Federal Magistrate Tom Altobelli's letter to two children:
DEAR X and Y,
AFTER your mum and dad separated they could not agree about where you were to live. You were 10 and 6 at the time.
As a judge it was my job to make this decision. I had a lot of help from the lawyer who was representing you, and each of your parents, as well as an expert child psychiatrist.
Even with all of this help it was a hard, sad case to decide. This letter is to try to explain my decision to you, even though you probably wonít read it for many years.
The most important thing I want to tell you is that both your mum and dad love you very much.
They loved you from the day you were born, love you now, and will love you for the rest of their lives. Just because your dad may not have been around for a while, it does not change that he loves you.
At the time I had to decide the case your mum believed in her heart that your dad hurt you.
My job is to look at all the information, and listen very carefully to what everybody says including the experts.
I decided that you had not been hurt by your dad. Even after I told your mum what I decided, I think she still believed in her heart that your dad had hurt you.
This just goes to show that sometimes words do not change a personís heart.
At the time of the case both of you were saying things, and doing things, that told me you did not like your dad, and did not want to spend time with him.
I donít think you really meant this. I think maybe you were picking up the things that mum was worried about.
I listened to what you were saying, but in the end the hard decision I had to make was not because of what you were saying or doing.
I told you this was a hard, sad case to decide.
I decided that even though your dad really wanted you to live with him, it was best that you lived with mum, even though this might mean moving away from where you lived at the time.
I knew your mum would look after you really well. I decided not to make your mum let you see your dad, even though your dad wanted this very much. I thought it would make things harder for you if I had done this.
By the time you read this letter I think you will be old enough to make up your own mind. I hope you will think about contacting your dad and getting to know him again.
There are people called counsellors who can help you with how you feel about this, and help you to make it happen.
Please remember that both your mum and dad love you very much, even if they love you in different ways.