Does the child support plan affect the mental health of fathers

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Over a million Australian children are currently living without their fathers and the legislation underpinning the family court system and the child support scheme has been a major contributing factor to the current absence crisis. father in this country.

Contrary to popular belief, child support has nothing to do with irresponsible fathers abandoning their children.

Developed in the late 1980s to impose jurisdiction on the courts, the National Child Support Scheme was largely driven by the need to ensure that private transfers of money from fathers to mothers reduced the burden on the state in terms of social spending.

According to Patrick Parkinson, a professor at the University of Queensland and one of the country’s leading academics on family law, the support scheme provides “perverse incentives…to primary caregivers to prevent children from spending more time with the other parent in order to avoid a reduction in the number of child support obligations”.

Wherever possible, he adds, these perverse incentives should be avoided, “and legislative policies in these areas should be in harmony rather than in conflict”.

Today, many women can approach divorce with greater confidence that the financial benefits could outweigh the losses. For the men, on the other hand, a particular cause for consternation has been the impending loss of contact with the children they have loved, protected and helped raise.

A common scenario is where the wife leaves, taking the children with her, and sometimes all the furniture as well. These women get custody of the children, most of the value of the family home, and the alimony agency makes sure the victim husbands pay child support for the children they rarely see.

Another common scenario is where the husband is obligated to pay the mortgage payments but forced to leave the family home immediately and pay the rent for a separate residence for himself.

Child support has led to the breakdown of families in Australia. (fizkes/Shutterstock)

As family policy expert Barry Maley notes, “His marriage and his expectations have been destroyed, he has largely lost his children, lost his home and much of his income. Her chances of mending her broken and impoverished life, re-establishing a partnership, and possibly having more children are slim.

One can hear the testimony of countless husbands whose wives ran away and got sole custody of the children, when they are supposed to pay alimony and sometimes even alimony.

In this sense, research studies (pdf) indicate that divorce following the loss of significant contact with children is a major factor in male suicide. Australia’s death rate among child support payers is almost double the rate of men who do not have administrative child support assessments.

It can therefore be concluded that divorce followed by loss of access to children has a strong net effect on suicide mortality, but only among men. Among women, there are no statistically significant differences in suicide risk across marital status categories.

This leads to an important question: “Why do divorced men commit suicide?”

Augustine Kpsowa, professor of sociology at the University of California-Riverside, explains that,

… there seems to be an implicit assumption that the bond between a woman and her children is stronger than that between a man and his children. Therefore, in a divorce settlement, custody of the children is more likely to go to the wife. In the end, the father not only loses his marriage, but his children.

The result can be anger at the justice system, especially in situations where the husband feels betrayed because the wife initiated the divorce, or because the courts have virtually given away everything that previously belonged to the husband. ex-husband or household now gone. the former wife.

The events can escalate into resentment (towards the spouse and “the system”), bitterness, anxiety and depression, lowered self-esteem and a feeling that “life is not worth living”. As depression and poor mental health are known markers of suicide risk, it may well be that one of the underlying reasons for the observed association between divorce and suicide in men is the impact of “arrangements” after the divorce (sanctioned by the court).

Add domestic violence charges and the father will not only be evicted from his property, but also required to prove his innocence before being allowed within 100 meters (328 feet) of his children.

Epoch Times Photo
A family walks in Westminster, Calif., Sept. 22, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

As retired Parramatta Family Court judge David Collier noted, bogus charges of domestic violence orders have become a “major weapon” in parents’ war for sole custody of children.

The problem is how domestic violence orders are issued and the grounds on which they are made. There is a noticeable lack of examination of the nature and substance of these serious complaints.

The timing is a possible sign that someone is requesting such an order for reasons other than genuine safety concerns. A common example is that after initiating custody proceedings, the accuser seeks this restraining order with the practical effect of gaining the advantage in family court proceedings.

Of course, not everyone who applies for a domestic violence order is necessarily the actual victim, just as not everyone who is the subject of such an order is necessarily the abuser.

It goes without saying that laws cannot be written for the sole benefit of one partner without being labeled overtly sexist. Likewise, they can and have been used by male partners for equally malicious purposes.

In sum, there is a clear link between the child support scheme and attempts to eradicate the relationship between children and fathers. These fathers pay child support through the government, but are estranged from their children.

Because child support is calculated on the number of nights children spend with their fathers, a moral hazard is created that can cause a primary caregiver to deny access for the lowest of reasons, money.

If you need crisis help, call Lifeline 13 11 14

Correction: Professor Patrick Parkinson is no longer Dean of Law at the University of Queensland. The Epoch Times regrets the error.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Epoch Times.

Augusto Zimmermann

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Augusto Zimmermann is Professor and Director of Law at the Sheridan Institute of Higher Education in Perth. He is also President of the Western Australian (WA) Legal Theory Association and was a member of the WA Law Reform Commission from 2012 to 2017. Zimmermann is Adjunct Professor at the University of Notre Dame Australia and has co-authored several books, including COVID-19 Restrictions and Mandatory Vaccination – A Rule of Law Perspective (Connor Court).

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