Are children protected in the Family Court? A perspective from Western Australia
Jenkins, S. (2002). Are children protected in the Family Court? A perspective from Western Australia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 23(3), 145-52.
Despite a landmark High Court judgement in the area of child sexual abuse allegations (M and M, 1988), a major concern in such cases seems to be the fear that mothers use false accusations against fathers as 'weapons' in custody and contact cases. This paper seeks to examine the validity of such views as they apply to Western Australia. In particular, it examines the belief that false accusations are rampant; the questionable nature of 'parental alienation syndrome', the belief that young children's accounts of abuse lack credibility, and the ignoring of the effect of abuse itself on the nature of a child's testimony. The paper argues that the principle of 'protection of the child's best interests' should not necessarily be equated with the child having access, even supervised access, with a parent previously accused of having abused the child.