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Reforming New Zealand Family Law

Peter Zohrab 2006

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Any proposal on reforming the Family Court must state what the problem or problems is/are and suggest a solution or a set of solutions -- either in terms of a process for arriving at a solution or the actual solutions themselves. This suggested process is a Royal Commission or a Commission of Inquiry, so that it has the power to subpoena witnesses and thereby carry out its task in a thorough manner.

In addition to suggesting the process, this proposal will look at some possible substantive solutions, as a guide as to what types of solutions might be feasible.

This proposal goes back to first principles, examines the reasons why we have the kind of family law that we have, and looks at possible alternatives.

As background reading, the book Sex, Lies & Feminism, which is available for reading online at http://equality.netfirms.com/contents.html, is recommended.



The Problems

For most people in the Fathers' Movement, the initial problem manifested itself in terms of their own divorce and/or separation process. These people have decided, based on their own experience, that there is a problem, and have devoted time, energy and money to analysing the problem, proposing solutions, and attempting to get the proposed solutions implemented. Another group within the same movement is composed of relatives (such as second wives) and friends of the people who feel they have been unjustly treated by the family law system.

There is also a third group, which is the Men's Rights Movement, which encompases a wider range of issues than the Fathers' Movement does, and supports the Fathers' Movement from a broader prespective. Nevertheless, there is a broad area of overlap between the Men's Movement and the Fathers' Movement, because the latter has tended to broaden the range of issues that it has come to see as relevant to the family law system.

The two main issues that the Fathers' Movement is concerned with are the care of children and contact with children after separation or divorce. Other issues, such as relationship property and child support are also important. The issues of acusations of domestic violence or sexual abuse are of course important to fathers intrinsically, but loom large principally in respect of the way that they impact on the two main issues.

According to the New Zealand Herald of Wednesday September 6 2006, 65% of day-to-day care orders are awarded to mothers, 11% to fathers, about 12% to another party, and 12% to a shared-care arrangement. Only 5.4% of orders are made by judges at a defended hearing, and, of these, 18.4% award custody to fathers.

Some people, including Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier, claim that the 5.4% figure shows that most people are happy to have such matters settled amicably, and claim further that the 11% figure shows that most fathers are happy to let the mother have day-to-day care, and also claim that it is significant that the courts award a greater percentage (18.4%) of care orders to fathers than couples select for themselves (11%).

In fact, the above amounts to a serious misinterpretation of the figures, at best. As lawyers and fathers are well aware that only 18.4% of fathers (although they might not know the precise figure) are awarded care orders in contested hearings, this provides an obvious disincentive to fathers from attempting to secure care in the face of a mother's opposition. Depending on the facts of the case, lawyers would be bound to advise fathers in most cases that they would lose if they insisted on a defended hearing. So the 5.4% and 11% figures are low because fathers are in a weak bargaining position -- being in the shadow of a court which is likely to rule against them if they test the issue in court.

At custbibl.html#Time there is a list of studies that show that men want more time with their kids, but know they won’t get it.

In fact, while the first draft of this proposal was being drafted, the writer received the following email, which will serve as an example:

"I am after some information in regards to fathers gaining custody of their children. A young friend of mine has recently split up with his partner and has had his two baby daughters taken from him by her family, We fear for there safety but seem to be meeting closed doors where ever we go for help. He lives in a small rural town in New Zealand and cant find a lawyer willing to give there all to get the children back. He has been told repeatedly that he will more then likely loose the custody battle and has been advised to settle out of court. This is unacceptable, could you please send along some ideas of where to turn? as we are at our wits end."

It is not necessarily easy to demonstrate that there is a problem, because the hard data often consists of actual cases (such as that mentioned in the above email), and because complaints by fathers might be (and often are) written off as one-sided expressions of disappointment by the losing party.

Parents have rights too. Recent legislation such as the Guardianship Act 1968 and the Care of Children Act 2004 pays lip-service to the best interests of the child, but there is little evidence that there is any consensus as to what this would mean in any concrete situation. There seems to be a strong, irrational feeling that parents and Parliament should be focussed on children's best interests, but it does not seem to engage anyone's actual intellect, because most people seem actually to have other agendas. Parents' rights should be offically acknowledged, and the best interests of the child should only be mentioned in legislation if that is the result of serious thinking about what would actually be in children's best interests.

There is a strong ideological subtext at the fringes of the debate. Although piecemeal changes have been made to family law and to the law relating to sexual orientation, there are obviously many who see it as a desirable endpoint that more or less any group of people who live together could and should be viewed as a "family", so as to eliminate discrimination in this area. At the other extreme, there are those who say that no bonds can be as strong as genetic ties, and that the traditional, complete, heterosexual basis of the family unit is what is best for children -- preferably involving marriage and religion.

The Law and Order Committee might like to ask itself the following two questions: Are the non-genetic ties between any group of people as strong as those between genetic family members, and are the non-genetic ties strong enough to enable the children in partly or wholly non-genetic "families" to grow into happy, balanced, productive, and law-abiding citizens ?

It is arguable that child abuse is linked to the breakdown in the two-parent family, which is itself linked to the introduction of no-fault divorce. I suggest that most child abuse is perpetrated by step-parents and single parents, and that this hypothesis should be investigated scientifically in the New Zealand context. Two parents together can manage children much better than one parent alone can, and the stepparent-stepchild bond can seldom be as strong as the bond between blood relatives, which opens the door to sexual or violent behaviour of all sorts that is more typical of strangers than of relatives.

At custbibl.html#Risks there is a list of studies that show the risks that children in mother-custody situations run from Mummy's new boyfriend.

At custbibl.html#Premature there is a list of studies that show that that girls without their natural (biological) fathers reach puberty 9 months earlier than girls who live with their natural fathers and are several times more likely to become pregnant as teenagers, even after controlling for wealth and race..

The Inquiry should fund research into this issue, such as a survey of all the available research on this issue.


The Solutions

In broad terms, solutions can either centre on improving the way that legislation similar to the Guardian Act 1968 or the Care of Children Act 2004 works or propose a radical revision of the fundamental principles of current family law -- involving perhaps a return to an earlier model. In other words, abandoning the no-fault model of the Family Proceedings Act 1980 must be an option that is put on the table.

Solutions would not only involve drafting new laws, but would also involve changing the anti-male culture of New Zealand in general, and of the legal fraternity in particular. This would involve repealing the Broadcasting Act and replacing it with a Mass Media Depoliticisation Act which had actual teeth, which was not subject to political appointments to the regulatory body, and which was capable of being used to prevent journalists from using their power to impose their agendas on the largely unsuspecting public and electorate. After all, there is little use in forcing the media to be balanced as between political parties, as such, when all the while the media are one-sidedly promoting policies which are much more in tune with one part of the political spectrum than with the other.

One proposal is that there should be a legislative presumption of shared day-to-day care. This would certainly be in the parents' interests (especially in the interests of fathers). Prima facie, at least, it would also seem to be in the interests of the child to have equal contact with both parents. The counter-argument that is often heard is that, if the parents are in conflict, attempting to enforce shared day-to-day care will be against the best interests of the child, since they will be experiencing this conflict between the parents.

At custbibl.html#conflict there is a list of studies that show that joint residence arrangements show reduced conflict because joint residence appears to more fully satisfy the needs of both parents It provides a combination of time off for one parent and enhanced involvement in child rearing for the other.

At custbibl.html#Shared there is a list of 126 citations to published research showing that shared residence is better for children than any other kind of post-divorce residence.

At custbibl.html#Joint there is a list of studies which show that shared custody is what children want.

At custbibl.html#Meaningful there is a list of studies that show that meaningful relationships need shared residency.

At custbibl.html#Evidence there are two studies listed that state that there is no evidence that sole parenting is best for children..

At custbibl.html#Attachment there is a list of 24 studies that discredit Attachment Theory. Attachment theory is the basis of many family court rulings for sole custody. The theory proposes that children need a secure emotional attachment to caregivers for healthy emotional development. However today attachment theory recognises that a child can form attachments to several caregivers, typically the father and the mother.

Today, attachment theory DOES NOT suggest that there is only one single attachment figure. Rather, babies can form multiple attachments, particularly with the mother and the father. Although many professionals and the family court use attachment theory to justify their belief in the importance of a ‘primary’ caregiver.

Attachment theory itself is criticised because the first one of its two core planks of the theory have not been reproduced and better explanations exist. Attachment theory says firstly that the style of care-giving the child receives determines the child’s response in the ‘strange situation’ experiment. And secondly that the ‘strange situation’ measurement of a child then goes on to predict many outcomes for the child later in life, including emotional adjustment, success at school, and many other measures of well-being. This second plank has been widely confirmed.

The first plank however is based on a single experiment of 26 children, the Baltimore project in 1963. This has not been reproduced. A more convincing explanation for interpreting the ‘strange situation’ is that it is simply a form of personality test and not related to care-giving style or attachment to the mother at all. Children are born with different temperaments and this is the main factor in their response to the attachment theory measurement of the strange situation.

The Inquiry should review the research evidence about the benefits of shared care, as opposed to the drawbacks of the increased conflict (if any) between the parents, if they have shared care, rather than one having care and the other merely having access.

Another argument for shared day-to-day care is that it reduces the incidence of divorce and separation, because most such splits are initiated by women, and so reducing the likelihood that they will get a "win", by getting sole custody, also reduces their motivation to initiate the split.

At custbibl.html#Marriages there is a list of studies that show that shared parenting saves marriages..

We could actually "legislate against child-abuse", by making divorce and separation harder to get, and by creating tax incentives and other measures to make the housewife/househusband the norm that they once were. The emphasis on getting parents out of the home and into the workplace is against the best interests of the child -- and of Society itself. There needs to be less hypocritical legislative talk about the "best interests of the child" and more legislative action to secure those interests. This might involve the Families Commission having automatic monitoring rights over parliamentary Bills, in order to examine and report to Parliament on the effects of such Bills on the family.



No-fault divorce

The Family Proceedings Act 1980 repealed the Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1963 and the Domestic Proceedings Act 1968, together with their various amending acts, and introduced no-fault separation, at the instigation of one party to a relationship, which could be followed by no-fault divorce.

The Inquiry that is being called for should investigate the reasons for the introduction of no-fault divorce/separation -- now that we know how Society has changed in the intervening period. A parallel task that would be equally useful -- indeed, vital -- would be to investigate what social changes can be statistically linked to this change in the law.

Some people think that there is a clear link. Anyone who has ever been a teacher will have noticed that children of separated parents are unhappier and more disruptive than the children of (natural) parents who are (still) together.Daniel Amneus, in his book The Garbage Generation (christianparty.net/garbgen.wri), states:

'"Women," wrote Ramsey Clark in l970, in his celebrated book Crime in America, "are not a threat to the public." But he also wrote, in discussing the male juvenile criminals who are a threat to the public, that "three-fourths came from broken homes." That means mostly female-headed homes. That means that while the single mothers of these criminals do not themselves commit crimes and go to prison, the socialization they give their children has an extraordinarily high correlation with the male crime of the next generation. This socialization, in fact, is the "root cause of crime" which Clark wrote his book to explore.'

See the Annex to Chapter I of the above book for the evidence which Amneus adduces in support of his thesis that intact families are best for children and for society.

South Auckland, populated by ethnic groups who seem destined to become the majority of the population in the not-too-distant future, is becoming a by-word for Los Angeles-style gang warfare, as well as for all the other standard social ills that New Zealand used to be relatively free of. These ethnic groups are clearly not achieving well in socio-economic terms, so their welfare has now become an issue for the whole population -- especially for the baby-boomers, many of whom are going to need their taxes to live on when they retire! Where are these taxes going to come from, if New Zealand slides into Third-World status as the result of the non-achievement of these groups?

A lot of crime must surely arise from the culture of hopelessness that seems to exist in places like South Auckland, and among some ethnic groups more than others.

It is known that Maoris have a very high rate of fatherless children (i.e. children with absent fathers), and the link between fatherlessness and crime should be explored for Maoris and all other groups in Society. As a matter of urgency.

As far as the reasons for the introduction of No-Fault Separation/Divorce are concerned, the welfare and best interests of the child seems to have been far from the minds of the proponents of that change, so the later promotion of the welfare and best interests of the child to being the overriding principle of legislation governing the care of children and contact with children seems to have been a sticking-plaster applied in response to criticisms of the No-Fault regime as being detrimental to children's interests.

One participant (Maggie Gallagher) in the website debate End no-Fault Divorce? (http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9708/gallagher.html) states that -- in America, at least -- no-fault divorce was marketed as having two benefits:

  1. reducing conflict, because no blame would have to be assigned;

  2. enhancing respect for the law, since spouses would not have to make false accusations in order to secure a divorce.

With hindsight, we can now see that the amount of conflict has not necessarily been reduced, but it has been transferred to issues relating to children and property. And respect for the law has possibly never been so low -- both because of the biased way that Family Law is seen to operate and because of the increase in crime that has arguably occurred as a result of the No-Fault regime.

Of course, there is an underlying assumption here that separations and divorces have increased in New Zealand, and that this has been a reult of the no-fault regime. This is something that would have to be investigated by the Inquiry which is being requested.

It is unrealistic to expect judges or lawyers for the child to have the wisdom and predictive ability to know what arrangement will, over all, be in the best interests of the child, in most cases. It is impossible for a court to know enough about the families, or about the future, to make a reasonable decision based on this principle. We are expecting judges to behave like weather forecasters or economists, and we all know how often these two professions get it wrong !

See also Wendy McElroy's essay called:"Marriage and the Family:An Ideological Battleground" at http://www.zetetics.com/sexcor/marr.html.


No-Fault Divorce, Adultery, Child-Support and Choice for Men

Since there have been only numerically insignificant pro-male pressure-groups, in comparison with pro-female pressure-groups, legislation has routinely been passed without taking the male perspective into account. No-fault divorce has brought with it a diminution of the stigma attached to adultery -- to the extent that the Wellington City Council has even advertised Wellington on television as a place to come and have adulterous affairs in !

Adultery impacts more severely on men than on women, because women (barring a mix-up in hospital) can always be sure that the child they think is theirs actually is theirs. By contrast, the proverb "It's a wise man who knows his own father" points to the fact that men can only be really sure that they are bringing up their own child if DNA tests are carried out.

The Choice for Men movement aims to give men the same rights over their reproduction that women have. A woman at present can unilaterally decide to abort her partner's child, which is discriminatory. Likewise, the separation and divorce processes, if they involve children, should give both parties the right unilaterally to demand paternity tests, so that everyone knows who is whose child, and so that the father does not have to pay child-support for a child who is not his.

No-fault divorce should be abolished so that adultery can once more become stigmatised, which will go some way towards protecting men's right to know whether they have so far succeeded in passing on their genes, which is important to most men, in all probability.


Media bias -- particularly in relation to Domestic Violence

A Bill should be introduced to outlaw implicit, domestic violence-related, anti-male hate-speech in the media -- such as references to "violence against women", to the exclusion of violence against men. The Bill should force the media to hold regular debates between Masculists and Feminists about issues such as Domestic Violence, because television, in particular, just seem to disseminate Feminist myths on the subject. This creates a hysterical and totalitarian atmosphere which dominates the public discussion of the serious issue of domestic violence.

There are efforts underway to use the Official Information Act to force the Ministry of Social Development either to admit that the Power and Control (Duluth) model of domestic violence is a sexist, discriminatory (anti-male) and unscientific myth or to explain what evidence they think there is for it. The Ministry funds groups which not only act on the basis of that myth, but who use the funding to spread irrational belief in that myth. So far, the Ministry has been avoiding acting on either of these two alternative courses of action.


Kidnapping, Parental Alienation, the Women's Refuge, Domestic Violence, and the Welfare of the Child

Under the Guardianship Act 1968, it seemed to be the case that whichever parent had custody of a child between the time of separation and the relevant Court hearing had the dice loaded in their favour, because custody would usually be awarded in such a way as to maintain continuity of arrangements, on the grounds of the welfare of the child requiring such continuity. In the Care of Children Act 2004, the notion that continuity is important to the welfare of the child is explicitly retained in s 5(b).

In the section on Examples of Bias there is an example of a mother being successful in gaining an award of custody because she already had de facto custody. The judge ruled that continuity of custody arrangements would be in the best interests of the child -- despite the fact that the mother had achieved her status as de facto sole custodial parent "unilaterally", as the judge put it.

There is another documented case where a father's lawyer, prior to any separation taking place, advised him to take his child from the family home and disappear, because that would put him into the more powerful position. Concerned for the welfare of the child, however, he did not follow that advice, and he consequently found himself with an uphill custody battle on his hands.

The Women's Refuges are also organisation that, in effect, kidnap men's children, because they are a private organisation which take in women and their children and exclude men, without having to account for their actions to any public authority.

The Domestic Violence Act 1995 was passed under the influence of man-hating hysteria and Feminist myths, and its sections relating to ex parte applications, in particular, should be drastically amended, so as to be consistent with Natural Justice. The time-lag between the imposition of an ex parte temporary protection order and any possibility of the respondent's contesting it at a later hearing also constitutes de facto kidnapping by the parent who will probably be awarded day-to-day care on the grounds of continuity.

Not only does such unilateral action by one parent (with or without a Refuge's help or a Court's imposition of an ex parte protection order) unfairly predetermine the likely outcome of a custody battle -- it also sets the scene for the alienation of the child's affections by one parent from the other. This is bad enough in itself, but it also has an influence on what the child will say when the Court attempts to determine its wishes in regard to day-to-day care and access. The child's feelings may in effect have been manipulated by the custodial parent.

Section 209 of the Crimes Act should be amended explicitly to make Kidnapping include a parent's removal of their child from the day-to-day care of the other parent without either the consent of that parent or of a Court. If the child is taken to a Women's Refuge, the latter should be deemed an accessory after the fact -- or even a party to the offence.


Jurisprudence, legal safeguards and the Family Court

The rules of evidence in jurisdictions other than that of the Family Court have developed over centuries in the Anglo-Saxon legal tradition, and they have done so for a purpose -- in order to try to ensure that justice is done. Likewise, court hearings in jurisdictions other than that of the Family Court have generally been open to the public and to the media. In other words, justice has to be done, and it has to be seen to be done. If certain details have to be suppressed, then they can be suppressed.

The Family Court, as it now is, is the one great exception to this, and the question has to be asked: Why is it that the need for justice to be done and to be seen to be done does not apply to the Family Court ? The overriding objective of any Court is surely to provide justice, and if it is not actually seen to provide justice, then it will utlimately undermine the credibility of the entire justice system, as the Editorial in the August 2006 edition of the New Zealand Law Journal points out.

There is no obvious reason why the rules of evidence in the Family Court should not be the same as in other civil matters -- i.e. possibly a little less strict than in criminal matters. (This should not be confused with the standard of proof, which is on the balance of probabilities.) For the protection of both the children and the parents, the judge should have wide powers to suppress identifying details, but the Family Court should otherwise be open. This would probably have the beneficial side-effect that fewer cases would come to court -- either because the parties decided not to separate, or because the matters would be settled outside a formal court hearing.


Conflict between religion and feminism and sexual revolution

Judge Baragwanath, when he was a Law Commissioner, made derogatory remarks about men with "old-fashioned" views on sex role issues. There seem to be a lot of fathers in the Fathers' Movement who are religious and/or hold views which he would consider old-fashioned. Some forms of religion provide the strongest organised opposition to Feminism, and it is possible that what we have, in some court cases, is a culture-clash between a generally Feminist Family Law profession (including the judges) and some religious and/or conservative and/or Masculist fathers.

The Court system has no business adopting -- whether officially or unofficially -- an ideology that has not been imposed by Parliament -- i.e. democratically. Unfortunately, the Institute of Judicial Studies sees fit to teach judges the Feminist -- and biased -- concept of "Gender Equity", so there is no reason to think that this Feminst culture has not been allowed to take over the Family Court.


Child Support & Custody

The care of children should be linked to child support. This might involve placing responsibility for child-support enforcement in the hands of the same institution that administers parental care of children, so that the injustice is avoided where a liable parent (for child-support purposes) has little access to their child.

Custodial parents who move away from the non-custodial parent should be penalised in relation to child support payments, because they are depriving the liable parent of easy access. The Inquiry should also investigate ways of ensuring that child support payments are spent on the child, rather than on the custodial parent's lifestyle.


Best Interests of the Child and Bill of Rights Act 1990 (other parties' rights)

It is commendable that s 5 of the Care of Children Act 2004 has tightened up the list of principles deemed relevant to the child's welfare and best interests.

However, the Lawyer for the Child, the parties and the judge can only guess at what is in the best interests of the child – no one can possibly know enough about all the relevant factors in a particular case (let alone predict the future) in order to give a verdict as to which is the best arrangement for a child in such cases.

For example, in one access case, in the TV programme that was produced by the Family Court, the Lawyer for the Child said that the father had to move closer to the mother if he wanted more access to his child. Why couldn't it be the mother who had to move closer to the father ? No reason was given. Possibly so that the children's lives would not be disrupted. If so, is that criterion also used to prevent a custodial parent moving away with the children from the non-custodial parent ? There is a lot of scope for the selective use of the "Welfare of the Child" principle in a way that benefits the mother and disadvantages the father. This, indeed, is what appears to happen in the court case discussed in the section Example of Bias.

It is clear that many people in authority interpret Domestic Violence situations in such a way that the male is always at fault, as can be seen from the report of a meeting with the then Family Violence Prevention Coordinator at Police National Headquarters on the webpage: http://equality.netfirms.com /4dvlies.html .

What is the research evidence that a change of principal caregiver (between parents upon separation or divorce) is in itself significantly disruptive to a child ? This seems to be relevant to s 5(b) of the Care of Children Act 2004.

What are the characteristics of parenting which are considered to be best for the child, if they have just one parent -- are they typically male attributes or are they typically female attributes in parenting ? The typical male contribution to two-parent parenting is that of applying discipline. It appears that solo-mother families are now so common, and lacking in discipline and control over the children, that the need for discipline and control over children has itself been devalued. There has, in effect, been a lowering of societal expectations of parental control over children, in order to help solo mothers with their self-esteem problems, and in order to devalue the contribution that the father makes.

From the webpage: http://www.akidsright.org/what.htm
'What changes with the assumption: "A child has a right to be with their parents, a parent has a right to be with their child. Overriding this presumption requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt presented to a jury of your peers."
Where the correct course of action is not obvious on the basis of the principle of the best interests of the child (and this may be the situation in most cases before the Family Court), the relevant principle of Natural Justice is the equal rights of both parents.

A Los Angeles Times article was reprinted in The Dominion Post on 13 May 2006, under the title A force of nature (and elsewhere in two parts: http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jun/02/il/FP606020320.html and http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jun/02/il/FP60601002.html ).

The Dominion Post's version ends up with the following anecdote:

"Giving -- to her 18-month-old daughter -- was life-saving, says Ingrid .... That's how old her daughter was when her husband, a firefighter, died in 1995. The shock of young widowhood sent her into despair. But she always knew she had to get out of bed each morning. "What kept me grounded was my daughter,' says (Ingrid). 'Ashley made me smile every day. She gave me the will to live and move on.'

That reminds us of the typical situation of a separated or divorced father -- alone, but without the child to give to, to get him out of bed each morning, to keep him grounded, to make him smile every day, or to give him the will to live and move on. Granting the overwhelming majority of sole custody awards to women is a form of gendercide. It invites suicide or other acts of desperation.





The Informality of the Family Court

Professor Taimie L. Bryant, in her article, Family Models, Family Dispute Resolution and Family Law in Japan ((1995) 14 UCLA Pacific Basin LJ 1), refers to the Japanese ie model of the family, "a patrilineal, patriarchal chain of authority extending between the eldest sons of successive generations." She goes on to state:

"Family Court mediation, which is a prerequisite to litigation of most types of family disputes in Japan, reinforces this ideology .... This Article explores how and why this is true despite the fact that neither the laws regulating the family nor the legal system as it deals with dispute resolution requires the adoption of one particular model."


It is probably typical of a (latently) Feminist legal article that Bryant's reasoning is not particularly clear, but the core of her explanation of why Japanese Family Court mediation reinforces the ideology is as follows:

"...clients must present their positions and the backgrounds of the dispute in terms that would meet with approval by wealthy members of a generation or two older than they" (i.e. the mediators -- PZ)

Assuming that Bryant's analysis is more or less correct, we can see that mediation, being a confidential process held behind closed doors and ratified by the Family Court, would tend to reinforce the ideology and values of the mediators, which in New Zealand includes Family Court judges. As Bryant points out, clients have to present their positions and the backgrounds of the dispute in terms that would meet with approval by the mediators. This puts men at a disadvantage, since the Western legal culture has to a large extent adopted Feminist ideology and grafted it onto conservative, anti-male chivalry -- as can be seen from other pages on this website.


Reasonableness and rationality uncommon (in the legal system as well), though presumed by legal system to be common

Marxists use the term "objectively" to distinguish people's real political stance from what they say their stance is. I suppose that 100% of male lawyers would say that they are men. Objectively, however, 90% of them are political women. And, objectively, 90% of female lawyers are political women, too.

A person is politically female if they support increased power for women, and a person is politically male if they support increased power for men. Your typical New Zealand male lawyer sees that only 39% of lawyers are women*, and this reinforces his conditioned response to support Feminist programmes and initiatives whenever he comes across them. On the other hand, if he knew (as he should do, if he was competent) that female criminals are more likely than males to receive a sentence of community service, supervision, a community programme -- or no sentence at all -- and less likely than males to receive a prison sentence, periodic detention, or a monetary penalty**, it probably would not even register in his conscious mind at all, and he would carry on supporting Feminist causes, like the political woman that he is.

Prima facie, of course, this disparity in sentencing by sex is the result of 90% of female lawyers being objectively female (Feminist) and 90% of male lawyers being objectively female (Feminist or chivalrous).

*National Business Review, 24 February 2006, in Jock Anderson's "Case Load" column.

** Ministry of Justice (1999): "Sentencing in New Zealand: a statistical analysis".


Psychologists' Reports

Psychologists, like lawyers and judges, may be politically, religiously, or psycho-sexually biased. They are often trained in anti-male university departments. Psychology is not a very objective science. There is a lot of politics and personal opinion in it. For example, the VUW Psych Dept has advertised the fact that it does not teach the "Victorian" Freud. In VUW, Feminism has been mainstreamed. And Massey University has a course on the Psychology of Women, without having one on the Psychology of Men. This is despite the fact that many Psychologists, including Freud, did most of their work with female subjects.

Second opinions of psychologists' reports should be routine, and the original psychologist's report should be released immediately upon demand by any party to Family Court proceedings. The psychologist preparing the second opinion should routinely have access to all relevant parties.


Hostility and obstructiveness by other professionals

Amongst all the Feminist talk about so-called "Employment Equity", what has been ignored in the focus on salaries are such factors as the amount of danger and dirt involved in jobs, and also the amount of power over members of the public that the jobs give to the worker involved. Given women's gravitation towards jobs involving people-contact, a lot of the jobs that give people power over a man's attempt to get care of or access to his children are held by women, who often use this power to frustrate the man's wishes.

Psychologists have been mentioned above. In fact, any occupation that is staffed by people with a university education will have a Feminist bias, because of the indoctrination that occurs at university. When you go to the office of a Court, the vast majority of the people you see will be women, and Peter Zohrab can give examples of hostility and/or obstructivism that he has experienced at the hands of such women.


Feminism in the Legal Profession

It is the norm for legal practitioners to be taught a fictional, anti-male approach to domestic violence. For example, the September 2006 issue of Council Brief (the organ of the Wellington District Law Society) contains an advertisement for a Domestic Violence Seminar, arranged by the Wellington District Law Society Family Law Committee, which will have as speakers representatives of the Wellington Community Law Centre and the National Network of Stopping Violence Services, both of which are known to ignore female violence -- despite the fact that women commit at least as much domestic violence as men, which is plain for all to see in the annotated research bibliography at http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm .

See: Open Letter to Family Law Section, New Zealand Law Society -- see famlawls.html

See also: State religion is feminism (published in The Dominion Post 22 May 2006) also at: statreli.html .

And see: Two Legal Rhodes Scholars at tworoads.html .

The Law Society has a "Women's Consultative Group", which has the avowed aim of "influenc(ing) decisions that affect women." Obviously, most/all decisions affecting women also affect men, and there is no counterweight that presents the male point of view in the Law Society. It would be nice if male lawyers had a rational reason for not forming such a group, but the impression one gets is that they are simply not aware of any need for one. Even those who disagree with Feminism do not seem to see it as compatible with their masculinity to form a group with other men to oppose women. It is therefore basically for irrational reasons that male lawyers allow feminist pressure on the law to remain unopposed.

It is impossible for men and fathers to have any confidence in lawyers and judges, because they are under the influence of the anti-male Law Society. If men and fathers have no confidence in lawyers and judges, they can have no confidence in the Legal System as a whole. This can only result in eventual, creeping revolt, expressed in some of several possible forms.

One father says that the female Family Court judge in his case said that she was there to protect women and children, not men. This is obviously sexist and discriminatory, and shows that Feminists only say that Feminism is about equality for the purpose of achieving the political goals that they want to achieve. Once they have achieved them -- e.g. getting a lot of women named as judges -- they then feel free to abandon the "equality" rhetoric.

Similarly, the Ministry of Health homepage (as at 13 September 2006) has a picture of a woman and two children (no men) at the top of its website, which is surely symbolic of the way taxpayers' money is spent in the Health sector. It should also be noted that these three people are all White.


Lawyers making most of law for clients as professional duty

On the other side of the ledger, it must be realised that a lawyer's job is to make the best use of the available law for the benefit of his/her client -- within certain limits (such as the lawyer's overriding duty to the Court), anyway. So what to a man may seem at times to be evil behaviour by the mother's lawyer may sometimes just be a lawyer making use of the fact that the theory and practice of the relevant laws heavily favour the mother.


Lawyers and Public Relations

Another relevant point is that, under the legislation currently in force, lawyers have very limited duties to their clients and to the general public. They are treated by the Act like a private, free-market profession which just happens to have a role in the legal system. The converse of this is that lawyers do not bother doing much PR, with the result that the public has little knowledge of the very real contraints (e.g. of time and money) under which they work. It is true that many lawyers are very wealthy, but then they are in business, just as much as Bill Gates is in business. If there is something wrong with this situation, then it will have to be changed by legislation.


Styles of Lawyering (Hired Gun etc)

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 (arguably) 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.

It is important to realize that, if men and fathers cannot find any/enough lawyers to represent them adequately, they are in effect deprived of their human rights. Lawyers exist because it is very hard to get anywhere in the Legal System without them. As is well-known, men and fathers often complain about lawyers - about how expensive they are, but mainly about how anti-male they are. That is why so many fathers try to do without lawyers in the Family Court.

Lawyers have too much discretion vis-à-vis their clients, in general, and in the Family Court context, in particular. They have a duty to act in what they are pleased to see as "the client's best interests", they have a duty to the court not to appear "obstructive", and they have a duty to themselves and to their own careers not to act too far outside the legal culture in which they operate.

All these "duties" can operate against lawyers' male clients in the Family Court, as well as in other parts of the Legal System. Largely because of the socializing influence of the Law Society (especially at conferences and courses) and university Law faculties, lawyers operate in an anti-male, Feminist culture. Feminist anti-male lies about Domestic Violence, for example, are probably propagated as facts within this culture. This means that a male client's assertion of Men's/Fathers' Rights might be undermined by his own lawyer, who would see the expression of such views as not being in the client's best interests. A lawyer might also refrain from pushing such viewpoints him/herself, in order not to be viewed by the court as "obstructive", and so as not to be viewed as a maverick by his/her colleagues.

One solution to this is to change the Legal culture, but it would be simpler (though no easier to achieve) to limit the amount of discretion that a lawyer has. If a client is paying a lawyer huge fees, the client should have the right to expect the lawyer to do exactly what they are instructed to do. This is what is called the "Hired Gun" model of lawyering. Unfortunately, this is only one of the several styles of lawyering which law students are taught at Law School to regard as acceptable alternatives. The lawyer should explain clearly why they think that the client is acting against their own interests, if that is the case, but the lawyer should then bow to the wishes of the paying client.


Selection of FC judges

The 1996 study "Gender Equity in the New Zealand Judicial System: Judges' Perceptions of Gender Issues" states that Family Court judges were more likely to think that gender bias against women is "widespread but subtle" than were other judges. This belief is a product of Feminist theory, so we can conclude that Family Court judges are more influenced by Feminism than are other judges.

Since the Men's/Fathers' Movement finds Family Court judges to be biased against men, we may suspect that this is because many Family Court judges are Feminist. This is not to say that this bias against women does not exist, but any belief in its existence is likely to arise as a result of reading Feminist research which itself is biased against men and instils, or reinforces, an anti-male mindset of its own.

Judge Adams (in the TV programme) appeared to be well-meaning, and (whether by accident or design) he was shown to become emotionally involved in his cases – which is perhaps inevitable. Of course, where you have emotional involvement, you also inevitably have bias.

In the selection of Family Court judges, the emphasis should be on selecting judges who are able to be just -- not on selecting judges who have a friendly demeanour or are people-oriented, or get on well with children, etc. Judges should above all be just, and it is for social workers to have these other people-related attributes. If it seems that the job of a family court judge require such other skills, then the job should be changed by legislation, in order to restrict the job to the one of dispensing justice.



Bias is very hard to prove, for a number of reasons. One reason is that the very people you are talking to about someone else's bias may share the bias that you are complaining about ! So they will not see what you consider to be bias as real bias at all ! It is like complaining to Adolf Hitler about anti-semitism on the part of a concentration-camp guard !

There are four basic factors which load the dice against men:

  1. Male judges and male parties in the courtroom are often chivalrous, and equate heterosexuality with not criticising women;

  2. Institutionalised Feminism in the society that we all live in constantly disseminates so-called facts about bad things that men do and about the bad things that women have done to them (but not vice-versa);

  3. Male professionals (including judges) are under pressure to prove that they practice "gender equity and are not "male chauvinists" or "old-fashioned".

  4. Female judges are empowered to discriminate against men by the lack of any concerted opposition to the morphing of Feminism from a supposed concern with "equality" to the imposition of Girl Power.

The Institute of Judicial Studies (see judistud.html and unhurico.html) teaches judges so-called "Gender Equity", which is a Feminist concept which does not even recognise the possibility of anti-male bias -- only anti-female bias. Therefore it is itself an inherently biased concept. The media and the education system have no real constraints placed on them as to the agendas that workers in those industries are allowed to pursue. It is called "academic freedom" or "freedom of the press", but it results in the oppression of men by mindless defamation.

On the page famsecrt.html , in particular, you can see an analysis of the actions and words of Judge Adams in a television programme about the Family Court that was produced by the Family Court itself in 2001 as a public relaitons exercise.

That video was evidence that Family Court judges (and others in the legal profession) are taught a list of types of people they should not discriminate against, and, if they think they are managing to avoid discriminating against them, they think they are doing a good job. Judge Adams actually said in the video that he thought he could monitor himself for bias, so as to make sure he wasn't biased, which is totally absurd! We are all human beings and capable of bias, and if we could monitor our own biases there would be little need for the judicial review and appeal processes. The reason that he felt he could do this was that he has been taught a politically correct list of people that he, as a White male, is likely to be biased against, such as women, ethnic and racial minorities and male and female homosexuals, and he has received feedback on in-service training courses run by the Law Society and/or Institute of Judicial Studies which encourages him to believe that he can avoid such biases.

What is wrong with that is not that White males do not have a tendency to be biased against such groups -- they do have this tendency -- but that they can also be biased against fellow White males (especially if they are bending over backwards to be unbiased towards the other groups) and also that members of these other groups can be biased against Whites, males, and against each other, as well.

This list-based approach is a common feature of Feminism and political correctness in general, and can also be found in the area of Sexist Language. When Peter Zohrab was giving a Staff/Postgraduate lunchtime seminar in the Victoria University Linguistics department one day, for example, he criticised the media (TV One and TV 3) for banning words such as "fireman" and "chairman", which arguably discriminate against women, but not banning words such as "gunman" and "manhunt", which arguably discriminate against men. Professor Laurie Bauer commented, in what he obviously thought was a criticism of my argument, that all the TV stations were doing was applying a list of banned words. No doubt that was true, but that just shifted some of the blame from the TV stations to their Linguistic advisers, and one could also contend that the TV stations should have chosen a more balanced set of advisers -- not just Feminists.

Appendix I to this Submission comprises an article about conflict of interest in the Family Court that was published in the New Zealand Law Journal in August 2006.

For more information on anti-male bias, please go to the webpage http://equality.netfirms.com/ and search for "bias". When this was done on 12 September 2006, it resulted in 95 hits.


Example of Bias

Here is an analysis of two days in the course of one couple's custody/access battle:


(Day A) One day in 1992, both parties applied under the then Guardianship Act 1968 to have primary care of their two children. The judge ended up awarding custody to the mother.

From the written judgment, it appears that the judge saw one point as being in the father's favour and another point as counting against the mother, although, since the judge just characterised the mother's behaviour as "undesirable", she did not appear to attach much weight to it.

On the other side of the equation, as it were, the judge found two points as favouring the mother, and two other points as counting against the father. So, just from a purely arithmetical standpoint, the father lost on points -- although, obviously, no judge would give equal weight to all the points in such a case.

Anti-male bias is evident in that the judgment interprets the overriding principle of the welfare of the child (s 23 Guardianship Act 1968) in a questionable way. The children are stated to be currently in the custody of their mother and doing well there, and it is stated that to move them to the father's custody would be unsettling. That is one of the two major points which caused the judge to award custody to the mother.

However, she also states that this status quo situation of mother-custody "was achieved at least in part by unilateral action which is generally considered undesirable by this Court." She does not raise the issue of whether this unilateral action by the mother of removing the children from the father's custody was in the children's best interests, which it presumably was not. It was certainly in the mother's best interests. At another place in the judgment she criticises the father for his supposed "inability ... to put the children's needs ahead of his own feeling at times". It seems to be anti-male bias in the judge which causes her to refrain from criticising the mother's unilateral action in the same strong terms -- and her unilateral action was what in effect decided who ended up getting the custody award.

There is also anti-male bias in the fact that the judge fails to assess the power relationship between the person with custody and the person with (or desirous of having) access. She states that there has been great difficulty in communicating and negotiating arrangements between the parents, but she does not assign blame for this. It would seem to be in the nature of such arrangements that the party with custody would be the more powerful one, so that any difficulties in communicating and arranging matters are more likely to be the fault of the custodial parent. After all, the children's day-to-day routines are based around their custodial parent's home, and they would want to get back there and resume them, so the non-custodial parent's options as to delaying returning them to the custodial parent are relatively limited, whereas the custodial parent can interfere with access arrangements without seriously impinging on the children's day-to-day routines.

There is further anti-male bias in that the judge condemns the father for getting so upset with the mother that he stopped access for two months. If the father was upset by difficulties caused by the mother's use of her power as custodial parent, then the judge was heaping injustice upon injustice. There is apparently a frequent pattern of Family Court judges being unable to empathise with fathers' feelings. It is worth pointing out that if the father had persisted with access diuring that period, and violence had broken out, the prevalent anti-male bias in relation to domestic violence would have resulted in penalties only to him -- no matter what had actually happened.

The second main point which caused the judge to award custody to the mother was that the father was angry at and distrustful of the mother, which might (the judge said) impinge on his parenting abilities. It is hard to see the logic of this, since it was not stated that he was angry at the children, and his parenting would be directed at them, not at the mother, which was the person he was angry at! This seems also to be an instance of anti-male bias.


(B) One day in 1995 the couple had two sessions -- a Conference, followed by a Hearing. The Conference was for the purpose of enforcing a consent order, whereby the elder child was to be in the custody of the father and the younger one in the custody of the mother. The mother had agreed to this arrangement reluctantly, in order to facilitate an overseas trip, but then had not complied with the order.

Most remarkably, the judge (who I will assume was a male) opens the session with some remarks critical of the parents for their on-going battles over custody and access, in the course of which he states:

"I preface my decision with these remarks because if there children suffer any permanent harm then the fault is not with the system or with the Court, but with the parents."

There is room for strong disagreement with this statement, since the mother might well have drawn the conclusion from the 1992 hearing that the judge was pro-women and would let her get away with almost anything, including breaching a consent order. And she turned out to be right !

In this hearing, the judge finds that two points favour the father and three points favour the mother. He criticises the mother for agreeing to a custody arrangement just because it suited her wish to take an overseas trip, putting the children's welfare second to her own -- but he only called this "unfortunate", which is a very mild term of criticism. He also stated that the found that the mother's breaching of a court order favoured the father very heavily.

However, what tipped his eventual decision in favour of the mother (in the Hearing later that same day) was that the Lawyer for the Children said that the children wanted to be with their mother (which the judge later confirmed by meeting with the children), and the judge saw their wishes as relevant to their welfare, which was the paramount legal consideration to be applied under the Guardianship Act 1968. He also said that he was worried that forcing the older child to live with his father would spoil the relationship between the two, and he further said that if the Court forced the child to live with his father, this might turn the child against the Court.

This decision can also be heavily criticised, because, if the Court is not going to punish mothers for breaching court orders and for putting their own interests above those of their children, that is bound to undermine the Rule of Law and make the Court look like a rubber stamp for the wishes of the mother. It was surely arguable that by breaching the court order the mother was setting a bad example to her children, which was detrimental to their welfare. The judge had no means of knowing how much the relationship between father and child would actually be damaged by forcing them to live together. That was pure speculation. Also, it was not clear that the possibility of turning the child against the Court had much to do with the welfare of the child, as such -- but what was clear was that the Court's anti-male bias would certainly turn the father against the Court, as it certainly has done !

The judge adjourned for one month to allow time for a psychologist's report, leaving the children both in the interim custody of the mother.


Lawyer for the Child

The Judge relies on Psychologists and Lawyer for the Child to guide his decisions, but these people are not true experts, are not accountable, and are probably anti-male in the majority of cases. To avoid bias, the Lawyer for the Child and the Psychologist should not be appointed by the Court alone, because courts are female-dominated. And we have Psychologists because we think we need them – not because they have been proved by any reasonable measure to actually know what they are doing. In addition, Psychology, as a field, is heavily influenced by anti-male Feminist propaganda. I don't agree that the Lawyer for the Child should be appointed by the Court, since the Court no doubt tends to appoint lawyers who have the approved, anti-male, Feminist attitudes.

" Lawyer for the Child should be barred from expressing a preference for custody by one parent over custody by the other, because such a stated preference permits the judge to "cop out" of exercising their own judgement. This is one of the main reasons why the principle of "the best interests of the child" is so flawed. Such a lawyer, who has been chosen by a Feminist Court, is free to interpret this wooly principle in a way that is consistent with their anti-male tendencies, and the judge can then wash their hands of the matter and rely on the biased guidance of this Lawyer for the Child.


Accusations (DV & Sex Abuse) that hold water only against men (because of informality, Feminist sexism and chivalry).

Feminism, which has been for some time a well-funded industry, can be seen as a research project to demonstrate that women are good and that men are bad. Researchers, with great creativity, produce theories within this overall research paradigm, and their friends in the media and in academia publicise them and teach them as fact, while censoring opposing views -- no matter how well-founded in terms of hard data.

So large areas of our world-view have been taken over by these Feminist perspectives, which are often taken for granted. This has the consequence that a man has great difficulty making accusations against a woman stick, whereas accusations against a man by a woman will be readily believed. This has a great impact on the way decisions are made as regards access and day-to-day care.

Two issues that are particularly prominent in this regard are domestic violence and sexual abuse of children. Sexual abuse by women is not taken anyway near as seriously -- it is often treated as a joke -- as sexual abuse by men, which has been hyped up by Feminist media and academics. Domestic violence is commonly portrayed in a way that is nothing short of insane in its blatant disregard for academic research and reality generally.

Feminists use Protection Orders to separate fathers from their children -- in ex parte court hearings where the father is not even present or represented ! Then the Family Courts say he is violent and it is in the best interests of the children to stay separated from him. But all this is based on the anti-male Feminist lie that Domestic Violence is caused by men wanting to control women, and that women are always innocent of any psychological or physical violence.

For two formal legal articles on Domestic violence and the Law, see:

Please also go to http://equality.netfirms.com/index.html and search for "sexual abuse" -- with quotation marks (29 hits on 12 September 2006) -- and "domestic violence" -- with quotation marks (137 hits on 12 September 2006).





Institute of Judicial Studies

The Institute of Judicail Studies should be barred from teaching so-called "Gender Equity", which is no more or less than anti-male propaganda.


Availability of Judgments

The Ministry of Justice should report regularly on its website as to

There should be strict criteria, posted on that website, which have to be adhered to if any judgement is not to be published. Publication should be the routine, default procedure. If this is already the state of affairs, this fact needs to be more widely available and made known to the general public.




Peter Douglas Zohrab

Latest Update

9 March 2016