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Equal shared parenting a real gamble
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.
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Greetings from New Zealand – Go hard toward **Preferential Equal Shared Parenting**
Its BEST for the Kids to be cared for by Mum, Dad and all 4 Grand Parents leading toward them being valued by their **Whole Natural Biological FAMILY** married, together or not.
Great to see some Canadians who are influential GLOBALLY commenting here to expose this sarcastic article that lacks depth.
Equal Parenting @ Ration Shed BLOG
Onward – Jim
Jim Bailey – JimBWarrior, August 26th 2009, 12:48am
Onward – Javan and his 24X7 Dad since 16Aug09 – Jim Bailey – Story bottom LINK
WINZ – NZ Social Welfare – Destroyed our FAMILY Court Ordered **Equal Parenting**
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