You are at risk of hate mail from gender feminists and the usual trolls who will leave drive by smears at your even thinking of granting we men - we evil abusers no less - equality with respect to our children.
You do have the pulse of many tens of thousands of fathers across this country but more than that you have described you have empathy for children caught in the custody wars. They are the victims.
On another page of your paper today we read of the tragic death of a toddler at the hands of his mother. http://www.nationalpost.com/todays-paper/story.html?id=1467691
The actions she took are the extreme for alienators. She didn't want the dad to have any access and killed the child in revenge.
Belgium and Australia introduced Shared parenting laws in 2006. In Belgium it is working well with a great reduction in court disputes, elimination of the bureaucracy hired to collect child support - they do other stuff now, and automatic jail time for withholding children from the other partner. In Belgium they call this activity "abduction."
Belgium does have the best interest of children in mind unlike this country. You are being generous to judges and lawyers when you indicate 80% of custody awards go to mum. When you factor in joint custody awards (physical custody to mom), court ordered and court approved (prior agreement) custody the figure is closer to 90%.
The legal system is in great disrepute. Its hard to say how much more men are willing to take. Over 3,000 men commit suicide each year across Canada. If only 400 of those, a conservative number, were directly related to Family Law (FLAW) it would be an epidemic greater than SARS but it flies under everyone's radar. How many victims of FLAW are those we read about having just killed family members? Did they pass the breaking point thanks to judges like Paul Cosgrove who will now get a gold plated pension of $170,000.00 dollars a year for incompetence and corruption. Go figure. If a visible minority were treated the way men are in family court there would be outrage in our liberal media.
I think it important to note that Judges, lawyers, mental health workers, child protection workers, legal aid in Ontario and in other provinces, child protection agencies, child support collection agencies , welfare workers all play a role in the current dysfunctional system of Family Law (FLAW). Each add to the burden children face given Dr, Kruk's research as noted. When Parental Alienation is brought into play they then become complicit in child abuse. What kind of system do we have when child protection agencies enable emotional abuse of children by ignoring Parental Alienation. Criminal perhaps? Hyperbole is not on my radar today but examination of Child Protection Services mandates are in order when they overlook this area. Currently they say they don't have a mandate because they can't see the bruising. Its so sad that children suffer so much because of this nonsense.
Shared and equal parenting must be enacted as in the Belgium model. This will reduce incentives for divorce, reduce court time freeing up judges for other important work, reduce the transfer of wealth from children's legacies to lawyer's pockets, and improve the mental health of children. It is indeed in their best interest.
Lorne Gunter: Promote equal parenting
Children who grow up without both parents in their lives are more prone to a whole host of social problems.
According to a three-year study done by Edward Kruk, an associate professor of social work at the University of British Columbia, 85% of young people in prison and youth detention are fatherless. This is a particularly important finding since, according to Statistics Canada, youth crime is the only category of crime that has been consistently increasing over the past decade. Nearly one-in-five young Canadians will have a run-in with the law — more than twice the percentage of adults — and most of them have no father in the home.
A combination of his own research and the findings of dozens of long-term studies of the effects of divorce on children, Professor Kruk’s study explains that 90% of runaways, as well as 71% of dropouts and majorities of depressed, suicidal, addicted and pregnant teens, grew up in father-absent homes.
It’s true: There are bad dads out there — men who abuse their wives or children, or both, or even just abandon them, disappearing entirely from their lives. But more often than not, father absence is the result of divorce, and, increasingly, of our legal system’s deliberate bias in favour of mothers and against fathers in custody awards.
Nearly 80% of custody awards in Canadian courts are made to mothers, and visitation rights are almost never enforced with the same enthusiasm as child support awards. Public officials are quick to condemn so-called deadbeat dads, passing laws to suspend their driver’s licenses and government cheques if they are behind on their payments to their exes. Yet mothers who deny visitation are almost never punished. No province, in practice, has penalties for access denial that match those for falling behind on support.
Federal judges and many appointed to provincial courts are required to take sensitivity training on women’s perspectives of and experiences with the justice system. No similar courses about men’s perceptions are required, because the (badly mistaken) belief within the system is that our laws and courts are stacked in favour of men.
Among all the examples of anti-male bias in our family law, two stand out. In the mid-1990s, then-justice minister Allan Rock changed Canadian law so that men could no longer deduct child support from their taxes, while women receiving support no longer had to pay taxes on that income. In other words, men are taxed on income they do not have, while women — who are the recipients and beneficiaries of the income — don’t pay.
Many judges in divorce cases initially “grossed up” or “grossed down” their support awards to compensate for this new upside-down tax arrangement, so the net effect was neutral. Still, the point of the change was to punish men because the bias within the federal justice department held that men were all heels and women all victims.
Over time, too, the initial neutrality has vanished (if men’s stories of their financial experiences after divorce are to be believed), forcing many divorced fathers into poverty, alienation from their children, depression and even suicide.
The other glaring example of anti-male bias comes from Justice Canada’s rejection of a 1998 recommendation by a joint Commons-Senate committee that all child custody awards in divorce cases start as 50-50 mother-father arrangements. Not only did the justice department ignore the suggestion of “equal parenting,” in 2001 arch-feminist civil servants conducted their own cross-country review in secret, inviting testimony only from those special interest “experts” who agreed with their jaded view of men.
According to the latest census figures, husbands and wives who both work outside the home now spend nearly equal time raising children. If, in divorce, one parent is given far more time than the other with the children, the kids suffer badly from the loss of affection and contact with the non-custodial parent, who is usually the father.
The best solution is for couples to work harder to avoid divorce. It is a modern myth that if the adults are happier after divorce, the children eventually will be, too. Divorce is hard on kids, period.
But given that divorce is unavoidable today, the Conservative government must heed Prof. Kruk’s finding and reconsider the concept of equal parenting when marriages fall apart.