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How NOT to convince the courts to give you more access to your children

Lone father paralyzes Sydney in rush hour protest

(AFP) – 2 hours ago

SYDNEY — A lone protester paralyzed rush-hour traffic in Australia’s largest city for hours Friday by scaling the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and forcing the closure of the country’s busiest roadway.

The man, who said he was “ex-military”, evaded extensive security precautions to climb the bridge at dawn and hang two banners in a protest apparently linked to a custody dispute over his children.

The stunt forced the closure of the bridge that links north Sydney with the downtown area for around two hours, causing massive back-ups and leaving thousands of motorists and train and bus commuters stranded. ….

“If I have to stuff four million people around for one morning and that gets my kids and other kids help one day sooner, I have achieved my goal,” he said before rappelling down onto the roadway to be arrested by waiting police.

SOURCE

“Stuffing” four million people around. Goal achieved!

Getting more contact with your kids. Goal not so much achieved as hindered, I’m guessing.

More on the protestor here. He’s apparently a “bikie” – the Australian version of a biker – and “was almost killed during an alleged bikie shootout last year.”

UPDATE: As a result of this, the protester, Michael Fox has, not surprisingly, been ordered to not contact his ex-wife or family members.

And here’s an interesting detail from the coverage:

He left a note in his car, warning police to close the bridge and not to try to bring him down by force. “If anyone attempts to climb the upper arch of the bridge during my protest, the consequences will be fatal. Do what I ask and this will start and end peacefully,” it said. “You’ve taken my kids, I’ve taken your bridge.”

Generally speaking, nonviolent protestors don’t threaten “fatal consequences” for those who try to arrest them.

UPDATE 2: Another odd detail:

He last saw [his kids] almost 70 days ago, soon after a home owned by him was engulfed by fire. His estranged wife and one young daughter were sleeping inside. Both escaped the blaze.

The story gets stranger and stranger.
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Captain Bathrobe
Captain Bathrobe
9 years ago

Ami, no worries. 🙂

Magpie
Magpie
9 years ago

The bit about the fire makes more sense in connection with the bikie war. It may not be directly related to custody. In any case, poor bloody kids.

Avicenna
9 years ago

Captain Bathrobe…

People’s houses catch on fire “all the time”. It doesn’t automatically make it suspicious unless the firefighters recognise arson.

Which they are very very very good at. And if it is arson it would be mentioned as arson rather than “his house caught on fire 70 days ago”.

Most fires are accidental or due to defective electrics, oil fires and people not stubbing out ciggies. Why should we suddenly assume that this was caused by him when there are more common reasons than arson and no fireman has stated that this is a case of arson due to the way fire spreads.

Fire spreads in predictable and logical patterns depending on source and nature. Arson fires are based of the unnatural presence of propellants indicating a faster burn or a completely illogical start point of the blaze. If it is arson the fire fighters would have cottoned onto it and it wouldn’t be “house caught fire” but “someone set their house on fire”.

I am sorry but you have made a cardinal error of jumping to conclusions about the man here much like the MRAs. The information merely states that the house caught fire, not that it was arson.

Hey may be many things but “attempted murder and arson” are not on the list of things. I would say that he is difficult to live with because of his condition and indeed taking his kids away from him for 70 days is not helpful since you aren’t treating a PTSD sufferer like he is normal, you are treating him like he is dangerous to people and doesn’t deserve the right to see his own kids.

Look this is not a MRA but someone who is suffering from a painful break up quite likely due to his Combat PTSD who hasn’t seen his kids in 70 days. There is no evidence of a court order asking him to stay away, there is just the information given which looks like “the mother decided to cut off all access”.

Let’s stop associating those douchebags with someone who has a real problem. Most of the MRA activists have no excuse for their broken world view. This is a man who has Combat PTSD. This man has not blamed women, this man just wants to see his kids.

I keep saying, if the MRMs really wanted to improve men’s rights then enshrining visitations as a contract much like child support and alimony with equal rigor would go a long way to solving issues like this because it is enshrined rather than enforcement being upto the guardian parent. That would actually benefit men by preventing situations where the guardian parent prevents visitations and there isn’t much anyone can do to force them.

Captain Bathrobe
Captain Bathrobe
9 years ago

I’m not seeing anything in any of the articles about PTSD, Avicenna. Please explain.

Pecunium
9 years ago

CPT Bathrobe: He’s done what he accused you of doing, leapt to a conclusion. The guy claims he was in combat on four continents, ergo he must be suffering from PTSD. As a combat vet (with some mild issues, which might be called PTSD, might not; hard call, and the VA says it ain’t), I have to say I find the glib assumption of it a bit offensive.

Then again, as I’ve said, the claim to combat on four continents is a bit hard to take on face value too, so…

Avicenna
9 years ago

“Mr Fox, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, has unsuccessfully tried to reach his children and blames police and welfare authorities for his predicament.”

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/bridge-stunt-chokes-city-20110513-1emg5.html#ixzz1MK1PktNe

It’s from the second update that David put up.

Avicenna
9 years ago

But then is it fair to mock the man as a MRA when we regard so much of the situation to be not clear. This could either be a MRA mix of Deerhunter mixed in with Taken. Or it could just be some poor sod whose like got screwed around.

It’s fine to mock MRAs, but we should try and maintain a standard atleast of using the information we are provided with otherwise why should we even believe that this even took place if we are going to start ignoring information that weighs in this man’s favour. There are plenty of morons out there without having to throw his story under a bus.

If we take into account the fire as a possible case against him (AKA Arson) then we should take his PTSD as a possible case for him since both are within the same update. Why should we arbitrarily decide that one is important while the other shows no insight into the man’s actions when the PTSD diagnosis shows greater insight than tenuous implications of arson?

It’s only fair.

titfortat
9 years ago

I will reiterate, it seems like David got lazy that day and this guy was an easy target. I wonder David, if it turns out he is sincere will you issue an apology?

Simone Lovelace
9 years ago

We’ve been down this road before.

Avicenna, PTSD is a real condition that causes real problems. But assuming that every combat veteran–or even every combat veteran with PTSD–has issues so severe that they basically can’t be held accountable for any of their actions is a disservice to pretty much everyone.

darksidecat
darksidecat
9 years ago

@avicenna, I do not know modern British or Australian law as well as US law, so I can’t comment to well on what laws apply in this case, but many of these “father’s rights” groups are US based. And, in the US, the potential penalties for denial of court ordered visitation are as high (or higher) than those for refusal to pay support. If denial of ordered visitation is a problem is Australia (which it might be-I don’t know), it does not follow that US groups are as justified, because the legal issue is not the same, and it also does not follow that it is targeting men (without evidence that non-custodial women parents are systematically given a better position than non-custodial men parents).

I do agree though, this issue is, judging by what we know now, possibly quite different than the usual MRA/misogynist whining. Of course, it is also possible that it is not (the court and the ex may very well have excellent reasons for denial of visitation).

Captain Bathrobe
Captain Bathrobe
9 years ago

I’m just not convinced PTSD is useful as an explanation here, and certainly not as an excuse. This guy acted in a very well planned out, pre-meditated manner. He even left a note threatening violence if anyone tried to stop him. I sympathize with the plight of anyone denied the right to see his kids. I have no sympathy, however, for this guy’s methods. I also think it’s perfectly reasonable to judge his fitness to parent, in the short run, based on his lack of judgement here. The PTSD would be an issue to be addressed during reunification.

As for the fire, fair enough. We really don’t know what happened there.

Captain Bathrobe
Captain Bathrobe
9 years ago

I will reiterate, it seems like David got lazy that day and this guy was an easy target. I wonder David, if it turns out he is sincere will you issue an apology?

Dave’s main point is that this guy, sincere or not, engaged in behavior that was not very likely to convince the courts to give him more access to his kids. I think that point still stands.

Pecunium
9 years ago

Avicenna: The question of PTSD isn’t clear. To use it as a justification is even less clear. 1: We don’t know what of the claims made are true.

What we do know is he climbed a bridge, and stopped traffic in an act of protest about his perception of an injustice.

2: PTSD has some, in a broad sense, consistent traits, none of which are all that contributory to this sort of behavior. Some of the more common actually argue against him having PTSD.

3: Saying, “The PTSD made him do it” is a cop-out, and is leaping to a conclusion. To say he did this in an MRA sort of way also make some assumptions, but it makes them based on what he says he motives were. That’s not the same as other people saying he is some sooper-spehsul seekrit-squirrel soldier.

The Australians have done a fair bit of UN work, but even with that it’s small numbers. East Timor in 1996, and Afghanistan in 2010 are the big ones, and that’s a fair bit of time apart. The other thing is numbers. Yes the ADF is small, but it’s an even smaller number which have been sent into combat operations. 500 into Iraq in 2003 (combat troops. Support personnel and the Royal Australian Navy raised the total to about 2000). No deaths, a few injuries.

Total in Afghanistan is about 1,500, but the major deployment was in 2010, which is hard to reconcile to his being involved in the shooting in April 2010).

Does he have PTSD? I don’t know. He was present when a friend of his was murdered. Does his PTSD have anything to do with this protest? I don’t know, but I don’t see anything which supports it, other than some of his friends/supporters using it as a justification.

Captain Bathrobe
Captain Bathrobe
9 years ago

Indeed, Pecunium. I would add that one of the articles stated that he was frankly surprised that the court would deny visitation due to his actions on the bridge. This lack of insight combined with a rather large sense of entitlement (i.e., “I have the right to shut down an entire bridge because I don’t get to see my kids, and I get to threaten violence if anyone tries to stop me.”) is more suggestive of narcissism than PTSD. Of course, both could be present. This is, of course, all speculation and not intended to be any sort of serious clinical assessment.

I can’t speak to Australian law, but a court in the US would probably view such a person as a bit of loose cannon and would probably mandate a psych eval, therapy, anger management, and supervised visitation at the very least–until the court was satisfied that any issues underlying this behavior had been addressed and that there was no danger to the children. A diagnosis of PTSD would only be relevant as an issue to be addressed in treatment, certainly not as an excuse for his behavior. Darksidecat or any of the other legal eagles can correct me if I’m wrong.

Having said all that, I don’t know any of the back story around his ex supposedly denying him visitation. In the US, at least, his remedy for that would be with the courts, not the bridge.

Avicenna
9 years ago

Never said it made him do it. I said it’s a contributory factor to his behaviour which may have got him divorced.

Sigh…

In the USA court ordered visitations are rare due to no fault divorce. What happens is that alimony and child support are enshrined as part of the no fault divorce however visitation is not.

If you decide that you want to take the divorce case for custody to the courts then you can argue for custody and enforced visitations but a lot of people don’t do it because these issues are relatively messy.

What I am suggesting is that visitation is treated like alimony and child support in no fault divorce and that the rights are enshrined as a contract that if voided can result in being smacked by the courts.

The PTSD issue is more relevant to the actual divorce part of the case. Would you have more pity for the man if you knew he was difficult to live with because he was a bit broken mentally and his wife had enough?

Maybe he saw stuff done by father’s 4 justice and realised that in order to raise awareness of his problems he has to be loud and disruptive because people just don’t care. Maybe he genuinely wants to see his children.

What would you do if someone says that you aren’t allowed to see your kids?

Give up? Argue for 70 days then go disrupt traffic till your story is in the news? Any other method such as wave placards till people get bored of seeing you wave them? We don’t know because we aren’t in his situation.

Captain Bathrobe
Captain Bathrobe
9 years ago

I think we’re just talking past each other at this point, Avi.

darksidecat
darksidecat
9 years ago

@avicenna, you are wrong, in US cases where there is a court ordered child support agreement, it is vanishingly rare to not have some court ordered custody agreement contained within. An out of court settlement for support has no more force of law than an out of court settlement for visitation. There is no discrepancy here with the force behing these issue when included in divorce agreements. (Alimony is rare in general and most often does have a formal legal resolution-because alimony most often occurs amoung the extremely wealthy).

Most child support issues with harsh punishment do not arise in disputes between the couple, in fact, these cases fare poorly and take a very long time (expect the kids to be grown ass adults before finishing). Where harsh penalties occur in regards to child support in the US is when the state petitions or mandates a child support order as a condition to welfare. This occurs both for divorced couples and couples who never married. It is not divorce (or no fault divorce) created issues that actually result in these cases, with rare exceptions where a highly disputed custody case went to court and received a final ruling.

Court ordered visitations are pretty strictly enforced, with potential penalties as high or higher than court ordered support violations. “I am too lazy to get a court order when the private agreement fails” does not demonstrate court bias, it demonstrates a lack of giving a shit. Women and men who are denied visitation under a private agreement have the same remeidal measures, and non-custodial parents seeking vistation generally fare incredibly well in court.

Also a voiding of a contract does not result in being punished by the courts, a breach of contract or a failure to comply with conditions is actionable-not a void contract (that is basically the definition of void-that it is unenforceable by the court).

Amnesia
Amnesia
9 years ago

“Would you have more pity for the man if you knew he was difficult to live with because he was a bit broken mentally and his wife had enough?”

If that were the case, I’d say his mental difficulties are his to deal with, not his wife’s. If she wanted to help, great, if not, she doesn’t have to. There need to be other options in place to make sure he can get the treatment he needs without her.

Pecunium
9 years ago

Avicenna: “In the US” isn’t a relevant idea, in an issue that has 51 different legal systems dealing with it. In Caliifornia a contested divorce has a court appointed represetnative for the child. In such case a decree regulating visitation is almost always part of the settlement. The no fault aspect of it is immaterial.

To get child support requires a custody resolution. Such a resolution will have court mandated access (from zero, to joint)

New York doesn’t have no fault divorce.

Etc.

As to PTSD, pity doesn’t enter into it. The question I am looking at is he motive behind, and effectivness of, his “protest”. From my experience with PTSD (such personal as I think I might have, and that of the troops in my care, who did have it), this isn’t a PTSD sort of reaction.

I don’t know, exactly, what I’d do if I lost access to my children. I am reasonably sure it would involve lawyers, perhaps therapists. Most such injunctions have structures by which the non-custodial parent; unless deemed an actual threat to the child(ren) is able to regain some (though often limited) access to the children.

(caveat: I was an, “abducted” child, as my mother decided to move away from my father when I was quite young. I think it sucked for my father, but I am not going to say such things, and often unjustly, don’t take place. I just don’t think I’ve seen anything to support the idea this was any sort of reasonable response to the problems this guy is having).

titfortat
9 years ago

“I am too lazy to get a court order when the private agreement fails” does not demonstrate court bias, it demonstrates a lack of giving a shit.(DSC)

Really? Money, money, moneyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy……………..Priceless

traindodger
9 years ago

Say what you want about this guy. Personally, I think he’s a bit of a loon. But, in some sick way, I do find it rather charming that he managed to use that dormant military training of his to terrorize people during their commute, all without killing himself by accident. Heck, it elicited a chuckle from me. That’s more than these psychos usually get.

darksidecat
darksidecat
9 years ago

@t4t, except the claim here is one of anti-male bias and men make more, not less, money on average. Men who are parents take the kids without permission when there is no court ordered visitation as well. So, suggesting that a system that is facially gender neutral, but benefits those with money, a group that has far more men than women, is anti-man by design is asinine. However, if you read the comment I was responding to, the issue was not funds, but “not wanting to deal with that mess”, which is a different issue.

@Pecunium, NY does have no fault divorce-since last year.

On the issue of PTSD, avicenna: violent, out of control, or unsafe behavior around children does warrant scrutiny in custody decisions, because those are supposed to be about the children. While there is significant discrimination against parents with disabilities who have never shown any bad or negiligent behavior occurs often and is a problem that needs addressed, “I have PTSD” does not warrant excusing shitty parenting or abusive behavior in relationships. If he is so out of control, it does not follow that we should have sympathy towards his custody arguments, or think anything wrong with the woman who left him. Of course, not all people with PTSD are in fact out of control, violent, or unsafe, but you can’t have it both ways.

Pecunium
9 years ago

darksidecat: I have rarely been so glad of being told I am wrong. Good on New York.

re PTSD: That. If I have it, it is (so far as I can tell) mild. It’s not manifest in my being violent (a bit snappish, perhaps, but not violent). I jump at certain sorts of noise. I flinch at certain types of detritus in the road. I get nervous when there are lots of overpasses, and open space to all directions. There are times I don’t like being around people I don’t know.

I am so not the stereotypical PTSD sufferer that it’s hard for me to think I have it. It also managed to contribute (a lot) to my relationship breaking up. It’s affected how I deal with spaces, people, etc.

It’s why I am a bit prickly when someone uses PTSD to explain away someone else’s behavior.

traindodger
9 years ago

I mean, how is it possible for someone to have the mental fortitude to safely rappel from a bridge’s support structure without plunging to one’s doom while also being stupid enough to do it as an act of protest over a custody battle, fully expecting to gain sympathy for his cause despite achieving nothing besides holding up traffic? That’s hilarious!

Toast
Toast
9 years ago

It all seems a bit strange. Maybe he is a former action man looking for a cause. Only use to solving problems physically, he certainly seemed pretty elated and pleased with himself in his TV /radio interviews. If he has PTSD he deserves help. It is pretty well documented that military marriages can come under an immense amount of strain at times. Maybe neither he nor his exwife are the big evil baddie. Sometimes shit just happens.
His friends don’t seem like the sharpest pencils in the box either and aren’t doing him any favors in the press.

What IS worrying is his association with a known criminal biker gang and being named a witness into the investigation of the leader’s murder. No one just innocently hangs at the clubhouse of these groups. If he is mixed up in some biker turfwar or payback (which happens pretty regularly in Australia,) I don’t blame the courts or his wife for trying to keep the kids as far away from it as possible.

As usual the MRA keyboard warriors can make all the claims they like, they like claiming the “achievements” of others – it saves them getting of their backsides.

Shayna
Shayna
9 years ago

Sometimes the courts deny a parent contact with their children for good reason. This appears to be one of those times. In Australia under Family Law legislation, which is federal, there is an initial presumption of shared custody (only we call it residence) of children. Then the parties negotiate from there taking into account work and living commitments of the parties and the children etc. Shit, even pedophiles are known to gain supervised contact with their children. This fruit and nut job, Mick, was denied contact with his children – probably because he tried to burn down the house that his ex wife and children were living in. So this narcisstic turd decides he is the most important person in the world and nobody else matters. Because of his actions people missed out on vital medical procedures, non-refundable flights, work, a day of visiting with their own children, not to mention the stigma his own kids will no doubt suffer for his selfish actions.

I hope they throw the bum in prison.