Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Divorced Fathers Claim Gender Bias in Family Court

Private bill calls for changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

By Joan Delaney
Epoch Times Victoria Staff Aug 27, 2008
Related articles: Canada National

DADS MATTER: Fathers 4 Justice wants to raise awareness about equal shared parenting after separation or divorce and is calling for an end to the removal of either parent from children’s lives by family courts.
DADS MATTER: Fathers 4 Justice wants to raise awareness about equal shared parenting after separation or divorce and is calling for an end to the removal of either parent from children’s lives by family courts. (Photos.com)
Driving across the country in a large purple “Barney Mobile,” a group of parents dressed up as the Hulk, Spiderman and other superheroes are hoping to spur change in Canada’s family court system

.
Through its Cross Country Crusade, which will make 30 stops between Vancouver and St. John’s, Fathers 4 Justice Canada aims to promote the concept of equal parenting after divorce.
Legislated equal parenting, says F4J, would do away with the current “adversarial system” in place in family court in which one parent usually gets sole custody while the other — most often the father — has to make do with seeing the child only during designated times.


In equal shared parenting, both parents remain as custodial parents and children are spared being embroiled in the conflict over who’s going to win custody. F4J and other father’s rights groups say that with the mother being granted sole custody in about 85 per cent of disputed custody cases, the family court system is unfairly stacked against them. Gender bias, they allege, is rampant in the system and they want change.


“I think when these laws were drafted, the will of Parliament was meant to be maximum contact for both parents,” says Kris Titus, national coordinator for F4J.
“Unfortunately the language was too loose and too open for interpretation at the court level. We want to see that sewn up so it is very clear to the courts and the parents what is expected when the family breaks down.”


After her own divorce 10 years ago, Titus’ ex-husband was allowed to have the children only every other weekend. When both parents saw the negative effect this arrangement was having on their two sons, they decided to go back to court to request equal custody.It took two tries, but the court eventually saw it their way and the difference in the kids’ demeanor was almost immediate, says Titus.
Fathers 4 Justice “superheroes” travel across Canada in their Barney Mobile.
Fathers 4 Justice “superheroes” travel across Canada in their Barney Mobile. ()


F4J is calling for an end to the removal of either parent from children’s lives by family courts and advocates the dismantling of Canada’s family law system to be replaced by a “fair, balanced and transparent rules-based environment.”



Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesperson Carole Saindon says that because family circumstances can vary greatly, the Divorce Act does not dictate or favour any particular type of parenting arrangement.“All decisions must be based solely on the best interests of the children, given the
particular circumstances of each case,” she says.



“Courts currently have the discretion to order that custody be shared equally if they feel that it would be in a child’s best interests based on the facts presented to them and the input from both parents.”


However, University of British Columbia sociology professor Edward Kruk, Canada’s foremost expert on custody, says the removal of one parent from the life of the child is widespread. He calls the family court system “a national shame.”“I don’t actually see this issue as one that only affects fathers because there are increasing numbers of mothers who are losing their children and children who are losing their mothers,” says Kruk. “I like to see it more from the child’s perspective because it is a form of child abuse to have a fit and loving parent forcefully removed by a court in the absence of any child protection concerns or issues.”


Numerous studies show that equal parenting is best for children and is actually desired by children themselves. Growing up fatherless can result in a host of problems, including depression, teenage pregnancy, delinquency, bullying, drug abuse and suicide.


Non-custodial fathers, too, are “a very at-risk group,” says Kruk, with homicides and suicides disproportionate to the rest of the population.And while a 2007 survey by SES research found that 80 per cent of Canadians support equal parenting, Kruk says Canada currently has one of the highest removal rates in the world.The divorce industry is booming in many western countries including Canada, where a contested divorce costs an average of $25,000, according to F4J. This is why, says Kruk, “there’s a very strong vested interest in maintaining the status quo on the part of the legal professionals.”“It almost guarantees that the conflict will be ongoing and protracted if one parent gets sole custody, then the other one is always fighting for more access, so it drags on. Parents can lose their life savings over a custody battle and it’s set up that way to benefit the legal profession.” he says.


Saindon says that while many parents prefer to retain the services of a lawyer, that’s not a requirement. DOJ provides funding to develop and implement family justice services that assist families in resolving their issues “in the least adversarial manner possible,” she adds.
Perceived unfairness in the family court system is also an issue in the United States, where dozens of father’s rights groups are pushing for equal parenting and custody laws like those already in place in Maine and Iowa. In Britain, the U.K. chapter of F4J has staged several high-profile stunts to raise awareness about custody rights.


Australia has gone further than other countries in that it now has a law stipulating that when parents divorce and can’t agree on custody arrangements, joint custody will automatically be implemented. “In most jurisdictions that put forth some sort of shared parenting norm, the overall divorce rates have dropped and the number of parents entering the court system has dropped,” says Titus. “You really remove the incentive to even go to court in the first place.”
Equal parenting also reduces false allegations of assault or sexual abuse, which is a common occurrence and monopolizes the court system, says Titus. Steven Howitt, a house builder in Calgary, says his wife falsely accused him of assaulting her after he refused to sign authorization allowing her to take their two-year-old daughter out of the country. Although the charges were eventually dropped, he lost everything.


“After 10 days in the women’s shelter…she decides to go to court with a story that gives her the house, gives her custody of the children, she already had my car, she cleaned out my bank account so she had my money, yet I still had to pay for the mortgage, food and everything else,” says Howitt. Howitt believes the “ex parte” system is unfair. In ex parte proceedings, designed to protect women in emergency situations, one party can appear in court without the other party’s knowledge and without having to provide any evidence.


“That’s a really good weapon for women to wield because 10 minutes in court she gets everything and the man is basically kicked out.” Howitt’s wife took him to court seven times using legal aid although she is not a Canadian citizen. She now lives in Germany and is attempting to use the courts there to have Howitt pay her $5,000 per month in living expenses and child support. Howitt is fighting on this end to have his daughter, who he says was illegally taken out of the country, returned to Canada and have the courts here decide who should have custody.


Equal parenting is also being championed by MP Maurice Vellacott, who introduced a private member’s motion in April seeking “more equity” in the way Canadian courts decide on custodial and access questions.


With an estimated 40 per cent of Canadian courts’ legal time taken up with custody and access disputes, maybe it’s not surprising that Vellacott’s motion, which comes up for debate in the fall, has received some backing. The Legislature of the Northwest Territories unanimously passed a supportive motion for Vellacott’s initiative, and it also has the support of some Conservative and Liberal MPs.


“I think we have to fundamentally challenge that whole notion that the court has that authority to remove custody from a fit and loving parent in the absence of any kind of proven abuse,” says Kruk.
Last Updated
Aug 27, 2008

Darcy & Kris had a busy day on behalf of all Fathers Seeking Justice



CTV Toronto

Darcy Nogueira of Fathers 4 Justice is seen atop a scaffolding at a Toronto construction site on Wednesday, August 27.




Fathers 4 Justice spokesperson Chris Tatus (sic Titus) speaks to CTV Toronto on Wednesday, August 27.


Man charged after climbing crane dressed as Spiderman

Updated: Wed Aug. 27 2008 7:02:02 PM

ctvtoronto.ca

Two people have been charged after a man dressed as Spiderman climbed a 200-foot crane at a Toronto construction site early Wednesday morning.

Darcy Nogueira, 34, was arrested after he climbed the crane and unfurled a 32-foot banner with the logo of Fathers 4 Justice, which promotes fathers' rights in child custody cases.

Activists who participate in demonstrations for the organization are often dressed as superhero characters.

Police were called to the construction zone at 18 Rean Drive at about 6:30 a.m. and immediately stopped work at the site and sealed off the area.

Fathers 4 Justice organizes publicity stunts to raise awareness about their work, which includes advocating that both parents raise a child after a separation or divorce, Fathers 4 Justice spokesperson Chris Tatus (sic Titus) told CTV Toronto.

"For every activist they pull down of ours, we have another waiting to take their place," Tatus said.

Wednesday's protest was the fourth of its kind in the month of August alone.

A few weeks ago, protesters dressed in superhero costumes climbed to the roof of NDP Leader Jack Layton's office.

Tatus (sic Titus) said more protests are planned in an attempt to get equal parenting rights on the political agenda.

Nogueira and Kristin Titus, 35, have each been charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, common nuisance, mischief and mischief interference with property.

Nogueira also faces a break and enter charge.

He and Titus are to appear in court on Thursday.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Dana Levenson

Poster F4J Event Saturday August 30, 2008 Sault Ste. Marie

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Press Release, August 26, 2008 Barney Mobile in the Soo

The image following is the original press release. Click to read it. The text version follows the image.























Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, August 26, 2008 - For immediate release –

The Cross Canada Crusade to Support “Equal Parenting after Divorce” is to arrive in Sault Ste. Marie, on August 30, 2008 at approximately 6:00 PM. Look for family friendly Superheros near the entrance to the Galaxy Cinemas or on the boardwalk across the road from the mall. They will be easy to see.


Maurice Vellacott, M.P Saskatoon-Wanuskewin has tabled a Private Members Motion (PMM-483) which proposes changes to the Federal Divorce Act to enshrine “the principle of Equal Parenting After Divorce”.


Fathers 4 Justice Canada (F4J Canada) has supported such legislative changes since 2003 and believes that such change is long over-due. To educate and gather popular support from fellow Canadians for this important legislative action, F4J Canada has launched a cross-country tour with the support and assistance from local groups and company sponsors. We invite all concerned Canadians to join with us and make their support known and visible in spreading the message that “the time has come to act."



Fathers 4 Justice Canada (F4J) is currently showing its softer side on a Cross Country Crusade for equal parenting in their nicknamed F4J Barney Mobile. The journey started from Vancouver BC and is enroute to St. John’s NFLD. Sponsored by groups, companies and individuals that support equal parenting rights for children, their Everyday Superheroes will hand out over 20,000 postcards addressed to Stephen Harper in support of Private Member Motion M-483.


“The overwhelming majority of the Canadian public support Equal Parenting because it is common sense supported by scientific research that children do better when raised by both parents. The Status Quo only serves to enrich Lawyers and impoverish families financially and emotionally. The children are the real losers when one parent and their extended family are marginalized by biased and dysfunctional family law courts” said Ms. Titus.


Mr. Murphy can speak to that personally and stated “I am currently going through this very process locally, as are thousands of other dads across the country, and even though I was the stay-at-home parent I lost custody of my children due to bias in the court system and I am trying to regain custody through a very adversarial and expensive court process. There is almost a 9-1 ratio in granting custody to females. Are we Fathers that bad? I think not!"

-30-

For further information :

Kris Titus (888) F4J-CANADA (888.345.2262), National Coordinator

Mike Murphy, Sault Ste. Marie Coordinator 705-971-0505,

f4j.sault.ste.marie.@nospam.gmail.com (remove nospam to email)


links:

http://www.fathers-4-justice-canada.ca

http://f4j-soo.blogspot.com/

http://www.mauricevellacott.ca

http://www.newsdurhamregion.com/news/clarington/article/105340

http://www.metronews.ca/edmonton/Local/article/101956

http://www.saultthisweek.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1173195

http://www.soonews.ca/viewarticle.php?id=18653





Monday, August 25, 2008

Letters to the Editor about "Cross Canada Crusade" coming to Sault Ste. Marie

A letter to the editor to "Sault This Week" (weekly) and a similar one to the "Sault Star" (Daily) was faxed off this evening, August 25, 2008.


FATHERS-4-JUSTICE (CANADA)
National Coordinator: Kris Titus
T (888) F4J-CANADA or (888) 345-2262


The Editor
Sault This Week
2 Tower Street
Sault Ste Marie, ON
P6A 2T9 via fax 942-8596
The Fathers 4 Justice Canada Cross Canada Crusade to Support Equal Parenting after Divorce is to arrive in Sault Ste. Marie, on August 30, 2008 at approximately 6:00 PM. Family friendly members dressed in Superhero Costumes may be seen near the entrance to the Galaxy Cinemas at Station Mall or on the nearby riverfront boardwalk. Maurice Vellacott, M.P Saskatoon-Wanuskewin has tabled a Private Members Motion (PMM-483) which proposes changes to the Federal Divorce Act to enshrine The principle of Equal Parenting After Divorce.
Fathers 4 Justice Canada (F4J Canada) has supported such legislative changes since 2003 and believes that such change is long over-due. To educate and gather popular support from fellow Canadians for this important legislative action, F4J Canada has launched a cross-country tour with the support and assistance from local groups and company sponsors. We invite all concerned Canadians to join with us and make their support known and visible in spreading the message that the time has come to act.
Fathers 4 Justice Canada (F4J) is currently showing its softer side on a Cross Country Crusade for equal parenting in their nicknamed F4J Barney Mobile. The journey started from Vancouver BC and is enroute to St. John's NFLD. Sponsored by groups, companies and individuals that support equal parenting rights for children, their Everyday Superheroes will hand out over 20,000 postcards addressed to Stephen Harper in support of Private Member Motion M-483.
The overwhelming majority of the Canadian public support Equal Parenting because it is common sense supported by scientific research that children do better when raised by both parents. The Status Quo only serves to enrich Lawyers and impoverish families financially and emotionally. The children are the real losers when one parent and their extended family are marginalized by biased and dysfunctional family law courts stated Kris Titus, National Coordinator for Fathers-4-Justice Canada.
Mike Murphy, the F4J local coordinator, can speak to that personally. I am currently going through this very process locally, as are thousands of other dads across the country, and even though I was the stay-at-home parent I lost custody of my children due to bias in the court system and I am trying to regain custody through a very adversarial and expensive court process. There is almost a 9-1 ratio in granting custody to females. Are we Fathers that bad? I think not!
Mike Murphy
Coordinator, Fathers 4 Justice (f4j.ca) ,
Sault Ste. Marie, ON,
971.0505, F: 575.8748

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Truth About Deadbeat Dads ~ Readers Digest CA April 2001


The Truth About Deadbeat Dads
BY GLADYS POLLACK

For decades, they have been pictured as living the high life -- driving their Porsches, vacationing in exotic places -- while their former wives and their children haunt food banks and live off welfare. Branded as "deadbeat dads," they are viewed as heartless men who have simply walked away from their family responsibilities. The fact is, sure, there are some dads who fall into this category -- men who have fathered children but don't want to honour their obligations to them -- but a closer examination reveals another story.
In general, statistics indicate that between 85 to 91 percent of Canadian children covered either by private or court-ordered child-support agreements actually receive payments, the vast majority receiving regular support payments. And statistics also reveal the close association between the regularity of payment and the frequency of contact between fathers and their children.
Studies also show that many noncustodial fathers who do not pay child support simply can't afford to. Some are unemployed or on sick leave. In fact, one of the best predictors of nonpayment is the unemployment rate. Higher incomes are associated with higher compliance rates, and lower incomes with lower rates. One study suggests that a father's ability to pay, in addition to his willingness to pay, determines the extent to which he fulfills his child-support obligations.
Burdened by unrealistic court- imposed support payments, continuing legal fees, increased taxes due to changes imposed by Bill C-41 and estrangement from their children, some men find themselves caught in a downward spiral of depression and have resorted to the ultimate escape: suicide. With a divorce, funds that were unable to support one household are now expected to support two. Add to this the cost of expensive litigation, the fact that one party may be trying to use money as a means of obtaining concessions such as access or custody, and we have a recipe for disaster -- with children often caught in the maelstrom
What happens after the break-up of the family? Eighty-seven percent of children end up living solely with their mothers after a parental separation (only 7 percent live with their fathers). Only 30 percent of children report visiting their fathers every week. One quarter of children visit their fathers irregularly -- once a month or on holidays. A whopping 15 percent never see their fathers.
And what has Bill C-41 done for fathers? Under the changes to the tax treatment of child support, which came into effect on May 1, 1997, it is no longer taxable in the hands of the receiving parent and no longer deductible in the hands of the paying parent. It is worthy of note that when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada rose in Parliament to speak in favour of Bill C-41, he stated that the revenue derived from ending the deduction of child-support payments would yield the federal government more than an additional $1 billion dollars over a five-year period.
Finding solutions that are in the best interests of the children was the aim of the 1998 Senate-Commons Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access. Understanding that children of divorce are entitled to a close and continuing relationship with both parents, the committee recommended that the terms "custody" and "access" be stricken from the Divorce Act and a new term, "shared parenting," be incorporated. Both parents would have access to information and records regarding the child's development and social activities, such as school and medical records and other relevant information. The federal government has apparently shelved the committee's recommendations, however, in the interests of further study.
Yes, there are some deadbeats who don't care about their kids. But it's unfair and unproductive to label every father who falls behind in his support payments a "deadbeat."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fathers 4 Justice UK Protest

Fathers 4 Justice motorway protest causes 10 mile tailbacks into Heathrow

The Telegraph

A Fathers 4 Justice campaigner brought rush-hour traffic to a standstill by climbing a motorway gantry dressed as batman.

A Fathers 4 Justice protester has forced the closure of one of Britain's busiest roads, by climbing onto an M25 gantry dressed as Batman. ; http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1488655367/bctid1731938214 http://www.brightcove.com/channel.jsp?channel=1139053637


Geoffrey Hibbert, 48, began his protest at 7am between junctions 14 and 15 of the M25, claiming he had not seen his daughter since last summer.The computer engineer unfurled a Fathers 4 Justice banner and displayed pictures of his eight-year-old daughter from the sign over the anti-clockwise carriageway, forcing police to close the motorway.The blockage brought rush hour traffic to a standstill, causings 10 mile tailbacks and delaying people travelling to Heathrow Airport.


Ron Reed, a friend of Mr Hibert, said: "I've just spoken to him, he's okay and he's doing it for his daughter.
"He's been driven to desperation, he's been through all the courts to get access to his daughter and it's cost him £27,000. "He last saw her in August last year and he's only spoken to her once.
"The courts are so geared to the mother, the father gets no justice and that means the kids don't get justice."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "We were alerted at 7am to a man on the gantry of the M25 near junction 14 at Hillingdon."The clockwise carriageway is open as normal but the anti-clockwise carriageway is open with lane closures."We don't negotiate with people in these circumstance but will endeavour to speak to the man and encourage him to come down safely given the position he is in."

Mr Hibbett was arrested after climbing down from a gantry over the M25.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that the protest ended around 4pm when the man voluntarily came down.Mr Hibbett was arrested on suspicion of causing danger to road users and putting articles on or over the road.“The man came down of his own accord,” he said. “He was arrested by officers at the scene on suspicion of causing danger to road users and putting articles on or over the road.


“He has been taken to a West London Police Station where he is being questioned by police.
“We do not know at this stage whether he came down because he was bored or cold.”
A spokesman for the Highways Agency confirmed that all lanes of the M25 had now been reopened but that lengthy delays remained.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Open Letter from F4J Fathers 4 Justice ~ Is Jack Layton being Disengenuous



Priority News Exchange Program News Item (PNEP)


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- August 12, 2008
Open Letter from F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada to Jack Layton
2008-08-12 VIA EMAIL AND REGISTERED MAIL
OPEN LETTER ON EQUAL PARENTING


F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada
202-812 12th Street,
New Westminster,
BC
V3M 4K1

Hon. Jack Layton, M.P.
Leader of the NDP,
221 Broadview Ave-Suite 100,
Toronto, ON M4M 2G4

Dear Mr. Layton:

Re: NDP Policy on Equal Parenting

We are pleased to note from your CTV interview of 2008-08-08 that you describe yourself as 'accessible' and with a 'reputation for responding well and fast'. Regrettably, your constituency staff have not been responding to telephone calls, emails and letters on Equal Parenting from numerous Canadians and our members, sometimes for months on end.

We therefore submit this Open Letter on Equal Parenting to you, and invite you to likewise respond in public, either directly or via response that we shall release to the media:

1. Does the NDP support parliamentary Private Members Motion M-483 on Equal Parenting?

M-483 April 11, 2008
[http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/GetWebOptionsCallBack.aspx?SourceSystem=PRISM&Reso urceType=Affiliation&ResourceID=78730&language=1&D isplayMode=2]
Mr. Vellacott (Saskatoon'Wanuskewin) That, in the opinion of the
House, the government should propose amendments to the Divorce Act so that law and practice ensure due process protection of rights and equality of parents, and to ensure that children benefit from equal parenting from both their mother and their father, after separation or divorce.

2. If not, what amendment is the NDP prepared to put forward to make the motion acceptable?

3. Will the NDP publicly commit to allow its members an unfettered free vote on M-483 free from party discipline and sanctions?

4. What is the official NDP policy on Equal Parenting, and, should it not have one, when will the NDP commit to publishing a policy in public?

We note that in a February 2007 SES Poll, 79% of Canadians, and 76% of NDP voters supported Equal Parenting in response to the question:

Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose federal and provincial legislation to create a presumption of equal parenting in child custody cases?

We believe Equal Parenting and Family Rights are too important to be partisan issues, and we seek all-party support for long overdue family law reform. If Denmark and Australia, among others, can adopt equal parenting provisions, there is no reason for

Canada to be a laggard.

While we note with favour that Mr. Paul Dewar will apparently be
tabling a Private Members Bill (PMB) this autumn to help equalize tax treatment for divorced parents, we specifically seek your position on more substantive Equal Parenting issues that are clearly important to most Canadians and NDP supporters, as polls indicate.

Should we not hear from you in ten business days, we shall reasonably conclude that you have explicitly chosen not make yourself accessible to Canadians and the media after all.

F4J Fathers-4-Justice (Canada) advocates for Equal Parenting and Family Law reform on behalf of those children and parents brutalized and bankrupted by the current divorce industry. We pride ourselves on our twin track campaign of non-violent direct action and political activism. It's time for all parliamentarians to address this national tragedy for the sake of the children.

In good faith,

Kris Titus

National Co-ordinator

[mailto:office@fathers-4-justice-canada.ca]
office@fathers-4-justice-canada.ca

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

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie