Ruling a big red flag for men
Calgary Sun, By MINDELLE JACOBS, Sat, February 5, 2005
If men knew more about family law, they'd run screaming from single mothers prowling for relationships and father figures for their children.
Any lawyer will tell you that the nature of your relationship with a child - not biology - determines whether you're on the hook for child support.
Sperm has nothing to do with it, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled a few years ago.
And that's unfortunate for Justin Sumner, who married a woman thinking he'd fathered her daughter and is now stuck paying child support even though a DNA test proved he's not the dad.
Little Rhylee was born in August 2001, Justin and Dawn were married a year later and the couple separated about a year after that. They are now divorced.
As Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sterling Sanderman put it in his recent ruling: "Marriages are entered into casually and dissolved whimsically."
But your obligations to stepchildren continue, deadbeat biological dads notwithstanding.
One way men can possibly protect themselves from gold-digging single moms is to draw up a co-habitation agreement stating they have no intention of taking on a parental role, says Edmonton family lawyer Michelle Mackay.
"It may stand up in court. It may not," she says, adding the Supreme Court's 1999 decision placed the interests of the child first.
The high court was quite clear on that point. "Once a person is found to stand in the place of a parent, that relationship cannot be unilaterally withdrawn by the adult," the court stated.
It noted that sometimes men, and occasionally women, use kids as pawns to further relationships and then once the couple splits up, the children are abandoned.
"This is not to be encouraged," the court said, quoting a previous ruling. "If relationships are more difficult for a person to extricate him- or herself from then, perhaps, more children will be spared the trauma of rejection, bruised self-image and loss of financial support."
A stepdad being sued for child support can also try to get a judge to go after the biological father, says Mackay.
In fact, in the Sumner case, Sanderman ripped into Dawn, 33, for pursuing Justin for child support instead of the man who actually fathered her children because Justin had more money.
Dawn considered her previous lover, who also fathered her older child, as no more th.an "a surrogate donor," noted Sanderman.
"This is a matter that is merely about money," he added.
The case is no surprise to the men who have already been ordered to support other men's kids.
But it should be a red flag to other men contemplating moving in with single moms. Relationships rarely last long these days. Obligations, however, are not so easily shrugged off.
Justin has one consolation. Sanderman cut his child support payments in half, ordering the biological dad to pay the other half.
Yet, if Dawn was greedy, Justin was wilfully blind. Prior to the marriage, they split up a couple of times.
It was during one of these breakups that Dawn slept with her old lover and became pregnant. You'd think he would have been suspicious of the paternity of the child. Instead, he believed what he wanted to believe. Now he's paying the consequences.
The so-called in loco parentis (standing in place of a parent) doctrine is a "creature of 19th-century patriarchy," the Supreme Court observed. "It evolved during a time when it was a morally offensive notion for a man to be held responsible for another man's child."
The pendulum has now swung in the other direction. Men, hand over your wallets.
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 ..
Mom's death dance
SHE PARTIED AS DAUGHTER LEFT TO DIE IN HEAT
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 ..
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.
Woman convicted of killing 3 kids after custody battle
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, USA, August 26, 2008
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.
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.
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 ..
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, 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.