I have met and heard the tragic stories of many parents. PA is a function, by and large, of a custodial ex-partner, although some alienation can start while the couple is still together.

This blog is a story of experiences and observations of dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW), an arena pitting parent against parent, with children as the prize. Due to the gender bias in Family Law, that I have observed, this Blog has evolved from a focus solely on PA to one of the broader Family/Children's Rights area and the impact of Feminist mythology on Canadian Jurisprudence and the Divorce Industry.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Views of a Red Tory Feminist on child custody and C-422: Tasha Kheiriddin: Sometimes unequal works

Tasha, I am extremely disappointed in your rhetoric. I say rhetoric because you have cited no peer reviewed studies to support your spurious claims. I have read the Aussie reports you quote and they are, in many respects, mendacious and written to an audience of very selfish people such as yourself.
 
You jump off the cliff with comments like: “…that not only were some children at risk of being placed in violent situations,…” The implied deducement from this is to paint dads as the culprit. In fact, it is clear in Australia, as it is in the USA, if not Canada, the most dangerous place for a child is in the care of someone like you – the single mom unable to stand the stresses of child rearing, work, custody battles, addiction, depression and a host of other factors. You can get the multicountry reports on this page with links to the original government data. http://victimfeministcentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/mothers-commit-vast-majority-of.html.

I raised two girls from infancy and formed an intimate bond with them during feeding using alternately breast milk from a bottle and formula. Dare I say the early morning feedings, amongst others, all alone with my child in a dimly lit room were some of the most satisfying of my life. She is nestled in your arm, resting her head against you, listening to the heart beat she is so familiar with, and feeds voraciously for a time, slowing as she gets satiated. You raise her up over your shoulder and gently tap her on the back and when she burps you have a sense of immense satisfaction. As she nods off to sleep you kiss her and place her gently back in the crib. I, as a man, can nurture a child as good as any woman on earth, including you, and you do a disservice to yourself and your child with such selfish apostasy of dads. 


I did it for 10 years before your attitude, which is all too prevalent in Family Law and the Feminist support ecosystem stripped them from me and turned me into a visitor. The reason – as you described - I was guilty of being male and nothing else. Shame on you. (More comments after her two articles at bottom)MJM

Sometimes unequal works

  June 15, 2010 – 7:20 am
 
Tomorrow, June 16, is a day that has come far too quickly: my daughter Zara’s first birthday. It is a time to pause and reflect on the joys and craziness of parenting, and on the realization that Zara will never again repeat her first steps and first words (no, not Mama or Dada, but “car”. Oh well, at least the kid knows what she likes).

Her birthday also falls less than a week before Father’s Day, and thus also brought to mind a piece of legislation before Parliament which would radically change child custody and access laws in Canada: Bill C-422.

This private member’s bill, introduced by Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, would amend the Divorce Act to mandate “equal shared parenting” when parents split up. Courts would start from the presumption that parents share time with the kids and decision making on a 50-50 basis, and put the legal onus on parents to show that such an arrangement would not be in the child’s best interest.


Before I had a baby, I would probably have supported this legislation. Who would deny a child the right to the equal love and care of both parents? Why do mothers get custody so much more often than fathers?
Raising an infant as a single parent for the past year, however, has changed my opinion. Not because I think that children don’t need fathers, but because I realize that they need each parent in different ways at different stages of development. And unfortunately, Bill C-422 presumes that equal parenting is best regardless of circumstance, including the age of the child.

Children are constantly changing, and what may work for a 12-year-old may hurt a two-year-old. Case in point: shared physical custody. A pre-teen can fully understand that when he stays with mom one week and dad the next, he will be seeing mom again soon. But an infant cannot grasp this fact. Even a toddler is unable to fully verbalize desires and feelings, while teenagers, if I recall the drama I put my own parents through, are only too able to express themselves.

When it comes to very young children, the presumption of the bill contradicts the first law of every parenting book on Earth: Disrupt a baby’s routine as little as possible. Expert after expert advises parents to establish one sleep routine, nap routine and meal routine, and to ease young children slowly into transitions, such as moving house or mommy going back to work. They further warn that vacations — or any time away overnight from home — will prove disruptive. Indeed, what parents haven’t returned from a trip with their tots only to find that they suddenly won’t sleep through the night, or cling to your leg like Saran Wrap?

Add to that the advice of the medical community that breastfeeding is best for infants under one year. As a mother who nursed for that time, I can testify only too well that breastfeeding is about much more than food. It is about comfort– when baby cannot sleep or is sick, teething or cranky. No offence, dads, but there are some things men just cannot do. Separating a breastfeeding infant from its mother is just plain cruel, never mind impossible if the child refuses to drink from a bottle.

Which brings us back to Bill C-422. Equal shared parenting would mean that very young children could be constantly shuttled back and forth between their parents’ homes. Breast here, bottle there, stay-at-home parent here, daycare there. This type of endless transitioning will do them no favours — in fact, it can do a lot of damage. Courts can already order these kinds of arrangements, even without shared parenting rules, and there is mounting evidence that the stress hurts a young child’s ability to attach to either parent, and to other people in general.

Bill C-422 would make this type of arrangement even more common at a time when other jurisdictions are questioning this model. Case in point: The Australian government, which four years ago introduced mandatory equal parenting legislation, is currently under pressure to revise its laws in the wake of several damning reports. Researchers found that not only were some children at risk of being placed in violent situations, but even children who were physically safe felt depressed, stressed and confused, and suffered adjustment problems. They also found that some fathers’ motivation in seeking shared custody was not to bond with their children, but to reduce the amount of child support they had to pay.

A consistent theme in child psychological literature is that children under the age of three need stability to grow up to be well-adjusted and confident adults. In Zara’s case, she is fortunate to have a father who gets that, and puts her needs ahead of his “right” to take her overnight alone, even under current laws. Until she is ready for overnights, Zara visits with him regularly at her home in the GTA and at his home in Montreal, with both parents present. Now one year old, Zara recognizes her father, greets him with her sunny smile, calls him Dada and is happy in his presence and his arms — all without suffering the anxiety of being torn from one parent to another at a young age.

Granted, this type of arrangement takes compromise by both mom and dad, and would not work for everyone, but isn’t that the point? Imposing a universal shared parenting presumption, with equal time regardless of age or situation, is not in the best interests of children. Respecting their stages of development is, and so is allowing parents to come up with their own solutions.

I hope our lawmakers will allow other fractured families the same latitude, and defeat Bill C-422 or amend it to respect the needs of very young children, and other special circumstances. Until then, happy birthday Zara, and happy Father’s Day, Ian. You both deserve the best celebrations a daughter and dad can have.
tkheiriddin@nationalpost.com


Read more: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/06/15/tasha-kheiriddin-sometimes-unequal-works/#ixzz17RmepIby

Tasha Kheiriddin: Sometimes unequal works, Part II

 

  June 16, 2010 – 11:30 am
Yesterday I wrote a column, about my feelings on Bill C-422 and the presumption of shared custody, which got an extremely negative reaction from readers.  Apparently I have now joined the ranks of “sperm-hunting lesbians”, hormonally-challenged post-partum mothers, and other such stereotypes.  It would be almost comical if the issue wasn’t such a serious one, or one that matters to me very deeply as a parent.

Needless to say, I was surprised by the visceral tone of many comments.  So was our daughter’s father, who had received many positive reactions from friends about the piece, and was himself supportive of it.  
Many fathers are clearly angry about current custody and access laws, and with good reason.  Some of the stories readers sent in, when they weren’t draped in personal attacks, were truly heartbreaking.  No one wants to be denied access to his children.

And nowhere did I say that fathers should be denied access.  It is the assumption that certain types of access, such as overnight stays at a very young age, are in a child’s best interest, that I find objectionable. Call me whatever names you want, but you will not convince me that shuttling an infant, breastfeeding or not, between two different home environments, is best for that child’s sleep habits, sense of security, or attachment to either parent.

The problem I have with Bill C-422 is that it would establish a legal presumption that shared care is in the child’s best interest, regardless of age.  The bill is silent on any circumstances related to the child’s stage of development; rather it sets up a presumption that parties will have to rebut in court.

The fear fathers have is that if a mother gets full custody and there are no overnight visits in a child’s early years, that this situation will never change.  Unfortunately our legal system confirms their concern, as judges are reluctant to reverse “what is”, and expand visitation or change custody arrangements once they have been set up.

But the answer is not to create a blanket legal presumption of shared care.  Why not, instead, set up a system where access and custody are considered a “living tree”?  That is to say, they change as the child grows, and as his or her needs change, depending on many factors, including age.  When parties cannot agree on their own parenting plan, and end up in court, this could be done by a system of mandatory court reevaluations, once a year or even every six months in highly conflictual cases, less frequently in less antagonistic situations.

If parties knew that a reevaluation would be automatically performed at set intervals, then they might both be more mindful of how they parent their children.   It could discourage parental alienation syndrome, failure to pay child support, and other problems, because both parties would know that their behaviour would be regularly revisited.   Since reevaluation would be predictable, a parent would not have to file a costly motion to reopen his or her case, and face stonewalling from the other side, delays and high legal bills.  If on the flip side, both parents felt things were working fine, they could be given the option to opt out of the review with a consent signed by both parties.

Ultimately, this debate is not about fathers’ rights, or mothers’ rights.  It is about children’s rights.  Those include the right to have a relationship with both parents, but also to have his or her developmental needs respected.   As a parent, that is my only concern.  I would hope that other parents share it too.


Read more: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/06/16/tasha-kheiriddin-sometimes-unequal-works-part-ii/#ixzz17RjAqgtQ



Further commentary left on site by Mike Murphy.  For those wanting to get a grounding in the issues surrounding Shared/Equal parenting these two articles should be must reading. Go to the links at the NP and read the many observations.

"Expert after expert advises parents to establish one sleep routine, nap routine and meal routine, and to ease young children slowly into transitions, such as moving house or mommy going back to work. They further warn that vacations — or any time away overnight from home — will prove disruptive. Indeed, what parents haven’t returned from a trip with their tots only to find that they suddenly won’t sleep through the night, or cling to your leg like Saran Wrap?"

Better not tell all the private and public day care centers where many children of working single moms end up. I call this "Sole Custody Proxy Parenting" which happens in many cases. Who is looking after your child today while you work? The presumption of 50-50 equal parenting does not suggest sensible parents cannot work out a routine for the child that is "child centered" not mom centered the latter, of which, is your view. What do you think happens with intact families. Sometimes dad even stays home for a time if his employer allows paternity leave while mom goes back to work.

Experience shows children can manage quite well when travelling if mom and/or dad are not over reacting. I can attest to that with both my daughters. They travelled daily after about 3 months home from the hospital.

I'll try to deal with your points one at a time to show you are ill researched, ill advised and incredibly selfish.

"No offence, dads, but there are some things men just cannot do. Separating a breastfeeding infant from its mother is just plain cruel, never mind impossible if the child refuses to drink from a bottle."

There must be an incredible amount of cruelty worldwide when millions of children must be fed from a bottle. You took this one right out of an Aussie feminist handbook and you are sounding a great deal like a feminist Australian journalist by the name of Caroline Overington who fears shared parenting as she might lose control of her husband if she has to share the children with their father. It is one fool proof method selfish moms use to control their separated/divorce husbands. As mentioned previously lots of infants have breast milk from bottles and for millions of families formula works well. Just ask those billion dollar companies who make it.

Here is a link to a case where mom used breast feeding to alienate and keep dad from his child but it backfired. http://parentalalienationcanada.blogspot.com/2009/04/globe-mail-judge-rules-mom-is-milking.html The G&M headline was Judge rules mom is milking her parental rights with breastfeeding defence.

Here is a link that will knock your socks off involving dads and breast feeding. It is possible. http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com/miscarticles/milkmen.html

"They also found that some fathers’ motivation in seeking shared custody was not to bond with their children, but to reduce the amount of child support they had to pay."

This is a canard that gets trotted out in all jurisdictions who introduce shared parenting. When one looks at the logic of the observation its silliness slaps you in the face. The other side of the coin is mom doesn't want to share the child with the dad because she wants to maintain control of him through both sole physical custody and financial coercion.

If dad has equal custody of the child he will be supporting his offspring directly not paying disguised alimony to his ex wife. By parroting the argument he is being selfish you defame dads through sexism. You deny that a father has an emotional bond with his children and he is no more than a machine driven by money. What utter nonsense is that line of thinking and, in turn, tends to treat women as children unable to financially support themselves without a parasitic attachment to the man they left. Most divorces in Canada - about 75% - are initiated by mom. Why do you think this occurs? Could it be the current entitlement system. Where shared parenting has occurred divorce rates go down

"Until she is ready for overnights, Zara visits with him regularly at her home in the GTA and at his home in Montreal, with both parents present. Now one year old, Zara recognizes her father, greets him with her sunny smile, calls him Dada and is happy in his presence and his arms — all without suffering the anxiety of being torn from one parent to another at a young age."

This sounds like a mechanical and loveless arrangement where the dad was no more than a sperm donor. To suggest that a father who co-created the child Zara would be "tearing" his child away tells me lots about you. I see an anxious, selfish, over protective parent willing to agree with spurious commentary from like people in another country that is setting the child up for having future relationship problems.

You are conservative in some manner, i guess, but you follow the feminist talking points to the core when it comes to your biological offspring. That is not a compliment nor a good recipe for raising a child. You will be transmitting all of your own awkwardness to your child and it will affect her relationship with her father in a negative manner. You diminish masculinity, you bow to maternal supremacy, you denigrate dads and marginalize the most important male role model your daughter could have - her father.

Perhaps Minister Nicholson will appoint you as a Federal Family Court Judge. You fit the profile to a "T".
Tasha makes no mention of the official massive study by the Australian Government produced by by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, which was charged with evaluating their 2006 shared parenting legislation.

It is one of the biggest family policy research projects ever undertaken in Australia, or anywhere else for that matter, dealing with shared/equal parenting designed solely to give the government advice on the 2006 legislation.

It’s overall findings can be viewed as credible and authoritative.

These findings include:

- Most parents with a child under 18 years old agreed that the continuing involvement of each parent following parental separation is beneficial for the children (81% of parents interviewed in 2009). In 2006, the proportion of parents believing that the continuing involvement of each parent following parental separation is beneficial for the children was slightly lower (77%).

- Most parents in the 2009 survey believed that spending approximately half the time with each parent can be appropriate, even for children under 3 years old.

- An Australian Government report published before the 2006 Act indicated that there were perceptions in the community about an 80–20 rule in arrangements for children to spend time with their parents after separation, with mothers mostly having their child for 80% of the time. The evaluation data show that advice consistent with such a rule was provided by lawyers much less often after the reforms than prior to the reforms.

- Parents who contributed jointly to decisions about their child were more likely than other parents to indicate full compliance in providing child support payments.

- Total court filings in children’s matters have declined

- The majority of parents in shared care-time arrangements reported that the reforms worked well for them and for their children.

Although areas for improvement were found the overall thrust of the report indicated it was working. The Family Relationship Centres were available to help in many cases and particularly those in high conflict. The evaluation report itself, all 405 pages, can be downloaded here. http://www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/fle/evaluationreport.pdf

@Infosaturated It appears you are as misinformed as Kheiriddin and can manage to create stats right out of thin air. These magical powers are a regular feature in feminist discourse. "The grand majority of men do not even request custody, 90% I believe all thought that may have changed. In cases where men do request custody they are successful in about 50% of the cases"

You must live in a rabbit hole with Alice to be able to dream these things up. I won't deal with your other silliness as i don't want to waste my time but here's something to chew on.

Contested Custody Claims in Canada

According to a report by the Canadian Department of Justice (1) less than 4% of divorces are finalized by a contested hearing in Canada. In contested cases (where there is a counter-petition or trial), 75% result in sole maternal custody and only 8% in sole paternal custody.

The above information is from an article by Jane Pulkingham in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, Vol 9, #2, Fall 1994, p.73-97.

According to StatsCan mom gets 90% of physical custody in Canada. Dad gets 8% and the other 2% may well be shared care or other family. The rest of your observations are just as suspect.

Read more: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/06/15/tasha-kheiriddin-sometimes-unequal-works/#ixzz17RpUDW00
11:03 AM on June 16, 2010
This comment is hidden because you have chosen to ignore MikeMurphy. Show DetailsHide Details
"Those include the right to have a relationship with both parents, but also to have his or her developmental needs respected. As a parent, that is my only concern."

You show incredible naivette and still imbue your comments with maternal (gender) supremacy. Why not have dad take care of the child in infancy, where he is agreeable and you be the visitor. I thought so. You have the "boobs" you say and that is all the courts use in deciding custody.

As soon as a dad agrees to your course of action he has defacto given up any rights he might have thought he had to be a legal parent unless mom agrees to equal parenting outside of court. Will you do this when she meets your approved age of development? The longer your plan goes on and the child has little contact with dad the more likely the courts will believe your nonsense about attachment and developmental needs. It is a self fulfilling prophecy,

A child needs both parents to develop fully. The father of the child has been sold a bill of goods and any loving biological father who would fall for your line of thinking is deserving of only being a visitor. He obviously has other priorities higher than his child. Its rather sad for your daughter and its her loss, not yours.

Your feminist training in law school has done its work. No doubt some of what you were taught involved feminists sycophants like Peter Jaffe. Your daughter will be less of the adult she could be by your very selfish attitude. Bill C-422 is an effort to level the playing field but as long as we have Maternal Supremacists like you the road for equality for fathers will be long and hard.

Anything of yours I read in the future will be coloured by this thought process which is not in the best interest of children. Your mythological presumptions are not supported by the most recent research. Men and women are different and bring to the table different skills to rearing a child. To suggest one is superior is to think much like people who believe certain racial types are more superior than others. Both are abhorrent concepts.


What Tasha can't see because of her Maternal filters and training in law school is most parents when approaching custody from a non-adversarial level playing field will work out what is best for the child. Infants will be a small proportion of children involved but when they are most parents treated equally and knowing they will not be losing anything through such deliberations will, if breast feeding is involved, do whats best for the child.

I have an advantage in knowing what we men are capable of in nurturing children because I was a full time stay-at-home parent from infancy for 10 years and I don't have boobs. (My 11 year old does describe them as "man boobs" cause I've gained a little weight.) I write from a perspective of a male whose been there done that and I am as equal as any mom , man boobs or not.

Its the adversarial and current entitlement system that is a large part of the problem and is supported by the lawyers. C-422 will help to diminish that and truly work out best interests. Most reasonable people can surmise that if Bar Associations oppose a certain law, that law just may have some merit. These lawyer associations are no more than self interested lobby groups looking out for the best interest of their members not parents or children. They currently make, on average, $25K per client in a divorce action. They do not want to see that reduced. Fortunately for parents there are lawyers out there who do see the imbalance in the current winner take all arena called family court and are working to change it.

Read more: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/06/16/tasha-kheiriddin-sometimes-unequal-works-part-ii/#ixzz17Rq4X7UC

 

Tasha Kheiriddin: ‘Equal shared parenting’ law doesn’t put kids first


  

On March 25, Bill C-560 goes to second reading before the House of Commons. The private member’s bill, moved by Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, would amend the Divorce Act and related statutes to make equal shared parenting (ESP) the law in Canada. In Wednesday’s paper, my fellow columnist Barbara Kay wrote a spirited defence of the legislation, primarily because she says it is in the interests of children. While the bill is well-intentioned, and with the greatest respect for Ms. Kay, I must disagree.

ESP does not put kids first. According to a report by the Australian government on its shared parenting laws, legal professionals found that ESP led to a prioritization of parents’ rights over those of their children. In the words of one Australian lawyer, “I often get a lot of twisting of reading the Act. So, ‘It’s my child’s rights to spend 50–50 with me’. … [W]hat the parents want, gets twisted into children’s rights, which is not what the Act is actually saying.”
Here in Canada, Bill C-560 would create a legal presumption that “allocating parenting time equally between the spouses is in the best interests of a child.” This could be “rebutted if it is established that the best interests of the child would be substantially enhanced by allocating [time] other than equally.” Ms. Kay writes that this creates a “steep but not insurmountable hill” for those desiring “primary parent” status.
But why should a parent have to climb that hill, if he or she already is the primary parent in terms of hands-on care? The other parent may work more hours, not because he or she loves the children any less, but based on financial need, personal preference or parenting ability. To assume that this division of labour will, and should, suddenly be equally shared after divorce is absurd. The parent who has been at the office until 8 p.m. cannot suddenly be there for a 3:30 p.m. pick-up. The parent who does not enjoy caring for a toddler will not suddenly become Mary Poppins. And it is the kids who would suffer as a result.
Instead of saying, as Bill C-560 does, that “every child has the right to know and be cared for by both parents,” why not add the words “to the best of their ability”? As they do now, courts should evaluate each case on the individual facts, instead of starting from a false presumption that parents can and should parent “equally.”
Bill C-560 also fails the interests of children when it comes to age. Shared custody arrangements can cause young children to fail to form stable attachments to both primary and secondary caregivers. A University of Virginia study published last year in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that 43% of babies with weekly overnight visits to the other parent were insecurely attached to their mothers, compared to 16% with less frequent overnights. In the words of research advisor Robert Emery, “I would like infants and toddlers to be securely attached to two parents, but I am more worried about them being securely attached to zero parents.”
Instead of assuming ESP is best at all ages, why not endorse — as the Virginia study and many others do — a graduated approach? Get to 50-50 parenting over time. Currently, many parents will demand ESP because once a pattern of care is established, courts are reluctant to change it. Courts should instead be directed to order progression and review at regular intervals, to respect kids’ developmental needs.
Why not require recipients to file expense reports on a regular basis? This would reassure the payor that payments are actually going to support the kids
Then there’s money. The paradox for separating parents is that the less time they have with their kids, the more support they usually pay. ESP can mean less, or even no, support payments. Regrettably, even if parents don’t want or can’t handle 50-50 time with their children, they may seek it for financial reasons — or to ensure that they, not the other parent, controls the money spent on their children.
For this, there is also a solution: Make the support recipient financially accountable. While parents must file a budget during the separation or divorce process, there is no post-split follow-up. Why not require recipients to file expense reports on a regular basis? This would reassure the payor that payments are actually going to support the kids.
In short, ESP throws the baby out with the bathwater, while neither serving the best interests of children nor resolving key sticking points in separation and divorce. Here’s hoping that our MPs recognize this, and either amend or reject Bill C-560.
National Post

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