This week the Family Court ordered four young girls back to their father in Italy after a series of battles, including to the High Court. Unlike most family disputes, this was played out before the world’s eyes through international media.
The case reference for the Italian children court case is innocuously abbreviated to  FamCA 839. It represents the best and worst of international and family law, where each case may have no real winners and if there were, the system would be broken.
The Italian Children saga is about a mum who took four kids on a month’s holiday to Australia from Italy and never returned home.
A child deserves to know if their father is a paedophile. A child probably deserves to know why any judge made any particular decision about custody. At some stage, when they’re ready and they have the right support, they deserve to know.
There have been a couple of extraordinary moves in the past week, attempts by the court to better explain themselves, attempts to communicate more directly with the vulnerable people their decisions affect.
Last week, a magistrate wrote to two children to explain why he awarded sole custody to their mother. Today The Courier-Mail reveals a judge ordered that a five-year-old girl be told her father is a paedophile as soon as she is deemed old enough.
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A serious, if unintended problem has emerged from the last changes the Parliament made to the Family Law Act.
The changes were designed to improve shared parenting, but the safety of the child was meant to take precedence.
However it seems the courts are interpreting the changed law to mean that the right of the non-custodial parent to know the child or children is of greater consideration than the safety of the child.
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Somewhere in Victoria there’s a dad who faces a fine or possibly even jail should he put his son on the bathroom scales.
The Family Court has issued an order restraining the man from weighing his nine-year-old, or calling him chubby to his face or within earshot.
The extraordinary order stemmed from a bitter 16-day custody hearing where the child’s health was a major flashpoint. The court heard the dad is fixated on the fact his disabled son blew out to more than 40kg, and blames the mum.
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