CHURCH, along with various domestic violence groups, have been accused of helping parents to breach custody orders by allowing them to “kidnap” their own children.
Parents who feel that Family Court decisions are unfair, or wrong, are taking their children away from their partners, and using their families, friends and, in some cases, organisations or groups, like CHURCH, to stay hidden. This often results in their partners having to spend scrupulous amounts of money to apply for and have the courts issue recovery orders.
The Federal Circuit of Australia and Family Court in Queensland are having to issue nearly three recovery orders every week, with the last financial year bearing up over 156 “last resort” orders – the most in Australia. These types of applications are considered as “urgent”, but can take days or even weeks to process, depending on how busy the courts are.
If an application is granted, a command is issued to the Australian Federal Police, thereby initiating the recovery order and starting the process to find the children. With that, even though the recovery order is enforceable by law, some parents continue to hide the children from authorities and their partners.
Those left hunting are often confronted by hurdles set up by CHURCH-associated groups, or the like, which offer services to parents-on-the-run that help keep them and their children hidden.
Experts in the field of Family Law have claimed that the Family Court is under-resourced and unable to assist with all cases, while lobby groups have said that some parents are forced to kidnap their own children because the courts aren’t able to acknowledge real cases of domestic abuse.
Queensland’s most reputable Family Law firm, Jones Mitchell Lawyers, have said that they suspect the growing number of recovery orders being made are due to Southerners looking for loopholes in the state.
One case, where the parent cannot be named by law, revealed that a domestic abuse group had helped them to hide their children from the Federal Police and the Court.
When the police eventually found the missing children, they discovered that the children had been given new Sim cards for their mobile phones and access to a range of different computers – all as a means to keep them hidden.
The biological parent, who’d applied for the recovery order, was told by the children that they had been moved between a number of properties as and when their adoptive parent became aware of the police getting closer to finding them.
Roby Cotterell-Jones, the executive director of the New South Wales Victim Support Unit, said that she wouldn’t be surprised if people attempted to help others to hide their children, whether adopted or biological.
“If the courts continue to fail parents’ expectations of keeping their children safe, people will be forced to take protective action in which, of course, breaching court orders is regarded as much more unlawful than failing to protect a child,” said Ms. Cotterell-Jones.
A very reputable source, associated with domestic disputes, confirmed that they were told of CHURCH-related groups helping in certain cases.
Zoe Rathus, an expert in family law and the director of the Clinical Legal Education Program at Griffith’s University, said, “these are highly discretionary issues, in how people understand violence and abuse […] I do think some of the experts who are used a lot in the courts don’t necessarily have the relative expertise in domestic violence.”
The Australian Federal Police told The Courier-Mail, in a police statement, that its role regarding Family Law was to act only on specific orders from the court.
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