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.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Court punishes woman in alienation case

Mother, who lost custody of her three children last year, must pay $250,000 in court costs

Kirk Makin

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail,

A 42-year-old Toronto woman who spared no effort to alienate her three daughters from their father has been ordered to pay court costs of $251,641.

“I can only characterize the costs incurred by the father as a litigant's worst nightmare,” Ontario Superior Court Justice Faye McWatt said Tuesday. “No litigation of this sort should ever have generated this kind of cost if the parties had any common sense or reasoning powers.”

The father, a 56-year-old vascular surgeon, had originally claimed $557,719. Although Judge McWatt awarded less than that amount, she pointed toward the mother – known as K.D. – as being the culprit in the runaway litigation.

“The mother's behaviour has amounted to bad faith,” Judge McWatt said. “In addition to being contrary to the best interests of the children, the mother's contemptuous actions toward this court required the father to go to extraordinary and unnecessary lengths – at great expense – to address the damage she caused.”

Last year, Judge McWatt ordered that the three girls be seized, sent to a parental-alienation centre in the United States for deprogramming and prevented from communicating with their mother. The children – aged 14, 11 and 9 – now live in the sole custody of their father.

On Tuesday, Judge McWatt said that K.D. has refused her order to obtain therapy. In violation of another order, Judge McWatt said that, “there have been surreptitious efforts by members of the mother's family to contact the children and undermine their relationship with their father.

“The future of children is of utmost importance to courts everywhere in Canada,” she said. “This case was of particular note in the context of family life after separation. The issue in this case is potentially significant in many custody and access cases presently before the courts.”

Join the Discussion:

Sorted by: Oldest first
6/9/2009 10:55:19 PM
Hopefully this will send a strong message to parents who alienate their children. its clear from this article not only the mother but the extended family were participants which is not unusual. Hopefully the children will have an eventual loving relationship with both parents but until there are assurances the alienator can keep control and not manipulate the girls she should be restricted.
6/10/2009 6:37:40 AM
Human societies have a long history of child sacrifice. This is our version. We sacrifice lives to the high priests and priestesses of psychological theories. In this era, pas/pa/a theories which have grown from the mind of a dead psychologist who happened to be a defender of child sexual abuse, are trying to rule. I wonder what the critical mass of destroyed lives is-for alienation theories. Guess Canadians ,in general, don't know about the inadmissability of alienation theories (at least in U.S.) Guess the press doesn't either. Guess few know of Joyce Murphy's testimony last week -in California-nor do many know of Jennifer Collins, and the thousands and thousands of children they -"represent".United Nations latest Council on Human Rights ? Lawsuit against the U.S. government ? Judges recused ? (in U.S.)Guess we have to reach critical mass first. Can anyone pronounce the word -appeal ? Perhaps the mother hasn't been destroyed enough-nor the children. Sacrificial lambs.
6/10/2009 7:11:10 AM
Human societies have a habit of eating up the planet. Much has already been destroyed. Eating the children now almost seems 'acceptable'. Parental Alienation has been a way to do it. Judge McWatt is one who understands predatory behavior unleashed. Its a great day when justice is served. So much for sending a message. Overcoming DENIAL is an individual matter and comes often at a precious price. These children are lucky to have the father and the judge they do. How could this have taken as long as it has?
6/10/2009 10:06:47 AM
You will note Cold North Wind is a non-believer in PA. Also she equates this case to child sacrifice. I have always wondered about the mental health of these deniers. She is of a group of Victim Feminists who have swallowed a doctrine first spread by a Law Student at a California University about the non-scientific basis of Parental Alienation Syndrome. Understand this is a law student not a scientist. Why is it that Law has such a badly tarnished reputation? There are many reasons one of which is having law students, who know nothing about science, telling her victim feminist sisters Dr. Gardiner's theories aren't scientific. It is, however, accepted by all courts in North America as science. Yet you find this person, and others of her ilk, trolling comment boards spouting the dogma which defies common sense. We can conclude these people, therefore, lack common sense. We can also conclude because of their denial they are enablers of child abuse and probably practitioners. They have one thing in common. Everyone of them wishes to remain anonymous. Do you ever wonder why that might be?
6/10/2009 11:07:51 AM
Instead of having to pay, she should have to spend time in a mental institution or jail. Hopefully this type of ruling will become more common.
6/10/2009 11:29:46 AM
RLamont: agreed. She should be facing more than dishing out money for the abuse of her children. She obviously has mental health issues and they need to be addressed. MikeMurphy, don't blame feminism for this PAS denial. You're just tarring the wrong group. It is clear that Cold North Wind is far from being a feminist - he/she is most likely some first year arts degree student and has an alienating-parent friend with whom he/she sympathizes. The whole "child sacrifice" spiel just reeks of a lack of life experience.
6/10/2009 12:30:06 PM
KS: I don't want to rain on your parade but it is indeed a very organized and willful victim feminist effort. If you think today's feminism is about equality that ended 20 or more years ago. Today it is about victimhood and the war against the patriarchy. If you are a man you are the enemy of these victim feminists. Some of them even call themselves maternalists. Its the same thing using a different term because its about motherhood. How can you argue against that hey? They are female supremacists full of hate toward men. Cold North Wind hangs with many of the latter. I know them well. The Internet is rife with these types. Check out their blogs. You are in for a wake up call. You haven't yet experienced their vindictiveness and their willingness to lie, cheat and smear anyone who disagrees. I am one of the most experienced in dealing with them. Do some homework but you are on the mark in seeing they are "out to lunch."
6/10/2009 9:43:27 PM
The courts enable PAS by awarding sole custody. In fact, sole custody is far more pervasive and does far more harm than PAS. The family court giveth, and the family court taketh away. In the vast majority of cases, the family court has no business doing either. "Bad cases make bad law" because they tend to spawn rules that are later used to abuse ordinary people. All of family law is based on bad cases, apparently, and it is all abusive to human rights. The very idea that the government has any business interfering in the family comes down to us from a time before democracy and self-determination. It takes a rare bad parent to be a worse parent than the government, but the government seizes parental rights with no responsibility. The court does harm and suffers no consequences. The court becomes a disastrously bad parent to parents and children alike. It is astonishing that we go on living with the jeopardy that the incompetent courts will interfere in our family life, making us bitter enemies, when the children most of all need both parents fully available with peace and security in the divided family after separation. Equal parenting, equal parenting, equal parenting. If the courts were stripped of the power to blunder into the family, we could apply a medical model to helping the innocent victims of divorce (which is almost everyone involved). We might actually be able to minimize the bad cases instead of making them worse. Polls over the years have shown that the people want equal parenting at the 80 or 90% level, so why can't we have it? The answer is fear, myths, and inertia. The fear comes from government-sponsored feminist campaigns to terrorize us about domestic violence that is actually on a declining trend, and done about equally by both sexes. Most of what you think you know about DV is a myth. The inertia comes from people not knowing how to get change against the resistance of the establishment. Get political! Support equal parenting!
6/11/2009 11:20:15 AM
I commend Judge McWatt's discissions on this sad case and also the father's admirable dedication to his daughters. It is a shame however that it had to go this far. The years that have gone by with the girls suffering at the hands of their mother will never completely heal, though they may have received some help they need in the recent past, the years prior to that implanted negative emotions and ideas that may take years to surface. It shouldn't have gone this far. It saddens me to hear these stories knowing that in the end nobody wins in the family, everybody looses something. Family Laws need to change, everyone involved in any respect knows this. It is time to step up to the plate and work together to stop this type of child abuse - Parental Alienation- from happening to children long before it gets to the extreme as in this case. It is time for people to take their heads out of the sand and address these issues head on, enough is enough. Government mandated education is needed in all areas dealing with children, including the parents, educators (schools), therapists, the Courts and all aspects of the family law system, law enforcement...everyone. If they could be educated on how PA operates I am sure we would see a huge shift in how things are handled by all. Children need both parents in their lives, unfortunately that may not always be possible due to one parent's inability to put their children's best interesta ahead of their own, in that case they need to be with the better parent without doubt and only hope that the other parent eventually recognizes the need to change their behaviours. The Family law system needs to adopt equal shared parenting as fast as it can be put into place to help prevent 1000's more children being subjected to this awful form of emotional and mental child abuse. Everyone should get involved, lobby your MP's, do anything you can to spread awareness and education. This is far too wide spread to remain on the 'to do' list any longer

In OZ ~ Breastfeeding mums forced to share care

Ed: note - There's that old "forced" word again. She doesn't say it but implied is the patriarchy is making this happen against the oppressed breast feeding mom. The solution for 1 week off is using a breast pump. She could give some of it to dad. Why do these reporters not mention obvious solutions? Are judges so unaware it doesn't come up? Somehow this is not as big a deal as Overington seems to want to imply.MJM

Caroline Overington | June 10, 2009

Article from: The Australian

THE Family Court is placing infants who have not yet been weaned from the breast into shared care arrangements with their separated parents.

A study by academics at Flinders University has found that infants less than a year old are spending one week on a diet of cow's milk, and one week nursing at the breast, so that parents can share their care, as recommended by the Howard government's shared parenting law.

Others are spending up to three hours a day in a car, shuttling between homes.

The shared parenting laws, introduced in July 2006, are attracting complaints from a range of professionals at the coalface of family law.

The study on the shared care of infants after divorce was conducted by Linda Sweet, of the Flinders University School of Medicine, and Charmaine Power, an associate professor at the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Their report said the shared parenting law placed "expectations on both parents to participate equally in care, regardless of the child's age".

The report said there was "ample evidence that breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for infants" and the Australian government's dietary guidelines espouse breastfeeding as the optimal food for children for the first six months of life.

"It would be expected that breastfeeding infants would not be ordered into substantial shared parenting arrangements," the report said. "However, many infants regularly are."

One mother, "Georgianna", separated from her husband when their child was seven months old. The magistrate ordered week-about shared parenting, saying the boy could have his nutritional needs met by means "other than breastfeeding".

"Georgianna's milk supply became erratic as a result of these week-long absences," the report said. At the time of interview, her son was receiving breast milk while with her, and cow's milk while with his father.

"Trish" separated from her husband when their child was five months old. The court ordered shared parenting of seven days a fortnight, but no overnight stays, with dad. The distance between the homes meant the child spent three hours a day in a car seat.

The authors concluded that "national and international guidelines on optimal duration of breastfeeding" have less sway with judges than the benefits of time with fathers. "This in itself is not a bad thing, and all women in our study encouraged father contact," they said.

Breastfeeding was at issue in a Family Court matter heard in Cairns last year, involving a couple who had been married for less than a year when they separated. Their daughter was five months old. The mother was committed to "attachment parenting" and demand feeding, and would not allow the child to stay overnight with her father.

The judge said the mother had "no time set for the child to be weaned" and allowed the father to see the child only when a mothercraft nurse was present (the father had an annual income of more than $280,000, plus a $350,000 annual bonus, so hired help was no problem).

The judge said the father "wanted to take the child out and have her stay overnight but could not "because the mother insisted that the child be breastfed".

The judge said the shared parenting act made it necessary to "consider whether it would be in a child's best interests" to spend such limited time with her father, and concluded that overnight visits should begin three months from the date of the hearing.

In Australia, a Backlash Against Shared Parenting

June 9th, 2009 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

In 2006, Australia's government led by John Howard passed amendments to existing family laws that established a presumption of equally shared parenting in divorce cases. Or at least they sort of did. Apparently the statutory language is complicated enough to confuse the most assiduous of legal scholars, so parents, lawyers and courts are struggling with what the law really requires.

Whatever the defects in the new statute, a movement is afoot to scrap the whole idea of equal parenting. Stated another way, for some people, three years of fathers' rights is too much. Not long ago, a deranged Melbourne man threw his daughter off a bridge, killing her. Anti-father activists immediately seized on the tragedy to claim that the shared parenting law places children in the nefarious clutches of brutal dads.

Now, as this article makes clear, some experts are calling for the whole idea of parenting shared 50-50 to be done away with, or radically changed (ABC, 6/3/09). Why? Because, in the words of one family law expert, "this often gives fathers a false expectation that they will be granted equal time, when this isn't true for the majority of cases."

Let's see, do I have this right? The law attempts to create a presumption of equally shared parenting, but that's bad because it's caused fathers to believe that they'll get equal parenting time. Because courts don't or can't enforce the statute, Australia should scrap the idea of shared parenting altogether. Huh?

Did it occur to that expert that when there's a presumption of shared parenting, it's not really inappropriate for dads to expect just that? Did it occur to him that, given all we know about the value of maintaining connection between fathers and children, the right idea is not to dispose of shared parenting laws, but to make them better?

And indeed, courts don't get anywhere close to ordering equally shared parenting, despite the intent of Parliament in passing the law. A study of 1,400 cases of court-ordered parenting arrangements post-divorce revealed that a 50-50 split was ordered only 15% of the time.

Now, it seems to be true that, despite the clear intention of the new law, there are plenty of instances in which equal time is either not possible or not advisable. As always, one parent may truly be unfit or a danger to the child. But that's always been the case, and courts have gone on ruling on custody issues anyway. And, in the case of parents who live far apart, just how to establish an equal arrangement that is workable may not be possible.

But the idea that, because Australia has made a very half-hearted stab at equal parenting for a very short time under a statutory scheme that courts don't understand, the effort should be abandoned, is the type of old-school, anti-dad notion that belongs in the dustbin of history. Was the old system such a flawless gem?

To be sure, equally shared parenting is a work in progress. Doubtless the Australia statute needs modification to guide judges. It also needs some time to work; it needs a track record to educate everyone about what works and what doesn't. As Patrick Parkinson, former head of the Family Law Council and current Professor of Law at the University of Sydney said,

"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."

The anti-dad crowd isn't about to sit still for a law that gives fathers some power in family courts. But we know that father-involvement in children's lives is almost always a good thing. Any attempt to turn back the clock to the bad old days is a slap at both kids and dads. It's bad for society generally and ultimately for mothers too.

Aussies, let your representatives know.


Family justice reform urgently needed in N.B.

Published Tuesday June 9th, 2009
By Mary-Eileen Flanagan

The disputes that arise at those times are complex, emotional and very personal; yet we as a society have historically used an adversarial, procedural and impersonal process to find solutions for these family disputes, a process which the participants do not understand and over which they have little or no control.

The rules of the process have been crudely adapted from rules of civil procedure which were created long before the modern family system and which were originally intended for commercial disputes, not disputes involving family members. The huge family justice system and its processes are applied to every situation no matter how big or small.

Our system is profoundly broken. We each have a story which illustrates the dilemma -- a parental alienation which was not given priority, adjournments, lack of mediation services, child protection matters take too long, no easy way to vary child support, wait times, large legal fees or inadequate legal aid services.

No one aspect of the system is to blame. The dysfunction and collateral damage suffered at the hands of this system is not solely due to lawyers or judges, or court staff or mediators. Each of these groups of professionals have attempted their own damage control but the reality is that only wholesale change -- a paradigm shift -- is going to alleviate the damage which the system does to families in crisis.

The problems in our family justice system were well known in February 2008 when our Minister of Justice, T. J. Burke, Q.C., struck the Access to Family Justice Task Force. Access to Family Justice is an unfortunate title because we all know that justice has precious little to do with how families reconfigure and heal following breakdowns.

Our group spent 10 months meeting, interviewing, studying, researching, reviewing, reading, collaborating, brainstorming, advocating and envisioning the best possible dispute resolution process for all families in our province -- be they big, small, rich, poor, urban, rural, sophisticated or not.

Sadly, in the course of our work, we have confirmed that the problems are as bad as we all feared. The stories were as compelling as we instinctively knew. The stakeholders and front line workers were as generous and as candid with their experience and advice as we could ever have imagined. We are indebted to every social worker, psychologist, court clerk, regional director, mediator, lawyer, judge, prosecutor, grandparent, and parent who gave us insight and advice.

The report has been tabled in the legislature (www.gnb.ca/justice). The Minister of Justice has set an incredibly ambitious agenda to revolutionize the way families in crisis in our province access solutions for their very particular situations. He and his staff cannot do this alone. We (the parents and grandparents, professionals and stakeholders) cannot stand back and passively or critically dare his success. We must all be active participants in delivering the family focused, empowering and efficient system our province deserves.

We are only 750,000 people, for goodness sake. There are only three degrees of separation between all of us. Surely we can have a system to support and educate our citizens and neighbours during the absolute worst time in their lives and surely we can do this in a way that restores hope and preserves dignity and protects children.

The cost of the existing system is too huge in time and money and children, whose innocence and relationships are irreparably damaged.

Undoubtedly there are situations that do absolutely require trials and individuals who are unable to participate in child focused and/or interest-based dispute resolution. For those individuals, our Family Courts must exist, but every other sacred cow must be challenged and must be available to be sacrificed and it has to happen immediately.

Modernizing, personalizing and revolutionizing our system of dispute resolution for families in crisis is not a spectator sport. Our province cannot ever be self-sufficient if our most vulnerable children and the most tragic family matters continue to be dealt with using the most adversarial, time consuming and expensive dispute resolution mechanism.

The system must change and our minister of justice is prepared to lead the change. He requires support from all MLAs, all judges, all lawyers, all families, all New Brunswickers. Each and every one of us has been and will be impacted directly or indirectly by the failure or success of our family court system.

n Mary-Eileen Flanagan is one of the seven members of the Access to Family Justice Task Force. She practices law in Saint John and is the current chair of the Family Law Section for the New Brunswick Branch of the Canadian Bar Association.

Family breakdown costs us billions

Comments left on site: Mike Murphy June 08, 2009 - 11:00 PM
The report glosses over why so many single parent female homes are in poverty but if you know anything about family law you begin to understand. Judges routinely award custody in a 9-1 ratio to mothers in contested and uncontested cases. They deem equal/shared parenting as alien. A conclusion could be then that this social engineering is the leading cause of child poverty in Canada. Perhaps some investments should be made to save marriages that are savable and make it less easy to get divorced. 75% of divorces are initiated by the female through choice. Very few relate to abuse. Change the law to a default of equal/shared parenting with bi-location and that will definitely reduce divorce. The fewer incentives the greater likelihood of giving the relationship more chances to survive. Wouldn't that be in the best interest of children. Just think if no one pays support there will be no need for that massive collection agency and the humiliating website the Minister was recently bragging about with respect to deadbeats. Belgium has done all the above why not here.

When discussion turns to root causes for many of Canada's social ills, the breakdown of the family is inevitably among them. Single parenthood is statistically a prime catalyst for the creation of more households living at poverty standards, and the resultant social and emotional turmoil among the children affected by it. That is not to say, of course, that single-parent families are all doomed to self-destruct and become a charge on the social welfare net, but rather that marriage offers the best blueprint for creating and maintaining the stability children need to thrive.

Of course, that is also not to say that people in abusive or otherwise destructive marriages should remain in them for the children's sake. But a report from the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada points to a disturbing trend in cohabiting, a trend which would indicate that for the purposes of raising children, living together is deemed to be no different than marriage.

The report's authors, Andrea Mrozek and Rebecca Walberg, point out that when parents live common-law or a single parent raises a child from birth, families are more likely to rely on welfare, low-income housing programs and day-care subsidies. They say a conservative estimate of these costs to the taxpayer amounts to about $7 billion a year. They're calling on the federal government to offer incentives to people to tie the knot, such as cutting off common-law couples from tax benefits married couples enjoy.

There is something about making a vow and sealing a commitment in a marriage ceremony that lends gravitas to a relationship and inspires the couple to work harder at it, than the mere decision to move in together. Four years ago, Statistics Canada reported that in 1981, about six per cent of couples were living together, but by 2001, the figure was approximately 14 per cent. StatsCan also reported in 2003 that 63 per cent of cohabiting relationships end within 10 years, while only 14 per cent of married couples split up in that time.

Finding ways to encourage people to marry is to the government's advantage. Marriage fosters a stable, nurturing environment for children who in turn grow up independent of the social safety net, and emotionally healthy enough to enter into and maintain stable marriages of their own.

Ottawa may have no business in the bedrooms of the nation, but it has a huge social and economic stake in the future of Canadian children. The federal government should use this report to say "I do" to looking into a host of ways, including reforming the tax structure in favour of married couples -- two-in-come or otherwise--that will be an incentive for people to make the bond between them official.