Call to end shared custody: Chisholm report

Caroline Overington; 29/1/10

A report commissioned by the Rudd government recommends major changes to the controversial shared parenting law introduced by former prime minister John Howard, saying it has put women and children at risk.  The report by retired Family Court judge Richard Chisholm says the law has also set fathers up to believe they are entitled to a 50-50 time split with their children after divorce, when this was never the parliament’s intention, nor part of the law. The report into family law was ordered by Attorney-General Robert McClelland, in response to the shocking death of four-year-old Melbourne girl Darcey Freeman, who was thrown to her death from the West Gate Bridge one year ago. Her father, Arthur Freeman, is now facing a murder charge. In launching the report yesterday, Mr McClelland said it was “motivated at least in part by the very tragic events, in the case of Darcey Freeman”. It has previously been reported that Darcey’s mother was too frightened to raise allegations of violence in the Family Court, lest she be considered an “unfriendly” parent determined to interrupt the relationship between the children and their father.

See: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/call-to-end-shared-custody-chisholm-report/story-e6frg6nf-1225824495340; Family Courts Violence; A report by Professor Richard Chisholm; 27/11/09; http://resources.news.com.au/files/2010/01/28/1225824/414897-chisholmreport.doc