Child support has always been a contentious issue, but saying that mothers are pretending that they have been victims of domestic violence is further adding fuel to the fire. There is no evidence to suggest that women fabricate instances of domestic violence.
Every week in Australia, statistics indicate that one woman is fatally injured by her partner and a third of Australian women have been subjected to domestic violence at some stage in their relationship.
The Lone Fathers’ Association of Australia (LFFA) has sent a letter to the inquiry, with the argument that changes made to laws in 2011 have encouraged parents who are seeking divorces to falsify alleged acts of domestic violence against them by their ex-partners so that they can ensure that the ex-partner does not gain access or custody of the children.
The LFFA has also claimed that parents have committed suicide as a result of the current child support laws and little or no help has been given to men. The association says that this has resulted in more spousal and children’s murders and suicides.
The general consensus amongst critics of these suggestions made by the LFFA is that domestic violence is normally underreported - not exaggerated.
Barry Williams, LFAA President, criticises the 2011 reforms because the reforms consider that domestic violence includes making threats, stalking, acts of intimidation, the hurting of pets or the controlling of partners financially. This means, in his view, that it’s easy for partners to lie when it comes to instances of domestic violence so that they can gain more when a divorce settlement is being reached.
He further stated in his letter, written on behalf of the LFAA, that the reforms only favour one side, which makes it particularly difficult for men who have not subjected their partners to domestic violence to feel they have been treated fairly. Some, as a result, have committed suicide to rid themselves of their anguish, he alleges.
He further believes that if a man is innocent he is not given the chance to defend himself fairly under the 2011 legislation, but assumed guilt comes before being innocent. He related to occasions when a man was assumed to be guilty of domestic violence and is later released from the guilt. On occasions like this, the accuser is not reprimanded for making false accusations.
According to Therese Edwards, CEO of the Adelaide based National Council on Single Mothers and Their Children, who has yet to file evidence at the inquiry, suggesting that women should tell lies about domestic violence is trivialising what is a serious issue affecting women.
She continued by saying that, in general, acts of domestic violence are not all reported because women fear that if they reveal how they are treated by their partners the courts will think that their children have experienced seeing acts of violence and therefore as mothers, they have acted in a negligent manner towards their children.