|Last Update: 3/12 6:25 pm|
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday at the North Carolina General AssemblyThe Associated Press Thursday, March 12, 2009
— H307, would establish a process to set aside paternity and child support when the paternity order was the result of fraud, mutual mistake or excusable neglect. Recommended for approval by House Judiciary II Committee. Next: To the House Appropriations Committee.
Family law lawyer Sandy Morris had just helped finalize a difficult divorce when a box arrived at her Toronto office tied up with a big, gold bow. Inside was a strange gift from her elated client – a mounted fish with teeth like a shark.
"It was a barracuda," says Morris in an explosion of laughter. "I couldn't bring myself to throw it away. I'm sure he meant it in a really nice way, but I kept it in my office behind some books because I was embarrassed."
Today the nasty-looking reminder of her more than 20-year career as a divorce lawyer has a different hiding place, behind some family photos on the mantel of her Wychwood Park home. That is where Morris is now "detoxifying" after some difficult days in courtrooms that had come to feel like modern-day Colosseums.
The 45-year-old mother of two decided to "retire" from her $450-an-hour job with the highly respected firm Wilson Christen LLP after growing weary of watching couples fight to the death over everything from kids to cottages, RRSPs to religion.
"My husband said I'd reached my misery threshold," says Morris. "You have to be a particular kind of person to do family law because you're dealing with a lot of sadness day after day. It's hard not to have it affect you."
The barracuda's bite wasn't lost on Morris, who colleagues considered a workaholic and a "toughie" in the courtroom. She knows many people think of divorce lawyers as "sharks" more intent on racking up big billings than brokering peace. But Morris is adamant she has seen very little of that.
Instead, she blames legislative changes 10 years ago and "the dirty little secret you will not find in any self-help book or website" – that there is such a shortage of judges and court resources devoted to family law cases in some parts of Ontario. This is "increasing conflict" by leaving separated couples in a horrendous sort of legal limbo, living in the same house and unable (or unwilling) to agree on division of assets and even support payments without a judge's ruling.
The "inequalities" have become so acute that Morris and some colleagues talked of launching a Charter challenge based on the notion that couples are "being denied equal access to justice based solely on where they happen to live."
The province has been pressing Ottawa to appoint more judges; six were appointed at the end of last year. Attorney General Chris Bentley recently introduced family law reform legislation aimed at making divorce simpler and less expensive, said a spokesperson for his office.
Ironically, the 1999 overhaul of the procedural laws governing divorce, custody, support payments and division of assets was meant to simplify divorce, especially for the 10 to 15 per cent of "high conflict" couples who are simply unable to resolve issues without court intervention. It provided for mandatory case conferences and other informal settlement meetings before a judge, which has helped ensure just 2 to 3 per cent of all divorce cases now end up in full-blown trials.
The system generally works well in Toronto, but largely because a two-tier system of justice has emerged out of the chaos of the family court system. Couples who can afford it have turned to mediation, arbitration and collaboration, which has helped divert thousands of divorces from the courts. But those who don't have money have opted to represent themselves – judges estimate that is now 50 to 70 per cent of all divorce litigation – which has added to court delays.
Other jurisdictions – hardest hit are the fast-growing areas of Newmarket, Brampton and Barrie – have such a severe shortage of judges and court resources, "the case management system is, for the most part, broken down," says veteran family law lawyer Philip Epstein.
That has resulted in overloaded court dockets and months-long delays to appear before judges who are so overwhelmed, many openly admit they haven't had time to read the file. It is not uncommon for clients to take a day off work and spend $1,000 or more to have their lawyer just stand around in the courthouse waiting to be called before a judge who runs out of time.
Compounding the problem in Newmarket is that just a few days are set aside two months of the year – May and November – for trials.
Far from blameless, of course, are the couples who will use any weapon within reach – including their children – to exact vengeance.
"You would get some clients who would say, `I'd rather pay you than pay her (the ex-wife), so every procedural hurdle you can throw up, do it.' Some lawyers would do that, but most would say, `Go find yourself another lawyer because that's not how I work.'"
Morris had no plans, other than spending more time with her daughter Bronte, 12, and son Kalan, 4, when she quit last September. But weeks later, two former clients called her at home and started chatting about the more personal challenges of divorce – including how strangers were calling them for advice on dealing with everything from coping with upset children to developing new relationships with their ex-partners. Morris "felt sick" to suddenly see life "from the other side of the table."
This month the three will launch Women4Women, offering help from seminars to legal advice to a hand to hold on the road ahead.
Morris has seen too many lives devastated, which is why, she suspects, remarkably few of her family law colleagues are divorced.
"I think a lot of divorce lawyers stay married and work on their relationships because they know how awful divorce can be."
For more on Women4Women (the website launches next week at w4wdivorce.com), call 647-347-7339 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted By KIMBERLEE TAPLAY
Posted 1 hour ago
"Parents are handing life's scripts to their children, scripts that in all likelihood will be acted out for the rest of the children's lives." Stephen R. Covey
Looking back, there are things that I thought about saying and doing during my separation and divorce that I'm glad I didn't. 'Hell hath no fury' they say, and it might be true, but not half as true as 'Hell is when you are desperately trying to take the high road while you'd rather run someone over as they travel on the lower one'.
Leaving the map of my journey to single parenthood aside, I can honestly say that I almost always managed to 'steer clear' of involving my children in the more adult issues of my divorce.
Yes, the girls and I talked about the divorce, but I always tried to guide the discussion towards my plans for our future, their new home and school, and about how I would do my very best to make sure that they got to see their father as often as possible.
As much as I often thought about it, I never took them into my confidence or discussed adult matters or tell them things that were better left unsaid. The girls were five and 10 at the time, and I respected the fact that they were only children.
I have seen bitter and ugly, oh so ugly, divorces. I have watched children cringe as one parent spoke about the other parent in derogatory terms and in a disrespectful manner.
I have seen extended family members become involved and let their distaste and anger cause them to lose their sense of judgement around children of the dissolving marriage. There's nasty... and then there's really nasty. I'm glad that I never went down that road.
Well, maybe once. Sort of. But not really. It was during the first year the girls and I were on our own, and I remember the utter shame and despair I felt the moment I let the words escape as my anger and frustration got the better of me in front of six year-old Avery; I still tear up when I think about it. I don't think I will ever forget the 'It's okay, Mommy," and the hug that she gave me as I gathered her in my arms and wept in her embrace.
I remember whispering a quiet "I'm sorry... Mommy really didn't mean what she just said. Mommy is tired and sad and I love you very much," as she loosened my grip, cupped my face in her hands and kissed my nose.
I am pretty sure that if you were to ask her, she wouldn't even remember that snowy day in December. And I'm just as certain that I will never forget it.
Was I angry at my ex? Oh yeah. Did I feel hurt and betrayed? You betcha. But I can't imagine being so consumed by those feelings that I would do whatever I could to poison the girls against their father over and over again.
I suppose that's why I'm so interested in the event taking place March 27,28 and 29 when Toronto is the host city for the first annual conference on the topic of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). It will be taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and 20 of the world's foremost experts in parental alienation compile the list of guest speakers.
This educational conference is targeting Canadian, as well as international mental health professionals, family law attorneys and other professionals dedicated to the prevention and treatment of Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome. Parents whose children suffer from this mental health condition are also invited to attend.
Parental Alienation Syndrome is what happens when a parent attempts to turn a child's love into hate against the other parent. It's not a matter of poor parenting; it's a crime against a child.
According to a January 2009 article from Canadian Business online, Parental Alienation is "....child abuse and we need to approach these parents as abusers," says Joe Goldberg, host and founder of the symposium.
"This conference is an opportunity for parents and professionals to acquire intervention and treatment solutions and to help modify the way the courts protect the best interest of children."
The speakers at the three-day symposium are leaders in the field of psychology, family law, children's services, law enforcement and supervised visitation. Attendees will include 1,500 attorneys, mediators, court-appointed parenting coordinators, psychologists, psychiatrists, school psychologists, child abuse investigators, and various law enforcement officials from Canada and the United States of America.
The speakers attending this symposium are the most respected medical and legal experts ever assembled to attend a single event on the subject of Parental Alienation Syndrome, and many are looking for support in their fight against PAS and for their efforts to introduce new family law legislation.
From this single parent's perspective, Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome are topics that must be discussed, explored and addressed as society changes, separation and divorce continue to occur, and children are faced with the very real threat of being caught in the crossfire between angry or hurting parents.
Our children are our future, and protecting them is a wise investment. As B. C. Forbes once said: "Upon our children -- how they are taught -- rests the fate -- or fortune -- of tomorrow's world."
And he ought to know... Bertie Charles Forbes (May 14, 1880 - May 6, 1954) was the Scottish financial journalist and author who founded Forbes Magazine. Wise investment, indeed!
For more information about the Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome March 27, 28 and 29 in Toronto, visit www.cspas.ca
Kimberlee Taplay is a single mom of two girls and someone who is far more experienced with an Alien Nation (aka Living with Teens) than with alienation. You can reach Kimberlee at
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- “The job of a father is this : to help his children develop, to teach them to express and master their emotions; to avoid physiological distress, to provide a context for their experiences; to help them persevere, reach their goals and take on responsibilities; and to instil the roles of citizen, partner and parent. In short, it is to fill their bellies with bread, their brains with wisdom and their hearts with love and courage.” Camil Bouchard, “On Father’s Ground” 2002.
- Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?" ~ George Bernard Shaw ~ also quoted by Robert F. Kennedy, US Senator and Presidential Candidate assassinated in 1968.
- Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length. ~ Robert Frost
- First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. - Mahatma Gandhi
Canadian & World Wide Petitions on Shared & Equal Parenting
Go to the two petition sites and add your name to this national & worthwhile worldwide effort to get Shared and Equal Parenting in Canada & every country in the world.
Some Gems on relationships
The motto of this Father's Rights Activist
- "It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again ... and who, at the worst, if he fails at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt,
Facts on violence in Canada Domestic and Otherwise
Of the nearly 19 million Canadians who had a current or former spouse in 2009, 6.2% or 1.2 million reported they had been victimized physically or sexually by their partner or spouse during the five years prior to the survey. This proportion was stable from 2004 (6.6%), the last time the victimization survey was conducted, and down from 1999 (7.4%).
A similar proportion of men and women reported experiencing spousal violence during the five years prior to the survey. Among men, 6.0% or about 585,000, encountered spousal violence during this period, compared with 6.4% or 601,000 women.
The Daily summary:
The 53 page report.
Keep in mind what you see in the paper is what is reported to police. The numbers above from Stats Canada are those based on surveys which are more comprehensive.
Keep in mind what you see in the paper is what is reported to police. The numbers above from Stats Canada are those based on surveys which are more comprehensive.
Total 611, men 465, women 146
Rate of homicides with firearms has increased 24% since 2002. Handgun use on increase (gangs don't register their weapons)
Women victims 24% - lowest proportion ever
Men Victims 76%
Both the rate of females killed (0.87 per 100,000 population), as well as the proportion
(24%), were the lowest since 1961
62 spousal homicides - no change from 2007
Lowest rate in 40 years
45 women 17 (27.4%)men
Many DV homicides of men are not classified as such and this number is higher than 27.4%.
In 2009 based on a million couples it can fairly be said 999,998 wives do not kill their husbands and 999,995 husbands do not kill their wives. (See Pg. 15 chart modified from the rate per 100,000.)
In 2009, 49 women and 15 men were killed by a current or former spouse (excludes one same-sex spousal victim).
Total homicides 610, Men 450. Gang related 20.3 percent.
69.1 % of firearm related deaths involved handguns
Women 160, In 2009 it represented the second lowest proportion (26%) of female homicide victims since data were first collected. The rate of female victims has generally been declining since the late 1960s.
- Michael J. Murphy
- Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada
- I am Politically active and right of centre on most issues with the odd exception such as legalization of "Mary Jane". I advocate on changes to Family Law - an incredibly dysfunctional arena where parents are pitted against one another and children are the victims. My picture will sometimes show me as a younger man simply because I like them.
A quote by a well known Canadian Jurist
(The above quote arises from PSM vs. AJC, a decision rendered by Mr. Justice John Gomery on February 15 1991 (SCM 500-12-184613895), and confirmed by the unanimous judgment of the Court of Appeal on June 14 1991, the trial judge was confronted by a case involving four children caught up in a heated custody battle between their parents whereby the children became "catastrophically" alienated from their mother.)
A good paper on PAS for lawyers by a lawyer, Anne-France Goldwater (Avocate), and excerpts from the above trial are located here.
Sites you should visit for more background
- A father’s journey (an unfinished work) PA knows no borders
- American Chronicle - The story of Chuck a Dad denied his rights as a Father
- Amy J. Baker Researcher and author of Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome:
- Canadian Children's Rights Council on PA
- Fathers are Cabable Too ~ One of the largest non-custodial parents' and children's rights organisations in Canada
- Fathers-4-Justice Canada
- Fathers-4-Justice in the USA (equal parenting group using direct action)
- Fathers-4-Justice Sault Ste. Marie
- FathersCan is the new, nationwide voice of fathers and men in Canada.
- Hostile Aggressive Parenting
- Jim Hueglin's Blog
- New Jersey Law Suit on Alienation of Children
- Parental Alienation Awareness
- Rowan - An adult who was alienated by her Father
- The Rogerson v. Tessaro Parental Alienation Case