Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Multiple divorces increase dropout rate

Comments left on the NP site follow:

This is an interesting study but it doesn't break a lot of new ground. We already know the impacts of many social dysfunctions visited upon children given the social engineering of Family Court Judges by awarding custody in a 9-1 ratio to moms only, disenfranchising fathers. These details are missing from this story. The 38% divorce figure is misleading as married families are now a minority in Canada given the burgeoning common law relationships which are breaking up at a far faster rate than traditional marriages.

Dr Edwark Kruk's study, mentioned by two of your columnists recently, clearly shows the impact on children in fatherless homes.

Perhaps more details will arise as to the custody and co-habitation arrangements within this study.MJM

National Post

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Alberta Study

Keith Gerein, Canwest News Service


Parents thinking about getting divorced, especially for the second or third time, should consider the impact of that decision on their children's schooling, new research from University of Alberta suggests.

The groundbreaking study -- believed to the first in Canada to look at the long-term impacts of family upheaval on educational attainment -- found children who experience changes to their family structure are much more likely to become high-school dropouts than classmates whose parents stay together.

The findings were particularly grim for children who live through three or more parental changes, such as divorce or death, remarriage and another divorce. Such children have just a 40% chance of completing their high-school diploma, a success rate half that of children with no upheaval.

"This is a long-run picture, where we can look at number of changes a child experiences and link it to how they finish up as they enter into young adulthood," said Lisa Strohschein, a professor at the University of Alberta, who co-authored the project. "We hope the more of these kids we can get to finish school, the better position they will be in to get into post-secondary education and find good jobs."

The study, considered especially relevant at a time of high divorce rates and increasingly complex family relationships, is published in the new edition of Canadian Journal of Sociology.

Previous research has linked family breakups with negative outcomes for children, but such work usually focuses only on short-term impacts, Prof. Strohschein said.

For her team's study, the scholars tracked the lives of more than 9,400 children from birth to age 20. The data was from a group all born in 1984 in Manitoba into two-parent married households.

Of the initial 9,403 children, 7,569 saw their parents stay together, 1,325 experienced one divorce and 172 had a parent die.

A small number, 285 children, lived through two family transitions (divorce and remarriage) while 52 experienced three transitions.

Analysis of the data found children whose parents stayed together were 78.4% likely to finish high school by age 20, well ahead of classmates with one change to family structure.

Interestingly, there was little difference between children who experienced divorce and those who had a parent die. Both groups were about 60% likely to get a high school diploma. Also at around 60% were children whose parents divorced and remarried.

The biggest concern was for those children in twice-divorced households.

"It's that cumulative effect," Prof. Strohschein said. "Things really seem to fall off when there is a loss of a second marital relationship. It's really striking."

The divorce rate in Canada has been holding steady in recent years at around at around 38%. Prof. Strohschein said the study generalizes because in some cases divorce can be a benefit to children, if the household is particularly dysfunctional.

© 2009 The National Post Company. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication strictly prohibited.

No more tug of war

The following letter from Grant Brown encapsulates the Family Law (FLAW) problems in short to the point form. it is in response to Justice Brownstone's 10 steps following the letter. Brownstone has opened up a dialogue between the 50% of families who will see their marriage or common law relationship fail and the very flawed Family Law in this country but Grant adds his very salient perspective.MJM

Letter to the Editor National Post

Fathers 'reduced to ATM status' by the courts

Published: Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Re: No More Tug of War, Justice Harvey Brownstone, April 3.

What Justice Brownstone fails to mention in his attack on separated parents is the extent to which they are merely responding rationally to the adversarial, winner-take-all system they face in court.

A survey of family court cases in Ontario since 2000 reveals that almost 80% of the time costs are awarded against the father. That gives a fair indication of a father's chances of success in family court.

Nearly always, he is relegated to the status of a visitor in his child's life, and reduced to the psychological state of an ATM.

Justice Brownstone also admonishes parents to separate financial issues from parenting issues.Yet family court judges are so eager to award mothers exclusive use of the matrimonial home and begin the flow of "maintenance" that parenting issues usually get dealt with summarily on the basis of myths and stereotypes.

Judges create the unseemly focus on money matters, while refusing to take access denial and parental alienation seriously. (One judge, now on the Court of Appeal in Alberta, told me that it is not his job to "punish" mothers who deny access and alienate the children.)

Until family court judges clean up their own act by implementing a presumption of equal shared parenting and favouring the more co-operative parent in custody disputes, nothing is going to change significantly.

Grant A. Brown,


No more tug of war

Book excerpt: A judge with years of family-court experience offers 10 tips to parents facing separation or custody battles

Harvey Brownstone, National Post Published: Friday, April 03, 2009

Parents must learn to love their children more than they dislike each other. Make your child's wellbeing the focal point of every discussion you have with your ex-partner.

Parents must learn to love their children more than they dislike each other. Make your child's wellbeing the focal point of every discussion you have with your ex-partner.


Parents must learn to love their children more than they dislike each other. Make your child's wellbeing the focal point of every discussion you have with your ex-partner. Before taking a position on any issue, ask yourself, How will this affect my child? Never let a discussion with your ex-partner be about your needs or his/her needs; it should always be about your child's needs. The first step to being a mature, responsible co-parent is to always put your children's needs ahead of your own.


The fact that your ex-partner was a bad partner does not necessarily mean that he/she is a bad parent. The way that a person treats his/her spouse in an unhappy relationship when no children are present may not be a good indication of how that person treats his/her children. Your child is entitled to get to know the other parent in his/her own right and to have a relationship with the other parent that is independent from your own. If your feelings about the other parent are standing in the way of your child's relationship with him/her, you should seek help from a counsellor or therapist.


Your child has a right to a loving relationship with each parent, free of any influence or brainwashing. It is unfair and cruel to place your child in a conflict of loyalties and make him/ her choose between you and your ex-partner, as this deprives the child of an important relationship. Never draw your child into your disputes with the other parent.


No exceptions. If you and your ex-partner cannot behave civilly in front of your child, then don't be together in front of your child. I cannot understand why so many parents have trouble pretending to get along with each other for the few minutes it takes to pick up or return a child at access exchanges. Why are parents able to behave well in a courtroom in front of a judge but not in front of their own children? There is absolutely no good reason for parents to expose their children to their conflict.


If you are going to communicate directly with your ex-partner, remember that communicating with maturity starts with listening. In any disagreement, try repeating back to your ex-partner what his/her position is, and the reasons why he/ she is taking that position. I often do this in court and am frequently amazed by many people's inability to correctly repeat back to me what their ex-partners have just finished telling me only a few seconds before! You cannot decide whether you agree with someone if you have not clearly understood what he/she is saying. Even if you end up disagreeing with the other parent, you should at least be able to convey to him/her that you have understood his/her point of view. Good listening skills are not acquired overnight, but post-separation counselling can be very helpful in speeding up the learning process.


Too many parents react in a knee-jerk way to each other's conduct by running to family court without first getting legal advice or considering the impact of starting a court case. It is essential to consult a family law lawyer before taking any steps to resolve a conflict with an ex-partner. It may not be necessary to turn the decision-making power over to a judge. Many thousands of parents have found mediation to be a beneficial problem-solving mechanism, so it is definitely worth exploring.


In any family breakdown, there are two types of issues to be resolved: financial issues and parenting issues. These are completely separate matters and should be dealt with that way.

Your relationship with your children should have nothing to do with financial transactions or property transfers. It can certainly be a challenge to behave civilly with someone whom you think is trying to cheat you financially, but the ability to keep parenting issues separate from financial matters is a hallmark of maturity.


If you truly accept that your children are innocent and bear no responsibility for your separation, then you know that they are entitled to be part of a family and to have their parents behave like family members, even though they live apart.

I have had situations in which a child's health suffered because one parent didn't tell the other about the child's medical problem, so the child didn't get the proper medical attention in the other parent's care. This is unforgivable. When a child is going frequently from one parent's home to the other's, it is vital that each parent know about anything important that has happened to the child while in the other parent's care, especially an illness. Parents should have equal rights to obtain information about their children from schools, doctors and other service providers.

Both parents should be able to attend special events in the children's lives, such as religious ceremonies, school events, sports tournaments and music recitals. Even if there is a restraining order prohibiting contact, speak to your lawyer about the possibility of amending the order to permit at least some minimal form of communication regarding your child, even if it is in written form, or through a third-party intermediary. Your children need you to know what's happening in their lives even when they're with the other parent.


By far, the greatest area of conflict between separated parents is that of organizing, carrying out and enforcing access visits. Family courts everywhere are swamped with parents complaining of each other's frequent cancellations, lateness and a myriad of other misbehaviours. In a great many of these cases, a little common sense and fairness from both parents would have gone a long way toward resolving the problem. Be flexible and reasonable in accommodating your ex-partner's work schedule and travel concerns, as well as changes in your child's routines. Remember that access schedules must be adjusted to accommodate changes in the parents' and children's lives. This is not only normal but is to be expected, so go with the flow.


Family breakdown is one of the most stressful and painful experiences anyone can go through. You do not have to do this alone. There are specialized counsellors and therapists who can help you. Many community organizations offer programs to help separated parents make the transition from ex-partner to co-parent. There are social workers and parenting coaches with the expertise to help you and your ex-partner develop a workable parenting plan.

Excerpted from Tug of War by Harvey Brownstone, published by ECW Press. Copyright Harvey Brownstone, 2009. Reprinted with permission.

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

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie