Monday, April 27, 2009

Family heals bitter divide in bid to bring boys home

My comments left on the Toronto Star Site:

@ I wonder if the Politician in Charge of the Office of the Children's Lawyer is reading this

The mother did the right thing in sending her son the email. Whatever it said gave this young man hope. What a wonderful feeling that must have been. Hope - when ignited - can be an internal and eternal flame of passion to do the right thing. We still do not know enough of the details to understand the complexities here but this family is finally trying to resolve the problem themselves. The news involving government agents not liking this is unfortunate but typical. A government who supports Family Law (FLAW) as dysfunctional as exists in this Province and Country is incompetent to deal with this issue - or most other for that matter. How much tragedy must occur before we get the presumption of equal shared parenting for both parents. The current system is nothing more than gender apartheid with children as the victims.

Submitted by Mike Murphy at 12:04 PM Monday, April 27 2009

Family heals bitter divide in bid to bring boys home

The three brothers are pictured here in a family photograph. The photo has been altered to protect their identities.
April 27, 2009


A Mississauga teenager has brokered a deal between his warring parents that could see his younger brothers removed from foster care and most of his family reunited by the weekend.

Both parents agreed to the seven-point plan – which calls for all three brothers to live with their mother for 100 days and not be forced to undergo treatment for parental alienation – during a meeting this weekend that left even veteran divorce lawyers in tears.

Daniel and his parents were so confident their agreement would be given a green light by a judge at a hearing on Thursday, the 19-year-old was already helping his mother prepare her Mississauga bungalow for the emotional homecoming.

But now there are fears the agreement could be scuttled by the government-funded counsel for the 12- and 14-year-old brothers, appointed by the Office of the Children's Lawyer, who has indicated she opposes the deal.

"There's no safe way out of a burning building," Daniel said yesterday. "You've just got to use your head and trust your instincts and trust each other.

"A big part of this is taking a big leap of faith," he said, just hours after signing the unusual agreement he hopes will bring an end to one of the most controversial cases of parental alienation to come before the courts.

(None of the family members can be named, so the boys' names have been altered for this story.)
The complex case spun out of control last November when Jake, 12, and Max, 14, were ripped from

Daniel's arms, crying for help, and committed to an adolescent psychiatric ward for five weeks.
Since mid-December, the boys have been living in a Mississauga foster home, and cut off from all contact with Daniel and their parents, after they refused to undergo controversial U.S. treatment to undo what a social worker believed was alienation by the father.

"I was looking for a way that I and my brothers could get our own voices back," said Daniel, who had been seeking custody of his brothers.

The teen said he started sketching out the plan to reunite his family a few weeks ago, but committed it to paper this week after an unexpected email from his mother last Tuesday – his 19th birthday.
They met that evening for dinner. It was the first time in months they'd seen each other outside a courtroom. They chatted for hours, realizing they had to put their difficult relationship aside and work together to get the boys back.

Over the next two days, Daniel, with the help of his lawyer, children's rights advocate Jeffery Wilson, cobbled together a remarkably unremarkable single-page document that, in effect, calls a truce in a war of words that has filled dozens of boxes, taken up two years of court time and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Daniel agreed that he and his brothers will live with their mom until mid-August, something that was unthinkable just a few weeks ago. The two younger brothers will have no contact at all with the father they haven't seen in five months. While Daniel can visit his dad, he's agreed to stop if it proves to be disruptive to the reunification process.

Only if the boys agree will they undergo counselling, and only with a professional okayed by both Daniel and his mother. The boys won't be separated or sent away for help.

A new judge – one who has had no dealings with the complex case – will review how things are going on or before Aug. 15, and will have the authority to interview the children before deciding where they will live, and how much of the time, before school starts next fall.

The so-called "minutes of settlement" which outline the agreement, and are signed by Daniel, both parents and their lawyers, must also be approved by the Peel Children's Aid Society, which has custody of the two boys and is not expected to object.

Daniel credits Justice Steven Clark, who granted the teen standing in the case April 9, for finally giving him the power he needed to be heard, and to speak for his brothers.

But he admits he was overwhelmed by the scene in his lawyer's office Saturday morning, where counsel who'd spent months battling in court were shaking hands – some of them weeping – as the agreement was signed.

"I had to do a fair bit to convince both my parents that this is possible and a good idea," said the soft-spoken Daniel, an articulate honour-roll student who works part-time at a grocery store and put his hopes of studying visual arts on hold to try for custody of his brothers.

"I just wanted to get all the professionals out of this and to bring our family's problems back to being our problems."

Teen's request to raise brothers treated with urgency
Custody battle beyond tragic

No comments:

The work of Fathers 4 Justice and the Pain of Fathers ~ Activism in the UK

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie