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Globe editorial

Success, in contempt

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Family courts are not supposed to reward abusive parents, and punish parents who play by the rules ...Read the full article

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  1. David Wilson from Toronto, writes: glad to see this editorial, very glad indeed,

    I read the news article yesterday and had about the same response (with the addition of a few expletives maybe :-) but I could not put words to it, useless to tell him that time heals all because it doesn't, useless to say that in the end his daughter will review her situation because she probably won't

    useless as well to say that my heart goes out to this guy, but really that's all that can be done
  2. Robin Adams from Ottawa, Canada writes: In yesterday's article on this topic the author quoted the judge using 'the interest of the child ... ' principle. I'm not a lawyer, more philosopher, what is the source of this principle? Was it legislation passed by the HoC or a Supreme Court ruling? I wouldn't know where to start looking and I am really curious.

    You see my intuition is telling me that this principle.. 'the interest of the child' seems to trump parent's rights, our legal system and even common sense... it's powerful indeed!

    Could someone out there help me out? Legal research is not really in my tool set and I don't know where to begin to look...
  3. nama saya from Canada writes: Bravo.
  4. Mike Murphy from Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada writes: Robin: Section 16 (8) of the Federal Divorce Act (Canada) discusses best interests with respect to custody as follows: (8) In making an order under this section, the court shall take into consideration only the best interests of the child of the marriage as determined by reference to the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of the child. It appears in 3 other sections.

    Many judges will tell you there is no such thing as parental rights. The problem is 'best Interests' is entirely subjective and based on the interpretation of every judge in the land. It has no legal meaning and, as we have seen in this case, can actually mean the abused child is awarded to the abuser.

    In effect it means absolutely nothing and causes Family Law and its judges to be held in great disrepute by millions of Canadians. Law makers need to wake up and implement shared and equal parenting with serious consequences such as Belgium provides for withholding access to a child. Over their withholding access is called abduction and you go to jail automatically.
  5. Robin Adams from Ottawa, Canada writes: Mike, thanks for the clarification. I was sure that there was a basis in statute but it seems to me, (and I'm going out a bit on a limb here), that there has been a novel interpretation done by the legal community at some point. The actual application of the law seems to exceed the boundaries of the statute by a wide margin. I'm going to assume that the legislators never intended their statute to be a free pass for a parent in a divorce to commit a felony. (ie: contempt and kidnapping)

    So can you point me towards the debate? Was there any? I'd really like to see the arguments used... frankly its so legally powerful it would be as legally precedent setting as the Magna Carta. I would also assume a furious debate among legal scholars.. is there one?
  6. Mike Murphy from Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada writes: I think your editorial is a break through in helping to uncover the dysfunction and bias that occurs in Family Law (FLAW). Those of us who walk in this man's shoes know exactly how he feels. The isolation, the desperation at the loss of love of your child, the loss of all light in the tunnel, which is so very long and so very dark. You ponder life and wonder if you can ever, ever see the light again. A parent, and there are females in the same boat, alienated from their child goes through a constant and never ending state of grieving. Unlike the grief you suffer by a death in the family, which diminishes over time, an alienated parent's grief is palpable day in and day out. You know your child is out there but you have lost him/her often physically and emotionally. An alienated child does not want to see you or talk to you. The judge shows his great inexperience in these matters by allowing a phone call. It will be traumatic for both dad and the child as long as the mother has custody. Her life and view of men will be forever diminished.
  7. Mike Murphy from Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada writes: Robin Adams from Ottawa, Canada writes: Mike, thanks for the clarification.
    The 'Best Interests of the Child' is the guiding principle in most of the western democracies with some distinctions. In Canada it is a Federal Statute that deals with custody but in the USA there are 50 different states involved each with their own variations. All use best interests as the principle guide. Some States have enacted Shared/Equal parenting legislation that does indicate both parents have equality in parenting on separation and divorce. That is a kind of parental right but still subject to best interests.

    Most Canadian Provinces have legislation that discusses best interests as having both parents involved as much as possible. In practice judges do not apply this 'both parents being involved' at all. Dads are marginalized. Feminists propaganda that children should not be required to move from one house to another is somehow harmful is at the forefront of their decisions. It is patently false. All studies show children do best when both parents are equally involved and my 10 year old would like nothing better to live with and love both parents without being alienated. When children are loved and wanted by both mom and dad they are incredibly resilient and they flourish despite the divorce.

    A USA congressman is try to get Parental Rights into the USA constitution and is working hard toward that end.

    Australia and Belgium both have shared parenting legislation that provides greater equality to both parties with Belgium's as the strongest indicator of equality. In Belgium had this occurred the mother would be in jail for abduction and the dad would have sole custody without the question of the Parental Alienation emotional abuse even being involved.
  8. Robin Adams from Ottawa, Canada writes: Mike, thanks for the thoughtful reply I appreciate that you took the time to write it. I assume when you make the comment that 'many judges will argue that there is no such thing as parental rights'... you mean 'special parental rights'.. by virtue of them being parents. They aren't arguing that we gain rights on being born and then we lose them when we create life. If the latter case, I'd really like to hear that one argued out...

    Lastly, one thing stood right out in the statute you quoted.... 'the court shall take into account only the best interests of the child'... creates a unique category of person. A very special person indeed. One that can apparently overide this section of the Charter:

    15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination

    Have there been any challenges?
  9. Ex Husband not Ex Father from Toronto, Canada writes: Yesterday, when I first read the article, I was furious at the judge. Then I looked up the Legislation. The Children's Law Reform Act (R.S.O. 1990) clearly lays out the Best Interests of the Child. 24.(2) The court shall consider all the child’s needs and circumstances, including, (a) the love, affection and emotional ties between the child and, (i) each person entitled to or claiming custody of or access to the child...and (iii) persons involved in the child’s care and upbringing; (b) the child’s views and preferences, if they can reasonably be ascertained; ...(d) the ability and willingness of each person applying for custody of the child to provide the child with guidance and education, the necessaries of life and any special needs of the child; (e) any plans proposed for the child’s care and upbringing; (f) the permanence and stability of the family unit with which it is proposed that the child will live; (g) the ability of each person applying for custody of or access to the child to act as a parent; and (h) the relationship by blood or through an adoption order between the child and each person who is a party to the application. 2006, c. 1, s. 3 (1). The Act also states that Past Conduct cannot be taken into consideration unless it directly impacts the parent's ability to act as a parent. Case Law in regards to mobility also really does a lot to marginalize the role of the access parent. The custodial parent's decision to move is actually given more weight. The law as it stands is severely flawed. Parlaiment needs to enact legislation that will default to joint parenting over the winner take all approach. There should be a large onus of proof to move to anything but (ie. documented, proven abuse). Currently, the fact the parties are resorting to court is enough to remove joint parenting. Until this deference to joint parenting is enacted, this will happen time and time again.
  10. Megan Ratcliffe from Toronto, Canada writes: Robin Adams.
    No there have not been any challenges to the divorce act on Charter grounds. Simply because at minimum it costs $500,000 to take an argument all the way to the Supreme Court. Not many divorced fathers, after spending what money they have on legal bills, can afford to challenge the divorce act at the Supreme Court level.
    Most divorced fathers just give up because the system is so heavily biased towards the mother.
  11. Mike Murphy from Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada writes: @Robin: If you read up on Harvey Brownstone, who just published a book 'Tug of War' he will categorically state parents have no rights in his court. Only the child's best interests matter. The constitutionality of this is questionable but it would be unlikely the Supreme Court would over ride it. They tend to uphold the status quo which permeates FLAW throughout the Canadian court system. That status quo means in almost 90% of cases mom gets custody, dad pays child and often spousal support which is tax free to the mom, dad loses his 50% of everything else including his ability to be a legal parent to his children. He may get 14% visitation if he is lucky. Studies show for a meaningful child-parent bond to grow at least 40% contact should occur. Judges have created a social engineered nightmare for children. Dad will go to jail if he misses too many support payments, even if he is laid off and cannot afford it. We have debtors prisons just for him. Nothing will happen to mom if she withholds access, moves away or kidnaps the child. The CAS' will not intervene if access is with held or if Parental Alienation is evident despite what you might hear from Judges like Brownstone unless he himself enforces their involvement. Otherwise they are hands off especially if it is mom with custody.
  12. Peter The Not Quite Great from Canada writes: While the situation and ruling are outrageous is it really in the child's best interest to take her from her mother and place her with a father she believes abandoned her? Later she may come to know better but as of now I don't see how taking her from her mother is in her best interests. In effect the court would be saying 'We don't care if you love your mother we are gong to force you to live with a father you don't like at all'.

    The financial considerations are BS. The only relevant question there, IMHO, is can the father provide her with the necessities of life?

    The court probably should have ordered a more equitable visiting arrangement but since it was asked to rule on custody I suppose that wasn't possible.
  13. Rhonda Pisanello from Rimbey AB., Canada writes: A child doesn't need a home with 7 bedrooms, the child only needs one. A child doesn't need two nannies, he or she needs a Dad and a Mom who love, nourish, care for and protect her. I can't help but wonder who is going to be spending time with this little girl...with two nannies to care for her that doesn't leave much time for Mom does it? Maybe Mom has better things to do. I am shocked at the outcome of this case. What was this Judge thinking? Any person with a bit of common sense (putting aside the legal aspect) knows that materialistic things can not nor ever will replace the love of a father or a Mother. The short term adjusting period that it would have taken to reunite this little girl and her father is nothing compared to the long term damage this Judge has inflicted on them both. It is abusive in itself. Why isn't the Judical system listening? Canada made a commitment along with the United Nations to protect children. They also recognized that 'parents have the primary responsibility for the care and nuture of children'. This father has been robbed by the legal system. The mother has been rewarded for her immoral actions. This poor little girl has lost the most important thing of all though, the love of a parent. It is truly heartbreaking and shameful.
  14. Mike Murphy from Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada writes: Peter The Not Quite Great from Canada writes: While the situation and ruling are outrageous is it really in the child's best interest to take her from her mother and place her with a father she believes abandoned her?___________________________________________________________

    Beyond the shadow of a doubt it would be in the child's best interest to remove her from her mom. If roles were reversed and dad was the abuser the same applies. Typically in cases of parental alienation of a serious nature and, among other tactics, abducting the child certainly fits this category, the perpetrator has mental health problems.

    The judge has said I know you are an abuser and an alienator and you have turned your child against her father and because of that your child hates and fears him. Therefore, you have done such a thorough job of it I have no choice but to give you exactly what you want. This is absolutley outrageous.

    A child once removed from the alienator has a far better prognosis to re-engage with the target parent, even without serious counselling intervention. The latter would be necessary but is available in larger centres by trained professionals. The court could easily order it, and under the circumstances, the province should pick up the tab.

    You would have no problem in developing a coherent opinion if the mom was beating the child and you could see the bruises. The difference here is you cannot see the psychic bruises but they will last a lot longer than the physical bruises.
  15. Rhonda Pisanello from Rimbey AB., Canada writes: I absolutely agree with Mike Murphy on his comments to Peter the not quite great. How would this Judge have handled this case if it were not a Parental Alienation case but physical or sexual abuse by the mother. I am most certain he would not have granted or allowed the child to remain with her. It sickens me to see and hear all the time, that just because there are no outward physical signs of the mental and emotional trauma from PA people deny that it is harmful to a child. It is very harmful and in alot of cases much more so because unlike the other two forms of child abuse the help for these children to heal just isn't out there. I know, I am one of them, it took me 35 years to identify my problems mostly because I just didn't know about the term Parental Alienation. Sadly neither did ANY of the
    therapists I went to see for help. What this Judge did was not in the best interest of the child, not at all.
  16. Robin Adams from Ottawa, Canada writes: Thanks for pointing me towards Brownstone's book Mike, I look forward to reading it. I almost always think of laws and justice in the abstract and where specific, only in international forums. I think its why the story intrigued me in the first place. If Brownstone tried to argue that a group of humans had forfeited their rights for having created new life, the justices in that forum would rip him a new one.

    If as I suspect the source of the disconect is our legislators then that would explain a lot. It doesn't represent the public interest any more than it represents the child's interest. They are consumed with self-interest, corporate lobbying and on social issues are a particularly craven bunch of people... but I digress.

    Thanks again for taking the time to answer my posts.
  17. Lee Turner from Canada writes: I take issue with the judge's ruling based on the father's income. A woman would never be told she can't keep her kids because she doesn't possess a certain level of income, on the contrary the father would be ordered to make up the difference. Why not the opposite, here?
  18. mind bird from Warren, United States writes: This is insane! In Saudi Arabia, the child will have wealth and 2 nannies--but she will never be able to drive, leave home without a male relative guarding her, vote.....They have allowed this child to be locked in a golden cage, forever.
  19. Fake Name from Canada writes: Lee Turner - probably because the woman isn't the wealthy one, it's her new husband who has the money.

    I mean, even without reading the article, where is a woman in Saudi Arabia going to get money other than a wealthy husband?
  20. Anonymous Toronto from toronto, Canada writes: Sadly, and far too frequently children are used as pawns by one or both parents in the aftermath of failed marriages. Children are not equipped to deal with such behaviour by those who trustfully look to their parents to nurture and protect them. The scars from
    these selfish acts may be lifelong and can impair the child from forming meaningful and stable relationships throughout their life. I commend the Globe & Mail for shining a light on this hidden pathology. The hope is that through awareness our politicians, judiciary, and health care system can begin to truly act in the best interests of the child.

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