Virtual Library of Newspaper Articles

Court says mother can move with son

The Ottawa Citizen, Cristin Schmitz, Saturday, November 23, 2002

Earl Creighton, like many separated fathers, tries to be there for Robert, his six-year-old son. He takes him to swimming lessons, reads to him, and visits the boy several times a week.

That close relationship will change as a result of an Ontario Court of Appeal decision this week that permits Mr. Creighton's ex-common-law partner, Charlotte Bjornson, who has sole custody of Robert, to move their son 3,000 kilometres from Waterloo, Ont. to Calgary.

Ms. Bjornson asked the court to let her return to Alberta where she has family support and can resume a nursing career with 12-years' seniority that she interrupted when she moved to set up house with Mr. Creighton in 1996.

In a unanimous judgment Tuesday that will help custodial parents (usually mothers) who want to move with their children over the objections of non-custodial parents (usually fathers), the appeal court overturned a trial judge who had refused to permit Ms. Bjornson to move Robert because it was in the child's best interests "that he continue to have a close and loving relationship with each of his parents."

The court held that the lower court over-emphasized the child's frequent contact with his father while not placing enough weight on the child's right to live with a "well-functioning and happy custodial parent."

The trial judge failed to give "due regard to the relationship between the quality of the custodial parent's emotional, psychological, social and economic well-being, and the quality of the child's primary care-giving environment," justices Allan Austin, Karen Weiler and John Laskin ruled.

The appeal court stressed the integral relationship between a child's best interests and the emotional and economic welfare of that child's primary caregiver.

Disputes over "parental mobility" are a fast-growing area of litigation since many custodial parents typically wish to move so they can join new partners, or because they (or their new partners) have new jobs and/or better economic prospects elsewhere. "These are the largest single group of contested custody cases," said University of Dalhousie law professor Rollie Thompson of Halifax. "These are cases that we can't settle quite often."

According to Ms. Bjornson's lawyer, Deidre Smith of Toronto, "the court is saying the child spends most of its time with its custodial parent, and protecting the environment in which the child is parented is Read More .. important than protecting the amount of time that a child spends with an access parent."

Non-custodial parents will now find it harder to successfully oppose their children's relocation, she predicted.

Mr. Thompson said that in recent years many trial judges have refused to allow mothers to move children away from their fathers, citing the Divorce Act's "maximum contact" principle which says children should have as much contact with each parent as is in their best interests.
 "This is four cases in a row from the Ontario Court of Appeal in which they said a mother may move despite the fact that the lower court said 'no'," Mr. Thompson said.

Mr. Creighton's lawyer, Anthony Keller of Waterloo, said his client "is devastated by the decision."

"The court appears to have based its decision largely on the welfare of the mother," he said. The judgment leaves Mr. Creighton with a hefty legal bill. In addition to his $27,000 in legal costs for defending Ms. Bjornson's appeal, the court ordered him to pay her costs of $23,000.
 The court of appeal said Ms. Bjornson had only been able to find part-time work as a nurse -- she has since found a full-time job -- with irregular hours, in the Waterloo area. This had left her financially dependent on Mr. Creighton. The psychological, financial and other benefits of the move included improving her hours of work so she could spend Read More with Robert.

"In this case, the child's best interests are better served and better achieved by a well-functioning and happy custodial parent operating at her full potential," Justice Austin held.
 "She also does not have the support of her friends and family which is beneficial, if not crucial, to raising a child as a single parent."

Copyright 2002 The Ottawa Citizen

Orlando Sentinel

Study denouncing fathers sends danger signals

By Kathleen Parker, The Orlando Sentinel, USA, on July 18, 1999

Now is the time for all good fathers to come to the aid of the family.

But you'd better hurry; your days are numbered. In fact, if you happen to be a heterosexual male (further doomed by Caucasian pigmentation), your days are already over, according to a cover article in the June issue of American Psychologist, published by the American Psychological Association.

In their article, "Deconstructing the Essential Father," researchers Louise B. Silverstein and Carl F. Auerbach challenge one of the core institutions of our culture -- fatherhood. Read More .. less, fathers, as we've known and loved them, are obsolete.

The article makes numerous breathtaking assertions, but basically the researchers state that fathers aren't essential to the well-being of children Read More ...

REPORT: Children Need Dads Too: Children with fathers in prison

Quakers United Nations Office
July 2009

Children are heavily impacted by parental imprisonment and greater attention should be given to their rights, needs and welfare in criminal justice policy and practice. Due to a variety of reasons such as mothers often being the primary or sole carer of children, complicated care arrangements, the likelihood of women prisoners being greater distances from home and a host of factors explored in detail in other QUNO publications, maternal imprisonment can be more damaging for children than paternal imprisonment. However, it is important not to underestimate the damage that paternal imprisonment can have on children.

Children with incarcerated fathers experience many of the same problems as those with incarcerated mothers, including coping with loss, environmental disruption, poverty, stigmatisation, health problems and all of the difficulties involved in visiting a parent in prison. It appears that there are also some difficulties specifically associated with paternal imprisonment, such as a higher risk of juvenile delinquency and strained relationships between the mother and child.

The numbers of children separated from their fathers due to imprisonment is far higher than those separated from their mothers due to the vast majority of prisoners being men (globally over 90 per cent of prisoners are male. To ignore this group would, therefore, be to neglect the vast majority of children affected by parental imprisonment.    Read More ..

USA_Today logo

Hammering it home: Daughters need dads

USA TODAY, June 10, 2003

It's widely recognized that boys benefit from having dads around as role models and teachers about manhood.

But does having a father at home make much difference for girls?

But even in affluent families, girls become sexually active and pregnant earlier if they don't live with fathers, according to the largest and longest-term study on the problem. It was released in May.

Compared with daughters from two-parent homes, a girl is about five times more likely to have had sex by age 16 if her dad left before she was 6 and twice as likely if she stops living with her dad at 6 or older.

The study of 762 girls for 13 years took into account many factors that could lead to early sex, says Duke University psychologist Kenneth Dodge, the study's co-author. Still, there was an independent link between teenage sex and girls not living with their biological fathers.  Read More ..

Divorced Dads:
Shattering the Myths

Dr. Sandford L. Braver and Diane O'Connell

picture book Divorced dads: Shattering the Myths

This is the result of the largest federally funded 8 year study of the issues confronting parents and their children in the United States.

Shattering the Myths. The surprising truth about fathers, children and divorce. Read More ..

Sydney Morning Herald

Children seeing more of their fathers after divorce

The Sydney Morning Herald
February 3, 2005

Divorced fathers are Read More ..volved in their children's lives than conventional wisdom would have it, a new study shows.

It shows surprisingly varied and flexible care patterns among separated families, with "every other Saturday" contact giving way to Read More ..ild-focused arrangements.

Australian Institute of Family Studies research fellow Bruce Smyth has produced the first detailed snapshot of parent-child contact after divorce anywhere in the world. Published today in the institute's journal Family Matters, the analysis has implications for children's emotional and financial wellbeing.

Other research indicates children of separated families do best when they have multifaceted relationships, including sleepovers, sharing meals and doing schoolwork, with both parents.   Read More ..


Fathers 'have key role with children' after families split

The Telegraph, London, U.K.

Researchers say they found a direct relationship between children's behavioural problems and the amount of contact they had with their natural father.

The effect was more pronounced in single-parent families, particularly where the mother was a teenager. In such cases, children were especially vulnerable emotionally if they had no contact with their father.   Read More ..

Where's Daddy?

The Mythologies behind Custody-Access-Support


When 50 percent of marriages end in divorce and 43 percent of children are left with one parent, everyone is affected: uncles, aunts, grandparents, and friends, but mostly, the children. The devastation from our divorce practices is our most public secret scandal. Everyone whispers it, the whispers never acknowledged. It seems that as long as a villain can be created, society is content.

After three decades of research universally pointing to more productive options, why does Custody-Access-Support remain?  Read More ..

Tallahasse Democrat

Research proves that fatherhood really matters