Based on an article in Psychology Today on July 28, 2014

Editorial by Robert Kirwan

An international conference on shared parenting has come up with six consensus statements that should shake up family court judges and put an end to the shameful practice of many divorce lawyers across this country.

Of the six consensus statements, the one that stands out the most is, "There is a consensus that shared parenting is a viable post-divorce parenting arrangement that is optimal to child development and well-being, including for children of high conflict parents.

Soon family court judges will no longer be able to justify awarding sole custody to one parent for discretionary reasons, even in high conflict situations. Soon we will see law suits being filed against judges who will no longer be able to hide under their robes after making rulings that end up being detrimental to the long-term well-being of children. And if judges are still protected from action, then you can expect the Ministry of the Attorney General to be taken to court over the actions of their appointees.

If you have every been involved with family court, or if you know anyone in your family or in your network of friends, read the article that follows and see what experts from around the world are saying about shared parenting.

Marcel Lemieux About time someone speaks out

Valerie Kirwan The whole system is broken and corrupt. These judges have to start being held accountable for their lack of common sense, and start putting the welfare of the children before anything else. Times have changed, and so should custody decisions.

Christina D'Aoust Not ideal for every situation but would definitely help the parents who desperately want to be involved with their child but have been refused because of a bitter ex and judge.

Jeanne Paquette But when there is a history of drug abuse & violence, and lack of interest for years should that not be considered? Be very careful what you wish for as children do not deserve to be exposed to toxic situations just because the other parent wants to strike out at you.

Robert T. Kirwan I'm not sure if you read the article, Jeanne. One of the consensus statements is as follows:
"There is a consensus that the above apply to the majority of children and families, including high conflict families, but not to situations of substantiated family violence and child abuse. There is a consensus that the priority for further research on shared parenting should focus on the intersection of child custody and family violence, including child maltreatment in all its forms, including parental alienation."
Notice that the maltreatment of children includes parental alienation, which is, in my opinion, one of the most despicable forms of child abuse. Parents who do not get along should not be allowed to use the children as weapons against each other.

Dale McCarthy Boy do I have a story to tell about the family law corruption here in Sudbury. It has nothing to do with the best interests of the children and everything to do with the best interests of the lawyers and the judges.

Valerie Kirwan Sadly Dale, it's like this everywhere around the world. Judges have archaic thinking that only the person who gave birth to the children, are able to be a parent. As soon as the word Divorce is mentioned, fathers (the majority of the time) are suddenly told they have no rights, they have to stop loving their children, if lucky they get to see their kids 4 days a month, and are told to get on with their lives...but oh, we WILL take your money each month even though we won't let you see your children!! Children going through a divorce have their little lives ripped apart. They still need stability and to know both dad and mom love them, regardless if dad/mom can stand each other. To have some judge, who only cares about prolonging the process to make more money for the lawyers and assuring they themselves have a job to go too, rip one of their loving parents out of their lives, is beyond cruel. If both parents wants to be involved in their children's lives, then why should some judge have the authority to say NO, we only want your money. Why is it that any lie a "mother" tells the courts, is believed, while the father has to fight tooth and nail to prove he is indeed a loving parent? The Family Court system is screwing up generations of children who grow into adults who feel abandoned, unloved and unable to trust anyone. It's the only court system where fathers (again, the majority of the time) are assumed guilty before even walking into a court room, then you have to spend months/years trying to prove that you are a loving parent and are not guilty of the false allegations that are so easily thrown around by mothers, and believed by judges. It's time judges started thinking and having common sense.

Dale McCarthy Wow, Valerie! Do you want to write my story lol? I saved everything.

I had multiple judges lie to my face and manipulate the process. I have proof of a lawyer lying to the court. I have proof of my ex lying on the stand. None of it mattered in the decision process.

My kids have asked to spend more time with me. I tell them they need to use their words and ask their mother. They tell me they do and she does nothing.

I could go on and on, but it hurts too much.

Robert T. Kirwan We do acknowledge that this same situation does happen in reverse, where the children are prevented from being with their mother, but in any event, Judges seem to think that the children are better off being with one parent the majority of the time instead of always being passed back and forth between parents. That pre-historic approach to custody and access must be abolished and if it means removing some of the old-school judges from the bench, then so be it. The thing is that children have a right to spend equal time with each parent. They should not be denied that right because some judge thinks it might be better to let them spend more time with one of the parents than the other, out of convenience or out of some arbitrary decision. Even if the parents are in a toxic relationship, that doesn't mean that the parents love their children any less. The relationship with the parents is all that should matter and unless there is some history of abuse or violence "against the children", then that is how it should be decided.

Valerie Kirwan Dale, you and our son could be twins with your stories :( Family Courts are full of lies, manipulations, threats...and these are from the lawyers and judges! It's all about money and how they can prolong each case in order to line their own pockets. It has nothing to do with the children :( And if there happens to be any Divorce lawyers or family court judges out there reading this thread, I challenge you to prove I'm wrong. I'd love to hear why fathers (majority of the time) are second class citizens and why you think children don't need them in their lives, especially when there is no proof/evidence of abuse or violence. I'm talking about honest, loving, compassionate men who have a right to be involved in their children's lives, and want to be. Stop painting all fathers with the same brush as deadbeat fathers are painted with.

Jeanne Paquette Yes I read the article & I recently attended family court. I was appaled at statements made by the presiding judge. This judge stated that violence & drug abuse is not/should not be considered for access/visitation & does not believe in supervised access. Lawyers & representative for the Genevra House told us later that this judge's comments &decisions depend on the kind of day he's having. I would prefer this child to feel abandoned than exposed to drug & violence. In the last year I have seen too many situations where access to children have been granted to known drug users & the responsible parent still trying to protect the child (be it father or mother). I agree responsible parents should both have equal access/rights depending on how involved they were with the child prior to separation. I don't believe a parent who was not involved prior is sincere in being involved after or when the child is old enough to fend for themselves.

Robert T. Kirwan The consensus is that unless there is "substantiated" family violence and child abuse, shared parenting should be considered as an optimal arrangement for the majority of children of divorce. It is in the best interests of the children and is within their constitutional rights to be raised by both parents if both parents want to raise their children and they have the capacity. The problem with the Family Law system today is that many allegations of violence and/or drug use are unsubstantiated and are mere allegations with no evidence. A judge who issues an order for sole custody and minimal access for one of the parents without any evidence to support the allegations is doing the children an injustice. There are too many unethical lawyers in practice today who use false allegations to establish a defacto custodial or temporary custodial situation and then prolong the case for two or three years so that they can claim that it would not be in the best interests of the children to change the custodial and access schedule. And with so few divorce cases ever getting to trial (less than 4% of all divorce cases actually go to trial) many temporary orders force one of the parents to succumb to the financial and emotional pressures by agreeing to a settlement agreement that is blatantly unfair and unjustified just so that the parent can start seeing the children again and get on with his/her life. If every case went immediately to trial then evidence would have to be put forward and there would be no room for any false allegations.

Valerie Kirwan Judges should realize, that if children can get "used to" not having both parents around after a divorce, then they can get "used to" having the other loving parent come back into their lives, regardless of how many years the alienating parent has had them to themselves.


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