Entries in Mythbusters: Family Law & Divorce (6)


A wasted opportunity to engage with the literature on the implications of attachment research for family court professionals

Anti-shared parenting lobbyists in Australia, the U.K and U.S made much of Jennifer McIntosh's "findings" that no overnight stays or joint physical custody is best for toddlers. Professor Lamb however, sheds light on a central problem with her research. Does she tend to present her information in a way favourable to her point of view? Rather than reviewing relevant information objectively, has the researcher-turned-advocate shaped the data to prop-up the outcome she wishes to achieve? Tangential to McIntosh’s misrepresentations of the literature, her attempt to prop up the numbers as guest editor of the Family Court Review is also revealed.

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Press Starting To See the Light in Abduction Case | Fathers & Families

This case has stirred the Australian press for almost a month now.  I posted this piece about it some two weeks ago.  It’s the case of the Australian woman who moved to Italy to study the language, met an Italian man, married him and had four daughters with him.  They separated with her getting primary custody and him getting fairly sparse visitation.  Two years ago, she took the girls to Australia for what she said was a holiday, never to return.  He’s been going through various court procedures to try to get his kids back and earlier this year, prevailed.  An Australian court found that the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction required the girls’ return to Italy.  The mother had claimed that the father was abusive, but the Australian judge found no evidence of that.  

What’s been most remarkable about the case is the press coverage it’s received in Australia.  In my first piece on it, I pointed out that, of the many articles on the case, not one reporter thought to contact the father.  Against a seamless backdrop of pro-mother outrage, the father remained literally voiceless.  That was true despite the fact that the mother had plainly violated the law.  As well, her claims of abuse had been investigated and found unsupported.  So in fact, the judge did the only thing he could do and the only thing he should have done for the sake of the children, the father and the rule of law – order them returned to the father in Italy.

But the fact that the legal system worked properly and reached the correct result seemed not to dawn on any reporter on the case.  If it did, they never let on about it.

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Money for nothing


Munish Dalal and his wife, Preeti. Photo: Simon De Trey-White

Munish Dalal was once the most detested man in India. In 2003, his then fiancee, Nisha Sharma, told police he had arrived at her house on the eve of their wedding and asked for 1.2 million rupees ($A23,000) and a car as dowry. In a country where demanding dowry is illegal Sharma was hailed for standing up to a greedy bridegroom, while Dalal spent two months in jail before being released on bail.

Over the next few years Dalal lost his reputation and his job. His mother, too, lost the teaching position she had held for 36 years. Meanwhile, the case was used in school textbooks to illustrate the social evil of dowry, with Dalal portrayed as the villain and Sharma as a courageous woman who took a principled stand.

But then everything changed. In February, a court acquitted Dalal of the charge. The judge found that Sharma had been in love with another man and wanted to marry him. So by falsely accusing Dalal of demanding dowry she was able to get out of the marriage to Dalal without angering her parents.

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Monash academic retracts erroneous claim that DV is major cause of divorce

The following statement seeks to correct the public record with respect to some minor and inadvertent inaccuracies that were contained in the book  “Child Abuse and Family Law” that was published in 2007 by Allen and Unwin and co-authored with Professor Thea Brown.  The following material statement also seeks to correct the media release that was issued by Monash University's Media and Communications Unit in August 2009.

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Child abuse - kids are safest with dads

The myth in Family Law circles that children are somehow at greater risk being with dads is clearly rejected by the evidence.