Domestic violence victims must not be pressured by lawyers into unwillingly accepting child custody arrangements, Chief Justice of the Family Court, Diana Bryant, has emphasised at a recent family law conference.
The impact of unwillingly giving ‘consent’ has been noted in the tragic case of Abbey, the teenage girl whose story has recently been publicised through her mother’s founding of ‘Abbey’s Project’. Abbey took her own life, her mother believes, because of the confusion she experienced after being abused by her father yet having parenting orders put in place that allowed him overnight custody. Abbey’s mother has denied giving willing consent, blaming her psychological and financial inability to continue to fight – after 11 years going through the system—for the orders being made.
Chief Justice Bryant related to the conference her own experience with parents whose orders were made with ‘consent’, when such consent had been unwillingly given and obtained through pressure by lawyers. She told the conference how parents reported being warned by lawyers that their story would not be believed, and she reminded family law professionals that, “We must ensure always, all of us, lawyers and judges, that where the orders have been by consent, that it is truly and absolutely a reflection of appropriate practice and free will.” In cases dealing with family violence, Chief Justice Bryant said “the Act provides for matters to be raised with the court and they should be”.
Please do not hesitate to contact Cristina Huesch here at Alliance Family Law, should you need assistance with parenting consent orders.