Unfair family law reform

National Post  Published: Thursday, November 27, 2008



Re: Ontario To Reform Family Law, Nov. 25.


What Ontario Attorney-General Chris Bentley proposes is to give the courts the right to impose a restraining order which "will be accessible in an emergency from a family judge without the other party being there." The court then has the further right to "prosecute restraining-order breaches under the Criminal Code." Finally: "Anyone applying for custody or access to a child will be required to complete a sworn statement, including how he or she proposes to care for the child."


Let us say, for argument's sake, that a mother seeks to divorce her husband and gain sole custody of, and access to, the children of the marriage. Mr. Bentley has now opened a new door to facilitate this, irrespective of the best interests of the children. All the mother need do is fabricate a spurious charge against her husband, appear before a judge without the husband even being notified and obtain a restraining order.


The husband, being not even aware of the order, may now no longer see his children; if he does, he faces criminal conviction on a charge he did not even know existed. Under the proposed new regulations, not only is it the case that interim custody (to the mother) will determine final custody 90% of the time, as is the current status, but the father will now have to sign a sworn statement declaring his criminal conviction if he is to be allowed to have any access to his children.


Obviously, admission of such criminality will assure his lack of custody or access to his children.


Mr. Bentley's proposal will do more to protect vindictive spouses than children.

Robert Wittes,

Thornhill, Ont.