Request for meaningful relationships with our children

Justice Minded readers are encouraged to help promote justice by participating in a mail campaign to put public pressure against the MP's of Canada and Request for meaningful relationships with our children for all Canadian parents or families.

Please help by joining in with other Justice Minded citizens.  Readers are encouraged to share this letter with friends and neighbours. 

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- - - Current letter:

In the context of the federal responsibility for divorce, the word “meaningful” is of great importance to parents and their children.
In May 2015, Justice Minister McKay said, “the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that, in the event of a marital breakdown, both parents maintain a meaningful relationship with their children, unless it is clearly demonstrated not to be in the best interests of the children.” We hope that you agree with this promise and can state your agreement in a reply to us, so that we can inform parents of your position.

This raises the question of determining what “meaningful” means in this context and here is where parents need your help. “Meaningful” is not defined in the Divorce Act. Nor is the term “best interests”. Thus, these can, and are, interpreted in any way that is in the interests of those who profit from the current adversarial system. Social science suggests that to be meaningful, or to have the best outcomes for children of divorce, that each parent needs to have 30-50% of parenting time, and the greatest benefits result the closer that figure is to 50%.

Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell, in his 2014 report on family law entitled “Meaningful Change for Family Justice” says the current law is “inadequate” and “failing” and while family law practice “looks different”, it needs a “fundamental overhaul”. Solutions are known and the recommendations gather dust in endless reports over the last 25 years. The report says “concrete action” and “full implementation” of “consensual decision-making” are needed as changes to law and practice.
None of the recommendations of the 1998 Joint Parliament Committee on Child Custody have been implemented. Parents have been waiting 16 years for meaningful change in law and practice.

To be meaningful, a parenting relationship must be looked at from the standpoint of the parent and the child. Real change in the law is needed to keep meaningful relationships between divorcing parents and their children. Do you agree? More importantly, can you speak out and say this to Canadians?
The current federal divorce system is disadvantaging a lot of Canadians, along with their children, according to Social Science research. This research, some of which is referenced in Dr. Edward Kruk’s “Equal parenting Presumption” shows substantially poorer mental and physical health for those who are exploited by the current adversarial system, compared to intact families and shared parenting families.

Dr. Kruk and 109 other social scientists signed a statement that the researcher shows that equal shared parenting is in children’s best interests.
We believe that the current adversarial system of family law drives many of the disadvantages of children of “lone parent families” –poverty, health, educational and relationship skills problems. Please speak out on behalf of divorced parents and their children. Here are a few suggested points in that regard:

• Family law in Canada needs some form of the “Hippocratic Oath” for example, “first, do no harm” which means not removing a parent unless there is clear evidence that a parent is unfit to reasonable standards. Can you write to Justice Minister Peter MacKay and ask that he consider such a change in the law and practice?

• Canada has made a commitment under the UN Children’s Rights Convention to protect children’s relationships with both parents. Will you press the government for meaningful responsibility ensured in the law to protect the child’s right to parenting by both parents after family separation?

• Middle class parents and most other Canadians cannot afford the current family law system, which is financially inaccessible, too adversarial, too arbitrary and unsustainable. Will you support changing the law to a consensual, conflict resolution basis?

• The reality is that a divorcing woman has a better chance of keeping custody of her children in Iran than a father does in Canada. Surely it is Parliament’s responsibility to fix this!

If there is any opportunity to present a reasonable policy on divorce act reforms to the you or Parliament, we would ask that we be allowed to present such a policy for a hearing.

Thank you for your time and attention to this important issue.

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