Over one million Australian children are currently living without their fathers and the legislation underpinning the family court system and the child support scheme has been a major factor contributing to the present crisis of fatherlessness in this country.
Contrary to popular belief, child support payments have nothing to do with irresponsible fathers abandoning their children.
Developed in the late 1980s to outset the jurisdiction of the courts, the nation’s child support scheme was largely driven by the need to ensure that private transfers of money from fathers to mothers reduced the burden of the state in terms of welfare expenditure.
As far as possible, he adds, these perverse incentives must be avoided, “and legislative policies in these areas should be in harmony rather than conflict.”
Many women today can contemplate divorce with greater confidence that the financial benefits might outweigh the losses. For men, by contrast, a particular cause of dismay has been the imminent loss of contact with children they have loved, protected, and helped raise.
A common scenario is where the wife leaves, taking the children with her—and sometimes all the furniture too. These wives get custody of the children, most of the value of the family house, and the child support agency ensures that the victimized husbands pay support for children they rarely see.
Another familiar scenario is where the husband is forced to pay the mortgage payments but forced to leave the family home immediately and pay rent for a separate residence for himself.
One can hear the testimony of countless husbands whose wives have run off and been awarded sole custody of children, while they are expected to pay child support and sometimes even spouse maintenance.
We may therefore conclude that divorce followed by the loss of access to children has a strong net effect on mortality from suicide, but only among men. Amongst women, there are no statistically significant differentials in the risk of suicide by marital status categories.
This leads to an important question: “Why are divorced men killing themselves?”
… there seems to be an implicit assumption that the bond between a women and her children is stronger than that between a man and his children. As a consequence, in a divorce settlement, custody of children is more likely to be given to the wife. In the end, the father loses not only his marriage, but his children.
The result may be anger at the court system especially in situations wherein the husband feels betrayed because it was the wife that initiated the divorce, or because the courts virtually gave away everything that was previously owned by the ex-husband or the now defunct household to the former wife.
The problem is how family violence orders are issued and the grounds for which they are made. There is a notorious lack of scrutiny about the nature and substance of these serious complaints.
Timing is a possible sign that someone is seeking such an order for some reasons which are other than a real concern for safety. A common example is that, after initiating custody proceedings, the accuser applies for this restraining order with the practical effect of obtaining an upper hand at family court proceedings.
Of course, not everyone who applies for a family violence order is necessarily a genuine victim, just as not everyone who is subject to such an order is not necessarily the perpetrator.
In sum, there is a clear link between the child support scheme and attempts to eradicate the relationship between children and fathers. These fathers are paying support through the government yet alienated from their children.