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Calgary Sun

Scales of justice out of balance

By Grant B. Brown, guest Columnist, June 4, 2007

The Alberta Court of Appeal, in Doe v. Alberta, has called into question decades of jurisprudence from the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) on the obligations of a common-law partner to the children of that partner.

It has also set the stage for what hopefully will be an eventual SCC ruling clarifying exactly who owes what to whom in common law relationships.

The way it stands now, women acquire rights, while men -- even if their female partners want them free of them -- acquire obligations.

John and Jane Doe -- obviously not their real names -- are common-law partners. Jane wanted a child, but John didn't. Nor did he wish to stand in the place of a parent, act as a guardian, or support a child.

Jane was artificially inseminated with another man's sperm, and gave birth. John and Jane want to enter into an express written agreement which would stipulate that John has neither parental rights nor any obligations towards Jane's child.

They sought a declaration of the validity of their agreement, despite the Family Law Act which gives final authority over the issues of parental rights and responsibilities to the Courts.

The courts, so far, have rejected their request. The Alberta Court of Appeal (ACA) stated: "...The "settled intention" to remain in a close, albeit unmarried, relationship thrust John Doe, from a practical and realistic point of view, into the role of parent to this child. Can it seriously be contended that he will ignore the child when it cries? When it needs to be fed ....?

"... a relationship of interdependence with the mother of the child in the same household, of itself, will likely create a relationship of interdependence of some permanence, vis-a-vis the child .... Were it otherwise, one can only imagine the emotional damage visited upon the child ... Going back to the realities, support obligations flow from the choice made by John Doe."

Suppose John Doe were a favoured uncle who lived in the same home as the mother of a newborn. Or suppose he were a renter, or a live-in nanny.

In any of those cases, surely, he would have all the same duties of care for infants in distress that members of society at large have. And nothing more.

FurtherRead More that case, rather than John owing support obligations to the child, Jane might well owe John remuneration for his day-care services.

Why, on the mere basis that John and Jane share a bed, is the flow of entitlement to financial support reversed by the ACA?

This reasoning has been endorsed by no less an authority than the Supreme Court. In Peter v. Beblow, a woman sought compensation from her common-law partner for domestic services rendered to him and his two children.

Although Mr. Beblow provided free room and board for Ms. Peter and her own four children, the SCC determined Peter was entitled to additional compensation. They gave her Beblow's home, free and clear.

The state of the law in Alberta today is that, when a man lives in a relationship of some permanence with the mother of a biologically unrelated child, he acquires support obligations toward that child; but when a woman lives in a relationship of some permanence with the father of a biologically unrelated child, she acquires rights to his property.

The ACA's decision at least has the virtue of being consistent with a long string of family-law cases in Canada which interpret the supposed "mutuality of rights and obligations" arising from these relationships so as to presumptively assign all of the rights to the mothers and all of the obligations to the fathers.

One can only hope the Supreme Court will settle this imbalance.

Copyright © 2006, Canoe Inc. All rights reserved.

Mainichi Daily News| Woman who cut off her newborn son's genitals handed 5-year prison term

Woman who cut off her newborn son's private parts handed 5-year prison term

Mainichi Daily News, Sakai, Osaka, Japan, November 26, 2006

SAKAI, Osaka -- A woman accused of cutting off her newborn son's private parts in 2004 was ordered Monday to spend five years behind bars.

The Sakai branch of the Osaka District Court convicted Shizue Tamura, 27, a resident of Izumi, Osaka Prefecture, of inflicting bodily injury.

"The way she committed the crime was unprecedented, inhumane and cruel," Presiding Judge Masahiro Hosoi said as he handed down the ruling. Prosecutors had demanded an eight-year prison term.  Read More ..

Toronto Sun logo

Mom's death dance


Toronto Sun
September 29, 2004

SINGLE MOM Clara DaSilva admitted yesterday she danced the night away while her 2-year-daughter was dying of dehydration in a sweltering apartment. Tiny toddler Adrianna Maria DaSilva was abandoned for at least 33 hours in a 35C room before her mom discovered her dead on Sept. 9, 2002.

Clara DaSilva, 24, pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Justice David Watt will sentence her shortly after Jan. 17 following a five-day trial with one contested fact -- the allegation that her purse, with keys and cash, was stolen at a club the day of her child's death.   Read More ..

Canadian Press - New Brunswick woman ruled responsible in burning of baby's body

New Brunswick woman ruled responsible in burning of baby's body

ST. STEPHEN, N.B. - A New Brunswick judge says a woman who burned and dismembered her newborn son is criminally responsible for her actions.

Becky Sue Morrow earlier pleaded guilty to offering an indignity to a dead body and disposing of a newborn with the intent of concealing a delivery.

Judge David Walker ruled Friday that the 27-year-old woman may have been suffering from a mental disorder when she delivered the baby but that that was not the case when the baby's body was burned and its remains hidden.

It is not known if the baby was alive at the time of birth.

At a hearing last month, the court heard contrasting reports from the two psychiatrists. One said Ms. Morrow was in a "disassociated" mental state when the crime occurred. The other said she clearly planned her actions and understood the consequences.

Associated Press logo

Woman convicted of killing 3 kids after custody battle


HELSINKI, Finland - A court in Finland has convicted a woman of murdering her three young children and has given her a life sentence.

The Espoo District Court says Thai-born Yu-Hsiu Fu was found guilty of strangling her 8-year-old twin daughters and 1-year-old son in her home.

She tried to kill herself afterward.

The verdict on Tuesday says the 41-year-old woman was found to be of sound mind at the time of the murders.

Court papers show the murders were preceded by a bitter custody battle with her Finnish husband who was living separately from her at the time of the murders.

A life sentence in Finland mean convicts usually serve at least 11 years in prison.

Mothers Who Kill Their Children
Canadian Press - Mother child abuse - sentenced 16 years in jail

Ontario woman convicted of son's starvation death granted full parole

Canadian Press
Wednesday, May. 22, 2002

KINGSTON, Ont. (CP) -- An Ontario woman who was sentenced to 16 years in prison in one of Canada's stiffest penalties for child abuse will be released on full parole after serving less than half her term.

Lorelei Turner, 38, and her husband Steven were convicted of manslaughter in July 1995 for beating and starving their three-year-old son John to death in a case that horrified Canadians who followed the trial.

But on Wednesday, a panel of the National Parole Board in this eastern Ontario city ruled Turner will be released but placed on probation until July 2011.

Until then, she must remain within 25 kilometres of her residence, is not allowed unsupervised contact with anyone under 16, and must continue to receive counselling.

"The board would have looked at the risk and obviously found a low risk to reoffend," Carol Sparling of the National Parole Board said Wednesday.


Yeeda Topham killed her baby son but walks free

Australian Associated Press
December 05, 2008

A WOMAN who killed her infant son by jumping with him from the eighth floor of a city apartment block has walked free after being convicted of manslaughter.

Yeeda Topham, 40, of Roleystone near Perth, had pleaded guilty in the West Australian Supreme Court to a charge of unlawfully killing 21-month-old James Topham on November 5 last year.    Read More ..

Mother Charged with Killing Her Baby

Firefighters Find Baby's Body In Washing Machine

Fire Officials Claim Fire Intentionally Set

NBC4-TV, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

LOS ANGELES, USA -- Murder charges are expected to be filed against a woman whose infant son's body was found in a washing machine after firefighters doused what they say was an intentionally set fire, authorities said Tuesday.

Latunga Starks, 32, was taken into custody last night, according to the Sheriff's Department Web site.

Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Dennis Shirey identified the mother and her nearly 3-month-old son, Michael Kelvin Thompson.

Toronto Sun - Mother found guilty of killing all 4 babies

"Murder in the nursery"
Australian mom killed her 4 babies

TORONTO SUN, May 23, 2003

It seemed a tragic coincidence - at first.

Craig and Kathleen Folbigg's first son died in his sleep at 19 days old. Their next child, Patrick, died two years later at nine months.

Still, it was after their fourth baby died before Australian police suspected something was terribly wrong.

In Sydney's New South Wales State Supreme Court this week, Kathleen Folbigg, 35, was found guilty of killing all four of her babies.

The jury's work would have been made much easier if they had been allowed to read Folbigg's entire secret diary. In it, she practically confesses to following in her dad's deadly footsteps.

"Obviously I am my father's daughter," the Australian woman wrote in her diary Oct. 14, 1996, having already killed three of her four children.

"But I think losing my temper and being frustrated and everything has passed. I now just let things happen and go with the flow. An attitude I should of had with all my children, if given the chance, I'll have it with the next one."

Folbigg was pregnant at the time with her fourth child. She would go on to kill her as well.