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Cousins and the court merry-go-round all over again

here are no winners when you fight family battles in court. Whatever you think of Ben Cousins, he made clear this week that he thinks his court appearances are down to the ongoing fight with his ex over their children. He sees the hole he is in as rock bottom in a bitter fight over access to his kids.

The papers and the tele are full of Ben Cousins again. It’s obviously a complete nightmare for everyone involved.

I’m not here to defend Cousins or to judge him – or the media who just won’t leave him alone – other than to say, he has made some phenomenally bad choices and done some really idiotic things.

But boy oh boy he was some footballer and a handsome devil in his day.

💥Public humiliation

Yesterday Cousins made yet another court appearance, this time in the Armadale Magistrate’s Court on a string of extremely serious charges – aggravated stalking, aggravated burglary and more than a dozen breaches of a violence restraining order.

He didn’t behave well, he swore, he rambled, and it’s apparent he is now on a path where there is little option but legal and court processes.

💥Plea for his kids

However Cousins’ plea to the magistrate when applying for bail, was telling. He said:

“I’ve been to jail, I’ve come out a different person.

“I realise I’ve been late maturing but since I’ve been out I’ve had hardly any contact with my children.

“I’m the victim in this I am no danger to my children or her (his former partner).

“One  strength of my character is (that I) not act out in violence, even though I’ve been the subject of ridicule and embarrassment, most of it I’ve brought on myself.

“I’m worried about the promises I’ve made to my children, they need to see I’m making an effort.

“Is this a vendetta against me?”

Bail was denied.

There’s a lot to argue back and forth there – much on the issue of personal responsibility, and rule following.

But what stands out is a heartbreaking family issue. It shouldn’t be in the spotlight and it should never have ended up in court.

💥Court no place for families

Cousins was in court because – according to police – he is a dangerous stalker and was carrying drugs. According to Cousins it was because he can’t see his kids.

There’s drug issues and prison time and young children involved. Violence restraining orders cannot be allowed to be breached.

None of this is easy or straightforward, but along the way no one is winning. Especially not those little kids. Their father may not be the greatest role model but he is still their father and our family law system assumes he should be allowed to play that role.

Unfortunately in Cousins’ case, drugs may have had more to do with his relationship with his children, than rambling pleas in mitigation.

💥Co-parenting may be hard but you have to try

But imagine another scenario, one where a father had agreed access to his children, where he was acknowledged as their dad and allowed to play a role. Where the parents worked together to the best of their ability to allow their kids to have a relationship with both their parents.

Would that effect the drug taking? Maybe not. Would it effect the breaches of restraining order? Maybe . . .

We are all just observers of this tragic story, but perhaps we shouldn’t be watching it at all. There is no way constant coverage and regular court appearances are helping this family sort their stuff out.

💥Take control of your family

Cousins is now back in jail, maybe temporarily, maybe not – that’s the option the court has.

When you end up in court you put your life and your family’s life in the hands of a judge who can only decide on the facts before him that day. He doesn’t know you, he doesn’t know your kids. You don’t know what mood that judge is in that day or what notions he or she brings to their decision making.

What you do know is that you have no control over the process. The Family Court – or any court along the way is the worst possible place to try to figure out how to be a parent, or to have someone else tell you how you will be allowed to parent.

And the consequences on personalities often already shaky can be catastrophic.

💥What can you do?

Whatever you think about Cousins, there is a lesson for anyone facing a relationship breakdown where kids are involved. Put your kids first, think about how they can have a relationship with both their parents in the future.

Waging all out war on your ex is not putting your kids first. Dragging your breakup through the courts for years puts your kids squarely in the middle of the war. There is no way they will not get dragged down into it with you. Emotionally and financially the likelihood is that you and your children will be damaged.

No matter how you feel about your ex now, your children have two parents – kids want two parents. And in the long run their best interests are your best interests.

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