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MESA's Submissions to the Parliamentary Committee on Custody and Access

Canada has a long history of using the gender of the parent to guide custody decisions. This gender preference is created and led by judges in courtrooms. Yet the evidence does not support one sex having innately superior parenting abilities. In fact, the reliance on gender to determine custody may contribute to negative outcomes for children by failing to provide the best available parent. We have two populations of parents, with equal distributions of parenting skills, but we only select from one of these populations. This leads to outcomes that are not in the best interest of children. In the last decade, this sexism has markedly increased, after judges were taught that women seeking custody were at a disadvantage in the courtroom.

Fathers who wish to parent their children post-divorce today face a situation even more pronounced than women entering the workforce only a few decades ago. Improvements for the children of divorce and their parents CAN be facilitated by some of the following actions:

  • Amending judicial bias seminars to reflect the reality of divorcing fathers. - judges must learn that fathers almost never receive custody in a court of law and that this is not in the best interests of children
  • A program of affirmative action within the judicial system to encourage the awarding of children to fathers.
  • An agency to monitor shared parenting arrangements, with a mandate to balance parenting time and deal with parental alienation. Access denied should be restored two-fold. GENTLE tactics, such as phone calls, monitoring, supervision and counseling should be the tools of choice here.
  • A section added to the divorce act that overtly states that both sexes have equal ability to parent their children post-divorce.
  • A legal action fund to enable fathers to legally challenge their longstanding historical disadvantages in family law.