Saturday, October 10, 2009

Toronto Star ~ More reaction to divorce series

There are two series of letter at different links. This is the first with link at the end.

What's the delay on shared custody?

Published On Sat Oct 10 2009
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Re: Breaking up: Family courts in crisis, Series Oct. 2-6

There are gaps in the legal system, leading to both fathers and mothers feeling that they are being treated unfairly. But, the real victims are the children who are losing out on a loving relationship with both parents, because of their parents' conflict – who are too consumed with fighting each other, ignoring what's in their children's best interest.

Parents need to work together for the sake of the children, not against each other for vengeance, control and destruction of their ex partner.

Deborah Moskovitch, Divorce Consultant, Author, "The Smart Divorce",


I am so glad the Star is examining, in an intelligent way, what works best for children when parents separate. Having mediated hundreds of "good divorces," I think the key is the way parents treat each other, and the way they negotiate their separation. Mutual dignity and respect, positive and fully engaged parenting, and fun and meaningful time with both parents is far more important for the kids than the exact split of parenting time.

Hilary Linton, Mediator, Lawyer, Toronto

"The good divorce." It is a lovely concept and, in cases where two mentally healthy, mature adults are splitting, possible – with a lot of work. But the problem is that most marriages break up exactly because one or both people are not those things.

Are children better off with two parents? Sure, in an ideal world. But not everyone who fathers or gives birth to a child is fit or capable of being a "parent." It takes the giving up of one's self to a large extent.

Joint custody assumptions become a nightmare for all of us trapped in a divorce struggle with someone suffering from a personality disorder. For those ex-spouses, custody is a game and a weapon. A parent who wants custody and the love of their child does not use power, control and money to destroy their children's spouse at their children's expense.

Each case needs to be assessed on its own merits, because people are not something you can classify so easily. "Best" for the kids is not one size fits all, even if it makes life more complex for the judges.

Sadly judges are too busy to even read files, and so the pendulum of opinion as to what is "best" swings with the media.

Mara Cole, Toronto

I sympathize with fathers who have to beg to see their children. I sympathize with mothers who want to protect their children and raise them alone. The incredibly sad reality is that the children of divorce remain the truly suffering victims.

This article represents the tip of the iceberg, I am afraid to say. If you want to embrace your lack of faith in the justice system, take a wild ride on the divorce train courtesy of the reformed Family Law Act. Abandoned children, bankrupt mothers and fathers, you name it, abuse of the system still proliferate and all within the sketchy boundaries of "family law."

Joanne Ryan, North York

Thousands of children suffer due to severed or significantly reduced contact with one of their parents. Does anyone consider their emotions and their sense of loss?

Pamela Cross does not. It is appalling that Ms Cross stated that men who want shared custody of their children only do so because they are control freaks and want a decrease in child support payments. How insulting and irresponsible. It is a shame that she cannot conceive that men have children because they want them and love them. Does she think that women have cornered the market on loving their children? That is the implication of her sexist stance.

Joanne Miller, Toronto

It was both shocking to read how common my story was, yet heartening to see that something might be done with the anti-father-biased family law system in Ontario. From false and discharged allegations of abuse to huge legal bills ($125,000 to date), Susan Pigg's piece about frustrated fathers was my story put more calmly and eloquently.

As a divorced father, it is profoundly difficult not to be emotional. It simply touched the tip of a system that exacerbates rather than fixes the divorce and custody battles in our society that puts our children squarely in the middle of the battlefield.

Our family courts are over burdened, under skilled and fed by greed and emotion rather than logic and vision for the good of the children. Australia is leading the way in family law reform. Since its 2006 reforms, divorce court filings are down 18 per cent.

Canada has still not acted on a 1998 report, "For The Sake Of The Children," calling for changes to our family law system. Blimey Canada, throw a lawyer on the barbie and get with it.

Peter Krakus, Toronto

Published On Sat Oct 10 2009

Re: Breaking up: Family courts in crisis, Series Oct. 2-6

What's to debate anymore? Shared parenting has sat on the backburner for 11 years while people wait in court as one or two judges deal with 50 people or more per day. Courts are backed up with uneccesary cases, taxpayers lose, children lose, both parents waste tons of money and animosity remains much higher as fight goes on for years. The only people winning are lawyers. Shared parenting solves most of this.

Women's groups worry about shared parenting helping abusive fathers when angry woman use this system in horrible ways to deny access to childen, accuse fathers of violence, abuse of kids, etc. Fathers often end up in jail on false charges. Shared parenting will help keep this problem under control.

This problem is rampant and fathers and children lose out from angry women who know the system listens to them. The system is archaic and biased. This system will save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Congrats to the Aussie politicians for making it law.

Scott Robinson, Toronto

The kids in "The Good Divorce" (Oct. 4) are obviously misguided. Somebody must tell the Margison children that they are actually dissatisfied with shared parenting.

Mother-only households are superior despite the fact that practically all studies show children need both parents.

After all, as Pamela Cross, director of the National Association of Women and the Law, says, "Entrenching the notion of shared parenting in law is dangerous."

We should only listen to lawyers and others who have a financial interest in removing children from decent loving dads.

I hope readers can discern my sarcasm here. To think kids need only one parent smacks of outright prejudice.

If I could, I would vote for Bill C-422, which calls for equal parenting provisions in cases of family breakdown. And I believe, if children of divorce could, they would vote for equal parenting as well.

Don Mathis, Sherman, Texas

The state of New Hampshire created several committees and commissions to study shared custody, among other issues. There was a Task Force on the Family, A Task Force on Family Law, A Commission on Child Support and Custody Issues, and the United States' first Commission on the Status of Men. All of those groups weighed in heavily on the side of shared custody. As did a 1984 study done by the National Probate Judges College, and a great many respected, objective academics.

The state's Supreme Court convened a "Citizens Commission" to study court issues, and the public input was overwhelming in its disdain for the status quo of sole maternal custody. A variety of studies have clearly shown that when sole maternal custody is the rule, it is to the extreme detriment of children and society. In the words of the Probate Judge's College report, "Shared custody is in the best interests of the child, the parents, the courts, and society in general. So why isn't shared custody the rule, instead of the exception?

Because the courts, states and provinces profit from child support collection. And feminists profit politically from disenfranchising fathers. Furthermore, the domestic violence industry usually weighs in on custody decisions, to further demonize fathers, entitle women, and hype the numbers for their profit. In effect, they are prostituting children for 30 pieces of silver.

Paul Clements, Dads Against Divorce Discrimination, Gaffney, S.C.

My wife and I decided after 11 years of marriage that we would be better off apart. We had a 5-year-old son at the time and thought it would be better for him to grow up with parents who were happy rather than stressed about being together. We felt we were still great friends and because we had no animosity towards each other, we thought it would be best to stay that way and work out our divorce in a way that made us both happy.

We had always worked opposite days so one of us would always be home with our son. We decided custody should be shared with the same arrangement. We split what assets we had and I moved out into a new house nearby. We immediately started shared custody. My son was with me the days my wife was working and vice-versa. He stayed in the same school and although there were lots of questions from my son about why daddy moved to a new house, there was very little disruption to his daily routine. He now had two houses, two bedrooms and two sets of toys and got to be with mommy and daddy every week.

My wife and I decided to apply for a divorce after a year of separation and thought we could do it simply with software, as we did our separation agreement. We quickly found that shared custody is not something that the software could handle so I went to a paralegal to help me sort it out. I soon found out that our legal system does not make it easy for a couple to apply for a simple, uncontested divorce with shared custody.

No lawyers were ever involved as I learned that that route was definitely biased toward confrontation, even when we had none to begin with. I had seen too many messy divorces that seemed to be sucking the life and money out of well meaning parents. However, with help from our paralegal and some wording changes, we were able to fill out an application that satisfied a judge.

It has now been two years since our divorce. Our son is very happy, he gets to see both his parents throughout the week, stay at his same school and see all his friends. My ex and I have both moved since the divorce but have agreed to stay within a short drive of our son's school. We continue to talk throughout each week to stay in communication about any issues and remain good friends.

I now have a fiancée who has a daughter and she too has a shared custody agreement. We have arranged that schedule so we have the kids together at similar times and have created a new family for them both. Our friends and families often remark how good this has all been for our children and how happy everyone is. I very much would like to see the family court system make shared custody a more likely end to divorce so others may enjoy the family lives we now have.

Dr. Tom MacKay, Pickering

Long-term outcomes for children without optimal engagement of fathers are evidenced in our jails. The time and energy and resources consumed in the siloing of who-does-what and who-will-pay for children does not result in children being provided with what they require for optimal development.

More than anything, children need time in a positive relationship, for which they can endure and overcome economic deprivation.

Dads deserve to have the chance to be in community with their kids. The future of our cultural existence depends upon their nurture.

Truncating the necessary psychological development of men from youthful invincibles to mid-life community pillars, in the same time frame as men strive for their ascendancy in life, is crazy making.

One cannot build a future at the same time as the assets required to invest in that future are depleted.

Catherine Soplet, Executive Director, Quality of Life, Mississauga

There isn't any such thing as a good divorce, just a small percentage that aren't ugly. Divorce is usually financially and emotionally distressing to one or both parties.

As far the effect on children, one only has to look at the deterioration of human qualities in the offspring of the high divorce rate generation and single parents.

The answer is to get society to take marriage and parenting more seriously. Men and woman should be held accountable for their actions and responsibilities. The party that is responsible for the breakdown of a marriage (physical abuse, substance abuse, gambling, infidelity, living beyond their means and unrealistic expectations in their relationship), should be made to bear the burden financially and the loss of custody of their children.

Maybe only then, will there be any real fairness in divorce and custody. Even better, this might result in the possibility of a more serious commitment to marriage and parenting, resulting in a better society.

Ben Barone, Willowdale

Let's be honest, there is no such thing as a "good" divorce. It is in fact a broken promise by one or two individuals and there can't be anything good about that. What message are you sending out to the thousands or millions of kids affected by divorce? Perhaps a better headline would have been "The Better Divorce."

I was certainly glad to hear that, through communication, the family in the article was able to do what is best for the children to give them a fighting chance at a normal upbringing. There are simply way too many break-ups nowadays and, in most cases, the children are the ones who get hurt the most.

Michael Gorman, Sharon

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