To Mr. David Burns
Family Law Section
New Zealand Law Society
Dear Mr. Burns,
I am a Law student and a Men's Rights activist, and as such I am in an excellent
position to evaluate the respective stances of yourself and of Fathers' Rights
The Family Law section's stated goals are as follows: To --
act as a strong proactive lobby group advancing the interests of families
initiate discussion of family law issues; and
raise the profile and image of family lawyers and the work they do and
counter some of the misconceptions the public have about lawyers generally.
In that context, it is nothing short of scandalous, to my mind, that the
Family Law section has taken a solidly anti-father line on Family Law issues
on every occasion where I have seen any publicity about it. It is clear, from
that and from other facts, that the Family Law section considers "the
interests of families and children" to be no more than a trojan horse
for the interests of mothers -- which is what the Fathers Movement has been
(correctly) claiming about lawyers and the Family Court all along.
There is no more powerless position for a man to be in than for him to be
in a lawyer's office -- he is at the mercy of a person who (in my experience)
is usually pursuing totally separate agendas, in addition to, or even conflicting
with, the agenda that his/her male client wishes him/her to pursue. One such
agenda occurs in the context of the lawyer being an Officer of the Court,
which role the lawyer is of course free to interpret very liberally.
The power of the average lawyer is combined with huge ignorance about relevant
matters which are not directly legal, but which impact severely on their male
clients. The average Family Lawyer (if you are a typical example) is completely
ignorant of any Fathers' Rights perspective on Family Law matters. Actually,
the situation is much worse than that, because the typical lawyer carries
around a vast amount of Feminist ideological baggage which is anti-male and
either untrue or half-true. This baggage is inculcated in him/her at Law School,
and reinforced by the Law Society.
I will give you just one -- but a very important -- example: Here is a quote
from New Zealand Family Court Judge K G MacCormick (A v R  NZFLR 1105,
"That more women seek (protection orders) is no doubt
(my emphasis) because men are generally physically stronger and more inclined
to try to resolve disputes by the use of physical force."
It is not just that the Judge was patently utterly wrong (see http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm
), and it is not just that such anti-male stereotypes and prejudices are grossly
oppressive towards men and destructive of families. The main point is that
the learned Judge did not feel the need to refer to anything remotely resembling
evidence before making a statement like that, and (possibly) basing his judgement
on it. Of course, the Police mainly arrest men -- not women -- for Domestic
Violence, but that is obviously because men don't complain about female domestic
violence, or get treated with contempt if they do.
My Law School may or may not be typical, but Feminist Legal Theory is taught
as an optional subject, with no counterbalancing Masculist Legal Theory, and
Feminist pressure-group propaganda from Women's Refuges and Rape Crisis (which
is of incredibly poor intellectual quality, apart from being grossly biased)
is fed to students in compulsory courses ! Students have a right to expect
(however unrealistically) that their legal training at university will consist
of truly academic and unbiased material, which will not distort their understanding
of issues in order for lecturers to impose their own political agendas --
through their students - on Society at large !
The Law Society itself has a Women's Consultative Group, but no Men's Consultative
Group, and I have been told that it would be unlikely that many male lawyers
would want to join any Men's Consultative Group. That may seem to indicate
that there is no need for one, but the very opposite is the case. With the
ideological training in (aspects of) Feminism which most lawyers will have
gone through, male lawyers cannot even begin to conceive of why they might
need to have one !
Meanwhile, the lack of one biases the Law Society in an anti-male direction.
I turn now to your reported comments in the Dominion Post of Saturday April
10 2004. There, you say that the fact that it is mostly women who look after
children, while a relationship exists, makes it appropriate that they should
have custody, when the relationship ends. This is an example of an inability
to look at issues from any other stance than a woman's best interests. Would
you say that the fact the man is usually the one who is earning money during
the relationship means that he should not have to contribute to his children's
or his wife's assets or income when the relationship ends ? Of course not
-- that wouldn't suit the mother, would it ? By your logic, the man should
keep all of the assets and all of the income of the relationship, since the
woman is keeping all of the children.
If you stopped looking at the issue from a woman's best interests perspective,
you would see that:
the relationship is a unit where roles and responsibilities are split,
and there is an underlying implied contract and fiduciary relationship
(LAC Minerals v Intl Corona Resources 61 DLR (4th) , 28, La Forest J)
whereby (in many cases) one partner works full-time -- for the whole
family -- in return for the other partner doing the housework and child-care
-- for the whole family. Once this interdependent relationship
comes to an end, it is a whole new ball-game, and it is grossly unfair
to the parties to pretend otherwise;
the person who takes on the main childcaring role is not obviously chosen
because they are the best person to do that, in terms of the best interests
of the children. The main factors are quite likely to be who wants to
take on that role, who is socially expected to take on that role, and
who will earn less if they work full-time.
Childcare is not difficult ! Only a Feminist who claims that being able
to talk and breathe at the same time is evidence that women can do two
things at once would claim that looking after children is difficult !
I've done it, and I know.
There are no standards, other than minimal legal standards, imposed
on childcare in the home. You can be a useless child-carer, and who would
There is no management in place over someone looking after children
at home, so there is no evaluation, monitoring or enforcement of standards;
The partner who is working full-time often plays the "bad cop",
disciplinarian role, as a back up to the main caregiver, who can use him
(or her) as a threat, in order to keep control over children. Once the
relationship ends, that role is removed, and the dynamics of the child-care
situation may be drastically worsened;
There is no research evidence that I am aware of to prove that a change
of principal caregiver (between parents upon separation or divorce) is
in itself significanty disruptive to a child.
I look forward to joining the Family Law Section of the Law Society and
to debating these vital issues with you face-to-face.