MELBOURNE, Australia -- An Australian judge took the extraordinary step of writing to two children involved in a custody dispute, explaining why he gave sole custody to their mom even though he does not accept her claims that their dad abused them.So what was the mom's concern? It was that her own mother visited a psychic clairvoyant who predicted that the dad would sexually abuse the kids!
Australian Federal Magistrate Tom Altobelli published his decision on the court's website, ordering the boy, 11, and his sister, 6, to live with their mom, and the dad's contact to be restricted to letters and birthday cards.
The judge's letter, which is to be opened once the children turn 14, is a plea that the children renew contact with the father, explaining that their mother's claims he abused them are false.
"At the time I had to decide the case your mom believed in her heart that your dad hurt you," he has written.
"My job is to look at all the information, and listen very carefully to what everybody says, including the experts. I decided that you had not been hurt by your dad," Altobelli wrote.
"Even after I told your mum what I decided, I think she still believed in her heart that your dad had hurt you. This just goes to show that sometimes words do not change a person's heart," he added.
W.F. Price comments:
One of the insane things I encountered during divorce was the idea that joint custody is often held to be feasible only when there is cooperation on the part of the parents. Fortunately, this idea is not enshrined in law in Washington state – although it is unofficial policy for social workers – but apparently it is where Altobelli’s court has jurisdiction (Australia). The problem with this view is that it gives the custodial parent (typically the mother) an incentive to create conflict if they don’t want to share the children’s visitation. Fathers simply cannot win if the mother puts her foot down.I ran into the same problem. The judge and the psychologist could never figure out what my ex-wife, Julie Travers, was complaining about. She is a lawyer herself, but she was incoherent in court. She relectlessly pursued claims in court for 7 years. Her claims made about as much sense as a prediction from a clairvoyant.
The psychologist, Ken Perlmutter, testified in court that I was just as good a parent as my ex-wife, and that all of her allegations were unfounded. I would quote his report, but my ex-wife successfully argued that I should be held in contempt of court if I do. After collecting $28,000, he recommended that court orders be continued until he could be paid more money to do another evaluation. He gave no explanation except that he was following his religion.
It ought to be obvious that a policy of giving child custody to overly litigious parents who make false accusations is a terrible policy. It encourages false accusations and benefits lying parents. There is also empirical evidence that it is bad for kids. The academic studies all show that the more the parents dispute custody, the more necessary it is to get a favorable outcome for the kids.