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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Time spent with fathers is highly correlated with positive outcomes for children of broken marriages.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin has commissioned a report aimed at overhauling Canada’s family-law system. Its recommendations, which will be officially released later this month, reportedly include strategies for streamlining the legal process, encouraging mediation and reducing litigation.

The report will note that the number of self-representing litigants in family-law cases has climbed to above 70%, largely due to the exorbitant cost of lawyers. That statistic suggests the economic hardship that fractious breakups impose, but not the heartbreaking human costs imposed on parents — especially fathers, who often find the deck stacked against them in court.

Efficiency, reduced costs and diminished litigation are worthy goals in a system notorious for being out of control in all these areas. But a more fundamental reform also is needed: The establishment of equal shared parenting as the default in custody after marriage breakdown.

In most contested cases, mothers are awarded sole — or effectively sole — custody over children, with fathers relegated to the role of visitors, an unsatisfactory situation for them and for their children. Even unlitigated cases are settled “in the shadow of the law” — meaning that fathers often are advised by their lawyers to settle for whatever they can get, as they know the deck would be stacked against them in court.

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An excellent article...

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