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.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

FATHERS 4 JUSTICE: Protest over family courts

8:29pm Thursday 18th June 2009

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TWO protesters dressed as a superhero and a court jester climbed Oxford’s Carfax Tower yesterday to campaign for fathers’ rights.

Shoppers and tourists looked on as the pair unfurled banners and shouted through a loud hailer.

The men, from campaign group New Fathers 4 Justice, began the protest at about 11am after climbing the tower’s 99 steps with costumes and banners in their backpacks.

Father-of-one Roger Crawford, dressed as the court jester, said: “We are protesting at the family court system, which we feel discriminates against non-resident fathers, those who don’t live with their children.

“Children are best raised by two parents, if possible, even if they don’t live together.”

The 60-year-old coach driver from Bedfordshire said he and his co-protester Peter Smith were prepared to stay up the tower all day, but ended the protest at about 2pm. They said they had been planning it for about a month.

He added: “We wanted it to coincide with Father’s Day. I liken it to a living bereavement. After 15 years, it is still as painful as it was.”

Mr Crawford, who twice protested outside Oxford County Court earlier this year, added that the protest had been authorised by the group’s leaders.

Carfax Tower, which dates from 1818, remained open to the public during the protest.

Mr Crawford said: “We were asked to get down because a party of schoolchildren was due. We were told we would be arrested otherwise.”

Father-of-two Mr Smith, 33, of Bristol, who was dressed as the Incredible Hulk, said: “I just believe in the cause. I think fathers should have the right to see their children.

“We had a few waves from people below.”

The unemployed lorry driver added: “We picked Carfax because it is central, high and a focal point. It all went according to plan.”

Passer-by Vicki Hathaway, 20, of Sandhills, said: “Fair play to them. I think they have a point.”

Oxford University student Chris Menelaou, 21, said: “I have heard of the group, but don’t really have an opinion.”

The original Fathers 4 Justice disbanded in 2008 and New Fathers 4 Justice took its place.

Thames Valley Police spokesman Vicky Brandon said: “We were called to Carfax Tower at 11.45am. A lawful and peaceful protest took place, no arrests were made and the protesters left at around 1.50pm.”

Woman burns toddler, gets house arrest ~ Is this a serious Gender Discount

Another example of the corruption in the judiciary. If this had been a man could you imagine he would get house arrest? Can you think of the out cry if a male was selected for house arrest? This boils down to a vacation at home for child abuse beyond the pale. Shame on you Justice Helen MacLeod-Beliveau you are a disgrace and a sorry example of the Canadian Judiciary for handing out such egregious gender discounts. This is far too common in family and criminal courts. See my email to the judge following the article. Does the following statement sound like something Obama's recent appointee to the USA Supreme Court. She is a Latino female named Sotomayer. So now we get Judges who think they can make better decisions than men because of their gender, environment or race. What drivel. The Crown Attorney, defense lawyer and Judge were female. Is this the kind of decision making we can expect from feminist activist judges and lawyers? MJM

Treasurer and Justice MacLeod BeliveauAt the reception following the event, Justice MacLeod Beliveau reiterated this sentiment, saying that greater diversity on the bench means that different life experiences are brought to the decisions that are made. "We are not a homogeneous society and we need to have increased sensitivity to the diverse experiences of those before the courts," she said.

By Tom Brodbeck tom.brodbeck@sunmedia.ca The Winnipeg Sun

WINNIPEG -- An Ontario judge has handed down one of the most egregious sentences I've seen in a long time to a woman who forced a toddler's hands into a pot of boiling water, causing fourth-degree burns.

For that, Superior Court Justice Helen MacLeod-Beliveau is the latest winner of the Eight-Ball Award, handed out in this column to highlight some of the worst perversions of justice in our court system.

As perversions go, this one falls on the severe side of the judicial spectrum, bringing not only Canada's administration of justice into disrepute but also plunging this country's justice system to a new low.

Unimaginable agony

Magan Marie Muir, now 24, was supposed to be caring for two children in 1997. Instead, she took the hands of two-year-old Damon Reddom Stone -- her then-boyfriend's son -- and plunged them mercilessly into a pot of boiling water.

The toddler's hands were immersed to his wrists, causing second, third and fourth-degree burns and weeks of unimaginable agony and pain.

Muir lied to police when they investigated the burns, which hospital officials immediately recognized as a deliberate act to cause serious injury.

Muir told police Damon was burned after he climbed up to the stove and knocked a pot of boiling water to the floor.

Unspeakable crime

Despite her unspeakable crime and the fact she attempted to obstruct justice by lying to police, Muir was given a conditional sentence -- or house arrest -- of 18 months by Justice MacLeod-Beliveau in a Belleville, Ont. courtroom Tuesday.

MacLeod-Beliveau argued during sentencing it has been proven jail time in cases like these is not an effective deterrent.

She also said Muir is not a danger to the public.

Not a danger to the public? She took a two-year-old's hands and dunked them into a pot of boiling water.

If that's not a danger to the public, I don't know what is.

MacLeod-Beliveau obviously didn't give much -- if any -- weight to the Criminal Code's sentencing principles of deterrence, denunciation and the overriding principle sentences must be proportionate to the gravity of a crime.

If she did, it would have been impossible for her to accept the joint-sentencing recommendation of the Crown and the defence, which she could have rejected.

But she didn't.

Instead, she said Muir's crime was simply out of character.

How thoughtful. Did the judge hand Muir a bouquet of flowers, too?

MacLeod-Beliveau also said no sentence could restore Damon's hands.

Yeah, we know that. We're not looking for a sentence that's going to restore his hands. That's political rhetoric, the kind of pablum soft, left-leaning judges regurgitate to support their pathetic sentences.

No, Justice MacLeod-Beliveau, we're looking for a sentence that follows the sentencing principles as set out in the Criminal Code.

We're looking for a sentence that denounces this crime and denounces it loudly.

We're looking for specific and general deterrence.

And most of all, we're looking for a fit sentence that is proportionate to the gravity of the crime.

That's what the law says you're supposed to do.

Unfortunately, MacLeod-Beliveau failed miserably on all counts.

She failed to ensure justice was served in this case and she contributed significantly to the rapid erosion of public confidence in our justice system.

Enjoy the Eight-Ball, MacLeaod-Beliveau. I'm sure it will look swell on your mantle.

FromMike Murphy
sender timeSent at 11:55 (GMT-04:00). Current time there: 11:57.
ccJeremy Swanson , The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson , cbentley.mpp@liberal.ola.org, info@cjc-ccm.gc.ca
date19 June 2009 11:55
subjectHouse arrest for Magan Marie Muir
Dear Judge: Re: http://www.winnipegsun.com/news/2009/06/18/9838186.html#/news/winnipeg/2009/06/18/pf-9835956.html Your recent decision is another example of the appearance of corruption in the judiciary.We just got rid of the Political Hack and former colleague of yours Paul Cosgrove. If this had been a man could you imagine he would get house arrest? Can you think of the outcry if you gave a male house arrest under similar circumstances? This boils down to a vacation at home for child abuse beyond the pale. It matters not there was collusion between the Crown and defence. We have seen what Crowns are capable of with the recent revelations in Barrie and Windsor of both corruption within the sphere of the Ontario Attorney General and participating Police Forces. Shame on you Justice Helen MacLeod-Beliveau you are a disgrace and a sorry example of the Canadian Judiciary for handing out such egregious gender discounts. This is far too common in family and criminal courts. I pity any man who has to face you in family court. It is clear where your sympathies come to rest. You have made a major contribution to the continuing loss of confidence in the administration of justice in our country. Mike Murphy Fran Lebowitz - "Life is something to do when you can't get to sleep." cc Rob Nicholson, Justice Minister, Canada, C. Bentley, AG, Ontario,Canadian Judicial Council

Damon Reddom, pictured the day after his hands were dipped into a pot of boiling water by a 24-year-old city woman. The woman, who was handed a conditional sentence, has since moved to St. Catharine’s to finish serving her home-based sentence.

Submitted photo

Mom seeking justice for child victims

Posted By Jeremy Ashley The Intelligencer

Posted 4 days ago

At times, Damon Reddom Stone is a haunted four-year-old.

Sitting on his mother’s lap Monday, he ran his hands over her fingertips.

“He said, ‘Mommy, I wish I had normal hands like you,’” recalled Tina Reddom this week.

Every so often, she said, her youngster’s mind drifts back to the morning of Oct. 16, 2007 when a 24-year-old city woman — in a fit of supposed rage — forced his tiny hands into a pot of boiling water in the Applewood Drive apartment she shared with her then-boyfriend, Damon's father.

Damon, who was two at the time, sustained serious burns and will require several surgeries, skin grafts and therapy to treat the wounds.

After pleading guilty to assault causing bodily harm earlier this year, Magan Muir agreed to an 18-month sentence for the crime.

The first half of Muir’s sentence is being spent under house arrest, while during the remaining nine months she will be allowed out into the community under certain conditions.

Like many others in the community, the boy’s mother remains outraged at the sentence, charging her son was shortchanged by the criminal justice system.

Earlier this month, another blow was dealt to the Reddom family — Muir was granted a request to move to St. Catharines to finish serving her sentence while living with family.

“How can she choose where she is going to live? She should be serving her sentence in the community where she committed this crime, I think. And, the last time I checked, an inmate in a prison couldn’t say ‘Hey, I don’t like it here, can I move to another prison’. It doesn’t make sense to me, and quite frankly, pisses me off.

“Damon didn’t get an ounce of justice, not one stitch of justice.”

Reddom said her son, who is the youngest of two, will be dealing with his injuries for years to come — despite the long road he’s already walked during the past 20 months.

After the incident, Reddom took three months off work to ensure Damon received the best care, which included hours of daily physiotherapy and bandage changes.

“It was hell, to say the least, but at least he can use his hands ... and I am very grateful for that. I thank God every single day because Damon could have lost use of his hands because of his burns.”

During his visits to Sick Kids hospital in Toronto, Damon visits with a number of specialists, including psychiatrists and therapists.

The youngster is a trooper: doctors are impressed with his recovery from both the physical and mental trauma of the incident.

“I doubt myself a lot when it comes to helping with Damon’s healing process,” Tina said. “Am I doing the physiotherapy right, or am I changing his bandages properly ... so for him to be doing as well as he’s doing is such good news for us.”

Ensuring her two children are not consumed with bitterness about the family’s situation is a daily struggle.

“I tell you that some of the thoughts and the feelings that I’ve had in the last 20 months would land me behind bars for a very long time. But I look at my boy Damon everyday and he needs me more now than ever ... and what kind of mother would I be if I put myself at her (Muir’s) level? I’m above that — anyone who can do that to a child is scum on the bottom of the river.”

At the same time, Reddom feels as though she is failing her son — an emotion that has sparked an online frenzy through the social networking website Facebook.

“Our kids are our future and if the justice system isn’t going to protect them, who will? As a community and country, we need to stand up and tell our government that change is needed.”

To date, more than 8,200 people are members of her group ‘Where is the justice?’ — an element that Reddom hopes to harness into a special event to raise awareness about abused children and the “failings of the justice system” in the hopes of initiating change.

For instance, the Canadian justice system is “a very sexist,” she said, noting that in her opinion, a man would have received a much harsher sentence for the same crime.

“This event will be to raise awareness about how this is happening to our kids everyday — children are getting abused everyday and people are getting away with it.

“I would go to jail longer if I were to rob a convenience store. A person takes away the innocence of a child and they don’t even serve any time in jail and get to walk amongst us and our children.”

Specific details of the awareness walk, which is expected to be held in Belleville in late summer, have yet to be worked out, she said.

“Something has to give there, something has to change. I can’t get Damon the justice he deserves, but maybe I can for the next baby. At the end of the day, I want to be able to stand up and say I helped get that change because our babies deserve better.

“And I’m not going to stop until I’m heard, and I tell you, I’ve got about 60 years left on my life and God granted me a big mouth for a reason and I’m going to keep going until somebody listens.”


New York Times ~ Keeping Divorced Dads at a Distance

Op-Ed Contributor
Published: June 18, 2006

EVERY other weekend for the past four and a half years, I've spent three precious days with my two adolescent daughters. We play tennis in summer, ski in winter, travel when the school schedule allows. But no matter where we are, we're all keenly aware of the thin membrane of secrecy that keeps us from being as close as we were before their mom and I divorced.

Like most divorced fathers, I'm caught in exactly the kind of nightmarish situation that experts on stress say to avoid — a great deal of responsibility, but very little power. I'm the major source of support for my children; my financial obligations are set by the state, and my wages automatically garnished. (If I lost my job tomorrow, and couldn't keep up with my payments, a warrant for my arrest would be issued within two months.) But my influence over how my daughters are being raised is limited, sometimes by decisions their mother makes that I have no input into, and sometimes by their allegiance to her when she and I are at odds.

In fact, there are times when these two girls, whom I've loved for a decade and a half, seem like little strangers to me. They'll forget to tell me some detail of their lives — or downright lie if they have to — so I won't feel sad that I've missed something they shared with their mom, or raise issue over some decision she's made with which I might not agree. As a result, I sometimes come away from visits or phone calls feeling shaken, saddened and angry.

My ex and I have been to court over support issues, and we've been to court over custody issues, and the legal battles inevitably trap our children in the middle and force them to choose sides. Sadly, this is exactly what not to do if you want to foster a loving parent-child bond. In a study by a child psychologist, Robert E. Emery, divorcing parents were assigned — by flip of the coin — either to mediate or litigate their custody disputes. Twelve years later, he found, that in families that went through mediation, the noncustodial parent was several times more likely to have weekly phone contact with his or her children.

Unfortunately, the system that our government has set up essentially forces divorced parents into litigation. We need to bring children and their divorced parents, especially fathers, closer together by revisiting our reckless support and custody laws, and the haphazard approach we have toward enforcing them.

Since 1998, the federal government has provided matching funds based on a percentage of money the states collect in child support — a powerful financial incentive for states to mandate and maximize support payments. As a result, parents are discouraged from negotiating a settlement: only 17 percent of current support agreements deviate from state-imposed guidelines, even though studies show that when couples set their own support figure, it's more likely to be paid (and tends to be higher than the state's figure).

And the court's involvement doesn't stop there. If Dad gets a raise, Mom takes him back to court to get more money; when Dad suffers a financial setback, he sues Mom to get his support decreased. Each time, the acrimony — and the legal fees — grow.

But while courts will jail men who can't meet their support payments, mothers who interfere with a father's custodial rights rarely face similar penalties. Often, the only recourse for a dad who wants to see his children more often is to sue, and sue and sue again.

Some fatherhood advocates argue that when mothers fail to carry through on a custody ruling, they should face fines and imprisonment, just like fathers do. That's started to happen: last fall, an Arkansas court sentenced a woman named Jennifer Linder to six months in prison for "willfully and wantonly" refusing to obey visiting orders and awarded custody to her former husband. But sending more mothers to prison can only result in more anger, and more confusion and alienation for the children in question. What is needed is less court involvement, not more.

The first step toward fostering a father and child reunion is to make private mediation of the parenting provisions (physical custody, legal custody and visiting) the standard procedure. Allowing parents the chance to negotiate their support — and possibly give fathers more of a say in how their support is spent — will decrease the vitriol, and let fathers feel more like parents, not just paychecks.

Second, we need to enact and enforce sensible penalties for interfering with visits. Jailing a mother is no way to solve the dispute; neither are financial penalties that hurt her ability to care for the child. But mediation — perhaps compelled by the threat of financial penalty — might be the solution. It's estimated that one in five children of divorce has not seen his or her father in the past year. Without substantial rethinking of our current support and custody law, children will continue to be alienated from their fathers, and lawyers will remain on hand to soak up the resulting legal fees.

Just this month, I received a summons to attend a custody conference at the Allentown, Pa., courthouse, and another letter informing me that an accounting error has left me short on support payments, and that my passport may be suspended. I want to shield my daughters from these harsh truths. So these are the secrets I'll be trying to keep from them as we gather together for Father's Day.

What secrets will they be keeping from me?

Stephen Perrine, the editor in chief of Best Life magazine, is the author of the forthcoming "Desperate Husbands." He appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" about this article.