Violent ex-partners are using a confusing family law to pursue shared custody of their children, a Labor MP says.
Graham Perrett wants to scrap a presumption of shared parental care, introducing a private member’s bill to parliament on Monday.
« There is a widely shared misconception that equal shared responsibility means equal shared care, » Mr Perrett told parliament.
« This can incentivise an abusive partner to litigate their parenting dispute. »
Mr Perrett said he was introducing the bill for Queensland woman Hannah Clarke who was murdered by her ex-husband.
Her three children were also killed.
Overturning the presumption has been a recommendation of multiple family law inquiries or reports.
Mr Perrett said since Ms Clarke’s death, 20 other women had been murdered by their former partners.
« There were fine words spoken in the aftermath of Hannah Clarke’s murder, but they ring hollower and hollower every day, » he said.
Family law experts and anti-violence advocates have called on parliament to back Mr Perrett’s bill.
Women’s Legal Service Queensland chief executive Angela Lynch said the laws were confusing and easily misunderstood.
« In practice, the current system places victims of violence on the back foot in court, mediation and in their negotiations with the violent perpetrator, » she said.
« (It) shifts the focus of decision-makers away from child safety and the best interests of children. »
Small Steps 4 Hannah chair Laura Bos said the family law system could make a difficult and emotionally charged situation even worse.
« What we have seen with Hannah Clarke and her babies is that ‘gaming’ the custody system is one nobody wins, and in the worst possible way, » she said.
Originally published as Shared parenting laws confusing: MP