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, September 22, 2010

Give fathers their rights back

A cogent, rational, incisive look at the trends in Family Law in Canada and the benefits for children of Equal/Shared parenting. Barbara Kay is one of Canada's leading scribes discussing issues affecting our children and the marginalization of their parents, particularly dads.

Its interesting to observe in jurisdictions where shared parenting has been introduced the divorce rate has dropped. It gives mom a chance to give sober second thought to dumping dad. The wife, in Canada, initiates Divorce in about 75% of cases and gets sole physical custody in over 90% of judges orders.

Despite polls showing consistently close to 80% of Canadians support Equal Parenting governments are shy to tackle it.

There are two main reasons for this which are interlinked. Lawyers oppose it, including the feminist faction in the Canadian Bar Association (CBA)  as well as the CBA itself and feminists oppose it. Politicians fear the backlash of both the above, particularly the feminists. Remember when feminism was about equality? Now it’s about victimization. Giving dads equal parenting somehow will victimize mom.

Its time for equality in parenting. We dads are ready and waiting.MJM

The above was sent as a letter to the National Post editor.

Barbara Kay, 
National Post · Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010

In the name of changing social mores and social justice, Ottawa's 1998 Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access recommended equal parenting as the default custody presumption (in the absence of abuse) after separation. The report then fell into a political black hole. Today, a tip of a ladder reaches up from that hole, and clanging footsteps can be heard on the rungs.

At least three recent developments in the field of family law are hopeful signs that social justice and common sense may finally prevail in post-separation custody issues.
We have British Columbia's first review of family law in B.C. since the Family Relations Act came into force more than thirty years ago. Their July "White Paper on Family Relations Act Reform" (accepting submissions until Oct. 8) contains progressive draft legislation and policy proposals: It recommends stepping away from courts and the adversarial model in order to "adopt a conflict prevention approach to family law disputes" and urges making "children's best interests the only consideration in parenting disputes."

Next up is the Green Party's unequivocal adoption of a policy of equal parenting at their August convention. By my reckoning that means every single federal party is on board with the idea that both parents have the right to maintain a strong, loving bond with their children, established through credible sociological research as necessitating 40% of the time with children beyond infancy.

Then there is last week's release of the Law Commission of Ontario in-depth report on the family law system. The report deplores a system that can bankrupt litigants and routinely ignores the wishes and interests of children: "Children want to be heard but they feel they have no voice and no power in relation to adults, including their parents, lawyers, counsellors and judges."

Is there anyone who believes that our family court system doesn't need reform? Perhaps some aging radical feminists who are content with the fact that fathers are offered shared or sole residential custody in only about 6% of court-contested cases. And of course the myriad of professionals -- lawyers above all -- who benefit financially in dragging out litigation, mostly unrelated to children's best interests, and who perpetuate a dehumanizing and heartbreaking -- but lucrative --winner-take-all style of "justice."

But disinterested people categorically want reform. A National Post poll indicated that 91% of its readership supported equal custody as an alternative to sole custody determination, and a recent poll by the federal government has 80% of the public, from every political persuasion, supporting equal parenting.
The people for whom this issue matters most -- people whose lives have been negatively impacted by the current iniquitous system -- are united and organized. The Equal Parenting Coalition (EPC) is now an international social movement focused on averting the tragedies that result for children when a parent is legally disenfranchised from his or her children's lives.

I say "his or her," but in reality, the iniquities of the system overwhelmingly target fathers. What are most fathers asking for? According to the EPC, the clearly stated primary goal would appear to be equal physical parenting. Advocacy in the equal parenting movement has moved well beyond fathers' rights groups, and is now a broad-based coalition of both mothers and fathers. More and more women realize that excluding fathers from their children's lives is unethical and psychologically counter-productive for everyone involved. Fathers want more input than just offering suggestions that their ex-wives can ignore. They want to truly share in parenting, including all its responsibilities.

Indeed, the current president of the Canadian Equal Parenting Council is a woman. Kris Titus took up the EP cause when she saw how much her children suffered from the absence of their father after their divorce. She became an activist in the family law reform movement when she actually had to fight with a judge to change his award of sole custody to shared parenting, a move that benefited everyone in her family.

For many years Canadian justice ministers from both governing federal parties seem to have been more concerned with protecting the interests of the divorce industry, which takes up 40% of Canadian courts' time, rather than serving the needs of children. According to a 2003 study by actuary Brian Jenkins, "What do the children want?", 86% of children in North America have no voice in custody arrangements.

Decades ago women told men they had to take more responsibility for active parenting. They listened. Fathers have earned the moral right to equality of involvement in their children's lives in post-separation agreements as a matter of social justice. It is now up to our legislatures and judiciary to assume responsibility for establishing an equal-parenting presumption in law.

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/Give+fathers+their+rights+back/3559651/story.html#ixzz10HhEzK7U

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Ontario will mediation become compulsory before heading for Court in Family Law

Sober thinking appears to be afoot in the Ontario judiciary which is remarkable when it comes to family law. Its interesting to note the Lawyers comments as they look at mediation as though they would have first right of refusal.  One quotes how we, the unwashed masses, could afford his services at $600.00 per hour.  Earth to Lawyers - we don't want you involved at all if mediation is compulsory before going to court.  We can't afford you either way.MJM

Chief justice seeks compulsory mediation in family cases

September 14, 2010

Tracey Tyler

Ontario Chief Justice Warren Winkler is calling for “dramatic” changes to the justice system that would deny family law litigants access to the courts unless they go through mediation first.

In a speech Tuesday to mark the opening of the province’s courts for 2010-11, Winkler said mediation offers a potentially faster and cheaper way to resolve divorce and custody battles, including a less-complicated process for getting information such as a spouse’s financial statements.

Accordingly, only in the event that the alternative dispute resolution process is unsuccessful would access to the costly, time-consuming, adversarial and sometimes acrimonious court process be available to litigants,” he said.

In his remarks, delivered in a University Ave. courtroom filled with judges and dignitaries from the legal world, Winkler said he questions the value of continuing to “fine tune” the existing system and believes a new approach is required.

“I think the time has come for a fresh conceptual approach to resolution of family disputes in Ontario,” he said.

In 2008-09, there were 313,470 family law hearings in the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice, according to a report by the court services division of the attorney general’s ministry.
Between 85,000 and 90,000 new cases are opened every year.

Compelling litigants to enter into mediation or arbitration would constitute “a fairly significant shift in policy” and “raises all sorts of questions for me about who would pay for this,” said Kelly Jordan, a Toronto family lawyer.

Some senior family law lawyers charge as much as $600 an hour to serve as mediators.

While mediation is mandatory in most civil cases in Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor and results in full or partial settlements about 40 per cent of the time, it is not compulsory in family law cases anywhere in Canada.

Requiring people to go through mediation or arbitration (both are considered “alternative” forms of dispute resolution) before having access to the courts is “not a bad idea at all” because the process typically results in a lot of cases getting “weeded out or settled,” said Malcolm Kronby, a Toronto family law lawyer who also conducts mediations and arbitrations.

But the process is much more likely to be effective, he suggested, if the parties enter into it voluntarily.
If imposed during an early stage of a family law dispute, spouses could still be too angry with each other to cooperate, Kronby said.

Jordan suggested that women’s organizations would likely object to mediation in cases in which spousal or child abuse is alleged.

Mediation has become mandatory in some parts of the United States. It is also compulsory in Australia, where only 5 per cent of family law cases now result in a trial, according to a report last year by Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph.

In Ontario, judges can require spouses to attend mediation, but it happens rarely.

Rather than “one-stop access to justice” in any form, be it mediation or the more conventional trial, Jordan said she believes “a triage system” could be the answer to many of the family court system’s problems.

Cases could be assessed at an early stage and “streamed” in the direction that suits them best, whether that is a courtroom or a mediator’s office, she said.

Providing “a judge in a courtroom” in every case “is not the best approach, either,” said Jordan.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Andrew Thompson from Australia found in the Netherlands - Mom arrested

After almost three years, missing son finally surfaces

Eamonn Duff

September 9, 2010 - 6:45AM 

A BOY believed to be the kidnapped son of the former NSW deputy fire chief, Ken Thompson, has been found in northern Europe after a two-and-a-half year global search.

Andrew Thompson was three years old when he was abducted in Sydney by his mother, Melinda Stratton, on April 24, 2008, after a custody battle.

Ms Stratton eluded the Australian Federal Police, Interpol and missing children's organisations until she was picked up on Monday after attempting to enrol Andrew in school.

Noticing the six-year-old's passport had expired, the school's principal ran a security check and discovered the boy was the subject of more than 180 Interpol alerts.

Mr Thompson, who quit his job in May to cycle across Europe on a public crusade to find his son, was on a train to the city last night from Stuttgart. He told the Herald he was reluctant to elaborate on the case as it may hinder investigations.

But a family friend, Robin Bowles, said police had contacted Mr Thompson advising him that his son was safe with welfare officials and his former wife was in custody. Arrangements for her extradition were due to be raised in a court appearance yesterday.

"Ken's ecstatic, emotional, relieved, overjoyed and still in a total state of shock," Ms Bowles said. "It is no secret there were fears for both Melinda's and Andrew's safety and the longer time went on, the fear grew deeper within Ken that maybe he'd never see his son again. He wants to see him. He can't wait a moment longer."

Ms Stratton fled Australia four months after she and Mr Thompson failed to reach a custody settlement. She flew with Andrew to Germany, then vanished. In a letter to her family, she claimed she was forced to flee after losing faith in the Family Court over its handling of serious allegations she levelled against her former husband.

But in December 2008 Mr Thompson (ed note: changed from original Stratton) successfully lobbied the Family Court to lift a ban on identifying Andrew and his plight.

In granting the order, the court allowed Mr Thompson to release a psychiatric report – compiled before his former wife's disappearance – revealing she had a paranoia disorder that severely impaired her ability as a parent.

Mr Thompson made an emotional plea before heading to Europe: "The journey will never end until I find my son ... Melinda, if you're reading this, or if you should hear that I'm passing through a town near you in the coming weeks, I beg you, please get in touch. Free me from this nightmare."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Top 7 Divorce Lawyer Secrets

There is much truth in the following points by a Divorce Lawyer. My ex racked up close to $30,000.00 in legal aid fees (imagine if it had been at the Lawyer's regular tariff)  and he dropped her before trial because legal aid ran out so she had to represent herself.MJM

No. 7

 Minimum billings contained within your retainer agreement for specific services are the fast way to eat through a client's retainer.

Many lawyers place minimum billings for certain services within their retainer agreements.  For example, some attorneys charge 1 hour minimum for each time they are in court.  These minimum billings are well known to be a fast way to eat through a client's retainer, while spending the least amount of time on the case.  For some attorneys, eating through your retainer balance as fast as possible is important, because by the time you figure out you should fire your lawyer, he or she does not have the responsibility to refund unearned fees; they are all gone.

No. 6

Lawyers love the trigger words of "custody" or "order of protection" when they first meet with you.

When first meeting with clients, lawyers are accomplishing a few things all at once.  Obviously, they are writing down the facts of your case to make a determination of the best route in order to best represent you.  But many spouses are unaware that the lawyer is also thinking about what he or she will charge you on an hourly basis, and how much he or she will require from you in the form of an initial retainer.  How much you earn and your assets have a lot to do with this process.  However, key trigger words of "custody" and "order of protection" will likely result in the attorney asking more in the way of his or her hourly fee, and more for your initial retainer.  Therefore, to keep the fees down, try to avoid telling the attorney that you really, really, want an Order of Protection, or you believe that this will be a custody battle.

No. 5

What most spouses do not realize is that their lawyer and the lawyer for their spouse, despite all their arguing and animosity for each other, are buddies behind closed doors. 

The only reason they do not act "chummy" in front of you is because of their fear that you do not trust them, and you and your spouse will fire them and hire different lawyers.  The reality of your case is that the lawyers likely get along famously behind closed doors, and they compare their personal notes about your case, even after your case is over.

No. 4

Your lawyer knows upfront whether or not you can afford a trial in your case. 

The biggest mistake that spouses make within a divorce process is believing that their attorney will stay in the case from start to end.  This is a fatal assumption.  When you first hire an attorney, that lawyer will immediately size you up; they will know from experience whether or not you are going to afford the entire process, and if they believe you cannot, which many spouses cannot (unless you earn $300,000 per year), that lawyer has already set into his expectations that he or she may not prepare your case for trial (because you will not be able to afford it).

No. 3

Hourly rates and retainer amounts are arbitrarily set by lawyers only after hearing about your case, your earning potential and how much you have in assets.   
 Some spouses seek out and retain lawyers that charge the most per hour or the most for a retainer because they believe that he or she must be the best lawyer in town.  The reality of the situation is those spouses are victims of the oldest form of lawyer's marketing.  Many lawyers increase their rates because other attorneys have, or it has come up in discussion within a Bar Association Meeting.  Others set super-high rates so that prospective clients think that they are getting the best.  Having your client think you are the best accomplishes two missions.  First, that client is more likely to pay on their attorney fee bill when they believe the services they receive are superior.  Second, the lawyer has little to worry about what's called client control, because clients will more likely take their lawyer's recommendations.  What clients should be doing is listen to their own inner and likely better judgment.  Because this attorney's secret costs clients a lot of money, it is rated No. 3.

Divorce lawyers can drop your case (while you are in the middle of it) with a simple and fast process.
Most spouses in the divorce process have no idea that during the process, for just about any reason whatsoever, their lawyer can drop their case and them as a client by showing the Judge a simple motion.  Lawyers sometimes drop a client and their case because the client is too difficult to deal with; however, the typical withdrawal is when a client refuses or fails to pay on their lawyer's fee bill.  I am suprised at spouses I meet that thought their lawyer couldn't drop the case, even if they didn't pay.

The withdrawal of attorneys in the middle of a divorce case is fairly common, fairly routine, and you can count on it if you fail to replenish your retainer.  That is why I always suggest to spouses that when you hire a lawyer, see if he or she will agree to a payment plan (IN WRITING), once your retainer deposit has run out.

And the No. 1 divorce lawyer's secret:
Unless your case is uncontested (meaning you and your spouse have already agreed on everything), the average case will cost each spouse over $10,000.00!  Most people do not realize how fast attorney's fees accrue in a divorce. . .well, divorce lawyers do.  Divorce lawyers will not tell you this upfront, because they know it is NOT what you want to hear, and they are fearful that you will not retain them.  Most spouses will evetually hire the lawyer that makes them feel more comfortable about the fees.  Expressions like "we can wrap this up for about $2,000 to $3,000" are false.  The truth is that if some support issues are at issue, you could easily spend $10,000 each for fees.  If custody complicates things, the case could cost close to $40,000 or more.  If the case involves a number of assets and custody, your fees could easily grow to $100,000 or more.  No kidding.


Monday, September 6, 2010

In the U.K. ~ Four in ten domestic violence victims are men

Its good to see this get some sound publicity in the U.K.  I suspect the 40% figure is actually on the low side.MJM

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:27 AM on 6th September 2010
Four out of ten victims of domestic violence are men, a report claimed yesterday.

But it added that men who complain of being attacked at home are often ignored by police who prefer to believe that a woman is the real victim.

The study comes at a time of complaints that men are treated unfairly by the justice system.

Ignored: A new study reveals that one in four domestic violence victims are men but that police and magistrates often ignore their plight
Ignored: A new study reveals that one in four domestic violence victims are men but that police and magistrates often ignore their plight

Role reversal: Campaign group Parity claim that more than half the male victims of domestic violence suffer injury

Role reversal: Campaign group Parity claims more than half the male victims of domestic violence suffer injury.
A new set of guidelines for judges on fairness in the courts has been criticised for playing down the likelihood that women attack men and pushing for judges and magistrates to go easier on women offenders.

The study by the Parity campaign group based its assessment of the number of male victims of domestic violence on Home Office statistics and the British Crime Survey.

It said that the average proportion of male domestic violence victims was 40 per cent.

The charity report added that more than 41,000 men were prosecuted for domestic violence in 2008/09 but only 2,700 women.

More than half the male victims of domestic violence suffer injury.

The report comes amid protests over the latest guidelines published by the Judicial Studies Board, the body responsible for training judges.

Its revamped court manual states that domestic violence ‘consists mainly of violence by men against women’.

Mark Brooks, of the ManKind campaign group, which supports male victims of domestic violence, said:

‘For a document that claims to be about gender equality, it leaves the impression that male victims are seen as second class.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1309312/Four-domestic-violence-victims-men.html#ixzz0ylyuSBuV

Saturday, September 4, 2010

In the UK - Shared Parenting Orders Bill gets First Reading

On Tuesday 13 July 2010 the following Bill was announced. It is very close to the bottom of the page of Hansard.MJM

Bill Presented

Shared Parenting Orders Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57 )

Mr Brian Binley, supported by Dr Thérèse Coffey, Mr Douglas Carswell, Mr Philip Hollobone, Mr Christopher Chope, Mr Peter Bone, Mark Reckless, Caroline Dinenage, Mark Pritchard, Harriett Baldwin and Mr David Nuttall, presented a Bill to provide for the making of Shared Parenting Orders and to create a legal presumption that such Orders enhance the welfare of the child unless certain exceptions apply; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 17 June 2011, and to be printed (Bill 56).

A Bill to provide for the making of shared parenting orders and to create a presumption that such orders enhance the welfare of the child unless certain exceptions apply; and for connected purposes. 

1. Purpose of the Bill
(1) The purpose of this Bill is to ensure that, wherever possible, children benefit from the full involvement of both parents in their upbringing.

(2) Nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to conflict with or undermine in any way the paramountcy of the welfare of the child, as established under section 1 of the Children Act.

2. Shared parenting orders
(1) Section 8 of the Children Act is amended as follows.

(2) In section 8(1), after the words “In this Act—”, the following words are inserted:-
“ “a shared parenting order” means an order settling that both parents have a full involvement in the upbringing of a child, particularly in respect of major long-term issues, and requiring that the child must spend a substantial and significant amount of time with both parents;”.

(3) After section 8(2) the following subsection is inserted:-

“(2A) When making a section 8 order, and subject to the considerations set out in sections 1(3) and 8A, the court must apply a presumption that it is in the best interests of the child for both of the child’s parents to have a full involvement in the upbringing of the child.”

(4) Before section 9(1) the following subsections are inserted:-
“(A1) Where a shared parenting order is in force in relation to a child, the court may not make another section 8 order in relation to that child.
(B1) A shared parenting order may only be made in relation to a child where no other section 8 order is in force in relation to that child, or where those orders are discharged before the shared parenting order comes into force.”

(5) The Schedule makes consequential amendments to the Children Act relating to shared parenting orders and hereby has effect.

3. Welfare of the child: definition
(1) The Children Act is amended as follows:
(2) After section 8 the following section is inserted:

8A Shared parenting orders: additional factors relating to the best interests of the child
(1) In considering what is in the best interests of the child under section 8(2A), the court shall have regard to the fact that the child’s welfare is enhanced by:-

(a) ensuring that children have the benefit of both of their parents having a meaningful involvement in their lives;

(b) protecting children from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or domestic violence;

(c) ensuring that children receive adequate and proper parenting to help them achieve their full potential; and

(d) ensuring that both parents fulfil their duties, and meet their responsibilities, concerning the care, welfare and development of their children.

(2) The principles underlying these objects are that (except when it is demonstrated that it is or would be contrary to a child’s best interests):-

(a) children have the right to know and be cared for by both their parents, regardless of whether their parents are married, separated, have never married or have never lived together;

(b) children have a right to spend time on a regular basis with, and communicate on a regular basis with, both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and development (including grandparents as well as other relatives);

(c) parents should jointly share duties and responsibilities concerning the care, welfare and development of their children;

(d) each parent should be involved in the child’s daily routine and occasions and events that are of particular significance to the child; and

(e) parents should agree about the future parenting of their children.

4. Shared parenting: time spent with both parents

(1) After section 11 of the Children Act the following section is inserted.

“11AA (1) When making a shared parenting order, the court must apply a presumption that the child should spend a substantial and significant amount of time with both parents.

(2) When applying the presumption under subsection (1) the court must consider:
(a) the factors set out in section 1(3); and
(b) whether it would be reasonably practicable for the child to spend a substantial and significant amount of time with both parents.

(3) In determining, for the purposes of subsections (1) and (2), whether it is reasonably practicable for a child to spend a substantial and significant time with each of his parents, the court must have regard to:

(a) how far apart the parents live from each other;
(b) the parents’ current and future capacity to ensure that the child spends a substantial and significant amount of time with both parents; and
(c) such other matters as the court considers relevant.

(4) Where the court, in making a shared parenting order, decides not to provide for the child to spend a substantial and significant amount of time with both parents, it must:
(a) provide for the child to spend as much time as is practicable with both parents, given the considerations set out in subsection (2); and
(b) have regard to the desirability of the child spending at least 25 per cent of his time, in any one calendar year, with each of his parents.

5. Major long-term issues

(1) The Children Act is amended as follows.

(2) After section 105(1), there is inserted:-
“(1A) In this Act, “major long-term issues” means issues about the care, welfare and development of the child of a long-term nature and includes issues of that nature about:
(a) the child’s education (both current and future);
(b) the child’s religious and cultural upbringing;
(c) the child’s health; and
(d) changes to the child’s living arrangements that make it significantly more difficult for the child to spend time with a parent.

A decision by a parent of a child to form a relationship with a new partner is not, of itself, a major long-term issue, within the meaning of this section, in relation to the child.”

6. Interpretation
In this Act—
“Children Act” means the Children Act 1989 (c. 41);
“major long-term issues” has the meaning given in section 5; and
“shared parenting” is interpreted in accordance with section 2(2).

7. Expenses
There shall be paid out of money provided by Parliament–
(a) any expenditure incurred under or by virtue of this Act by the Secretary of State, and
(b) any increase attributable to this Act in the sums payable under any other Act out of money so provided.

8. Extent, short title and commencement
(1) This Act may be cited as the Shared Parenting Act 2010.
(2) This Act shall come into force at the end of the period of six months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.
(3) This Act extends to England and Wales only.


1. The Children Act is amended as follows.

2. In section 9(5)(a), after the words “making a” the words “shared parenting,” are inserted.

3. In section 10:
In subsection (4)(b), after the words “favour a” the words “shared parenting or” are inserted.
In subsection (5), after the words “apply for a” the words “shared parenting” are inserted.
In subsection (5)(c)(i), after the words “where a” the words “shared parenting or”

4. In section 11(5):
after the word “Where” the words “a shared parenting order has been made with respect to a child, or”
after the words “the residence” the words “shared parenting or” are inserted.

5. In section 13:
In subsection (1), after the words “Where a” the words “shared parenting or”.
In subsection (2), at the end insert the words “, or, where a shared parenting order has been made, by one of the parents”.
In subsection (3), after the words “making a” the words “shared parenting or