Friday, 5 November, 2004
Turner: Govt misses chance to help children of divorce
The Government has missed a huge opportunity to help children whose parents are divorcing by failing to take note of
innovative mediation approaches overseas, most notably recent Australian reforms, United Future's Judy Turner said
"They have also failed to consider Law Society recommendations on mediation and the startling results of a North Shore
Family Court pilot scheme, where parents in custody disputes have to attend two parent education sessions before getting
Mrs Turner, who has sponsored a Member's Bill backing just such a scheme, was critical of the Government's failure in
debate on the Care of Children Bill in Parliament this morning.
"Four hours is not a lot for parents to give to focus on the impact on their children at a time when they often get so
wrapped up in what is happening to themselves.
"It is about letting them know what their children face in the middle of a family storm. Sometimes that gets lost, even
for otherwise good and well-meaning parents."
Mrs Turner, United Future's family affairs spokeswoman, said she believed that most parents would see this move as
positive. Some 97 percent of those who have been through the North Shore Children in the Middle pilot scheme have since
stated that it should be mandatory.
"In the end, parents love their kids and a few hours of mediation and education can make a huge difference," she said.
"The fact is that by the time a couple are standing before a Family Court judge, their children have already been
damaged and they have proved that can't negotiate a healthy resolution.
"Anything that helps short-circuit this by encouraging sensible, non-legal alternatives can only benefit both parents
and children," she said.