Smoothing the way: investigating the enforcement of parenting orders

Spiteri, T 2007, Smoothing the way: investigating the enforcement of parenting orders, Masters by Research, Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Smoothing the way: investigating the enforcement of parenting orders
Author(s) Spiteri, T
Year 2007
Abstract Family Law within Australia has undergone extensive legislative and operational changes since its inception. It is an area of law that impacts upon a number of stakeholders such as children, parents, law enforcement agencies, the Government and judicial officers.

The research took a small facet of the operation of the Family Law Act 1975, namely the enforcement of parenting orders by police services. The focus of the research was to unfold the process and difficulties encountered by police services when executing a recovery order issued by the Courts under s. 67 of the Family Law Act 1975. It further explored police perspective, training and organisational service delivery, in carrying out their duties.

Two qualitative methodological approaches were used in this research.

The main approach used was Grounded Theory.

Narrative Inquiry was also incorporated into the research. The objective of Narrative Inquiry is to create social context from story telling. Participants were asked to describe their experiences when executing recovery orders. Interviews were undertaken with members from the Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) who have had experience with the execution of recovery orders. These participants were also asked to construct the process when a recovery order is executed and to describe the atmosphere. In addition, journaling and observations were used. These observations took place in the Family Court and Federal Magistrates' Court in Victoria.

The findings and relevant literature indicated that police disliked becoming involved in executing recovery orders. The Police perceived family law in general not to be a central area of policing. These findings parallel earlier findings from an Australian Parliamentary report in 1992. Furthermore, the findings indicated that little organisational commitment was placed on the function of enforcing recovery orders. This was indicated by the limited and inconsistent resources provided by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to fulfil their obligations, and the lack of training offered to police members.

The findings indicated that the Police would take initial steps prior to executing the order. They would contact the applicant parent to assist with inquiries to locate a child, assess variables such as the potential for violence and arrange with the applicant parent where the child would be delivered. In addition, even though the findings outlined that recovery orders were fairly non-complex to execute, at times there would be difficulties in locating a child and finalising arrangements for a child to be returned to a parent.

The findings also indicated that there was no clear practice as to which section of the Victoria Police would execute a recovery order if requested by the AFP. Whilst the findings need to be considered carefully in light of the small sample group, it did indicate that there are some difficulties with the process and value placed by police services within Australia on the execution of recovery orders.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global Studies, Social Science and Planning
Keyword(s) Family law
parenting orders
recovery orders
Family violence
Domestic violence
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Created: Mon, 29 Nov 2010, 16:09:00 EST by Catalyst Administrator
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