past decade have shown that a father’s involvement can improve a child’s well-being, newer research finds that becoming a father affects the men, too. New fathers exhibit hormonal changes and, in turn, alter their behavior, which suggests that having children influences men in far-reaching ways.
“We’re finding that (fatherhood) does have mental health, well-being and actual physical health benefits,” says David DeGarmo, a research scientist at the non-profit Oregon Social Learning Center in Eugene.
DeGarmo is lead author of an 18-month study of 230 divorced fathers of kids ages 4-11 that was published in 2010 in the American Journal of Men’s Health. It found that when a father was more involved with his kids, “he had better health, drank less and had lower substance use.”
The first radical shake-up of family courts in decades is under way in the U.K. A dramatic list of consequences will befall any breach of court orders that flout court-endorsed arrangements for the care of children of separated parents. Children’s Minister Tim Loughton will announce that the Children Act 19879, which states that the child comes first in law courts, will be rewritten.
Henceforth the preferred option for the courts will be “the presumption that a child’s welfare is likely to furthered through safe involvement with both parents.” That is, in the absence of abuse, equal parenting, exactly the template we have been patiently awaiting in Canada, will be the default for splitting couples. Furthermore, mothers who refuse to permit access to the children may lose their passports, their driving licences or even their freedom of movement if they fail to comply.
Editor: I have not read the decision on this case, but at face value I find it rather extraordinary that a child needs to be told of her father’s apparent sexually deviant past. Now as we all know, being called a paedophile does not necessarily mean that you molested an infant. And in this case it is clear that the father has not been accused of abusing his own child.
What we do know however is that when the father was a child he committed an apparent paedophilic offence, but even though the man’s lineage reads like a horror story, the exact nature of his apparent offences are not made clear in the article.
However, I don’t profess to know the details of the offences, so perhaps someone can enlighten us here. My point however is about the child.
My burning issue is why is there a need to tell the child anything? How many other children who lose contact with their father are given a formal reason? Barring a recent exception, the answer is none. So why tell a child something as potentially scarring as this, especially when the Judge makes it clear that the child will in any case grow up in a challenging environment as it is.
A JUDGE has ordered that a five-year-old girl be told her father is a paedophile as soon as she is deemed old enough.