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Political Issues This forum is for discussing the political aspects of divorce: reform to divorce laws, men's rights, women's rights, injustices in the divorce system, etc.

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Old 06-29-2006, 08:54 AM
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Default What is fair in Child Custody?

I thought I would start a thread to learn about what everyone believes would be fair in a custody dispute.

a) Some believe that if shared parenting were mandatory there would be no more custody battles.
b) Some people believe that shared parenting doesn't exist in most marriages so it's hypocritical to want shared parenting when a divorce occurs.
c) Some people believe that mediation should be mandatory in custody disputes.
d) Some people believe family violence occurs in the majority of custody disputes therefore mediation and shared parenting shouldn't be mandatory.
e) Some people believe that access denial isn't real.
f) Some people believe that the real problem is fathers who don't exercise access to their kids.
g) Some people believe fathers want shared parenting to get out of child support.
h) Some people believe that mothers oppose shared parenting so they can collect child support.
i) Some people believe that lawyers are the reason for divorce conflict.
j) Some people believe that you can't legislate human behavior so it would be unwise to tinker with custody/access laws.


I could go on...

So, this begs some questions:

If my points are what occur every day in the family law system - what is fair and how do you make that determination? What is in the best interests of the children? How can you take two parents who dislike and do not trust each other and get them to cooperate? Can this be done by legislation? Is the argument that mandatory shared parenting will eliminate all the problems? Should we continue with the existing system? Are our communities doing enough to support people?

I am bringing these questions up because if a perfect system were ever to exist, there has to be agreement on what it looks like. So what does it look like to you?
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:39 AM
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Good questions..none of which are easy to answer As I sit here and think about this I keep coming up with 'what if', shared parenting would be ideal but what if one of the parents is an abuser or is neglectful?

Perhaps mandatory mediation and 'divorce counselling' would go a long way in helping couples seperate issues of divorce from issues of custody. I think 'most' times (not all of course) custody fights are fueled on anger and hurt stemming from divorce, by either one or both parties.

I also think that a persons conduct while trying to resolve these issues should be viewed with more importance, a person withholding support or access from the other parent is not doing that in the best interest of the children. As many of us know many of the affidavits filed in the courts today could be sold in the fiction section of book stores! I think the courts need to look closely at this, as so often these documents are put in the system freely and with no consequences if they are full of untruths.

I think it might also be helpful if the courts considered what each parent is doing to help foster and encourage the relationship with the other parent. Sure maybe he or she was a lousy husband or wife..but it doesn't have a whole lot to do with what kind of parent they 'can' be. If we were truly intereseted in whats best for the children we would do what we could to encourage the other parent to be more involved and take an active role in the lives of their children.

I think with the way that the system is today it encourages a parent to do their best to show how horrible a parent the other is, when perhaps they should be looking at how good of a parent they are themselves. The finger pointing has got to stop, except in cases that are truly warrented. There should be an expectation of high standard of behaviour and values and ethics placed upon parents because you are the role model of your children, what you do and say are lessons kids absorb and take with them for the rest of their lives. The children are our future society and all to often they are being warped by their parents' behaviour and issues.

I also believe that there must be some kind of system in place that makes both parents self sufficient financially. I think this would also go a very long way in reducing a lot of tension and fights between parents.

I dunno..those are some of the thoughts I have..it is a very difficult thing to unravel and I don't envy those who have to try and 'fix' it.

Very interesting question though Sean..I hope many people read it and ponder it awhile..I know its made me mindful of my own circumstances.

Jlalex
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Old 06-29-2006, 10:41 AM
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To me, one of the biggest fundemental flaws in the SYSTEM is the fact each parent and child must go into court and create their rights.

I don't mind enforcing my rights becuase people are savages, but I really don't like this system of creating rights. Very costly and immediately begins the road to complete hatred of the other parent. Even the charter of rights of freedoms do not protect children of divorce or children of subsequent marriages. Brutal.
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Old 06-29-2006, 10:46 AM
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Decent Dad -

You bring up an interesting point about rights. Do you (and others) think that there is too much emphasis on parental rights versus children's rights? What would happen if we had a family law system that utterly refused to hear a word about parent's rights?
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Old 06-29-2006, 11:24 AM
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I have lost count on the number of times I walked out of the courtroom and said "No one talked about the child and their rights, feelings, etc". My ex and her lawyer would spend hours about my poor parenting, discuss 1 of 100 lies from her affidavit, claim poverty, and so on. Yet no one talked about the child (well, expect me when I could as the defendent).

That is when it struck me: it is not about the child's rights, emotional well being, their stability, good and equal contact with each parent. It is about punishment, revenge, and money. Money... money... money.

I still cannot believe the punishment on children of divorce that our laws inflict. "tender years" "best interests" "approximation rules"... what the hell are they thinking?
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Old 06-29-2006, 12:00 PM
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But if the lawyers are arguing those points, who instructed the lawyers to do it? You are right, the emphasis is on parental rights and parental fitness.
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Old 06-29-2006, 12:07 PM
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I think we can all agree that there are many cases where a client gets very caught up in what is going on and relies on their lawyer's instruction. Parents need to be clear in what exactly they want their lawyer to argue. After all, they are paying their counsel to represent them.

That's easier said than done when you're in the middle of a messy court battle, but it's best if clients know exactly what they want, and make sure their counsel knows too.
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Old 06-29-2006, 12:22 PM
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Lindsay and Sean, you brought up some good points about instructing lawyers and who is running the show, etc. I immediately blamed my ex's lawyer for things going "south" after he was brought in to review our mediated agreements. Medation was quickly scrapped and off to years of court we go. So it didn't take too much to connect the dots.

But, as with accountants, lawyers do what you basically instruct them to do. And there are "bad" lawyers who fuel the fire as well. If the term "ambulance chaser" ever applied, that would apply to my ex's lawyer based all the events over the years. Sad for everyone that all my support I gave the ex went to his web site and new office. Still, it was my ex running the show.

So, a vindictive client and a lawyer with his hand out. What a toxic combination for everyone, especially the child.
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Old 06-30-2006, 10:14 AM
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One of the comments in the original post said that some believe fathers want shared custody to reduce child support.

In my case, I've been in a shared custody regime for over two years. In the first year, I paid full table amount for two kids because ex had no job. In the second year I paid full table amount because ex was "training". And now, I pay the same as last year because table amounts went up and ex made only $10k. Or at lease that's what was reported. On top of that, I have maintain a home suitable in size for the kids and a full set of clothes/bedrooms/food/vehicle etc.

It would be less expensive for me - much less - to abandon the shared parenting regime and just pay full table amounts. Shared parenting is more expensive than sole custody - at least in my case.
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Old 06-30-2006, 10:20 AM
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Absolutely shared parenting is more expensive than a sole custody regime, I think the argument has long been that the guidelines act as a disincentive for shared parenting to occur. Either way you cut it, you are taking the incomes of two parents that went to adminster the cost of running one home during a marriage and spending it to run two homes when a divorce happens.
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