Judicial passivism turning fathers into deadbeats

Judges refuse to enforce Divorce Act section that embraces equal access to child

The Edmonton Journal, Grant A. Brown, Freelance, Saturday, June 17, 2006

When mothers lose in court, they are not made to pay court costs -- again on the premise that this would only take money away from the children. But payment of penalties and costs is merely a transfer between parents, and only prejudice supports the proposition that fathers would be less generous toward their children than mothers, given the time and financial ability to do so.

Contrast the endless lame excuses judges use not to impose remedies for access denial with their attitude toward making and enforcing child-support orders.

Every discretionary provision in the child-support guidelines is interpreted rigorously against fathers; and every enforcement measure is applied vigorously.

The fact that it is counterproductive to suspend a father' s driver' s licence or send him to jail for non-support does not deter the use of these enforcement measures.

Through a series of passive-aggressive rulings, the courts reduce many fathers to the psychological state of an automatic teller machine.

The courts too often create "deadbeats," and then use their existence as an excuse to be increasingly harsh toward fathers who fight for a meaningful role in their children' s lives.

Forgive them, fathers, for they know not what they do.


Grant A. Brown, who has a doctorate from Oxford University in ethics/political philosophy, was a professor of business and professional ethics at the University of Lethbridge from 1990 to 1999. He currently practises family law in Edmonton.

The Edmonton Journal 2006