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.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Honourable Maurice Vellacott MP ~ Dads on the Air


USA-Canadian Eastern time: 8.30pm to 10pm Monday 6th July 2009 USA-Canadian Pacific time: 5.30pm to 7pm Monday 6th July 2009. UK GMT time: 12.30am to 2am Monday night ( Early Tuesday morning) (Local Sydney Time: 10.30am to 12 midday Tuesday 7th July 2009 )

Listen online via live streaming at www.893fm.com.au/On-Air or in MP3 format at www.dadsontheair.net .

Dads On The Air

Monday 6th July 2GLF FM 89.3 and ONLINE www.dadsontheair.net


With Special Guests: The Honourable Maurice Vellacott MP (Canada) Michael Green QC (Australia)

With moves clearly afoot to wind back the modest reforms of the previous government on shared parenting legislation designed to encourage a relationship between both parents and children after separation, we take a look at the very strong case for shared parenting as the norm post-separation, with advocates arguing it works best for both children and parents - as well as saving the government a great deal of money by encouraging single parents to get off welfare and into work. The Honourable Maurice Vellacott MP is a Canadian Member of Parliament who has just introduced a parliamentary private members bill (C-422) promoting shared parenting into the Canadian Federal legislature in Ottawa

He says a recent poll demonstrated that 78% of Canadians support equal shared parenting, with slightly more women than men support cooperative care of children post divorce. Surveys in Australia have shown similar high levels of support, with the main obstruction to the common sense notion coming from bureaucrats and the family law industry itself. As well regular guest Sue Price from the unfashionably named Men's Rights Agency will talk about the devastating impacts on individuals and the broader community of the sole mother custody model which has done so much harm over recent decades. She dismisses the current spirited campaign by feminist lobby groups outside Family Courts as nothing but hysterical male bashing by people with absolutely no knowledge of family law.

We close the show with an extended interview with Michael Green QC , author of the book Shared Parenting, who is also alarmed at the current moves to unwind shared parenting legislation. He argues that with legislation in many jurisdictions now enshrining shared parental responsibility and parenting time, there is ample research which indicates how important it is for children to continue meaningful relationships after family breakdown.

Maurice Vellacott was born in 1955 and has been married to Mary since 1976. They have four children and six grandchildren. Maurice grew up in rural Saskatchewan, and currently resides on a small farm just outside of Saskatoon in the constituency. He is the Member of Parliament for Saskatoon-Wanuskewin,

Here is part of the statement Maurice Vellacott made at the time of introduction of a Shared Parenting Bill to the Canadian Parliament:

"Unfortunately, many Canadian families experience the breakup of a marriage. When this happens, the results can be devastating for children. Children are caught in the middle, but should not be used as a weapon or alienated from one of the parents.

"Aside from proven abuse or neglect, Canadians want equal shared parenting to be the presumption in our courts when marriages break up because it is in the best interests of children and because it is part of an enlightened equality agenda. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has written, "These groups demanded that the "custody and access" regime created by the Divorce Act of 1985 be replaced with a "shared parent" regime in which both parents are given equal rights to bring up their children. These are sensible and overdue suggestions, and the fact they are being made shows that men and women are struggling to correct the rights revolution, so that equality works for everyone."

"Bill C-422 would direct courts to make equal shared parenting the presumptive arrangement in the best interests of the child, except in proven cases of abuse or neglect. This bill is very important in bringing Canadian legislation in line with what the best research says about the best interests of children. With limited exceptions, children generally demonstrate superior outcomes when both parents - mom AND dad - are actively involved in their children's lives, even if the parents divorce or separate. This bill also reflects the spirit of recommendations made over 10 years ago in a Joint House-Senate committee presented to Parliament entitled "For the Sake of the Children." A recent poll I commissioned, conducted by Nanos Research, shows that 78% of Canadians support equal shared parenting, with a high of 86% support in the province of Quebec. Slightly more women than men support equal shared parenting. Among supporters of major political parties, about 78% of Conservatives support equal shared parenting; 75.8% of the NDP; 80.6% of Liberals supported equal shared parenting; and 83% of Bloc supporters endorsed equal shared parenting.

"I am grateful today for the many expressions of support from Parliamentarians on a multi-party basis. I am thankful that two of my colleagues, Liberal MP Riaymonde Folco and Steven Blaney, both representing Quebec ridings, are on the platform today and can speak to the French perspective on this widely-supported initiative in Quebec. Countries, such as Denmark, Belgium and Norway, as well as some U.S. states, have implemented equal parenting, joint custody or shared parenting presumptive legislation, resulting in lower court costs, less conflict and improved social outcomes for the children of divorce. In the few years that I have been dealing with this issue, I have heard from so many men and women who have urged me to pursue these reforms. In just the past 24 hours since introducing this bill, I have received an outpouring of thanks and appreciation from across Canada. Many of these people have been working with their own Members of Parliament, as well as with their provincial politicians, to build a strong non-partisan foundation for pursuing lasting equal shared parenting reforms that will be in the best interests of Canadian children. Equal shared parenting is the right thing to do for Canadian children. As Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has said, "these are sensible and overdue suggestions, and the fact they are being made shows that men and women are struggling to correct the rights revolution, so that equality works for everyone." This bill is one of the most apolitical, non-partisan pieces of legislation introduced in this current Parliament. I look forward to strong support for this important piece of legislation from all members of Parliament who are committed to the best interests of our Canadian children."


In between our two primary interviews we talk with Sue Price from the Men's Rights Agency, who has become alarmed by the demonstrations being mounted outside Family Courts by feminist groups claiming that shared parenting is forcing children to spend time with abusive parents. She argues these groups-and who knows how much taxpayer money these groups are directly or indirectly receiving - are driven by an anti-father anti-family ideology but unfortunately their hysterical male bashing is apparently being listened to by the government.

We close the show talking with Michael Green QC, who has long been one of the country's most well informed critics of the present family law system. His book, co-authored with Jill Burrett, has made a significant contribution to the debate.

Shared Parenting shows how parents can resolve issues and work together after separation and how both parents can maintain meaningful relationships with their children.

The authors, Jill Burrett and Michael Green, bring to this work their expertise in counselling and mediation, respectively. They provide sample parenting plans - both complex and simple - for various types of separated families. The practical tools they offer work in every party's best interests - especially the children's.

With legislation in many jurisdictions now enshrining shared parental responsibility and parenting time, the authors show separated parents how to make this work. They cite supporting research which indicates how important it is for children to continue meaningful relationships after family breakdown.

Myths and misconceptions are dealt with, together with practical advice on how parents can get past their hurt and anger and focus on approaches that will benefit their children. The authors also tackle the nuts and bolts of weekly routines and include useful suggestions on timetabling and communication between households.

Once a good shared parenting arrangement is in place, the emotional benefits reveal themselves:

* mums becoming more comfortable with sharing the children;

* dads learning to truly be with the children; and

* children being happier in shared care arrangements, and so benefiting their parents.

With over 30 years' experience as a lawyer, Michael Green now runs a private mediation practice specialising in family conferencing, mediation, life skills programs and dispute resolution. He conducts programs to assist men and women to better manage their lives and parenting following separation and divorce. He is the father of two children and the author of Fathers After Divorce, a book that has helped many men become successful separated parents.

From the Introduction to Shared Parenting:

Equal shared parenting is the new way to look at parenting after separation and divorce. In many countries (including the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Australia) cooperative shared parenting has for decades been rightly regarded as the best way of ensuring children of divorced parents adjust well to family change, so in many ways it's actually nothing new. But because for so long it's been presumed that dads either can't or don't want to be involved more often than fortnightly (and even that they aren't sufficiently competent to do more!), equal shared parenting seems new, challenging the assumption that upon separation children live with one parent or the other. For far too long there's been a misplaced belief that children, especially those under 10, are better off with their mother. This has helped to spawn another (hotly debated) belief - that the legal system disadvantages fathers.

We believe that this situation has seriously disadvantaged children, and that fathers should be more engaged with their children than they have been. This requires real time, just like most mothers have always known - and given. We also believe that, for a very long time, gender stereotypes, 'the system' and other complex prejudices have discouraged some fathers and caused others to participate little in parenting, especially after separating.

We don't think fortnightly weekend parenting is meaningful shared parenting. We think that shared parenting means having real chunks of time engaged with your children for a flexible 35-50 percent or more of their available time.

Sole-mother 'custody', with mother doing all the parenting and father merely paying the bills and popping into the kids' lives from time to time, isn't really good enough for children - and often not for mothers - in either separated or 'intact' family situations.

We want to:

* help co-parents get real about what's possible for their own families, in their own unique circumstances. Gearing your life around children's real needs demands great self-sacrifice and compromise. If you aren't really up to full-on shared parenting, maybe you shouldn't be signing up for it. If you are, we want to encourage you to do it well.

* help you to be self-responsible and creative about separated parenting. We recognise that for many mothers shared parenting is difficult to contemplate, and for many fathers it's difficult to achieve.

* discourage you from following misplaced advice from the wrong people, and help you get reliably informed about the myths and realities of child psychology and legal precedents.

* help you avoid using the legal system except for its mediation and information services.

Next week: Former premier of Victoria Jeff Kennett from Beyond Blue talks about the many issues facing men in Australia today. As well we will be playing the press conference from the recent health conference at Parliament House in Canberra.



Canadian Listeners: The time for listening live on cable on Monday is 8.30 PM Ottawa-Toronto time which is 7.30 pm Manitoba time 6.30 pm Saskatchewan and Alberta time and 5.30 pm British Columbia time.

American Listeners: Same as above according to adjoining states and time zones i.e. New York and Washington DC 8.30 pm and Los Angeles and San Francisco 5.30 pm

United Kingdom Listeners:: 12.30 am (early Tuesday morning)

Western European Listeners: 1.30 am (early Tuesday morning)

Australian Listeners: Tuesday 7th July 10.30 am Sydney Time