• Trevor Cooper

The Family Separation Industry, human needs and fear

If you are into psychology and a fan of Maslow and the hierarchy of needs then you will appreciate how easily fear and conflict can develop when it is promoted in an adversarial system, where the players are lining their pockets and become dependent upon it for their livelihood.

As was eloquently put by a former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia at a presentation I attended in 2019, when “you have one household trying to make two” then stress will ensue and hence we need to manage this stressor and not heat things up by fanning the flames. He went on to mention the three types of litigants that come before the court:

  1. Difficult issues relating to valuations,

  2. One party is grossly unreasonable,

  3. One party has grossly unreasonable expectations given to them by others

and I outlined them in my book and suggest we need to address each of these types of litigants in different ways.

But before the court gets heavily involved, we need to consider the drivers of stress which can result in long term mental health issues and suicide. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has long been established and describing a hierarchy or pattern of human motivation as depicted in the pyramid that accompanies this article. It covers the most important and basic needs at the base and progressively moves up to the peak of the pyramid, although in practice the sections of needs overlap.

The sharks of the Family Separation Industry ready to feast

Many people are near the top of the pyramid when they are faced by the perfect storm of separation (outlined in chapter 17 and 20 of my book) and too often, what appears to be friendly services are actually voracious sharks in a feeding frenzy. People feed the sharks, fearing the loss of everything in their Maslow’s pyramid and the sharks “burn down” (outlined in chapter 23 of my book) the assets and eat away the most basic things people want to preserve to the point many do not have sufficient physical and safety needs for themselves and their children. For those that are suffering parental alienation or other psychological abuse, it is common to have attempts made to isolate them and exclude them from not only their physical and safety needs but also their social needs such as friends (and you will read in my book, Nellie had been doing this most of our relationship according to the psychiatric reports and became more overt after separation). Accusations are often part of a psychological manipulation that will impact the targets self-esteem with the relentless barrage of put downs and certainly they are toppled off the peak of Maslow’s pyramid in the fight of their life, by their former spouse as well as the sharks that are hired to fight against and defend them so them lose on every level of their pyramid. Regularly, I hear of business owners so overwhelmed by the relentless attacks on them and their children, that their business fails, so the attacks negatively impact both litigants, children and even the sharks!

While we normally associate the sharks as lawyers, other players with vested interest in pushing their perspective and ideology as well as making money, make the family separation industry far less credible and more complex from a consumer’s perspective.

In chapter 19 (of my book), I provided the true story of a spouse that eventually found a therapist specialising in sexual abuse that implanted memories into their daughter that "she had been abused as a child" (i.e. the therapist imposed her bias and false memories) and naturally that girl has not seen her father for a long time. It was proven in court the recalled memories could NOT have happened and from my perspective, action should have been ordered by the court judiciary to weed out this rogue “expert” and certainly industry associations should have acted to protect the public along with their brand.

Another recent matter was that of Rob Tiller being dismissed from Relationships Australia (for passing around data on the rates of DV) when the employer demanded its employees take a gendered approach to violence. When an organisation suppresses all the facts and run with an ideology and very selected data that mandates covert discrimination, then large sections of the Australian population lose confidence in the system as a whole.

The 2017 parliamentary hearings revealed how poorly family reports were done and the damage caused which resulted in recommendations by the parliamentary committee and while I do not agree entirely with recommendations, action is needed. Yet no action has been taken by the government or the sector to reel in the rogue operators and I can provide a link to a report and an interesting case currently before a tribunal. For an industry that promotes the frequently damaging practice of separating a child from a loving parent by “acting conservatively” (and know of deadly cases that are outlined in my book) by acting upon accusations without investigation, they seem willing to recklessly act, by putting off investigations on their membership, allowing rogue operators to cause havoc indefinitely, impacting too many consumers. Their lack of action may be to maintain membership fees, but I suggest this is to their organisations and their other members, long term detriment.

There is hope that change is coming.

The only fear that may impact such hope, is if the Domestic Violence Industry continue in its standard practices of denying that domestic violence by women, or that such domestic violence against children and men should be disregarded or diminished. They could shut down or try to drown out any discussions not meeting their myopic agenda and not participate in the inquiry in a constructive manner. If they do not constructively participate in Family Law process restructuring, the inquiry output may not be optimal and to the detriment of the very people they claim to represent. There could be positives in their non participation as their input may likely be the same as the previous inquiry and more efficient to simply consider their position from the full report from the Parliamentary inquiry into a better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence.

There will be interesting times ahead.

Blog P.S. I have a few hobbies and one of them is snorkelling and there was an incident down in the bay a few years ago. One of my friends was in the water and confronted by a large bronze whaler shark that swam past and then swam off. They have electroreceptors and normally avoid us so while common, these sharks are rarely seen. As he eased his way back to the rock the shark had come around and curiously looked at him face to face and he eased his way up the rocks to safety. Another friend commented that he was never in any real danger, after all, he was a lawyer and the shark would exercise professional courtesy!

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