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.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Group Hopes McCafferty Trial Raises Domestic Violence Awareness

MikeMurphy - 12:51 AM
It would appear the killer is getting lots of sympathy for allegations she has made that her dead partner was abusive. My ex attacked me several times with weapons, robbed my former employer and heaped years of emotional abuse. Does this mean I could have killed her in self defense and claimed DV. Somehow I don't think so. Lets reverse the situation here and lets posit for a second the man did this to her. You are right we woudn't be having this discussion because no one would believe him. So even when the man is killed he is still vilified for his abusiveness. What's wrong with this picture?

Last Update: 3/12 6:25 pm
Cheryl McCafferty
Cheryl McCafferty
Friends of Cheryl McCafferty want to use her case to raise awareness about domestic violence. McCafferty was convicted of manslaughter for killing her husband, Robert. As part of her sentence, McCafferty was declared a domestic violence victim, which makes her eligible for parole in 2011. Local 12's Joe Webb explains how they want to use her case as a teaching point. Last week, Karen Berney passed out around 30 pink ribbons at Cheryl McCafferty's murder trial. The judge made McCafferty's supporters take them off in court, but you can expect to see them again. Berney, a rejected juror in the case, has them in her home and is ready to pass them out and raise awareness about battered women. Karen Berney, Southgate: "I feel so many people, here and in so many places, don't understand the syndrome. I'm hoping to get a group of ladies together... believable, credible ladies together... where we can form a committee...a group... and just start educating the population." Berney spent 30 years advocating for domestic violence victims in San Diego. She hopes the group can reach out to judges, prosecutors and police. The court did rule that Cheryl McCafferty was a domestic violence victim, but Robert McCafferty's friends are quick to point out he was a victim of manslaughter and Cheryl McCafferty was convicted of killing him. David Bender, McCafferty Family Attorney: "Bob, or Mac as he was known, was an all-around great person." Neighbor Mary Jenkins says she loved Bob and still loves Cheryl. She's ready to help Berney work to educate people about domestic violence. Mary Ann Jenkins, McCafferty Neighbor: "Had I known what to look for, I think I could have helped both those people." The group hopes to get organized by this summer, in hopes that someone can be spared what happened here. According to the National Institutes of Health, domestic violence is the most common cause of injury to women ages 15 to 44. Comments:
la1984 - 8:11 AM
Grandpa1 I agree whole heartedly...we need to keep wives from shooting their husbands in the head while they sleep. Hopefully this group will educate women on this point.

MikeMurphy - 12:51 AM
It would appear the killer is getting lots of sympathy for allegations she has made that her dead partner was abusive. My ex attacked me several times with weapons, robbed my former employer and heaped years of emotional abuse. Does this mean I could have killed her in self defense and claimed DV. Somehow I don't think so. Lets reverse the situation here and lets posit for a second the man did this to her. You are right we woudn't be having this discussion because no one would believe him. So even when the man is killed he is still vilified for his abusiveness. What's wrong with this picture?

Grandpa1 - 3/12/2009
I agree, shooting someone in the back of the head while they slept is a horrible example of domestic abuse. Shame, shame shame.

xamassocks - 3/12/2009
That is a great idea. It's way past time to make awarness to all just how many times even your family don't know.

clover17 - 3/12/2009
Domestic abuse education is a great idea. It's time to stop blaming the victim for self defense. The Constitution does not exclude women from this basic right. And, abused victims deserve a far more enlightened and supportive response from the powers that be.

Paternity Fraud on the Legislative Agenda in North Carolina

Among other things going on in North Carolina look at this little snippet. Some common sense in dealing with Paternity Fraud. Let's hope it gets through committee and into legislation.MJM

Thursday at the North Carolina General Assembly

The Associated Press Thursday, March 12, 2009

In committees:

— 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.

DIVORCE TheStar.com When $450 an hour isn't worth it

Here's a good way to get Canada's largest newspaper to give you an ad for a new enterprise (see last line) by talking about getting out of the family destruction business at $450.00 per hour. The new business is women4women. Makes you wonder how much effort she put in to helping her male clients while practicing Family Law (FLAW). She still defends lawyers and opines they are not sharks. Yeah right! Just like they aren't in it for the money but instead have a broader social focus beyond destroying families through the adversarial system they practice. We also have the same old AG Bentley still blaming the feds for a lack of judges instead of getting fundamental changes in the Divorce act for a presumption of shared and equal parenting. Why doesn't he discuss that and perhaps they will need fewer judges not more.MJM
TheStar.com | living | When $450 an hour isn't worth it
When $450 an hour isn't worth it
Sandy Morris, a former family law lawyer, left her job after growing weary of fighting tough divorces. She’s seen at home with kids Bronte, right, and Kalan.
Mar 13, 2009 04:30 AM
Living Reporter

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 women4women@rogers.com.

Parental Alienation Syndrome symposium topic

You have a great deal of insight to this kind of child abuse and I admire your strength of will to keep your ex from being vilified. My ex doesn't understand to this day despite 4 years of trying to educate her that it is unacceptable behaviour and child abuse. My children's emotional problems and inability of my youngest to handle relationships is symptomatic of what Parental Alienation can do. Thank you for writing about it in an objective manner. Most gender feminists do not believe the problem even exists which I find to be beyond credulous and into the realm where ideology rules not common sense.MJM

Brantford Expositer


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