The Ontario Court of Justice has jurisdiction over child protection, adoption, custody, access, child support, and spousal support. – See The Numbers 2015 Gender Bias Study of the Family Court Decisions in the Province of British Columbia, Canada. The journal provides comprehensive coverage of family court practice, theory, research, and legal opinion. Madam Justice L’Heureux-Dubé then stated [at para 89]: These comments made by an appellate judge help reinforce the myth that under such circumstances, either the complainant is less worthy of belief, she invited the sexual assault, or her sexual experience signals probable consent to further sexual activity. (2d) 119]. (In the worst cases of “gender bias” the actual facts are not “interpreted”; the facts are actually ignored.). This was when I was on my own after losing my first lawyer because of lack of money. Everyone should be treated equally in the judicial system, but many men believe that the family courts tend to favor females. My talk here this evening consists of what I honestly believe to be fair comment. If you go into court saying you want 50% of your child’s time, without reasoning out why (beyond some notion of equality), you’re going to struggle. More than 500 judges from a state court system (68 percent men, 30 percent women, and 2 percent unidentified) participated in the study in an effort by that court system to address gender bias. Vancouver family lawyer "There is an inherent bias in the system. Another definition, from that same dictionary, cites a meaning within statistics. One dictionary [The New Collins Concise English Dictionary, 1982] defines “gender” as “all the members of one sex”. Fathers in divorce get primary residential custody only 2.5% of the time. The skill with which you present your positions to the public and to policymakers will help to determine whether or not true gender equality and justice for Canadian families will be achieved. (3d) 577, 164 D.L.R. What is “Gender Bias”? Court cases must be decided upon the real evidence and not on myths. I would like to quote from my esteemed colleague, lawyer Carey Linde of Vancouver, B.C. Are we only going to judge ‘on the evidence’ free from stereotypes when it comes to sexual assault, but when we talk of the importance of having fathers intimately involved in their children’s lives shall we permit “myths and stereotypes” to defeat a father’s claim to parent his children in a normal fashion? The trial court judge in the In re JRD case stated on the record that the SPO is “…the standard schedule that every other dad gets.” (emphasis added). After all, it is what’s best for our children and the children of the future, that we all get together and make our laws fair for women and men, mothers and fathers, but mainly for our Sons and Daughters. Her Honour states: “I cannot apply a flawed process which perpetuates a discriminatory practice.” Could such a sentiment … could such a noble and just sentiment be applied in child custody law? We have assisted countless dads in asserting their fathers’ rights in Toronto and throughout Ontario. Mom wanted to limit dad’s contact with the child. My role is to assist women with court processes once they have left abuse. What Justice Johnstone does in this case is this – she jetisons factually incorrect stereotypes with respect to women’s position in the modern day labour market. The application of the contingencies, although in several cases reduce the wage gap, still sanction the disparity. But when men are subject to equally objectionable stereotyping, then this passes as science or common sense. U.F.C)]. I cannot apply a flawed process which perpetuates a discriminatory practice. Note that in my discussion of definition of “gender bias” I do not allude to the passing by Parliament or provincial legislatures of the actual laws themselves. The husband earned approximately $65,000.00; the wife earned less than $20,000.00. Yes, gender bias is a reality in Canada’s courts – and especially in the family courts. The intimidation problem is certainly not restricted to criminal law. Eng. [Shirley M.H. (10) is new and of significant help in the case at bar. I thank you for listening [or reading] and I welcome your questions and comments. These stereotypes and myths have been eagerly and professionally reinforced by radical feminists and a by a media, who like many of us, have feared to question the factual basis behind these stereotypes and myths. The wording of the legislation is gender neutral and provides a number of factors for the court to consider when deciding spousal support. [Many of the sources referred to here have been culled from an excellent paper by Carey Linde: A Case for Fathers and Co-parenting. But most important of all, we will be talking about hope, fairness and our collective ability to make a difference. She received a sentence of only two and one half years. 4 No. But to imply that the belief that one is abused somehow might justify murder or a lesser sentence, certainly smacks of an invitation to all women who are pursuing a custody claim to claim abuse. I would like the media to more objectively report those issues that are important to children and to families. Rather, it reflects the prevailing attitudes and conditions of our society. That father states: The lies that women get away with about Fathers must stop! Any man that has gone through the system will laugh at the suggestion that there is no gender bias. 1, Spring 1994] According to Mr. Linde, data in this paper suggests that there is no distinction between primary and secondary caretaker even before the age of five. For example, in my Child Support Guidelines articles [see my web site as well as Gene C. Colman: Guidelines’ Undue Hardship Produces Conflicting Decisions, Money & Family Law, Vol. Our lawyers explain that just because women are considered culturally better at parenting than men does not give the court a legal right to award more child custody rights to the mother unless there are facts proving that the child’s best interests would be met if he or she remains to live with the mother. … When the New Brunswick Shared Parenting Association lept to the poor man’s defence and launched a complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council and publicly encouraged others who had witnessed such comments, nineteen local lawyers publicly lambasted the individuals who had spearheaded the drive. ], There was no difference in protest following maternal or paternal departures. Or, how about this one? Behind closed doors of the family court system, thousands of women each year lose child custody to violent men who beat and abuse mothers and children. T.H.B., unreported, digested at [1999] O.J. Myths and stereotypes about men and women are engrained in our society. Can a judge seriously maintain that Justice L’Heureux-Dubé’s admonitions with respect to gender stereotyping can apply only to women but not to men? … I heard from southwestern Ontario, from a dad whose family had been literally ripped apart because mom knew that the Guidelines would net her more money if she could just get that 21 year old son who had been living with his girlfriend back into her house and back into school. L. Rev. That’s the easy part. This complaint has as much chance of succeeding before the Judicial Council as does … [well you can fill that in]. Abuse allegations are very effective ways to have a husband removed and a non-contact with the children (or restraining order) put in place. 1. We have some very encouraging signals, including one recently from the Supreme Court of Canada, that gender bias and stereotyping is not be to be tolerated. One of the main ones is a good news story: most couples separate amicably, © 2020 by Gene C. Colman Family Law Centre. (4th) 13, 182 A.R. Let’s try some of these: Denial of access, violence against men by their wives or partners, impoverishment of men due to impossible support awards that in some cases leave men with not even enough to pay rent and buy food, the failure of judges to read motion materials and simply deciding custody and access issues based upon assumptions, presumptions and stereotypes, and the list could go on and on. the family court iin concise and simple containing the point for determination decision and the reason for the same. H.C.); Wedgwood (1989), 74 Nfld & P.E.I.R. Since 1920, it has been assumed that women, by nature, are better suited to love and care for children … As guidelines for custody dispositions, folklore, sentiment, and stereotypes are poor substitutes for factual information.” [Warshak, id.]. The Report itself noted some of the more recent statistics from Statistics Canada [page 4]: “[M]ost children (86%) lived with their mother after separation. NJEP State Task Forces. I declined. 35, 1997, p. 133] Fifty-three percent of the non-custodial fathers claimed their ex-wives had refused to let them see their children. (Md) 544]? Tonight I will attempt to provide some small degree of perspective to this most pressing injustice. The Ontario Court of Justice does not hear divorce or property matters arising from a family breakdown. Dad has to prove to the court that he is one of those exceptional fathers who is ever so keenly attuned to all of the kids’ needs. So under Australian law, there should not be a family court bias against Fathers in Australia. addressing bias in the courts. Also, fathers were found to be just as competent at feeding. I tried to recall those situations where the man improved his economic position post separation and divorce to the woman’s detriment. Judges as susceptible to gender bias as laypeople -- and sometimes more so Date: April 19, 2018 ... child custody cases in family court -- were asked to analyze cases in those fields. All of this makes eminently good sense. Is Gender Bias Real? Likewise, in the area of child custody law, there are many examples of how men are similarly discriminated against on the grounds of gender. By 1886 in Britain, mothers officially obtained rights equal to those of fathers in regard to court ordered custody. But should we expect any more balance from assessors than we currently do from judges and lawyers? A mother who was displeased with a custody order tried to hire a contract killer to dispose of her husband. 745, 959 (1994). The judge then goes on to quote an author who summarizes the various myths of rape (although this case was not a rape case). We will see that research calls into question society’s assumptions about child support, spousal support, and whether maternal custody is automatically better for children. When you add separation and divorce into the mix, the same money has to provide for two households rather than one. Here’s what you should know: Custody […] As Chief Justice Dixon (as he then was) has noted in Canada Safeway v. Brooks, [1989] 1 S.C.R. We have assisted countless dads in asserting their fathers' rights in Toronto and throughout Ontario. Is there gender bias in family court? … Feminists have entrenched their ideology in the Supreme Court of Canada and have put all contrary views beyond the pale. It can be argued that, when deciding custody and visitation, a court gives the best interests of the child the highest priority and not gender (Levin ; … The time for polite silence has long passed. However, the individual of whom I am speaking felt quite passionately that he was suffering from “gender bias” since he had been ordered to pay spousal support. I speak only for myself. I would just like to close now with another quote from that father in Edmonton. I suspect that they did not appreciate the full impact of their words. I heard about scores of dads (and some moms) who had been falsely accused of sexually abusing their children decades after the alleged abuse had allegedly occurred. Would that more judges take notice of Justice Goodearle’s comments! Presentation to Fathers Are Capable Too ( F.A.C.T.) ” A judge's unbiased behavior and insistence on the same from others in the courtroom is the most effective way of eliminating gender-biased behavior. The supervisor had argued that the GM plant is a rough place where rough language and sexually suggestive banter is common place. Our lawyers explain that just because women are considered culturally better at parenting than men does not give the court a legal right to award more child custody rights to the mother unless there are facts proving that the child’s best interests would be met if he or she remains to live with the mother. Justice Johnstone is quite correctly telling us that outmoded societal biases with respect to women’s wages are inconsistent with equality before the law. In 2001, a joint study by the family court and the University of Sydney found that the family law system had “tilted more and more against women, either by accident or design”. It is consistent with the Charter and it probably strikes a responsive cord amongst most lawyers and judges. Is there a particular problem with gender bias in Canada’s Family Courts? The Court cannot sanction future forecasting if it perpetuates the historic wage disparity between men and women. A proper interpretation of the data revealed the following analysis: These statistics fly in the face of the common feminist wisdom that fathers who seek custody in court more often than not succeed. No wonder that the Fredericton lawyers jumped to the defence of the their Family Court judge! 157], “The major finding of the study was that across a variety of assessments of psychological well-being (self-esteem, anxiety, depression, problem behaviors), children (especially boys) did significantly better in the custody of their fathers. ” Treat all court staff, litigants, witnesses and She had no skills and no job prospects. (4th) 325, 112 O.A.C. After making these adjustments, Braver tells us that the economic effects of divorce are similar for both genders; mother might even have a slight advantage. I could think of precious few cases that fit the Weitzman model. So let us now turn to Justice John Goodearle in Banks v. Banks, [unreported, 19 December 1986, digested at [1987] W.D.F.L. Women can say and do what they want and the fathers pay for it. A finding of an absence of consent should have been enough to send the case back for trial, however the Supreme Court of Canada convicted the accused. These percentages are consistent with a 1989 study conducted for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Gender Bias [Gender Bias Study of the Court System in Massachusetts (1989) reprinted in 24 New. The integrity of our judicial system depends on it. Only 7% lived with their father, about 6% lived under a joint custody arrangement, and the remaining (less than 1%) lived under another type of custody agreement.”. If your divorce goes to court, it’s reached the peak of maximum emotion and expense. I don’t need to read your affidavit. I therefore define gender bias in the context of our legal system as follows: “Gender Bias” is the tendency to interpret the actual facts of the case before the court through a judicial prism of favouritism to one gender over the other where such favouritism is based on prejudice, stereotyping, distortion and irrational preference. Contact Gene C. Colman for a customized legal strategy today. Family Court Review is the leading interdisciplinary academic and research journal for family law professionals. The appellate court sensibly rejected the plaintiff’s “rough environment” argument. Each of the gender stereotypes trumpeted by the Alberta justice were demolished by Justice L’Heureux-Dubé. “Not just in family law but in the way women witnesses are treated, the way women judges are treated, the way women lawyers are treated and the myths about women.” Ms. Curtis said most custodial orders simply reflect the pre-divorce arrangement. I heard from a father in Edmonton – a heartbreaking and heartrending story. Despite clearly required to by the California Family Code, the court offered her absolutely no help. [Id.]. Fathers in divorce get joint physical custody only 4% of the time. Such stereotypical assumptions find their roots in many cultures, including our own. "In both of these cases, support for traditional gender roles was associated with decisions that encouraged women to engage in more family caregiving … It is time to let the Canadian public know that men facing separation and divorce are not being dealt with fairly. However, the Supreme Court of Canada denied Mr. Suen’s appeal, keeping in place the narrow scope of application and the high bar of proof. After the greater part of the year, the child was returned under the Hague Convention and then dad had to slug it out at 393 University [the Court House in Toronto]. [An Act to amend the Law relating to the Custody of Infants, 2 & 3 Vict. 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