Last Updated: 20th August 2009, 2:02am
For years, family advocates of one sort or another have been trying to replace the emotion-laden phrase "custody and access" with the supposedly gentler and more equitable term "shared parenting."
Eleven years ago, a special parliamentary committee recommended such a move but the Divorce Act remains unchanged. Now a Saskatchewan Tory MP is taking a stab at it.
Maurice Vellacott's private member's bill would require judges to apply the principle of equal shared parenting except in proven cases of abuse or neglect.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson isn't a fan of the bill. Nor, apparently, is the Canadian Bar Association, according to news reports from the CBA's annual meeting in Dublin this week.
Vellacott's bill may be well intended but no one's figured out how to make two ex-lovers who hate each other more than they love their kids compromise for everyone's benefit. You often hear about high-conflict custody cases because fireworks attract attention and we tend to have a morbid fascination with the evil machinations of squabbling couples. So people get the false impression that court battles are the norm when it comes to divorce.
On the contrary, the vast majority of divorcing couples are able to settle their differences amicably, outside of court, and their kids are better off for it.
Only a small minority of cases end up before a judge these days because so many couples have wised up and realized that mediation is healthier and cheaper than beating each other up in court.
"We're trying to take a more holistic approach to family law because we know once our files are over, these families go on," says Montreal lawyer Karen Kear-Jodoin, past-president of the CBA's family law section.
"I used to be this big litigator ... and I loved it," she adds. "But I realized as time went on that it's not necessarily best for my clients because they spend so much money and the outcome is not always satisfactory to anyone."
Marla Miller, an Edmonton registered family mediator and collaborative family lawyer, agrees. There's been a dramatic attitude change over how to handle divorce over the years, she explains.
Not long ago, it was rare to see the children of divorced parents share their time equally between mom and dad, she says.
"I never would have thought that we would see a situation where parents would quite often negotiate an equal sharing of the time. Things always evolve."
What obviously hasn't evolved is the worst of human nature that drives ordinarily civilized people into torrents of rage and vengeance because love has evaporated.
So I share the skepticism of both Kear-Jodoin and Miller that Vellacott's vision of presumed equal shared parenting will work with couples who are too full of hatred to have a quiet discussion about the best interests of the kids.
Both lawyers say Vellacott's proposal risks even nastier court battles as parents try to prove shared parenting would be a disaster.
Expecting divorced couples who prefer scorched-earth tactics to happily "share" parenting is absurd.
Tragically, their kids just have to find a way to cope.
The opponents assume “couples with hatred” when in reality, its one or both
of the parties has a serious personality disorder and or a mental health problem
that the courts simply refuse to look at or recognize most of the time,
especially if it’s a woman and women have those problems at least five times
more than men, yet in family court, across Canada, its an epidemic of injustice
- "Male Sharia Law".
Shared parenting orders will prevent the worst borderline personalities from issuing mother gets all orders based solely on Male Gender Apartheid assumptions that children ‘s relationships with fathers should be less than equal. Check out www.OttawamensCentre.com / roscoe
The justice minister has been extremely careful with his statements, so careful in fact that they show all the symptoms of having been edited, if not written by the writers in Stephen Harper's office who are interested in getting votes without loosing any.
At least, those comments of the Justice Minister cannot be construed, at least now, as being against equal parenting. I don't hold any faith whatsoever that Mr. Harper or the parties will be able to resist the intimidation of the legal cartel who stand to loose billions of dollars.
Our politicians need to be reminded of Canada's NEGATIVE BIRTH RATE and without this legislation, Canada will face an economic time bomb.
Kudo's to all those that state "I respectfully disagree with Mindelle Jacobs.
They show extreme tact and typical Canadian politeness.
If all the readers were gathered around a bar, their language concerning Mindy as she is known is guaranteed to be something approaching that of the worst in society, and that begs the question why does "Mindy" generate such antagonism? The answer is for very good reasons, her article attempts to undermine the private member's bill for equal parenting, a bill that will give children their right, to an equal relationship with both parents absent real evidence that one of the parents is a danger to the child.
Canadian children are being abused, by a legal system hell bent on treating mothers as holy cows.
This "Police Officer" of the "Winnipeg Police" attempted to portray himself
as someone who acted "inappropriately" because he was denied access.
Family Court invariably gets it wrong, women make false allegations and children never see their children again because of "one woman's fear", fear that is generally unfounded. NOT this case, he had multiple charges with breaching a restraining order in a most serious and disturbing way. Courts are also used to women "crying wolf", making claims for restraining orders when all they have to say is "I'm afraid of him".
When its a cop versus a woman? cops usually win. In the end, this police officer got what he deserved.
That is yet another reason for an investigation into the Winnipeg Police.