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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In New Brunswick ~ Taskforce wants to keep more family cases out of the court, use mediation instead

Report recommends major family law reform

Published Wednesday June 3rd, 2009

FREDERICTON - Justice Minister T.J. Burke says a report calling for major reforms to the province's family justice system will completely change the face of how such cases are dealt with, adding that it's the most important initiative he's undertaken in his judicial portfolio thus far.

The taskforce report urges the family law system to approach cases outside of a traditional courtroom setting whenever possible, recommending greater mediation in such cases.

Many of the recommendations are based on a family law pilot program in Ottawa, where families are required to attend a 'triage' day without filing any affidavits for a day in court. In Ottawa, families fill out a form describing the type of relief they're requesting and meet with a mediator instead of a judge. Families only file a short-form affidavit and appear before a judge if no agreement can be reached. Afterward, if an agreement still can't be reached, the case moves on to the regular court process.

The taskforce offered 50 recommendations it said would create better access to family law in the province. Burke said his department would investigate every recommendation offered and carry out cost analyses for each one.

Burke said he was committed to overall reform.

Retired family court judge Raymond Guerette served as the task force's chairman. Guerette said the report's main priority is to elevate the well-being of families, particularly children. He said that neither families nor children are considered top priority in the current system because of the adversity of the entire family court set-up.

Guerette added the quicker the family law system is reformed, the better.

"The object is to keep the case moving through the system because, right now, it takes too long to get anything done," he said. "Sometimes a mediator will pick up the phone and resolve a visitation problem ... You don't need a notice of motion or an affidavit or a court hearing six months down the road for that."

Burke said efficiencies would certainly be found in a reformed system. The department's plan is to implement elements of the report in one of the province's judicial districts by the end of September, likely in place where the family court docket is severely backlogged.

Mary-Eileen Flanagan, a member of the task force, said their work wasn't done and they'd be continuing to work to see the reforms come to light. "We know the horizons are short and we said we'd be on (the minister's) speed dial between now and the end of September," she said.

Progressive Conservative MLA Tony Huntjens, the Opposition justice critic, said he was impressed with the report and its recommendations, adding that he hoped it wouldn't be "like other reports that end up collecting dust on the shelf."

From the CBC

Justice Minister T.J. Burke said he accepts the findings of a scathing report that says the family court system is dysfunctional — and he is promising action.

'I have no doubt in my mind that we are make our best efforts to adopt as many of them as we possibly can over the next 24 to 48 months.'— T.J. Burke, justice minister

The Access to Family Justice Task Force report said families are facing unacceptable delays in seeing their cases resolved because the system is overwhelmed by paperwork and by procedure.

Burke said he is striking a committee which will look at how to implement the recommendations from the report. As well, a pilot project will start this fall intended to ease the pressure on the family court division.

"I have no doubt in my mind that we are make our best efforts to adopt as many of them as we possibly can over the next 24 to 48 months," Burke said.

Burke said he accepts the report's main point that spending a bit more on alternatives at the outset will cost the system less overall.

Justice Raymond Guerette, the task force's chairman, said in the report —which was released Tuesday and includes 50 recommendations — that the family justice system has deteriorated over the last 15 years.

The report attributed the worsening state of the system to a variety of factors, including an almost 50 per cent jump in people without lawyers, an escalation in the number and complexity of hearings in child protection cases, and "perceived procedural requirements."

"The object is to keep the case moving through the system, because right now it takes too long to get anything done," Guerette told reporters.

Court workers spend too much time on paperwork

The report said court workers, including social workers, spend most of their time on paperwork, rather than resolving family disputes.

'Being a single parent is bad enough as it is, without this family court adding to their problems.'— Judge Raymond Guerette

The best interests of children are secondary to what the report calls "excessive procedural demands."

The report proposed a triage model that would divert some cases to mediation or to other services to lower the court's caseload.

Guerette said that recommendation will save money in the long run.

"Our finding is that the longer a case remains in the judicial system, the more it costs," he said.

However, the province recently cut some of the very services in the recent budget that the task force report says are needed, such as mediators.

With the problems facing the court process, Guerette said the system is insensitive to what families are going through.

"It's insensitive, because it doesn't take into account the anguish and the anxiety of single parents who have to go through the system to obtain a remedy or some relief. Being a single parent is bad enough as it is, without this family court adding to their problems."

Story comments (6)
Mike Murphy wrote:Posted 2009/06/04 at 11:47 AM ET'Being a single parent is bad enough as it is, without this family court adding to their problems.' — Judge Raymond Guerette" __________________________________________________ This quote is telling and it is easy to see where this judge's sympathies exist. He, along with a cabal of other Family Court Judges across Canada, create these single parent homes. It is code for female headed single parent homes as that is what happens in 90% of cases. So this judge wants to make it easier on the single parent female and at whose expense? The dad, of course, who will remain the ATM, the visitor, the un-parent. Guerette, and his colleagues, through their social engineering creating these single parent female family units, are the leading cause of child poverty in Canada. According to all studies domestic and international single parent female units are also the least safe and most socially oppressive places for children. With judges like him involved these reforms will go no where. They are dealing with the edges. A presumption of equal shared parenting is needed in the children's best interest before anything substantive will occur. Look to the model created in Belgium, by a feminist Minister no less, to see where NB and the rest of Canada should be headed.
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nbcepa wrote:Posted 2009/06/04 at 10:19 AM ETThe report appears to be an exercise on “dusting off” and rearranging the court furniture and changing the “emperor’s new clothes”. In other words, it lacks true substance and brings in more bureaucracies and government agencies to the nation’s bedrooms. Note that in the task force there was a lack of equal gender representation, little emphasis on equal parenting as a presumption, fairness in child support payments, especially when the custodial parent makes more than the non-custodial or non-residential parent , and the mention of parental alienation was like a ”flash in the pan”. The report may appear be a start in the right direction but not as impressive as the photo op of the task force members.
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NB_citizen wrote:Posted 2009/06/03 at 12:21 PM ETwhat is a government "promise" worth these days?
LoneRanger wrote:Posted 2009/06/03 at 11:16 AM ETEver since trudeau the liberals have treated our Children like feeder stock. And nothing is about to change, like in Alberta!
DanFour wrote:Posted 2009/06/03 at 10:52 AM ETTranslation: If you aren't rich, get ready for a new form of justice - where allegations need not be proven and personal rights are thrown in the trashbin. Recall that not too long ago, hundreds of New Brunswick's troubled youth were systematically raped for decades in a prison system - one patsy was briefly imprisoned and a cover up ensued. What has changed since then that social workers and foster homes (much more likely to result in abuse and forced psychiatric medication than the biological home) should be handed cart blanche to take away kids? This is what happens when the debt-slavery system disintegrates - children of the poor are stolen and shipped off so that the awful truth of our societal pyramid scheme is not so evident.
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In OZ ~ Flaws' in John Howard's parenting law

It looks like the eunuchs in OZ are coming out in full force now that dad's have a more equal playing field. It would appear they are patriarchs who believe the moms are mere children and because were ruled against by the courts need the hand of the nanny state to fulfill their true destiny - whatever it is in their minds that particular day. The mom can't run home to mommy and apparently is unemployable so the bad judges are at fault. Note also the last statement there is "indisputable" damage but no attribution is offered to this statement. Is it, as is mostly the case when defending victim feminism - opinion - or are there peer reviewed studies?MJM

Caroline Overington | June 03, 2009

Article from: The Australian

THE shared-parenting law introduced by the Howard government is deeply flawed and must be either amended or thrown out and replaced with something new.

That is the view of Patrick Parkinson, who was chairman of the Family Law Council when the legislation was being developed, and the council's current chairman, John Wade.

Professor Wade said the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act of 2006, designed to give children access to both their parents after divorce, was incoherent, "filled with gobbledegook" and failed to give judges "the clear signals they need to make good decisions".

"So there have been some horrible decisions," Professor Wade added. He said it set up false expectations for fathers, who believed it would guarantee them a 50-50 time split with their children, and it condemned other children, including infants, to a damaging cross-country "shuttle life" between warring parents.

Professor Parkinson said the amendment did not give clear signals, nor give judges enough guidance on when shared parenting was appropriate and when it was not.

"There have been some cases where children under the age of two are doing week-about (one week with the father, one with the mother) and often travelling long distances," Professor Parkinson said. "Young children often do well with frequent contact with both parents, but it is important to avoid long separations from the primary caregiver.

"If you've got mum and dad living around the corner it might be fine because frequent short visits are possible."

He said the law needed "tweaking". "It's sometimes that the parliament needs to send clear signals," he said. "This is not a coherent piece of legislation."

The Australian has recently reported on Family Court decisions that have troubled some family law experts. In one case, known as Irish and Michelle, the Family Court ordered that two Tasmanian children be removed from the care of their mother, with whom they had lived all their lives, to live with their father, who had moved to Melbourne to be with his new girlfriend. There was no abuse or neglect.

The judge thought the mother had not encouraged the children to maintain a relationship with their father after he left home.

In another case, known as Rosa and Rosa, heard in Townsville last month, a mother was told she could not leave a remote mining town in northwest Queensland with her five-year-old daughter because her ex-husband wanted to stay there and work. The couple had lived there less than a year before they broke up and the mother, who said she would not leave without her daughter, is now confined to poverty, and life in a caravan.

Professor Parkinson said judges in different states were interpreting the law differently. In Victoria and Western Australia, for example, parents were more likely to be allowed to relocate with a child after a divorce than in NSW.

The Family Law Council - a statutory body established in 1976 to give the attorney-general advice on whether family law is working, and which comprises judges, lawyers and family law academics - recently compiled a paper on shared parenting that found a "new breed" of family disputes had cropped up in the Family Court since the shared parenting amendment was enacted, "namely attempts to stop the primary residential parent from moving within or across a city".

Some members of the council are also concerned about the "undisputed damage to young children engaged in shuttle lives".

ABC Online ABC Online The World Today - Family law experts say 50-50 rule doesn't work [This is the print version of story http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2008/s2587963.htm]

The World Today - Wednesday, 3 June , 2009 12:38:00

Reporter: Jennifer Macey

PETER CAVE: Family law experts are calling for the shared parenting law to be scrapped or radically overhauled, saying that the 50-50 parenting rule doesn't always work. The law was introduced by the Howard government in 2006 and put greater emphasis on children spending equal time with both parents. But the head of the Family Law Council says this often gives fathers a false expectation that they will be granted equal time, when this isn't true for the majority of cases. Jennifer Macey reports. JENNIFER MACEY: The Howard Government introduced changes to the Family Law Act three years ago, claiming that equal time with both parents would be in the best interests of the child. But the chair of the Family Law Council, Professor John Wade from Bond University, says the changes were hastily written gobbledegook. JOHN WADE: The amendments appear to have been bought in very hurriedly and pasted together at the last moment, with a lot of compromises of wording with the result that you need a PhD in statutory interpretation to understand what the amendments mean when they talk about shared parenting and presumptions. It's extremely difficult to understand and I think it's placed a very unfair burden on judges, to in the few cases that get to court, to try to interpret what this means. JENNIFER MACEY: Professor Wade says the laws create two problems, firstly, the children aren't always best served by being split between two homes and secondly, that many parents are wrongly given the impression they are entitled to a 50-50 shared arrangement. JOHN WADE: And they begin negotiations with arguments that, "Oh but I'm entitled to 50-50" as a starting point in the bidding, and that's led to some very unfortunate settlements where people have agreed to young children being substantial equal time between parents and shuttling them across cities or across the country. And that's not the judges' fault, that's because people use the words as levers in negotiations. JENNIFER MACEY: Since the law was introduced there's been much debate about whether equal shared parenting is in fact the best thing for children. Clive Price is the director of Unifam, the family and relationships counselling arm of the Uniting Church. CLIVE PRICE: From my experience in talking with children, living in two households is always going to be more complicated than living in one. Kids complain about never knowing where their homework is, about only being able to play sport every second weekend, and lots of practical things. But much more importantly it's the conflict that kids are witnesses to and are caught up in, the tug of war between two parents that has the biggest impact and effect on children. JENNIFER MACEY: He believes separated or divorced couples should be given more support in how to actually manage the shared parenting arrangements. CLIVE PRICE: 'Cause a lot of money and a lot of resources goes into sorting out what the arrangements are going to be, but I think we need to have more resources into equipping parents after separation to know how to manage these new and often complex arrangements. JENNIFER MACEY: While the rhetoric of the equal custody laws was that the presumption of courts would be to share parenting, in reality, judges seem to be reluctant to grant a straight 50-50 split in most cases. Figures released by the court from more than 1,400 cases finalised in 2007 and 2008 show that only 15 per cent of cases actually resulted in equal time. But Professor John Wade says the reality is that divided custody is hard to maintain. JOHN WADE: The stats can be very misleading 'cause they're not giving you the picture of the other 95 per cent of, or 96 per cent of cases that settle, and they're not telling you what happens a year later. And the initial research says a year later these arrangements just aren't working. JENNIFER MACEY: The Government has commissioned the Australian Institute of Family Studies to review the Shared Parental Responsibility Act and report back in December this year. But Professor Wade says that's too late. JOHN WADE: I think you should act sooner rather than later, you shouldn't fiddle while Rome burns. JENNIFER MACEY: But Patrick Parkinson, the former chair of the Family Law Council and Professor of Law at the University of Sydney, says there's no need to scrap the current law. But he says it may need some tweaking. PATRICK PARKINSON: Courts need further guidance and lawyers need further guidance on when shared care is and is not appropriate. You've got to be very careful with shared care arrangements under about five-years-old because of the attachments that very young children have to their primary carer. You don't want to have long gaps between the time they see mum. It's better to have frequent short visits from dad rather than to have long separations from mum. So there's some clarification needed, I think it's important to give further clarification around the issue of relocation. But it would be a grave mistake to think that the whole legislation is deeply flawed, it would also be a grave mistake to amend the law on the basis of anecdotes or horror stories. We need proper evaluation, proper research and careful thought. PETER CAVE: Professor Patrick Parkinson from the University of Sydney ending that report from Jennifer Macey.
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