When a lobby group is divorced from reality
The Halifax Herald Limited, By Diane LeBlanc, Wednesday, December 16, 1998
MEN'S GROUPS that petitioned government for changes in the laws affecting divorce are "whining, snivelling deflectors," who cannot stand it when women are given even a modicum of control over their lives.
So concluded Patricia Gallagher-Jette of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women last week in Halifax at a news conference, the gist of which, as near as I can figure, is that only women can be victims of injustice.
The news conference was purportedly called so representatives of the four Atlantic councils on the status of women could respond to the work of a joint parliamentary committee on child custody and access.
It felt more like an exercise in male-bashing, with Ms. Gallagher-Jette leading the way, mocking a male reporter, for example, who asked her to quantify "a fact" that "fathers refuse to exercise access far more often than women deny access."
(Just imagine the outcry if a female reporter had been treated in such a condescending manner by a room full of men!)
The council reps did raise some legitimate concerns. I agree, for example, with their claim that laws should not be rewritten to address the minority of Canadians engaged in drawn-out custody battles.
But I don't think that's what the committee suggests in "For the Sake of the Children." And I don't understand how the agencies that speak for Atlantic Canadian women can dismiss carte blanche 48 recommendations largely aimed at improving the lives of our children.
Yet the women who supposedly represent me had to struggle to find one redeeming feature in the report - finally deciding programs that help parents grasp the destructive effects of divorce might be a good thing, but the concept "needs more study and evaluation."
Good grief. In the end, the council officials sounded a little like the cook who complains that no one ever helps prepare dinner but who won't let anyone else in the kitchen.
They argued, for example, that a recent StatsCan survey confirms that women still have the bulk of responsibility for rearing children - in both intact and post-divorce families.
Why, then, should we want to dismiss men who want to be more involved? And why object to such basic dignities as keeping a concerned father advised of his child's medical conditions or progress at school?
"Shared parenting" is not about equal time. It is, as the report says in one place, about helping to "ensure that neither parent is excluded unfairly from fulfilling that obligation."
The status of women councils painted the picture last week as one solely of gender power.
They are missing the boat on this one. Intelligent women realize that the (male-dominated) legal system has consistently awarded women the custody and care of children (about 86 per cent of children of divorce are in the custody of mothers). And many understand that men's groups see these legal precedents as reason to lobby for change in much the same way that women's groups lobbied for better financial support.
If equality is the goal, why not share the "power" we have, to improve the odds for our kids?
The status of women folks say the joint parliamentary committee has taken a simplistic approach to divorce that ignores the role that domestic violence can play. They tout as support the violence-against-women statistic that says one in four Canadian adult women face violence from a male partner in their lifetime. They are overplaying that card. The fact that I dated (and dumped) a loser when I was 23 or 24 makes me part of that rather large statistical group. It's totally irrelevant, however, to this discussion.
Besides, legitimate concerns for safety are best served by recommendations like the one that says any child who refuses to have contact with a parent could be revealing "a significant problem" and should be referred for assessment and possible help. Unsaid but understood: either parent could be harming a child, intentionally or not.
Because - in this case - gender just doesn't matter.
TV Show about Parental Alienation
November 7, 2009
The world of divorce is scary for any child. But when a divorce becomes especially toxic, children can become the target of an unrelenting crusade by one parent to destroy the child's relationship with the other. Experts call it parental alienation.
The New York Times, New York city, U.S.A. August 8, 2004
Not too long ago, Jacqueline Scott Sheid was a pretty typical Upper East Side mother. Divorced and with a young daughter, she had quickly remarried, borne a son, and interrupted her career to stay home with the children while her husband, Xavier Sheid, worked on Wall Street.
Early last year, Mr. Sheid lost his job and saw his only career opportunity in California. But Ms. Sheid's ex-husband, who shares joint legal custody of their daughter, refused to allow the girl to move away. So Ms. Sheid has spent much of the last year using JetBlue to shuttle between her son and husband on the West Coast and her daughter (and ex) on the East.
The New York court system, which she hoped would help her family to resolve the problem, has cost her tens of thousands of dollars in fees for court-appointed experts, she said, and has helped to prolong the process by objecting to her choice of lawyers. Read More ..
Globe and Mail
May 15, 2008
Toronto - A 13-year-old Ontario boy whose domineering father systematically brainwashed him into hating his mother can be flown against his will to a U.S. facility that deprograms children who suffer from parental alienation, an Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled.
Mr. Justice James Turnbull ordered the boy - identified only as LS - into the custody of his mother. He said that the boy urgently needs professional intervention to reverse the father's attempt to poison his mind toward his mother and, in all probability, to women in general. Read More ..
PA News (U.K.), July 3, 2004
A key court decision to grant a father custody of his daughters after the mother flouted contact orders for four years was today welcomed by campaigners.
Fathers 4 Justice said that the High Court ruling was a vital victory and called for more judges to take a similar stance when faced with resistant parents.
The comments come after Mrs Justice Bracewell transferred the residence of two young girls to their father because the mother persistently refused him contact, despite court orders. Read More ..
Courts criticized for recognizing 'parental alienation'
March 27, 2009
Toronto -- The scope of the courts' reach into family affairs has long been contentious, but a recent trend in Canada's legal system has brought a new controversy that has some onlookers praising judges and others condemning them for accepting what they call "voodoo science."
More than ever before, Canada's judges are recognizing that some children of divorced and warring parents are not simply living an unfortunate predicament, but rather are victims of child abuse and suffering from Parental Alienation Syndrome. Read More ..
Rick James Lohstroh, a doctor at UTMB, was fatally shot this summer, apparently by his 10-year-old son.
ABC13 Eyewitness News, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
Dec. 29, 2004
The 10-year-old Katy boy accused of murdering his father this summer is now the face of an unofficial psychiatric disorder that may have lead to his father's death.
Some psychiatrists call it Parental Alienation Syndrome and they say that's why the son killed Doctor Rick Lohstroh last summer. The syndrome is basically caused by a bitter parent who poisons a child against the other parent, usually in cases of divorce. Read More ...
THE CANADIAN BAR ASSOCIATION
L'ASSOCIATION DU BARREAU CANADIEN
May 12, 2009
By Nicholas Bala, Suzanne Hunt & Carrie McCarney
Faculty of Law
Kingston, ON Canada
Alienation cases have been receiving a great deal of public and professional attention in the past few months in Canada. As with so many issues in family law, there are two competing, gendered narratives offered to explain these cases. Men's rights activists claim that mothers alienate children from their fathers as a way of seeking revenge for separation, and argue that judges are gender-biased against fathers in these cases. Feminists tend to dismiss alienation as a fabrication of abusive fathers who are trying to force contact with children who are frightened of them and to control the lives of their abused former partners. While there is some validity to both of these narratives, each also has significant mythical elements. The reality of these cases is often highly complex, with both fathers and mothers bearing significant responsibility for the situation.
Two of the many findings are:
Mothers are twice as likely as fathers to alienate children from the other parent, but this reflects the fact that mothers are more likely to have custody or primary care of their children; in only 2 out of 89 cases was a parent with only access able to alienate a child from the other parent.
Fathers made more than three times as many unsubstantiated claims of parental alienation as mothers, but this too reflects the fact that claims of alienation (substantiated and unsubstantiated) are usually made by access parents, who are usually fathers. Read More ..
Study says such cases should be moved out of court system, handled by individual judges
The Globe and Mail
May 13, 2009
An escalation in parental alienation allegations is draining valuable courtroom resources, a major study of 145 alienation cases between 1989-2008 concludes.
"Access problems and alienation cases - especially those which are more severe - take up a disproportionate amount of judicial time and energy," said the study, conducted by Queen's University law professor Nicholas Bala, a respected family law expert.
"One can ask whether the courts should even be trying to deal with these very challenging cases." Read More ..