Saturday, June 13, 2009

TVO Tonight ~ The Interview: Justice Harvey Brownstone ~ Parental Alienation

My comments left on the TVO blog here.

I watched the show and found it informative. Inasmuch as Judge Brownstone has sat on the bench for so long he seems out of touch with the actual thoughts of dads. He indicates not many seek custody. I find this to be not in keeping with my own research and contacts with other divorced dads, not only in this country but several others. Frequently what happens when a dad gets a lawyer he will be told "you do not stand a chance at getting custody" so take visitation, pay child support, and cut your losses. If he has a pension he will be told to try and trade the family home to keep it intact.

The current custody ratio is about 9-1 in favour of mom. I do not believe 90% of dads do not want shared and equal custody of their children. That is a first legislative change necessary. If there is a presumption of shared and equal parenting with co-residency of the children it will help to reduce PA and the divorce rate will drop as it has in other jurisdictions. In the Belgium model any parent withholding access is considered to have abducted the children and will face jail. This will reduce access problems in Canada and will not give leverage to the withholding parent as it is automatic. They cannot blame the access parent and further alienate the child. Actions lead to consequences.

Judge Brownstone also tries to paint the picture the court is not gender biased. He may actually believe this but it is untrue. The 9-1 ratio of custody to mom is a startling and a profound judgment of men's perceived incapabilities. Ninety percent (90%) of us are not worthy to quote an old character on SNL. All these men are sentenced to 14% visitation, if false allegations are not raised about their anger problems. All judges seem to think DV is a one way street and if a false allegation that dad raised his voice, looked mean at the mom or hit the mom guarantees him only supervised access if any. False allegations are one of the weapons of choice in custody fights. Any lawyer who suggests this to a client as an option is clearly playing to his client not the needs of children. Do you think ethics prevent lawyers from doing this? Hmmm...I have this property for you...

Some judges use the excuse mom was the primary carer so it is just status quo. How is this measured? Most families have two workers and many dads have a high participatory rate in parenting. In my case because of criminal behaviour by my ex against my former employer I took a buy-out due to the humiliation and loss of reputation/credibility with my employer. I was a stay-at-home dad to my children from infancy for ten years. My ex took a run to the local DV shelter to get a leg up on custody. She also got those who are trained to believe everything these women say is true behind her causing me to lose custody. She did alienate the children before leaving to ensure they would be her allies. The deck is stacked against most dads even though all studies show the female is as prone to initiate Domestic Violence as the male. I can speak to that with experience.

Gender bias is not only in existence judges and lawyers are daily continuing to promote it. Is it willful blindness? I think so as judges are acting out the way they were trained by feminists who preach men are inherently violent and women the natural carers of children. These feminist trainers also deny the studies showing women as equal to or greater initiators of DV than men. All judges are required to take it.

I thought the show, on the whole, was informative. Amy Baker is a respected researcher in the field of PA, Mr. Wilson and Dr. Fidler very experienced in the battlefield for the affections of children and it is a gruesome place full of negative emotional outcomes for the children. I will recommend in my blogs it be viewed by others impacted by PA. Both dads and moms do use the children as weapons in this manner. Bala's recent study shows a 2-1 ratio for moms.

I have said before and I'll say it again. Justice Brownstone, even though I disagree with some of his statements, has acted as a catalyst to promote discussion of the dysfunction in family courts. That is a very good thing.

The sooner we have shared and equal parenting with co-residency of the children the better. Justice Brownstone can then observe how many dads don't want custody of their children or if not equal time then as much as their work life allows.MJM

Justice Harvey Brownstone | Parental Alienation

Friday, June 12 2009
8:00 PM

Justice Harvey Brownstone

Think of the kids: Family Court Judge Harvey Brownstone and the parents who put themselves ahead of the interests of their children.


  • The Globe and Mail
    That toxic tug-of-war: In a custody battle, making peace is more important than being right. Indeed, the very notion of 'parental alienation' glosses over whose rights are at issue — namely, the child's. By Harvey Brownstone

Parental Alienation

The Debate: Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation Syndrome: the controversial disorder that's gaining recognition in psychiatrists' offices ... and in court.


Amy Baker is a developmental psychologist, and the author of Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties that Bind.

Harvey Brownstone serves as a justice with the North Toronto Family Court, and is the author of Tug of War: A Judge's Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles and the Bitter Realities of Family Court.

Barbara Jo Fidler is a registered child psychologist and accredited mediator practicing at Family Solutions in Toronto.

Jeffery Wilson is a family lawyer and a founding partner of Wilson Christen LLP.


Sandra Gionas is a producer for The Agenda with Steve Paikin. She has been at TVO for eleven years, first as a producer for the Daily Unit at Studio 2, and then as a producer for More 2 Life. She has covered health and education issues extensively for TVO. Sandra is a graduate of the University of Toronto, and Ryerson University’s School of Journalism. Follow Sandra on Twitter.

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

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie