Fathers 'reduced to ATM status' by the courts ...

National Post  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, Edmonton.