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Too Many Parents Spoil the Broth
January 29, 2011 permalink
When parents are unable to care for their children, one of the best available alternatives is the grandparents. But what about cases where the parents are well able to care for the children? Imposing access rights for grandparents does the children more harm than good. An Australian newspaper reports on some cases.
Grandparents 'steal' kids from parents
THE Family Court is "creating a new stolen generation" by placing children with their estranged grandparents.
An angry Adelaide mother claims federal laws eroded the rights of parents and favoured grandparents, who had the time and money to fight long, expensive legal battles.
She said the system left children as young as four at the mercy of neglectful older relatives, risking their psychological wellbeing.
"The family law system is driven by money and if you cannot afford it, then you have no hope of justice," she said. "Why should any mother be forced to give their child to a person they do not trust to keep them safe?"
In 2000, the Howard government changed the Family Law Act (1975) to emphasise "shared parenting" of children. Amendments gave grandparents the right to seek overnight, partial or total custody of a child.
Parents are required to leave children at "contact centres", monitored by social workers, so a relationship can develop with the grandparents.
Those who refuse risk jail and appealing against a Family Court decision costs in excess of $6000.
This month, The Advertiser reported a grandfather was given access to his dead son's daughter - a child he had not seen since the day she was born. His application was granted despite the objections of the girl's mother.
That decision has prompted another mother - who cannot be identified - to speak out. "The court is creating a new stolen generation due to the forcible removal of children from their parents," she said.
"Why are children as young as four being forced away from their parents in confusion?"
She has written to federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland, asking that he change the law so grandparents cannot seek custody until children turn 12.
"The law as it stands gives a grandparent power and control over a parent's life," she said. "At a time a person should be raising their child, they are consumed with fighting to prevent parenting orders being given to a stranger."
SA Law Society president Ralph Bonig said imposing age restrictions would harm, not help, children.
A spokesman for Mr McClelland said the Federal Government was "confident" the system "adequately" catered for the individual circumstances of each case.
Source: The Advertiser