I have met and heard the tragic stories of many parents. PA is a function, by and large, of a custodial ex-partner, although some alienation can start while the couple is still together.

This blog is a story of experiences and observations of dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW), an arena pitting parent against parent, with children as the prize. Due to the gender bias in Family Law, that I have observed, this Blog has evolved from a focus solely on PA to one of the broader Family/Children's Rights area and the impact of Feminist mythology on Canadian Jurisprudence and the Divorce Industry.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Judge Harvey Brownstone has advice for those facing child custody fights.

I have not yet had a chance to read the book but will when it gets to my library here in Sault Ste. Marie. Due to the bias I have encountered so far in FLAW (Family Law) my cash resources are dwindling fast and have little left to purchase it. My story is typical of many men. Some non-Divorce Industry posters are praising the Judge. http://www.ecwpress.com/books/tug_war#comment-526 Some say they are men but do not leave their name. I find that interesting they do not have the courage of their convictions. Perhaps Brownstone is the only Judge handling FLAW cases in Ontario who does things differently where Dads are concerned. Has he changed the ratio of orders for custody he approves from the 9-1 in favour of females that is consistent across Canada? I'm speaking of both contested and uncontested. Most dads have a metaphorical gun placed to their forehead by their lawyers saying give the mom custody and cut your losses now. Thus dads are marginalized to 14% visitors and cease being a legal parent. The Nanny State and the Mother (until the boyfriend moves in) are the new parents. Then the non-bio boyfriend sees the children 24/7 and increases the likelihood of a host of negative outcomes to the child including physical and emotional harm. Is Brownstone's discussion of non-represented litigants implying this is the best course of action for dads? Did he discuss changes to the system to reduce litigation such as the following: Entitlements to female litigants under the current regime are an inducement to take unilateral action (66-70% of divorces are initiated by the female). Given there are no tests to get married society is encumbered with the aftermath of failed relationships. We need to be more proactive. These are steps required to get the job done better than now. First - compulsory counselling before lawyers are hired. All counselling would have an identifiable outcome. Reconciliation, further mitigating counselling of a more specialized nature or mediation. We currently spend $208,000,000.00 per year on women's issues alone in Ontario, none on men. Wouldn't it be useful to spend some money on "family" issues instead of one gender! The next step would be mediation but this would be tax supported and compulsory if counselling does not get the warring parties properly focused, not including lawyers. Next if required, lawyers - if anyone can afford them. They are clearly pricing themselves out of the market and are becoming redundant for the average person. If no lawyers then the feuding couple need guidance on how to take the required steps to get to court which should be the last resort. No Fault divorce must end and all the perceived entitlements a female litigant will get including almost automatic custody and "ownership" of the children. This happens even if the female (or male as the case may be) has committed criminal acts affecting the livelihood of the other partner and ruined their career and reputation. To do this the divorce act must be changed to include a presumption of equal and shared parenting for fit parents. This gives judges no discretion which in 90% of cases they currently award or approve custody to the mother. Judges are currently part of the problem in addition to the pickpockets we call lawyers. The best interest of the child is not met by any description I have read of Brownstone's or any other judge. By allowing a winner take all approach under the current rules dads by far are marginalized and all studies show this is clearly not in the best interest of children. Until the above are instituted not much will change but I do congratulate Judge Brownstone for taking FLAW out of the closet and putting it on the table in front of all of us. For that he gets Kudos. Most judges don't have the family jewels to rock the boat from their current conservative, feminist/marxist entrenched ideological decision making template that gives dads the boot as parents but keeps them around as wallets.MJM

The Toronto Star Family court judge's book a caution to warring couples
Judge Harvey Brownstone has advice for those facing child custody fights.
'This is not Judge Judy,' Harvey Brownstone tells self-litigators who clog divorce courts
Feb 07, 2009 04:30 AM

Ontario's family courts are being "crippled" by warring couples who are representing themselves in complex divorce cases – including bitter battles over child custody, a long-time judge says.

"The family court system is in crisis with unrepresented people who don't have a clue what they are doing. They don't understand that this is not Judge Judy," says Justice Harvey Brownstone in a candid assessment of the court system that handles separations, division of assets and custody issues in Ontario.

In some courts, 50 to 70 per cent of couples are going it alone with no understanding of family law, rules of evidence or even what documents they need to make their case, he says. Most say they don't need, or can't afford, lawyers. The resulting delays and adjournments are further overloading a system that's already being "swamped" with increasingly complex, and often acrimonious, court fights that are destroying children's lives, says Brownstone, 52, a well-respected Ontario Court of Justice judge.

Brownstone is so concerned about the number of lives affected by couples using the courts to try to extract "vengeance," when what they really need is counselling, that he's the first family law judge to write a book, due to hit bookstores later this month.

Tug of War: A Judge's Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles, and the Bitter Realities of Family Court isn't so much a self-help book as a warning to warring couples – including the growing number of complex cases stemming from common-law, same-sex and casual-sex relationships that result in costly legal fights over support obligations.

Brownstone's book sets out a number of "alternative dispute resolutions" – from collaborative practice to mediation and binding arbitration – aimed at helping families reach agreements out of court.

"The whole message of this book is that family court is bad for families and litigation is bad for children. That's what people need to know," says Brownstone, a family court judge for 14 years.

Most senior divorce lawyers agree and say family courts are so short of judges in high-growth areas such as Newmarket, Brampton and Barrie, they avoid taking cases there.

Veteran divorce lawyer Harold Niman describes Newmarket's family court as "chronically overburdened," with dockets that often have 25 to 40 or more cases, well above what's considered a reasonable load. One court last week had 28 scheduled cases, all of them listed as unrepresented litigants.

"It is shocking," says Niman. "People are expecting to go have their case, their life, determined by a judge who's going to have the time to read the material and give the case the kind of attention that they feel they deserve. That's not going to happen. It's a huge disappointment to (divorcing couples) to find that out. And the judges, who are very hardworking, are very open about it. They lament it and they try to do the best they can."

That's left people like Ari Katz, whose contentious divorce was supposed to go to trial in October of 2007, still awaiting a final decision on division of assets and support payments. He now has a new trial date in May, but no guarantee it will go ahead as planned.

He's already racked up $105,000 in legal fees. When his lawyer asked for a $100,000 retainer for next May's trial, he realized, "I have no choice but to represent myself."

The Ontario government is moving to reform family law legislation and courts to simplify the process and cut costs for litigants, and has been pressing Ottawa, which is responsible for appointing judges, to deal with the "shortage," says a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney-General.

Ottawa recently appointed six new judges to the Superior Court of Justice, including two in Brampton and one in Barrie, he says. And Family Law Information Centres in many courthouses in Ontario try to help separating couples manoeuvre through the system and look at alternatives, including mediation.

While the system isn't as severely backlogged in Toronto – where more couples are looking to alternatives, such as collaboration and mediation – there are other serious problems, and they're playing out in family courts across the province, divorce experts say.

"There are a lot of people out there in pain and they come here thinking it will get better," says Brownstone. "But there's no winning in family court – there are only degrees of losing. People get that when they come here, but it's too late by then."

In some cases, the court must deal with "recreational litigants" – parents who literally fight until the children are grown up.

Which is part of the reason Brownstone is donating all the proceeds of his $19.95 book to the Children's Wish Foundation, which helps children facing life-threatening disease. "I want parents who are fighting over Halloween access and Christmas vacations – who've lost sight of the big picture – to know that there are other parents out there who won't even have the privilege to see their children graduate.

"It breaks my heart that some parents are planning funerals for their children while others are fighting over who gets to take the kids trick or treating."

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- Paying The Price -

Fundamentally the entire system is flawed... When you consider that the children in a divorce become monetary value, given child support orders It’s no wonder child custody can become a matter of financial survival for either party... Divorce is never about the children... it’s about the money...

Submitted by Integra at 12:37 AM Monday, February 09 2009

Spouses who won't negotiate

Divorce is a highly emotional, stressful process. There is a sense of "justice" on either side that will cost anyone a fortune going the court route to try to get. I myself tried collaborative law, mediation and now have to resort to court because my ex spouse refuses to negotiate further or pay support. He has kept me financially "hostage" for three years. We cannot stand each other and do not speak accept through lawyers at a high price tag. He feels counseling is "useless mumbo jumbo". Our children have been affected despite my best efforts to shelter them from the disputes. When you cannot negotiate with a narcarsistic, control freak, what choice do you have? I am 100k in debt with the lawyers with no resolution. To me court was to be the last resort but in this case maybe should have been my first resort to save me the three years of torture. Frankly, the whole system is broken Lawyers, court, ,the law and whole process. There has got be be a better way!

Submitted by toolate at 8:21 PM Sunday, February 08 2009

Not the lawyer's fault

I've been reading most of these articles about the family law system and one thing that people fail to realize is that if lawyers are ever going to pay back their loans from law school, they have to charge high rates. Yes they pay them back 5-10 years, but nobody else decreases their salary once their debt is paid, why should lawyers? And if most divorcing couples had spent time during their marriage preventing the problems that lead to divorce, eg) through counselling, then maybe they wouldn't need a lawyer. Stop blaming everybody but yourselves.

Submitted by adb215 at 7:35 PM Sunday, February 08 2009

Fix the system not people

Government and lawyers are beneficiaries of the family justice system, distorted to such a degree, that it promotes hidden agenda and interest of its sponsors on expense of parents and children. What we see in the courtrooms, the senseless fights and suffering, is not nature of the people (although is simpler to say that) but behavior encouraged by the failed policies. If you provide tools and environment, people will try to exploit them for their own benefit. Lawyers play a role of facilitators in that labyrinth – the bigger the labyrinth the bigger the payoff. While mediation may help crowded courts (and increase payoff to the lawyers), unless system is changed there will be no benefit to the families and children. Fighting will move from courts to lawyer offices – and sense of despair and injustice would continue to poison lives of many people.

Submitted by DHD at 11:55 AM Sunday, February 08 2009


alot of these comments assume that the two people going through the divorce are mature and logical divorce. I am sure we all know of those adutls out there that once they are faced with serious issues concerning their children, they act out irrationally and defencively. This puts extreme pressure on the other parties, and ultimately the children involved. As we know, not all divorces and cutody battles are smooth, so we need the guidance of lawyers to get through all the crap.

Submitted by snotina at 11:03 AM Sunday, February 08 2009

One small law will change it all...

I have often witnessed what happens in divorces when adults are unable to trust one and other. I have seen hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on one simple divorce, for a contract that means nothing, unless of course the poorer spouse has the money to keep going back to court to get what is rightfully and previously agreed to, theirs to begin with. The Government needs to stop listening to the lawyers and start implimenting common sense by bringing into law that couples entering into a seperation or divorce agreement must attend mandatory counselling for each spouse, followed by mediation. We have the laws regarding Seperations and Divorces, we just need to use them. This enables everyone to be on the same playing field and negates those that have the money from having the power.

Submitted by brianstake at 9:57 AM Sunday, February 08 2009

Garden of Eden

I know of one couple who did not go to court but amicably settled their custody and support issues with assistance from lawyers, everything was done efficiently and without fanfare. Did this solve the issues? Decades later the children remained angry about their parent's failed relationship and the ex-wife died smiling only because she endured a stroke that removed her memory. Love is a battlefield that has been claiming victims since the Garden of Eden. There is no "good" solution", only attempts at making peace. And for better of for worse, generations carry the memories of the battle forward ...

Submitted by js1 at 9:08 PM Saturday, February 07 2009

It May Not Be Judge Judy-But It Should Also Not Be Bankruptcy To Go Through Courts And Lawyers!!!

The system is totally broken and a Corporation of plumbers cannot fix this mess. Too many lawyers and courts in the bedrooms of the public. Especially when ass ets are involved. Is it really about the children or assets???

Submitted by The Truth Hurts at 8:43 PM Saturday, February 07 2009

Children do not need to live the acrimonious life of parents life

It would be much healthier to remove children from divorcing parents and to trust them to a barding school, where parental visits would be properly assigned and controlled. Both parents can then go to work and support themselves and the children. This would minimize spousal support and introduce fairness in child support. You would eliminate the parasitization of one parent on the other. It would be a much healthier situation all around.

Submitted by Henri Murger at 3:53 PM Saturday, February 07 2009

Lawyers cost

No one can afford lawyers. Why would anyone with a total of 50K in assets to be split go to a lawyer that wants 100K up front to represent them. Yet judges always want lawyers in front of them, in any court, not only for divorce. Using the same analogy, only pilots could fly as passengers on a plane because they are the only ones who know how it works, only engineers could drive on a road, and only IT professionals would be allowed to use computers.

Submitted by FredW at 3:05 PM Saturday, February 07 2009

The Child's interests are paramount

No matter what issues face the partners' relationship. The legal system is set up to be adversarial, however in my opinion this is the wrong approach. Negotiation and mediation should carry the day in family law.

Submitted by proudcanadiancitizen at 1:43 PM Saturday, February 07 2009

The lawyers are the problem...

Our legal system has been a total failure. It will never be remedied until it is gutted of its inner rot ... the lawyer. Lawyers are not needed. They are a vicious element who render the process lengthier, craftier, adversarial and of course more expensive. I have seen lawyers who are abject failures and still charge 400-500/hr! Unconscionable. Even the stamp used in their mail is charged. So is their taxi ride to court! What is needed are judges who can study a case and render judgement. All the information can be requested by the judge or his assistants. Lawyers are the stumbling block who fan the fires of hatred between parting parents letting children bear the brunt of the unfortunate animosity.

Submitted by Henri Murger at 1:11 PM Saturday, February 07 2009


Anonymous said...

The blame goes to the state. Custody is by nature a 50:50 arrangement. Kids need a Mom and a Dad, so right off the mark the state needs to guarantee that both parents have equal parenting time with kids... unless there is SUBSTANTIAL reason, by way of drugs, alcohol use or physical abuse of the kids. Payments to either spouse for support, have nothing to do with the issue; it's a separate matter. The default should always be 50:50 unless one parent GIVES UP the right. Women getting more right to custody than a man should be a crime. (Unless the child is of an age where it is nursing, then there needs to be a time limit on more access given to a Mother.) Divorce and asset division can be complex, but custody shouldn't be.

A loving and fantastic Dad!

Michael J. Murphy said...

In Canada a coalition of Family and Child;s Rights groups, including thousands of marginalized dads is working on a shared parenting law. A Private Members Bill # C-422 is on the order paper in parliament.

This will give a presumption of shared equal parenting equalizing the playing field. It is long overdue. Belgium has one of the best bills of its kind in play currently and it was enacted in 2006. The Netherlands bill came into force on Jan. 1/09.

Anonymous said...

Judge Brownstone is obviously binded because of a few and biased against the majority. A mother, most often, has a sense of selfless care for their child, she also rarely has a voice against an aggressive sociopath.
How does Judge Brownstone discriminate between a sociopathic father with all the fibbing that can come very easy to a sociopath and one that has been hard done by (if he wants to use stats- who is usually the more aggressive/abusive wives or husbands in a relationship????).
Family court is suppose to be about the rights of CHILDREN not the rights of Fathers. If a father is more of a detriment to their child's wellbeing then there should be protection available to the child!!!! Judge Brownstone fights for the rights of fathers,he does not look at the struggle of a mother hard done by a stalker and abuser who only wishes to ruin her life-- he will refuse to look at facts but instead take the word of a practised liar, he is biased and should not be in our court system!!!!!!!

paretns don't need attention, children do! said...

Shared parenting?? For who's sake? It's been well noted that a child benifits far more from a home base than a Ping Pong situation. Parents should understand that they are not the focus, the children are. As parents we are required to make sacrifices, and the best situation is when the child does not even see a tear of sweat from them. Parents should be working in the BACKGROUND to unsure their child has all opportunities--that is REAL LOVE!