Sunday, June 7, 2009

Institute of Marriage and Family Canada ~ Report on Cost of Family Breakdown "PRIVATE CHOICES, PUBLIC COSTS, How failing families cost us all

Institute of Marriage and Family Canada
130 Albert St., Suite 2001
Ottawa ON
K1P 5G4

I have had a chance to review the entire report and have come away with a feeling of incompleteness. That feeling is likely directly related to my being a former full time dad having raised my two youngest girls for 10 years and then, thanks to the family court, some false accusations, and the fact I'm not female relegated me to the ash heap of being a visitor to my children. I am an absentee father according to your report and columnist Lorie Goldstein, by decree of the court and an un-parent having no legal status. The family court judge has sentenced me to see my children about 14% of the time in addition to paying child support, dental, additional medical, extraordinary expenses as well as a host of other items. My ex then went on welfare and became one of your statistics. Because of systemic impediments, perceived entitlements, reinforced by a host of female support services she was not interested in reconciliation, counselling (family or for the children), mediation, or even in basic communication. She was convinced the grass was greener and her alienation of the children pretty much assured her of having complete control of the situation. She has, thus far, assessed it correctly despite the fact she is a convicted criminal, child and spousal abuser. All of this information and detailed background is available on my blog which your organization visits periodically.

Nowhere in your report is there any mention of family law and the judges who make the decisions to award custody in a 9-1 ratio to women. Some judges will say it is due to the fact the female was the primary care giver and it is in the best interest of the children but that is pure bunkum when it comes to my circumstances. It does not hold up to analytic scrutiny in the vast majority of cases. One might then conclude these family court judges, through this social engineering, effectively removing fathers from their children are the leading causative agent for child poverty in Canada. That is certainly my conclusion. Most assuredly the 90% of dads removed in this manner cannot all be guilty of being so bad they are relegated to 14% visitation and then, if the ex is vindictive, cannot see their children at all. Access agreements are not enforced by the courts but many dads end up in jail if they cannot pay their child support.

The implications from your study are that men are bad, they walk away from their children and the poor mother is left in poverty. This is not the reality of the Canadian experience for fathers. This was picked up on by Lorrie Goldstein who compares a cultural enclave in Toronto to men walking away from their obligations. These are myths and your study has been most unhelpful in dealing with them. In Goldstein's case it has reinforced his pretty obvious bias. He states "Indeed, "marriage breakdown" today essentially means absentee fathers." "

Figure 3 on page 12 appears to be wrong. It shows about 78% married when it should be 68% then by adding in the roughly 16% for the other two types you get 100%. The actual Stats Can #'s are: 68.6 married, 15.9 lone parent and 15.5 common-law.

You state "In short, the poverty that results from family breakdown is to a large extent a women's issue. If we are serious about improving the standard of living of women, especially mothers, we must reduce family breakdown. That would be beneficial but not always possible." This statement is loaded with a host of implications again suggesting the mothers are the martyrs and the dads to blame. There are tens of thousands of marginalized fathers, cast aside by the family law system across this country, who would disagree.

Given Family Law court judges give females sole physical custody in a 9-1 ratio a change in the law to shared/equal parenting with residential bi-location would help children considerably. No support would be paid by either party and dads would be treated equally and stay in their children's lives. The child support collection agencies would no longer be necessary freeing up resources for more useful purposes. Look to the Belgium model, introduced in 2006, for the impact their family law reform has achieved for children and keeping dads in their lives equally. Some information on these changes is available here in a presentation entitled "Benefits of post-divorce shared parenting and the situation in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany" by a Dutch Psychologist to a conference in Greece in January this year.

The premise that two parent family units are better places for our children is valid. Many studies point to the negative consequences of single parent female homes. Systemic changes are required including de-incentivizing divorce by women. Seventy five percent of divorces are initiated by the female in Canada and 66% in the USA. One way to help this is to implement equal shared parenting with bi-location of residency for the children. Where this has been implemented divorce rates have dropped. Other systemic changes are also required but too detailed for this email. One such study can be observed here by a California PhD., Dr. Jayne Major, who is very immersed in family breakdown. She presented this at an International Conference on Parental Alienation in late March in Toronto.

Michael Murphy, FRA,
A disenfranchised dad
Sault Ste. Marie ON P6A6J8

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