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Family Courts Destroying Families and Children Daily

Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 08:00:15 +1300
From: "Jim Bailey" <Jim@HandsOnEqualParent.org.nz>
Subject: NZ - So called Runaway Fathers - Thank-you Pat Booth at leased we got a mention

Source:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/sundaystartimes/auckland/0,2106,3504164a6498,00

Lousy partner - but a great father

07 December 2005


Suburban Newspapers consulting editor Pat Booth continues writing about runaway fathers.

Images from either extreme of a major community issue - hurt, bitter mothers who believe they have been abandoned without reasonable income to carry the babies of broken relationships and marriages; angry fathers who see themselves as refugees from a justice and welfare system, which they say makes a bad situation far worse

And sadly, only a minority like this: "Greetings Pat. I read your column about runaway fathers who abandon their children both financially and emotionally, and want to comment on my experience.

"I am one of the luckier single mothers. I have two children, my youngest is 11. I have been separated from their father for the past 10 years. For the past six I have worked a fulltime job, with no extra financial support from Winz. Over this time, their father has never missed a single support payment (in fact if the payment is not paid on time each month, he rings IRD to find out WHY!).

"Even though our marriage failed, we have both been able to keep the children as the most important consideration in any decision that is made. The children love their father and see him weekly and spend most holidays with him. We do live 25km apart on opposite sides of Auckland.

"For both of us, juggling the children, and our own activities, requires a level of commitment that we are both very proud to have achieved, and it has sometimes been really hard work to keep communication lines open.

"Both children have a larger circle of friends, broader range of experiences, more quality time with each parent, than they would have had had I stayed with their father. (He will drive across Auckland just to go on school outings. All they have to do is ask.)

"I am proud to say that even though my ex made a lousy partner, he is the most committed parent that I could wish for.

"I know that both children are going to grow into emotionally healthy adults, as they have a closer relationship with their father now than if we had stayed living together.

I am sure there are plenty of selfish men out there, who don't understand the word responsibility, especially when it comes to having children, and unfortunately society suffers in the long run.

"But, there are also many wonderful men who love their children and want the best for them. So let's not forget the fathers who do support their children and do their very best to see them grow up into well adjusted adults. Kind regards, Dianne."

Recap: The original column highlighted these facts:

That the government planned a law change to wipe out half of the current total of $1 billion owed in unpaid child support after marriage and relationship breakups. This would be achieved by doing away with the penalty fees for non-payment included in that total. The total amount of $1b represents a doubling of the debt - from $400 million - in 2000. The highest domestic totals owing are in Manukau and Takapuna districts.

That more than $312m of the total is owed by "non-custodial parents" overseas. New Revenue Minister Peter Dunne says the plan "provides an incentive for non-custodial parents who stopped paying child support after being overwhelmed by penalty payments to start contributing again".

First reactions included: Some mothers believe they are owed thousands. One quoted $20,000 from years of non-payment; absent fathers who reacted angrily to labels like "bolters ... runaways" felt a biased court and inefficient, punitive enforcement system left them no option.

Others include more letters like this from the founder of the HandsOnEqualParent Trust, headed "Pat Booth ought to be prosecuted for spreading these misandrous lies", which detailed his personal experience and added: "You have still got it wrong, Pat. I honour any man/woman who refuses to pay so-called `child support'. So-called child support is a Parent TAX that has never done any child any good. So-called child support supports the `Families in Anguish' Industries and the De-Fathering of our Nation ... You are adding to the 300,000 kids who spent last night without their own dad."

His reply noted he had forwarded the column to a variety of organisations worldwide, including California, Scotland and Australia, and asked them to respond to it.

This came from Leeds: "The deterrence to a father against taking an active part in his children's lives, post-separation, is massive and systemic in the United Kingdom, in New Zealand, in the United States, well-nigh everywhere in the Western world. We are not treated as full and equal citizens. Our children are taught to despise us ...

"I am writing as the son of a single mother family, with a mother and other siblings who I supported and defended, and the father of a child I have been fighting to see for over 10 years, although I have simply attempted to be as responsible towards her as my mother was towards me. We grew up in relative poverty because family lawyers took our money.

"I have no truck with men's groups. I am for equal parenting, not partisan parenting. I have every sympathy with single mothers and indeed single fathers who have to look after children on their own - and even more so for those who are denied any part in their children's lives. I have been fighting for those years to be a parent to my own daughter, a situation that would never have arisen without the State supporting an alienating mother, as we had a very happy separated family for three years before court intervention.

"I am living the worst punishment you could inflict on a loving parent and child - it is practically unendurable. The pain arises precisely from the fact that I remain loyal to my daughter and do not shirk my parental responsibility, in an official world which is utterly hostile to me doing so. From my perspective, that of a parent who has not abandoned my child, child abandonment is utterly understandable.

"Under present unjust laws, fathers will frequently be serving their children's interests better by abandoning them than if they stay around."

This from DADD (Dads Against Divorce Discrimination) Concord,US: "Fathers are not abandoning their children, they are being driven out of their lives by feminazi judges more interested in perpetuating their communistic `Transfer of Wealth' scheme as an entitlement for women, than the best interests of the children.

"The amount of money owed is not rising because more fathers are deliberately withholding support. It rises because the war against fathers is proceeding apace. More and more fathers are being victimized by the Family Court ... It is the duty of every concerned citizen to resist the tyranny of government, and the `transfer of wealth' scheme is just that; tyranny. So, for all those aggrieved fathers who DO resist the order to pay those socialist orders, I say, `Good on 'ya, mate'!"

From others: "According to your column, women never have affairs, women never run off with another man, taking the kids with them, women never kick their partner//husband out in order to have a relationship with someone else. No, according to you it's always the man's fault. Men are `bolters', treat their children callously and turn their back on the woman they left. Women never turn their back on the man.

"No doubt you also agree with the judicial system that penalizes the man, hands down restrictive orders based on evidence from only one party? And of course there is no such thing as a vindictive woman so everything she says must be believed 100 percent. Well, that's the way the courts and Pat Booth see it.

"Reality is a totally different story. Courts hold hearings and make rulings, despite in many cases not seeing the man concerned. They place full weight on a biased affidavit from the supposed female `victim'. Investigation? Well, in many cases that's carried out by the woman's legal counsel so that's hardly objective either. Men must then spend hundreds of dollars in order to have another hearing just to hear their side.

"Various ministers of justice see no fault in this totally biased system. On top of this, we have Inland Revenue that arbitrarily sets child support with no weight given to the man's actual living expenses.

"Or perhaps, you can explain to your readers how one lives on $11,000 gross a year. Because that's all Inland Revenue allow. They will take a share of the rest. In addition, Inland Revenue works its calculation on gross pay despite this not being what the man gets in his hand. So, child support is calculated on PAYE that Inland Revenue already gets. I guess you see this as fair as well?

"So, if a man wishes to try and restart his life and to escape the millstone around his neck that is the Family Court and Inland Revenue and to do this he goes overseas, I say good luck to him."

*s* "I have spent nine years on the benefit with the accompanying humiliations of dealing with Winz. Nine years struggling to maintain the family on a low income while retraining and putting myself into debt to do so, while the children's father can afford to drive a nice vehicle and go on overseas holidays with a new partner whose children are grown.

"At the same time he is a vocal advocate for men's rights to be involved in their children's lives and can talk knowledgeably about the results for children deprived of being parented by their fathers.

"There are many mothers out there like me and many men out there like him. What these men don't seem to realize is that whatever income I have goes to support the children and pay for their needs, while they can flash their money around on presents to impress the children and on holidays. Just when is the government and society going to make them accountable and make them pay up?"


This significant and revealing correspondence is closed - but, unfortunately, the major issue for society and its children, the individual anguish which is so much a part of the problem, is still wide open. And these questions are still unanswered:

What is the explanation for the $600m increase over six years in the unpaid child support debt? What impact is it having on the parents and families involved? Are the complaints justified in claiming bias in the Family Court?

What action is planned to make the system work for all three groups involved, fathers, mothers and all those dependent children - other than the questionable tactic of simply wiping $400m from the total owing?

* To contact Pat Booth email: offpat@snl.co.nz.

All replies are open for publication unless marked Not For Publication.