Nearly 1.5 million Australians aged between 25-64 years are currently separated or divorced. It’s a scenario many people are impacted by at some point in their lives and sadly, often on more occasions than one.
Unfortunately, the anger and heartache it causes is rarely bared equally and divorce does not discriminate.
After working as a family lawyer for 13 years, I have noticed a number of patterns that commonly occur among families following a separation. One of the patterns involves mothers preventing fathers from seeing their children.
Sometimes, there is a clear reason why a father is not given access to their children; for example, domestic violence and drug use may have led to separation. When it happens for no good reason, it is cause for concern.
Parental alienation is a real problem in Australia…
And helping both parents gain consistent access to their children is something I care deeply about.
Women want financial security for themselves and for their children. I see mothers who are left to be the primary caregiver and often, given they don’t earn as much money as the father of their children, they find it harder to get back on track financially. Furthermore, when you take into consideration the time and money that goes into schooling, social activities, medical and dental appointments and everyday tasks, such as ironing uniforms, preparing meals and helping with homework, mums feel like they are doing it tough. With so much responsibility weighing down on them, it’s not hard to see why some mothers act out and prevent the father from seeing the kids as a form of punishment.
However, I believe it is important for mothers to consider how this behaviour will impact their kids.
While every case is different, I urge mothers to ask themselves…
If they are going to get what they need from the father of their children if they alienate him from the kids. I can tell you now, from my experience, the answer is most likely ‘no’. Such behaviour will just create additional friction and push the father further away.
Children deserve to have mums and dads in their lives. I believe it’s up to mums to make sure that their kids spend time with their dads even if they don’t like the father anymore. In the end, it’s not about you – it’s about your kids.
As it is, divorce and separation can lead to feelings of despair and significant emotional stress. It goes without saying that this is heightened for fathers who lose access to their children.
The impact of this can lead to even larger issues
It is well-known that suicide is a prominent public health concern – especially among Australian men. In fact, the suicide rate for men is three times higher than it is for women.
This fact is yet another reason to step forward and support the fathers out there who are battling this issue.
We should empower parents. We should give both mums and dads a better understanding of their rights, how to protect themselves moving forward and the visitation options available to them so they can see their children.
It is my aim to give parents the knowledge they need to see their children, especially dads.
At the end of the day, it is important for women to understand, that even though their separation may be painful, stopping a father from seeing their children is not the way to move forward.
When relationships come to an end, it is so important to work through the grief and we recommend separated couples seek help from a counsellor or psychologist if they are finding it hard. We have mentors and coaches that help our clients through the divorce journey. These specialists work to ensure our clients are dealing with the changes in their lives so they can think clearly – this is essential when making decisions and negotiating settlements regarding property and parenting arrangements. At the end of the day, we want our clients to be in a position to focus on what will work for their children and themselves. We want them to be able to move on with their lives.
If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide, seek help immediatelty. Call Lifeline (13 11 14) or the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467) or Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or see your doctor.
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- Why I am determined to help fathers see their children following separation - February 16, 2018