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, October 31, 2010

Swiss stage world’s first antifeminism event

This portends good things as it appears some men are actually organizing and willing to take the pillaging which will occur from all the feminist ideologues and their media sycophants. Anti-feminism is not anti-women or misogyny. It is a distaste for the decades of misandry using deceit and lies to portray men as abusive, coercive and evil.  This will spread world wide eventually and I've been willing to put my name out here in Canada as decidedly anti-feminist. They will argue all they are after is equality, but that is pure unadulterated BS.  They thrive on their victimization mantra that keeps the money and sympathy flowing in from gullible politicians.  See here for the various tribes in feminism today, and some of their comments. 

Of note are the feminist spokespersons consulted and quoted by the reporter. Sabin Bieri, of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies in Bern is a case in point. She is supposedly in gender studies but who wants to bet it isn't just womyn's studies all gussied up to include Lesbians, Gays, and the other variants of sexuality except men. MJM

IGF founder René Kuhn, pictured here with his wife Oxana, is giving the opening remarks at the meeting

Image Caption: IGF founder René Kuhn, pictured here with his wife Oxana, is giving the opening remarks at the meeting (pixsil/D. Büttner)
by Jessica Dacey, swissinfo.ch

Somewhere in Switzerland on Saturday around 150 men’s rights activists will be gathering at a secret location for the “first international antifeminism meeting”.

Amid plans by feminist activists to hold protests, the venue was changed and the new location kept under wraps until the last minute.
Only those who filled out an application form and paid the SFr55 ($55) registration fee will find out. And around 30 journalists who expressed an interest in attending.

“Even I don’t know where it is being held,” said Ulf Andersson, a member of the Swiss-based antifeminist interest group IGAF (Interessengemeinschaft Antifeminismus) organising the event.

IGAF says “the meeting is an exceptional opportunity of making our concerns known to the public”.

Addressing the day-long conference will be IGAF founder René Kuhn, and speakers from a German gender policy initiative, the Swiss men’s political party, an interest group for divorced men and European and Swiss men’s and father’s rights groups.

Andersson described it as a “very special” and “historic moment”.

“The major goal is not to come to conclusions about anything but mostly to meet like-minded people. As you have seen, there are forces trying to stop us from having this meeting,” Andersson told swissinfo.ch.

News of the meeting was reported in the press and led to a demonstration by 50 feminist activists in Zurich and graffiti was sprayed on a community hall in Uitikon, canton Zurich, where the meeting was planned. Leaflets have also been handed out for a rally to coincide with the event.

“A lot of people have the wrong impression about what an antifeminist really is,” said Andersson. “They believe that an antifeminist is a woman-hater. Not at all. An antifeminist is a kind of peacekeeper who wants to return things to normal. As an antifeminist I believe in true equality between a man and a woman.”

Core beliefs

In a written statement prepared for Saturday’s meeting, Andersson has drawn up five key beliefs of antifeminists: “opposing the feminist hatred of men, valuing the nuclear family, believing in the child’s rights to both its parents after a divorce or a separation, looking at the individual and not judging people by their gender, and accepting that men and women are different and counting that as assets”.

Anderson founded the Swedish father’s rights group PappaRättsGruppen after being prevented from seeing his daughter for six years after getting divorced from his wife. With support from a father’s rights group his situation has since changed and he is now able to see his 11-year-old occasionally.

But he blames “feminist” social workers for his plight. In his eyes, “feminists have hijacked the word equality” and today, “feminist stands for pure evil”. He cites radical feminist organisations who call for men to be grounded at home after 9pm or bear placards calling for “male slaughter, female supremacy”, as an example.

Risk of discrimination

“A totalitarian ideology like feminism draws particularly strong opposition” in Switzerland, said IGAF president Urs Bleiker, explaining one of the reasons why it was chosen as the location for the international meeting. The organisers are Swiss, he noted, but “the Swiss love of freedom” also was a contributing factor in choosing the location.

While the Swiss Federal Office for Gender Equality is not worried about the event happening within the country’s borders, director Patricia Schulz told swissinfo.ch that she was concerned by “this movement’s denunciation of all women who do not correspond to its limited vision of what constitutes a ‘real woman’. There is a very high risk of discrimination in the ideas of this movement.”

She added that the organisers did not appear to be looking to stimulate debate that could lead to solutions to the real problems faced by many men, rather they “seem particularly to want to place the responsibility for its problems on women who can be described as ‘emancipated’, without realising that there are certainly other causes”.

Marginal position

By holding the meeting in Switzerland, the organisers are capitalising on the “current conservative discourse which is very prevalent, and where parts of the agenda put forward by the antifeminists seem to fit nicely”, commented Sabin Bieri, of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies in Bern.

“Feminist positions today, although diverse, stand for more justice in our societies, including politics and the economy. This does not mean – and has never meant - a reversal of discriminating structures,” said Bieri.

She said one of the most popular examples drawn upon by antifeminists and more mainstream men’s interest groups is the discrimination of fathers in divorce decrees.

“All I can read from the antifeminist position is frustration, possibly rooted in personal experiences. I think it is a very marginal position with no potential for generating initiatives which would be acceptable for average citizens,” she added.
Jessica Dacey, swissinfo.ch

Saturday, October 30, 2010





NEW YORK: The Foundation for Male Studies will focus on the research and programs needed to reverse the downward spiral, which is now affecting virtually all aspects of the lives of men and boys, at the Second Annual International Conference on Male Studies – Looking Forward to Solutions, April 6, 2011.

Edward M. Stephens, MD, FMS’ Founder and Chair says that in addition to the conference’s solution-geared presentations by leading authorities, the Foundation is calling for papers from academics on how to best deal with increasing levels of male unemployment, depression, suicides, dropping out of school and related problems. Marianne Legato, MD and Tom Mortenson will co-chair the conference at the New York Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Legato, who founded and directs Columbia’s College of Medicine Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine, edited the first text on gender medicine, and founded the journal, Gender Medicine. A widely acclaimed author of works on men’s and women’s health, her most current book is Why Men Die First. Mr. Mortenson is senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and the recipient of major national awards for contributions to educational research.

Others participating in the conference are Gordon Finley, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Florida International University, who will speak on the need for a national policy on fatherhood; Michael Gilbert, a Senior Fellow at the University of Southern California Annenberg School and author of The Disposable Male on coping with the cascading loss of male jobs, Katherine Young, PhD and Paul Nathanson, PhD, both of McGill University, authors of published studies on the origins and implications of misandry – the hatred of men.

Scholars seeking to submit papers for the conference may do so by writing to elfenbein@malestudies.org or by visiting http://www.malestudies.org/events.html by March 15. 2011.


Foundation for Male Studies
333 Mamaroneck Avenue - 444, White Plains, NY 10605 | (212) 327-3055 | estephens(at)@malestudies.org | www.malestudies.org

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Childrens Aid Society of London financial travails provokes a letter by the Minister Responsible, Laurel Broten

Minister clarifies stance with Children's Aid Society

Your Oct. 27 article CAS hopeful crisis can be averted doesn't tell the full story of our support for the London CAS and kids across Ontario.

The safety and protection of children and youth served by Ontario's children's aid societies is a responsibility our government takes seriously. During the past decade, our investments in the agencies have risen from $500 million to $1.4 billion.

The London-Middlesex CAS has seen a funding increase of nearly 36%, to more than $63 million. The agency received a funding increase of $530,000 in the last year alone. My ministry has been working closely with the London-Middlesex CAS and others across the province to best serve kids and families within their available budget.

The 25% reduction your article references is not related to funding. It is about reducing the number of kids in care, and moving them into permanent, stable homes. We know a permanent home provides kids with the best opportunity to succeed and reach their potential. We are seeing progress: across Ontario, fewer kids are coming into care and more kids are getting a chance to succeed in permanent homes.

The Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare, which we established last year to improve the system, has had more than 2,000 conversations with CAS, foster parents, kids, and front line staff. They are bringing forward creative solutions and recommendations to improve outcomes for kids, including improvements to the funding formula.

We are committed to continuing to work with local CAS and to making sure children are protected.

Posted By: Laurel Broten Minister of Children and Youth Services, london
Posted On: October 28, 2010
Editors Note: As published in The London Free Press on Oct. 28, 2010.

I made a comment posted to the LFP Site:

Broten ignores biological parents

It may slip by those not completely aware of the manner in which this government operates but has any one noticed Broten has completely ignored consulting with the biological parents of the children.

Families are not held in high regard by neo-progressives but to blatantly ignore the real parents in a consulting exercise and only those, save the young children,  with a financial benefit in the outcome is both absurd and damming.MJM


The original article and many comments, some of mine and Mr. Charlton's included are here.


Brad Charlton has also written a letter to the Minister with respect to her statements.

Title: Permanent, stable homes for children 


Hi Laurel,
Your Letter to the Editor in today's London Free Press does a real good job of summing up the McGuinty government's opinion on parents. You state:

"The Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare, which we established last year to improve the system, has had more than 2,000 conversations with CAS, foster parents, kids, and front line staff."

It absolutely amazes me that you and your ministry so openly admit that you don't even seek a biological parent's view anymore when making a determination on the welfare of a child. That is absolutely shameful.

I demand a response as to how you can claim justification for omitting the feelings, opinion, not to mention the love and concern, that a parent can contribute to potential CAS reform.
Brad Charlton

Saturday, October 16, 2010

An all too familiar story of Family Court Dysfunction from Sarnia, Ontario

Does this article sound familiar to a lot of men?  My case went on for over 4 years and I lost everything.MJM

Family court broken, report says

The (Sarnia)  Observer

Sarnia's Jason Morningstar says he's the poster boy for what's wrong with Ontario's family court system.

He's more than two years and $110,000 into a custody battle with his ex-wife.

He's seeking joint custody of their two children, aged five and seven.

"I've been drained financially and emotionally," Morningstar says.

Dozens of similar cases were outlined in a newly-released report commissioned by the Law Commission of Ontario and calling for reform of the family justice system.

The 83-page report, Voices from a Broken Family Justice System, says the system fails to find workable solutions for parents, often pitting them against one another in highly litigious cases that alienate children.
Parents are being driven to the poorhouse by an adversarial family court system that fails to protect the needs of children or find workable solutions for families, the report states.

Based on interviews and consultations with more than 100 social workers, family councillors, lawyers, judges and families, the report criticizes the family law system for not better meeting the needs of families at such a highly stressful period.

The report suggests lawyers sometimes use "delaying tactics" to make money and turn to bullying tactics to paint an ex-partner as an unfit parent.

The report says that's a common theme. Meanwhile, "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," it states.
Morningstar's five-year-old son was diagnosed as an infant with an inoperable brain tumour. During a time when both parents should be working to spend as much quality time with their sons as possible, the court wranglings have left them strapped for cash and emotionally drained, Morningstar says.

"I'm living paycheck to paycheck. And the worst part is there is absolutely no one out there that will listen."
Morningstar said he now sees his children three times a week, but that's taken more than two years to get to.
"There's a lot of nasty games. It really doesn't need to be this difficult. I believe my ex-wife and I are good people," he says.

"All I ever wanted was joint custody of my children, and it's going to cost me $150,000 to get it. I've been struggling to keep my son alive and now I'm struggling to keep him in my life ... It's been a nightmare."
Onetime lawyer and former Sarnia-Lambton MP Roger Gallaway has repeatedly called the family law system unfair and biased against men.

Gallaway says little has improved in the system since he co-chaired a joint Senate-Commons committee that spent a year holding extensive hearings into custody and access.

The committee presented its report, For the Sake of the Children, to Parliament in December 1998, detailing harrowing stories of parents who were cut off from their children and driven into bankruptcy and despair by mounting legal bills and an unresponsive court system.

There needs to exist a presumption of shared parenting and equality going into court as it relates to parenting roles, he says.

"It doesn't exist. It doesn't apply in family law."

Gallaway says too often baseless allegations are brought up in court, based on "allegation, rumour, gossip and assumptions" and it is a highly effective tactic in preventing shared parenting.

"The onus should be on the parent who is alleging (the misconduct) to prove it. But courts are making decisions that are not evidentiary-based and that's frightening."

To contact the writer: jpoirier@theobserver.ca

Copyright © 2010 The Sarnia Observer


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Women's 'double shift' of work and domestic duties a myth finds new research

Feminists are wrong to claim that men should do a larger share of the housework and childcare because on average, men and women already do the same number of hours of productive work. In fact, if we consider the hours spent doing both paid work and unpaid household, care and voluntary work together, men already do more than their fair share, argues LSE sociologist Catherine Hakim in a special issue of Renewal: a journal of social democracy.

Until recently, unpaid work such as childcare and domestic work has been hard to quantify and so mostly ignored by social scientists and policy makers. The development of Time Use Surveys across the European Union, however, has provided data on exactly how much time we spend carrying out both paid and unpaid productive activities. The findings show that on average women and men across Europe do the same total number of productive work hours once paid jobs and unpaid household duties are added together - roughly eight hours a day.

Catherine Hakim said: ‘We now have a much more specific and accurate portrait of how families and individuals divide their “work” and this data overturns the well-entrenched theory that women work disproportional long hours in jobs and at home in juggling family and work. Feminists constantly complain that men are not doing their fair share of domestic work. The reality is that most men already do more than their fair share.’

While men carry out substantially more hours of paid work, women will often choose to scale down their hours of paid employment to make time for household work when starting a family. In Britain, men are shown to actually work longer hours on average than women, as many will work overtime to boost family income when the children are at home while wives switch to part-time jobs or drop out of employment altogether.
Couples with no children at home and with both in full-time jobs emerge as the only group where women work more hours in total than men, once paid and unpaid work hours are added up.

The article argues that in societies where genuine choices are open to women, the key driver to how work is divided comes down to lifestyle preference, not gender. Individuals fall into three categories: work-centred, home-centred or wanting to combine work and family (adaptive). 80% of women fall into the adaptive category, Catherine Hakim finds, with only 20% wanting a work-centred lifestyle.

Despite this, most European policies are geared towards full-time worker carers and ignore unpaid work, although there are several countries that are starting to support family work. Finland, for example, operates a homecare allowance system that is paid to any parent who stays at home without using state nurseries, effectively paying the carer for their work. In Germany, the income-splitting tax system for couples recognises the work done by full-time homemakers by aggregating and then splitting the spouses earnings between into two halves, reflecting the idea that both benefit from the home/work arrangement.

‘Instead of looking for the one ‘best option’ policy, governments should offer several’, says Catherine Hakim. ‘One-sided policies that support employment and careers but ignore the productive work done in the family are, in effect, endorsing market place values over family values. But the altruistic and community values embraced by home-centred or adaptive individuals, such as sharing, trust and cohesion, are equally as important to a social democracy.

‘Furthermore, there is evidence that men are beginning to demand the same options and choices as women, with more claims of sex discrimination from men. Policy makers need to be aiming for gender-neutral policies that cater for all three main lifestyle choices.’

(How) can social policy and fiscal policy recognise unpaid family work? by Catherine Hakim is published in a special issue of Renewal: a journal of social democracy, out now.
A copy of the final report can be found here| (PDF).

Dr Catherine Hakim, LSE,

http://www2.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/news/archives/2010/08/domestic_duties.aspx |

Sunday, October 10, 2010

From the National Post and Vanier Institute of the Family discuss the real Canadian family

I offered some comments based on quotes in the article following:

"...fewer than half of Canadians believe a married or common-law couple with no children counts as a family." 

The perception that childless couples are not a family is correct. Both the definition of family and the aforesaid perception is : A group consisting of parents and children living together in a household. A family has parents and children. A couple living together married or not is a couple.

"Clarence Lochhead, executive director of the Ottawa-based research and advocacy organization.

There's "no question" that families have changed profoundly over the past 50 years, the report says, but it also highlights surprising stability lying beneath the surface."

I think this person is "wishing" it were so rather than actually showing direct solid peer reviewed evidence. I say this is just left wing social engineering propaganda. The most unstable of relationships is common law which the study admits is growing faster than marriage , which they also admit is on the decline. A married family is far more stable but their are many incentives in place for one party of this marriage to end it. These incentives are part of today's gendered politics. Is there no mention of this?

"...and 88% said they expected to stay with the same partner for life."

I think we all know expectations and reality are divergent rather than convergent. Close to 40% of marriages end in divorce. Second marriages end at a greater rate and common law relationships end much faster in greater numbers.

"We didn't invent single-parent families. They've always been part of the cultural fabric of  Canadian society," Mr. Glossop said. "There was a period when Canadians thought that was a function of feminism in the late '60s and kids growing up and overthrowing the traditional family, as though lone-parent families had never existed before."

Well Mr. Glossup I suggest you do more research. I have and it disproves your assertion. For example here is a prominent feminist quote": 

"Since marriage constitutes slavery for women, it is clear that the Women's Movement must concentrate on attacking this institution. Freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage."

"Sheila Cronin, in Radical Feminism - "Marriage" (1970), Koedt, Levine, and Rapone, eds., HarperCollins, 1973, p. 219)"

This is left wing, feminist sociology revising history. The single families of the past were the result of economic and war conditions not systematic dismantling of the foundation of our country, the family, by feminist ideology translated into law. Seventy five percent of divorces in Canada are initiated by the wife and 90% of sole physical custody goes to mom starting a chain reaction of negative outcomes for children.

In the USA 40% of children are born to single moms and its a growing trend.

Here are some of the hundreds of negative outcomes in today's modern single family, mostly involving single moms, the largest deadbeat group in Canada needing welfare from the state. Most of these welfare recipients are getting this through choices they made either by getting out of a marriage or not getting married at all.

Dr. Edward Kruk found: Sole maternal custody often leads to parental alienation and father absence, and father absence is associated with negative child outcomes. Eighty five per cent of youth in prison are fatherless; 71 per cent of high school dropouts are fatherless; 90 per cent of runaway children are fatherless; and fatherless youth exhibit higher levels of depression and suicide, delinquency, promiscuity and teen pregnancy, behavioural problems and illicit and licit substance abuse (Statistics Canada, 2005; Crowder and Teachman, 2004; Ellis et al., 2003; Ringback Weitoft et al., 2003; Jeynes, 2001; Leonard et al., 2005; McCue Horwitz et al,, 2003; McMunn, 2001; Margolin and Craft, 1989; Blankenhorn, 1995; Popenoe, 1996; Vitz, 2000; Alexander, 2003). These studies also found that fatherless youth are more likely to be victims of exploitation and abuse, as father absence through divorce is strongly associated with diminished self-concepts in children (Parish, 1987).


Single moms in the USA and Australia are the most likely to kill or injure their child. The family is becoming more unstable and it shows in many facets including the rise of gangs many of whose members have no solid male role model. Look to the Family Courts for a good portion of this result.

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/real+Canadian+family/3618697/story.html#ixzz11y8KJqRf

Shannon Proudfoot, Postmedia News · Monday, Oct. 4, 2010

Michelle and David Huck married in 2000, and since then life has been a blur of backpacks, lunch kits and homework. As parents to Indira, 10, Soleil, 9, Saul, 8, and Samuel, 6, the couple's Calgary life is one long domestic balancing act — and they wouldn't have it any other way.
"We're at the dance studio, we're playing the piano before school — it's a gong show," Ms. Huck said.
Indira and Saul are the Hucks' biological children, while Samuel was adopted from Sierra Leone and Soleil from Ethiopia. The Hucks have met both of their adopted children's biological mothers and consider them part of their extended family.
The Hucks are a typical Canadian family — in that they don't fit the definition of what once passed for typical. But the results of a new poll conducted exclusively for Postmedia News and Global TV suggest public perceptions of what makes up a family lag behind the reality around kitchen tables across the country.
For example:
-Couples without children now outnumber those with children in Canada, but fewer than half of Canadians believe a married or common-law couple with no children counts as a family. A similar minority considers a same-sex married couple and their children to be a family.
-For the first time, there are more unmarried than married people in Canada, according to the most recent census data (2006), and common-law families — particularly those with children — are the fastest-growing family type in Canada. Yet poll results from Ipsos Reid show that while 80% of Canadians believe two married, heterosexual parents and their children constitute a family, just 66% consider a common-law couple and their children to be a family.
Today, the Vanier Institute of the Family releases Families Count, an encyclopedic book of Canadian family trends and statistics published every five years. The release coincides this year with National Family Week in Canada.
"When people are asked to think about families, they think about their own families; they think back to what their family looked like," said Clarence Lochhead, executive director of the Ottawa-based research and advocacy organization.
There's "no question" that families have changed profoundly over the past 50 years, the report says, but it also highlights surprising stability lying beneath the surface.
In 2006, the most recent year for which census data are available, 85% of Canadians lived with a relative — similar to the nearly nine in 10 who were living with family when it came time for the 1901 census count. The proportion of people living in married or common-law families has held steady at about 84% over the past few decades, census data show, although the proportion of married couples is declining while the ranks of common-law couple families are growing rapidly.
Vanier Institute research conducted by Reginald Bibby, a sociologist at the University of Lethbridge who has extensively studied Canada's Baby Boomers and up-and-coming millennial generation, revealed that people's family aspirations remain buoyant in the face of upheaval and change. Fully 90% of those aged 15 to 19 said they expect to get married, Mr. Bibby found in the "Canadian Hopes and Dreams" project in 2004, and 88% said they expected to stay with the same partner for life.
Public perception hasn't quite caught up to contemporary family life, but our collective notions of what families used to be and how they have changed are equally misguided.
"I think we have a very, very bad historical sense of what family looked like in the past, what it did, how it functioned," said Robert Glossop, former executive director of the Vanier Institute.
Lone-parent families may be increasingly common but they're nothing new, he said. That family type was widespread in the 1930s, he said, although in that era it was created most often by death or family desertion during the Great Depression rather than through divorce.
"We didn't invent single-parent families. They've always been part of the cultural fabric of Canadian society," Mr. Glossop said. "There was a period when Canadians thought that was a function of feminism in the late '60s and kids growing up and overthrowing the traditional family, as though lone-parent families had never existed before."
If there is one constant in the shifting, changing family portraits of Canada and other countries over the past century, the experts agree it's the family's adaptability and elasticity in weathering these changes and remaining intact.
In Calgary, meanwhile, Ms. Huck still can't get used to the adulation of strangers she suspects might be influenced by celebrity adoption stories.
"It's kind of cute. I think people idolize the adoption process or people who adopt," she said. "I'm like, 'We're just a family. I yell at my kids,' but I get quite nice comments."


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In Ireland misandry and misplaced Chivalry affects men as it does in Canada and other western democracies

In Ireland, as in most Western Democracies, misandry mixed with an insatiable desire by judges, politicians and many lawyers to use a misguided and hateful manner of chivalry, passing ownership of children to the mom, and marginalizing the dad to visitor status or worse. It will be seen in hindsight this manner of child division is not in their best interests at all but does extreme damage for a cornucopia of reasons I have stated elsewhere in this blog.  note this quote in the article "There is “no deliberate bias” against men in the family law courts, believes Anne Egan".  A common definition of bias is as follows: 
  1. A preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment.
  2. An unfair act or policy stemming from prejudice.
The article then states immediately following moms have 88% of sole physical custody in Ireland.  Some how I think this is on the low side. One can never believe some researchers no matter what they see with their own eyes. They are either perceptually blind or ideologues. MJM





 What happens to dads after a split?

Tue, Oct 05, 2010

Recent research shows that when a marriage ends, most fathers are left without the family home or primary care of the children. Men who feel they were mistreated by the system tell their stories to KATE HOLMQUIST

EVERY NIGHT before he goes to sleep, Joe, a separated father, looks at a picture of his children on his computer screen and tells them he loves them.

When Tom’s marriage broke up, he slept in his car near the family home because he wanted to be close by in case something happened to the children.

Cathal weeps when he speaks of how he came home from hospital after being stabbed by his wife to find his house emptied of “everything” – including his children. His wife had left a solicitor’s letter on the counter accusing him of being mentally ill and telling him she wanted a divorce.

All three men have struggled for years in the courts to gain access to their children and believe that they should have been made primary carers, in their children’s best interests. They tell of being so alienated from their children by their ex-wives, they’ve had to watch their children’s first holy communions and confirmations from the back of the church. They speak of telling social workers about their ex-wives’ abusive behaviour and of not being believed.

“I was really, really depressed before the separation, sleeping in the back sitting room. You weren’t walking on eggshells, you were walking on razor blades,” says Cathal, who showed The Irish Times an extensive psychiatrist’s report that declares him under stress due to the separation, but well mentally otherwise.

“I know men who killed themselves because they lost contact with their children,” says Declan Keaveney, a retired garda who spent €50,000 fighting through the courts to be made primary carer of his two children and even contemplated suicide himself. He eventually succeeded in becoming primary carer.“Men have no voice – we have nothing,” he says.

Keaveney, who is now is a volunteer with Amen, a support group for male victims of domestic abuse. He listens on a daily basis to men driven to the edge by rancorous separation wars in which children are often used as ammunition. “Parental alienation syndrome”, where one parent turns the children against another, is common, he says.

A report by One Family, an advocacy group for one-parent families, finds some fathers who, despite contact orders, are refused contact with their children by their wives and cannot get the HSE to intervene and enforce their rights.

Court delays also mean fathers can go months without seeing their children. One father says he “just gave up because it was too stressful . . . [my ex-wife] was on legal aid and I had a private solicitor which cost a lot of money and I just gave up”.

There is “no deliberate bias” against men in the family law courts, believes Anne Egan, a researcher who sat in on 158 in camera cases (where cases are heard in private) for her PhD, though the court “reinforces stereotypical views” that children need to be with their mother as primary carer – the result in 88 per cent of cases.

Another PhD researcher, Róisín O’Shea, found only 2.23 per cent of 493 cases had the children living with their father. While many fathers asked for 50/50 living arrangements, O’Shea saw this ordered by the court in just two cases.

Egan, who also interviewed fathers, says most accepted the mother as primary carer, but “they would have liked more contact rather than specific times and dates”. These fathers missed the daily informal involvement with their children over breakfast, the school run or even just a few minutes in the evening to hear about a child’s day.

The second major complaint was being left out of decision-making. “Most were not happy with the situation but it was working for them,” she says.

If a father wants to be primary carer, “it’s not always fair. There’s a battle royale if you are acting for a father,” says Marion Campbell, a private family law solicitor who has been dealing with separation cases since 1981, when she started her career in the legal aid board.

Due to the recession, a growing number of men have become stay-at-home fathers whose wives work full-time. It’s often the wife who wants to separate, yet if the father wants to remain in the home as primary carer, he needs maintenance paid by the wife and her agreement to leave the family home, which is practically unheard of (O’Shea’s study found not one case of fathers receiving maintenance).

Jobless and rejected men may have no choice but to move home to their parents’ house, Campbell says. Would a stay-at-home mother be asked to leave her house with no maintenance and limited access to her children because her husband wanted a separation? The question just doesn’t arise, Campbell points out.
Another unfair perception is that men are not physically assaulted by their wives, she adds. “I’ve come across a lot of cases, but women are much stronger and more proactive in issuing proceedings. Men bury their heads and come in at the last minute and quite a number are upset because they don’t want the separation,” says Campbell.

ONE FATHER WHO WAS physically abused says he never told anyone because “it’s embarrassing”. When parents fight in court over property and children, lawyers’ briefcases heave with psychiatrists’ and social workers’ reports, although hearings can be so brief that judges don’t always see everything.

Keaveney says the men he hears from often feel social workers have sided with their wives and barely listen to them, and that the wives’ allegations are always believed.

Joe says he experienced years of false accusations by his ex-wife before he finally received a verbal apology from a social worker who said he’d been right about his wife’s fragile mental state all along. For example, his wife went to gardaí accusing Joe of exposing their son to pornography during an access visit. Gardaí investigated and The Irish Times has seen a copy of a letter from An Garda Síochana telling Joe they found no basis for the allegations. For Joe, this was just one episode in a long campaign by his ex-wife to “destroy” him, even though she had left him for another man.

“Because she’s a woman she can say what she likes, do what she likes and is getting away with it. Because I’ve moved on, the only way she can get to me is through the kids. I know guys who have not seen their kids in five to 10 years.

“One father I know, hadn’t seen his son for eight years. Then he got a call through a solicitor to say his son had attempted suicide. Can you imagine how he feels?”

Tom weeps when he speaks of living “in limbo”. After years of court battles costing in the region of €50,000, he has good access to his children but still worries about their safety. At the height of the conflict, he would drive by a place where he knew his children would be, just to see them from a distance. “I’m trying to move on, but last week, I broke down leaving the kids back to their mother. I was leaving them to somebody I don’t trust.” Sleepless nights have become routine, but he keeps going, trying to rebuild his life and his business, “for my kids”.


Some names have been changed
  • The Canadian-Irish Family Law conference will discuss family law reform on October 8 and 9 at Carton House Hotel, Maynooth.
See familylaw2010.com
© 2010 The Irish Times

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Barbara Kay - Fathers Want 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.MJM

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

A novel way to deal with an intransigent Ex wanting to "own" the children

Picketers paid by a dentist mired in a custody battle hold signs protesting the court system at the corner of East New York Avenue and North Amelia Avenue in DeLand on Thursday. N-J | Peter Bauer
DAYTONA BEACH -- Frustrated by what he sees as a court system unfairly slanted against fathers in custody cases, a dentist has hired more than a dozen day laborers to picket courthouses and a law office between here and DeLand.

Dr. James Wardner, 61, of Mims started paying picketers to stand outside the Daytona Beach courthouse annex on Orange Avenue last year.

About a week ago, the men (and a few women) started standing on the sidewalk at the Volusia County Courthouse in DeLand. They carry signs that say things like, "Fathers Have No Rights in This Courthouse."
Wardner, who is frustrated by his lengthy -- and expensive -- court battle, said this week he's decided to use his resources to spread the word on how courts allow mothers to make "dads the bad parent." The key issue, he said, is a condition called "parental alienation."

"It's bad enough if you have one (child) that hates you," he said. "I have five. None of them want anything to do with me."

Wardner said parental alienation includes a systematic campaign to make the children hate one of the parents. "Mostly," he said, "it's the men" who are alienated in this way. "I'm finished with it."

Picketers paid by Wardner have also been seen outside the Ballough Road offices of the lawyers who last represented Wardner's ex-wife. Wardner, who is fighting for custody of his five children, said the issue is larger than his own case.

"The guys are making a statement, that you can't go to court and have a fair say," Wardner said in a telephone interview. "If you're a father, you're doomed because that little guy in the robe is going to cast you into visitor status."

Wardner and his ex-wife, Carol Stillwagon, 47, of Edgewater divorced in 2004. At first, Wardner was ordered to pay $1,800 a month for child support but the amount was increased over time to just under $4,000.

A couple of years ago, he started a court fight to pay less child support or get full custody. He claimed in court documents that his ex-wife systematically tried to cut him out of their children's lives.

According to court filings, Wardner hired a psychologist who is of the opinion Stillwagon "engaged in a deliberate campaign to alienate the children from their father."

Stillwagon, who works as a housekeeper at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, denies that claim.

"That's not my goal," she said. "But I can't work with someone who just wants me out of the picture. I'm in a fight to keep them, but to keep them in order to maintain a more normal life."

She pointed out that Wardner pays for the protesters, while remaining behind in his child support. According to court records, Wardner was more than $13,000 behind in child support payments last December. Stillwagon said Tuesday he's paid most of that off.

At Wardner's request, four other judges removed themselves from the case. He says he's spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" on legal bills.

Wardner says the picketers he's paying to spread the word of "parental alienation" are being heard as far away as Spain and France on the Internet.

"People are sick and tired of being alienated and separated from their kids," Wardner said.
Some of the protesters, none of whom wanted to be named for this story, were versed on the issue of parental alienation. Most of them weren't.

The condition, which is essentially defined as a child being pitted against one parent by the other to the point of hatred, is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association or American Medical Association as a medical syndrome. But the term has become more common in custody battles, divorce lawyers say.

Attorney Richard J. D'Amico had to remove himself from representing Wardner's ex-wife earlier this year because she ran out of money to fight Wardner's request to gain custody of the couples five children.

According to court records, Stillwagon owes $80,000 in legal fees. She's trying to find a new lawyer. But if she can't, Stillwagon said she's preparing to represent herself in court against her ex, who earned between $300,000 and $400,000 in recent years. He's now spending thousands to keep the protesters in front of the courthouse -- and in front of D'Amico's office, which is something D'Amico doesn't quite get.

"I don't want to get into the middle of it," he said. "She can't afford to litigate this and he's pummeled her into the ground."

D'Amico said there's nothing that looks like parental alienation going on in this case. According to court records, Wardner is allowed to see his children three times a month. But, Wardner said, his children do not want to see him.

As an attorney whose handled divorce cases for over 30 years, D'Amico has seen it all. "In every divorce, to a certain degree, there's posturing, and some take it too far," he said. "But not Carol. It's sad, this case is sad for a lot of reasons."

Wardner said he's doing what he can to fight against what he sees as an unjust system. "I can't get it done," he said. "(Lawyers and judges) keep working behind the scenes to make sure the attorneys get paid, and the kids stay where they are. It's nonsense."

Carol Stillwagon said she's preparing for what could be her last month with the children, ages 9 to 15.
"I might lose my kids in a month," she said. "Whether I have an attorney or not, I have to reply with interrogatories. I have to mount a defense."

Her motion to continue the case is scheduled to be heard by Circuit Judge Randall Rowe on Monday.
Like many people, Stillwagon said she drove past the protesters for months before realizing they were paid by her ex-husband.

"I assumed those men with the signs were impacted by the issue in one way or another," she said. "I never thought they were day laborers being paid to be out there."


© 2010 The Daytona Beach News-Journal.