August 21, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors
Finally, in his presentation to Australia’s Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System, Augusto Zimmerman takes on false allegations of domestic violence asserted in family courts.
That’s a highly relevant topic, given that almost the sole justification for opposition to shared parenting comes from radical feminists and the domestic violence industry. They routinely claim that judges ignore claims of DV in order to give primary child custody to abusive fathers. And, according to them, all those claims are valid, or false ones are so rare that they’re unimportant in the big picture.
Zimmerman takes down those patently untrue claims.
[S]urveys indicate that the general public is now fully aware that false allegations of domestic violence are regularly made, although accusers are virtually never punished. In a survey with over 12,500 Australian respondents, more than half agreed with the statement that ‘women going through custody battles often make up or exaggerate claims of domestic violence in order to improve their case, and only 28 per cent disagreed.’
The same findings were obtained in a survey of 68 Australian families by Dr Sotirious Sarantakos. This sociology professor at Charles Sturt University discovered that a considerable number of allegations of domestic violence are patently false. In such cases, ‘the initial allegations of DV were modified considerably by them during the course of the study, particularly when they were faced with the accounts of their children and mothers, admitting in the end that they were neither victims of violence nor acting in self-defence’.
Plus, family court judges who regularly deal with these claims well know that they’re often made for no reason other than to gain an advantage in the litigation.
As for members of the judiciary, the overwhelming majority of magistrates agree that false claims are often sought for collateral reasons pertaining to family court disputes and child custody issues. According to David Collier, a retired judge from the Parramatta Family Court, these orders have now become a “major weapon” in the war between parents who wish to secure sole custody of children.
In this sense, a survey of 38 magistrates in Queensland reveals that 74 per cent of them agreed that domestic violence restraining orders are often used for tactical purposes.
Similarly, a survey of 68 magistrates from New South Wales informs that 90 per cent of them agree that such orders are commonly sought as a ‘tactical device’ to aid applicants with family law disputes, and to deprive former partners of contact with their biological children.
And why wouldn’t they be? It is quite the irony that the very judges who know that many accusations of DV are false and made only to more easily marginalize the other parent in the lives of the children are the ones issuing the orders that do exactly that. Crocodile tears, indeed.
And, speaking of marginalizing the other parent,
There is indeed an obvious link between restraining orders, false claims of domestic violence, and parental alienation.
Of course there is. If one parent is bent on alienating the child, what better way to begin than by levelling a charge of DV against the other parent? The alienator will know to a virtual certainty that the judge will issue an order keeping the targeted parent away from the child and the child’s home. And that of course creates the ideal circumstance for further alienation, i.e. the alienator with 24-hour custody of the child. Therefore, via the DV process, judges abet parental alienation.
In addition to handing out DV restraining orders like candy on Halloween, the targets of those orders often aren’t given an opportunity to defend themselves because the hearings are ex parte, i.e. conducted without the target’s knowledge or presence in court. Not only that, but often those orders are issued on the basis of no evidence.
The problem of false allegations lies particularly in how these restraining orders are issued and the grounds for which they are made. Unfortunately, a considerable number of restraining orders are granted on a ‘without admissions’ basis that have virtually no evidentiary value in themselves.
There is therefore a notorious lack of scrutiny concerning the nature and substance of these complaints. That being so, it is always important to remind us that not everyone who applies for a restraining order is a genuine victim of violence, just as not everyone who is subject to such an order is necessarily the perpetrator. In fact, the person who is protected by the order may sometimes be the actual perpetrator, whereas the one bound by the order may actually be the real victim.
Under those circumstances, the targeted parent answers the doorbell one day only to be confronted by armed officers telling him to leave his house and not return. Why? He has no way of knowing, but his life is thrown into turmoil anyway.
Because respondents are required to vacate their family home, the granting of such orders have profound implications for the lives of those who are affected…
These orders nullify the fundamental right of homeowners to occupy their property, thus making a crime out of the ordinarily innocent act of merely returning home.
Furthermore, these orders often restrict contact with children, which may result in supervised parenting time or no time at all. A parent receiving such an order must immediately vacate his or her home and make no further contact with their children.
This is about children being maliciously alienated from one of their parents. These orders, separating fathers from their children for years, and even life, are often issued without any evidence of legal wrongdoing. They are often issued at a hearing at which the accused person is not present.
In short, the entire system of dealing with DV allegations should be scrapped and another put in its place that balances the need for protection from actual harm with the rights of the accused. As long as the current system remains, those who want to use it unjustly for malicious and deleterious ends will continue to do so.
Thanks to Augusto Zimmerman for fighting the good fight. It’s far from over.