DADS in the News

Some of the past media coverage of DADS Canada

CHTV, Channel 11

On Monday February 9th, 2004, the president of DADS Canada Inc. appeared on the CHTV Channel 11 news at 5:30 and 11:30 p.m. He appeared as a guest with a family law lawyer and a representative from Mother’s Against Deadbeats. The issue was “War Against Deadbeats”. At the end of the show, our male president pointed out that he was a sole custodial parent of his 2 children and that he wasn’t able to get any judge to award him child support.

C.B.C. 99.1 Radio

On Monday February 9th, 2004, our president appeared on the Andy Berry show regarding an article which appeared in the Toronto Star newspaper titled “War Against Deadbeats”. At the end of the show, our male president pointed out that he was a sole custodial parent of his 2 children and that he wasn’t able to get any judge to award him child support.

The National Post

A father’s crusade for justice
The National Post, by Ian Harvey, Saturday September 18th, 2004,

It’s easy to find Stacy Robb’s one-room office in the back of an Elm Street walk-up off Yonge Street: Just follow the trail of cigarette smoke.

There, amid the clutter of files, butts and books, you’ll find Robb, two phones on the go and a client waiting. His rapid-fire conversation is peppered with case citations, court rules, family law sections and the odd giggle. He’s no lawyer and he’s never claimed otherwise, but over the years he’s taught some members of the bar a trick or two about family court process.

In fact, Robb, 49, looks every bit the former truck driver who left school in Grade 9. His hair is unfashionably long, limp and defies styling, while a rough stubble raises the question as to why there’s a bottle of after-shave on his desk. Robb peers up through his 1970s oversized aviator bifocals and smiles, flicking ash from his rumpled shirt hanging loose outside his pants. He signs off both phone calls abruptly and turns to his waiting client to suggest she disappear “to go have a coffee for half an hour.”

“We won!” he says gleefully. This time it’s an international victory. An Irish court ruled on Monday that the estranged wife of Paul Sherman must return to Toronto to settle a custody and access issue. For Sherman it was a big step in a five-month battle to see his daughter, after his wife suddenly fled to Ireland in April with their then four-month-old child. Though Sherman faces more hearings in Toronto to establish what is in the best interest of the child, he’s ecstatic that Robb brought the case back to Ontario. “Stacy was a superstar for us,” he says. “He played a massive role.”

Robb is just as thrilled. He was instrumental in organizing the paperwork and applications to Ontario courts to set off the legal dominos required by international law, which holds that any custody issue must first be settled in the court of jurisdiction. It’s always personal for Robb, who knows all too well the pain and absurdity so often found in family court because he’s lived it.

Yes, Robb is an oddball. But he is unrepentant, obsessed with his work. It’s a simple premise: If you cannot afford a lawyer, Robb will guide you through the labyrinth of family court rules, arm you with the paperwork, prime your patter and point you to the court to act on your own behalf.

On rare occasions he will do the talking in court for a client, if the presiding judge grants permission. If the matter is too complex or beyond his capabilities, he suggests a lawyer.

Bengt Lovblom, a Scarborough small-business owner, was uncomfortable representing himself in a custody battle, so he did retain the lawyer Robb recommended. But with two weeks to go before trial, his 14- and 16-year-old sons unexpectedly showed up on his doorstep and refused to return to their mother, despite police intervention. Desperate measures were called for. Lovblom fired his lawyer to clear the record and, with Robb’s help, brought an emergency motion to secure custody.

First impressions, though, nearly sent Lovblom packing. “I thought he was a little flaky when I first met him,” Lovblom admits. “But then he seemed to know what he was talking about.” Sherman agrees: “My sister found him through the Internet, but when I first met him I thought: ‘What I have I got myself into? He looks like a ’60s hippie.”

Still, Robb gets results.

“I think he fills a real need,” says lawyer Allan M. Cooper, whose office is down the hall. “Because there are people who cannot afford legal counsel in family court. Those who make less than $30,000 a year qualify for legal aid, while those making $75,000 to $80,000 probably can afford to pay for a lawyer. But what about those in the middle, between $30,000 and $80,000?”

Robb’s transformation began when a substance-abuse problem got out of hand and his marriage failed in 1990. He emerged from rehab a stranger to his then infant son and six-year-old daughter. With no access and no rights, he turned to the emerging men’s movement for support.

“I started by printing these stickers that said: ‘The Real Crime Begins in Family Court,’ ” he says with a laugh. “I put them all over wherever I went on the TTC.” He formed his own advocacy group, DADS Canada (Divorce and Defence Strategies), while pursuing his access battle through the courts. But something happened along the way. Robb found himself conferring with kindred sprits in courthouses and at men’s meetings. In spite of his lack of formal education and a mild learning disability, he started to teach himself the system. Today DADS Canada has a Web site, a motorhome headquarters and an advisory board. And while most of Robb’s clients are men, he does help women with custody issues as well.

But Robb is not getting rich. Though his hourly rate is $60 to $75 an hour, most of his clients have balances owing on their accounts. “I need someone to help with the business side,” he admits. “If I don’t do something I’m going to lose this office and have to work out of the motorhome.”

The reality is not lost on his supporters. “I’ve tried to help him because he needs to be more businesslike to make a living, to collect retainers up front from people,” says Cooper, a 16-year veteran of family court.

“He is, to my knowledge, the only one doing this type of work,” says Pauline Green, now retired after 25 years of family law practice in the east end. “He is actually a smart guy who knows a lot of law. And he’s got a good heart.”

The combination of vocation-driven passion and stubbornness, Green notes, gives Robb an edge over many lawyers who assume their general legal background will carry them through the complex and intricate rules of family court.

Robb’s weakness tends not to be his lack of training but his own body politic. In court, Green was constantly chiding him to use more diplomatic language in documents, and it seems to have sunk in.

“He has mellowed,” Cooper says. “His pleadings are less adversarial and less antagonistic.”

The one case Robb never won in court was his own. In the end, it was fate and circumstance that delivered what he had sought from the start. His daughter has just moved out on her own after completing school, while his son has moved in with him and is enrolled in Grade 10.

Robb’s fight in the courts is far from over, but these days, he is becoming part of the system he set out to rail against.

National Post 2004

The Mississauga News

DADS Canada “DEADBEAT MOM’S PROTEST”
A group of men will use Mississauga as a launching pad to win back rights they feel have been lost to deadbeat moms.

Divorce And Defence Strategies (DADS) Canada, a group formed two years ago to battle what it sees as an unjust family law system, will hold a rally here to draw attention to their cause and push for changes to the Provincial Family Court system.

Stacy Robb, vice-president of the Toronto based organization, says the first Deadbeat Mom Demonstration will begin tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m., at the corner of Erin Mills Parkway and Battleford Dr.

He says the event is the first of several more demonstrations to come. Robb is expecting close to 60 demonstrators at the march, that will last about two hours, and end up at a home of what DADS members refer to as a “deadbeat mom”.

Robb says the demonstration is a non-confrontational event, and the group will not step onto the woman’s property to speak with her. Robb says the group was formed in response to the formation of Mothers Against Fathers In Arrears (MAFIA). We were getting sick and tired of the media and others picking on deadbeat dads,” says Robb. “We want to bring about changes to the family court system that seems to, without exception, give custody of children to mother.

“We want to bring about a fair system that truly is fair to the fathers, mothers and children. We’re well set up, and well connected.” Among the groups activities, Robb says DADS helps people, including mothers, fight back against what they believe to be unfair decisions rendered by family court. The bottom line, Robb says, “..is that children have the opportunity to grow up in the best possible environment”.

“We have all kinds of statistics, from credible sources, that describe what can happen to children who grow up in fatherless homes, or without contact with their fathers,” says Robb.

Reinhold Knauss, a divorced father who will take part in tomorrow’s demonstration, says it’s time the courts took fathers into account when reaching their decisions. “On the surface, the system seems fair, but it’s not. I’ve lost contact with my daughter now. I haven’t seen her in two years,” says Knauss. “In 95 per cent of cases, the mother gets custody of the children, the father pays support and access to the children by the father is dependent on the mother. We have to depend on the goodwill of the woman we’re divorced from to see our children.”

Knauss adds that while he considers women’s issues to be very important, “men’s issues are lying on the floor, invisible to the courts.”

Robb says DADS is connected to various professionals in society, including social workers and lawyers, that serve people who come to DADS for help.

This story is posted for educational purposes only and is copyright protected by the Mississauga News.

The Mississauga News

“Fathers fight back” – Comments from the editor

It has taken some time, but it appears that fathers are fighting.

That the organization Divorce And Defence Strategies Canada (DADS) has selected Mississauga as the focal point for the beginning of its campaign is no coincidence as the group appears to have a strong base here. If you need evidence, you can go by the large turn out for its demonstration here on Saturday, despite the strong rain, and the number of telephone calls The News has received supporting the group and wanting to know more about it. What may be surprising to some, is that much of the support for this organization is coming from women. While the issues DADS are bringing to light certainly surround those of fathers who want access to their children, it is not gender specific to believe the certain laws concerning custody are outdated and don’t work.

The fathers believe that the Family Court system unfairly, and almost without exception, gives custody of children to mothers when a marriage dissolves. It also disagrees with the way some mothers deny visitation rights. In the 1990s, this current form of law and order doesn’t cut it, and DADS has a legitimate beef. And it is important to point out that despite their use of the term “deadbeat mom” in reference to those they feel are abusing custody and visitation rules, DADS does not advocate that men should not live up to their obligations when it comes to paying child support. The name is meant to draw attention, just like “deadbeat dad” does.

This story is posted for educational purposes only and is copyright protected by the Mississauga News.

The Mississauga News

A group fighting for rights they believe have been lost to “deadbeat moms” are planning a second Mississauga demonstration on the heels of last Saturday’s event. Divorce And Defence Strategies Canada (DADS), a group formed two years ago to battle what it sees as an unjust family law system, will demonstrate this Sunday in the Creditview Rd. and Eglinton Ave. Area.

Last Saturday’s demonstration in Meadowvale attracted 50 people, who showed up in support of non-custodial parents and the children who get caught in the middle. The protesters marched to the home of a woman they had targeted, and handed out fact sheets on the group to homes.

“Despite the rain, it was a good turnout of dedicated parents, both fathers and mothers, ” says DADS vice-president Stacy Robb. “We’re here to help educate people and give people a place where they can come for help. We help people with legal paperwork and so forth, and help get them back in (family) court so their lives may be tolerable again.”

Among the groups’ activities Robb says DADS helps people, including mothers, fight back against what they believe to be unfair decisions rendered by family court. The bottom line, Robb says, is that children have the opportunity to grow up in the best possible environment.

Robb says DADS is connected to various professionals in society, including social workers and lawyers, that serve people who come to DADS for help.

Robb adds the group will be organizing more demonstrations in Mississauga, and other areas in the Greater Toronto Area.

This story is posted for educational purposes only and is copyright protected by the Mississauga News.

The Toronto Sun

Dads get laws, not justice
Father’s rights advocate takes show on road.
Sunday March 30th, 2003, By Mark Bonokoski

Tomorrow morning, about the time all the high-priced lawyers begin to arrive in their black silks to thrash out divorce and custody battles, Stacy Robb will pull up to the University Ave. courthouse in a mobile home.

It’s unlikely that he’ll go unnoticed.

“Mediate, don’t litigate,” reads some of the lettering on the side panel of Robb’s “portable office.”

“We support joint custody and equal access,” reads another message.

It’s a mission statement, no question about it, and Stacy Robb, founder of a non-profit fathers’ rights group called Dads Canada, has been on that mission for almost a decade.

Only now he’s taking it on the road.

One courthouse one day; another the next.

For the last few years, home base has been his apartment at the top end of Kingston Rd., so chock-a-block with court documents, computers, scanners, portable printers and law books that there is little room to move.

It’s a pack rat kind of place.

“There is no way I am in this for the money, put it that way,” said Robb, pointing to an old taxi fare box sitting in the corner, given to him by a client he guided through the quagmire of family court but who had no wherewithal to pay his fee.

“I charge $60 an hour, when I can get it,” he said. “And, when I don’t … well, I just don’t. I am not into getting blood from a stone.”

Stacy Robb, 47, once made his living as a truck driver but left it all behind when “one too many judges and one too many lawyers pissed me off” during his own marital meltdown and the custody battle which soon followed.

Since then, he has been involved in “hundreds of cases, helping hundreds of fathers” who were wrongly accused of being deadbeat dads.

He’s provided information to the Senate committee debating Bill C-22 which is bringing change to the Divorce Act — negative changes, to Robb’s way of thinking, because it puts an unjust financial burden on the back of the non-custodial parent who is usually the father — and has received a letter of support from Liberal Senator Anne Cools.

“The public groundswell of support, met largely by your actions, was confirming and humbling,” wrote Cools. “Divorce legislation should be even-handed, and should reduce the negative consequences of broken relationships so as to permit both parents to know and raise their children, and for the children to know and love both parents.”

He has appeared on the Women’s Television Network and on CPAC. He has played tit-for-tat and has held public rallies against deadbeat moms.

And he has even picketed courthouses over deadbeat judges — those jurists who fail to read their files and then rule in favour of the mother when there was solid evidence supporting the father.

All of which got him more press.

Family court, as too many thousands can attest, can be a truly ugly place.

Last November, in a column headlined “Dads are dying,” I wrote of how a suicide note became a grim reminder that our family laws are flawed.

It was the story of A. T. Renouf, a Markham man who took his own life seven years ago after the Family Support Plan (now the Family Responsibility Office) left him penniless.

That suicide note makes the rounds every year on the anniversary of his death, and Stacy Robb remembers it well because Renouf called his organization on a day Robb happened to be away.

The garbled message on Robb’s answering machine was a mystery until two friends of Renouf’s showed up two days later to tell him of Renouf’s demise.

It was a catalyst for Robb to do more.

The mobile home which Robb will drive tomorrow to the city’s main courthouse was donated to Dads Canada by a father who had sought Robb’s help with a custody issue.

The lettering, too, was done for free — by another father who sought Robb’s expertise.

Tomorrow, as a starter, Robb will be handing out leaflets describing what he considers the “dire consequences” of Bill C-22 becoming law. “It will set fathers’ rights back 10 years,” he said. “In virtually every case that will come before the courts, the woman will be responsible for keeping the child at her home, and the father will have the responsibility of paying every penny.

“When lawyers get involved, it generally tends to get ugly,” said Robb. “That’s why we believe in mediation rather than litigation.

“No child deserves to have a court drive a wedge between his or her parents.

“Sole custody is the child’s loss.”

The Toronto Sun

Saturday Spotlight
September 28, 1996, By Ian Harvey

Divorced dads find strength in numbers New men’s support groups seek to level the playing field.

The way Stacey Robb and Neil Catania see it, they’re on the front line of a social revolution. The only problem is, they’re fighting a rearguard action. But that doesn’t dampen their fervor as they work from a tiny Etobicoke basement apartment crammed with law books, case files and computers.

Meet the DADS Project – Dads And Divorce Strategies – one of the half-dozen or so Metro-area selfhelp and lobby groups for divorcing fathers and other men’s issues. Too politically incorrect for government funding, the groups scrape by on membership fees and goodwill. But as with the feminist and pro-environment groups that started up the same way things – and people’s ideas – are starting to change. “If you’re prepared to negotiate, communicate and co-operate you can get settlement without the cost of going to court,” said Catania of DADS, among the more radical and active groups. “We try to explain what’s going on and not give any false hope. We’re not there to siphon off their life savings. We’re a paralegal support group.”

Their “clients” are also a mixed bag. “Dave” is an executive with a multinational corporation who turned to DADS after spending $23,000 with a lawyer in less than a year. “I found a sticker with their phone number in the courthouse,” he said. “I found my lawyer was too busy to work on the file and that Stacy had some good ideas and took an interest.” But is he any further ahead division of property, $6,000-a-month support and the fight with the province’s Family Support Plan which grabbed $18,000 from his accounts claiming he was in arrears? “I wouldn’t say we’ve won, but we haven’t lost – and we have scored a few victories,” he said. “I just feel better about the whole thing. What Stacy tells you is accurate and I feel I understand the process now.” Robb and Catania cheerfully admit they aren’t lawyers, but in the 150 cases they’ve handled over the past 14 months, there’s not much they haven’t learned about how to navigate the complexities of Ontario’s family law courts and the myriad of rules and legislation covering divorce, custody, support and access issues.

Theirs is part of a growing network of groups organizing to battle what their supporters believe is a gender bias in the way the courts and the system treats men and women – especially in family law issues. “I don’t care what they say, you go to family court and you can’t tell me there is a level playing field,” says Catania. “If you haven’t got money, we’ll take a donation of your time or your expertise,” said Robb. A self-taught paralegal and computer programmer, he’s still battling his own case through the courts, seeking greater access to his children. And with the Ontario government preparing to table hardball legislation this fall that will see the driver’s licenses of the so-called “deadbeat dads” suspended for non-payment of support, all the groups are gearing up for a plethora of panicking men for whom reality has suddenly dawned.

“That’s when we get a guy looking for what we call the Jesus Christ solution,’ said Ross Virgin, who founded In Search of Justice in 1972, making it the veteran of Ontario men’s issues groups. “They want someone to fix their problems immediately. It just can’t be done. The system is slow and takes time. What they should have done is taken care of the problem six months before.”

What Virgin and others are anticipating is a flood of men caught in the almost classic squeeze: while they may have tried to make the court-ordered support payments, many fell behind because they were either too high or, as is most common, they lost their jobs and either haven’t worked since or are working for much less money. The law requires in those cases that they go back to court and seek a variation order based on their change in material circumstance. But since lawyers routinely demand $5,000 or more to file such paperwork, most men don’t bother because they can’t afford it. And when the Family’ Support Plan catches’ up with them – or the new tougher Ontario system kicks in, they find themselves caught in a vise.

The numbers are what drive the politicians. The FSP says in the 87,000 cases where an automatic deduction order for child support is made the compliance rate is 75%. But altogether there are more than 146,00 cases, including 69,000 cases where court orders were made before the 1992 advent of the mandatory deduction. The result is that overall it appears 46% of payers are laughing at the law, owing collectively $1 billion – money the province must often makeup by way of welfare payments. But of those 69,000 cases the province has no idea where most of the men are, whether they are in the province or even the country. And even among cases it tracks, the system has become so backlogged that men are often branded as being in arrears when they have paid up. It’s that kind of bureacratic bungling that has many men living in fear of the new standards, especially if they’ve had a taste of the FSP’s zero-tolerance policy.

And while the province is promising a kinder, gentler way to resolve changes in income-affecting court-ordered support, no plans have yet been tabled.

But it’s not always money which drives men to support groups. F.A.C.T. saved my life,” said Gene Collosimo, 42, of Scarboro who hasn’t seen his 4 year-old daughter in two years. “I’ve gone from going there for support to being a teacher, helping others.” Like many fathers, Collosimo was devastated when his marriage broke up, even more so when he was eventually denied access to his child – a matter he’s spent $80,000 trying to resolve in the courts.

It’s the combination of heavy financial and emotional costs that has many men spinning off the walls by the time they arrive at groups like FACT. “Tuesday nights are not always happy,” says Greg Kershaw, the founder of the group. “Guys tend to drift in and out. It can be an emotional strain – but no matter how bad you think your story is, there’s always someone else who is worse off.”

The Toronto Sun

Mom jailed in battle over daughter
January 11, 1997, Toronto Sun, By IAN HARVEY

At the centre of a custodial battle her entire life, little Jenna, now 2, poses with mom Deborah Grenier in this Christmas 1995 photo. On Monday, Hamilton Judge David Steinberg sent Grenier to jail for five days after upholding father Wayne Allen’s complaint he had been denied access to Jenna. Grenier was released from Jail on Wednesday.

For the first time in more than 20 years a mother has been jailed for denying access to the father of her child, a Hamilton lawyer says.

“I lost a job that I was to start Monday, Deborah Grenier; 33, of Hamilton said after she spent two nights in jail for contempt of court.

Hamilton Unified Court senior judge David Steinberg ordered Grenier to jail for five days on Monday. She was released Wednesday morning.

Greatest victory’

The case was pressed by the father of 2 year old Jenra, Wayne Allen, 35, also of Hamilton who represented himself in the battle that has raged since the toddler was born.

While men who fail to pay child support are regularly jailed for contempt, the last time a woman was jailed for denying access was more than 20 years ago, said veteran Hamilton lawyer Richard Gaasenbeek.

“A layman has scored the greatest victory in 25 years of family law,” Gaasenbeek said when told of the case. “I’m going to invite him to lunch.”

But now Allen himself risks being jailed for contempt. He says he’s unable to pay $65 a month child support because he’s not working full-time and, in any event, shouldn’t have to pay because he’s caring for his daughter 3 1/2 days a week.

“How does he get away with quitting his job and not paying support,” said an angry Grenier who is on Legal Aid. “I’d like to be reasonable. I want my daughter to know who her father is. He should grow up and face reality- we have a daughter to raise.”

Wayne Allen had complained about being blocked from several weekend visits, Steirberg upheld only the complaint about the weekend of Nov.21 a weekend Grenier claimed she went on vacation. Steinberg would have ordered her jailed Dec. 20 but set the case over to last Monday to avoid incarceration over the Christmas period.

Allen said he fathered the child after dating Grenier and although the couple briefly lived together, their relationship ended before the baby was born.

“But I want to be an active father” said Allen, a former line worker for Ford of Canada. “I got sick of being denied access and wanted to do something about it”

Bitter battle

The battle turned bitter from the outset when he claims he was denied the initial court ordered nine hours a week with new born Jenna.

The next hurdle was an allegation by Grenier of sexual abusing his daughter. It was found to be without foundation and prompted Judge P.H. Wallace to suggest it “was worse than mischievous…. that someone would “play the system in such a way is intolerable.”

His predicament was also one of the cases cited by Senator Anne Cools to support her legislation to penalize those who knowingly perjure or make false allegations to the courts.

“It’s long overdue because if a father can go to jail for not paying support the custodial parent should also face the same penalty for denying access,” said Stacey Robb of Dads And Divorce Strategies, a self-help group that initially helped Allen with his case.

“Kids shouldn’t be denied a relationship with their parent unless abuse is clearly proven.”

Toronto Sun

Court the only solution
Changes to the Family Support Plan in the works
May 25, 1997, By IAN HARVEY

Dear Ian:

My daughter is now 18 years old and working and not attending school I am trying without success to get the garnishee of my wages canceled by Family Support Plan.

I am not a deadbeat dad, I love my children and during the last five years I have never missed a support payment – even when they left me with $5.50 from my first week back after an injury.

I am frustrated and bitter and am now in the process of having to hire a lawyer with money that would have otherwise been spent on a summer vacation with my kids.

Doesn’t the law say you don’t have to pay after 18?

T.O. in Mississauga


Ahh, bureaucracy. You have run into the great gray wall known as Family Support Plan, an agency so inept and inefficient not even a year of tinkering fixed it. It now has a new name, the Family Responsibility Office and a promise to have things working by fall.

You will have to go to court to get a variance based on a change of material circumstance.

The fact that your daughter is 18 years old doesn’t end the term of child support. And since your court order doesn’t spell this out as terminating event” you are stuck with making the payments until another court changes things.

Even though your daughter has sent a letter attesting to her situation, her mother objects to the change and since the parties don’t agree, the dispute will have to go to court.

The mother obviously feels that even though she’s not in school, she’s not earning enough to support herself and is still living at home.

You may not need a lawyer. Simple variances are easy to file yourself if you have had some experience with the court (and I find most divorcing couples earn a crash-course legal degree by the time their case is dealt with). Alternatively you might seek paralegal or shop around for the best price of a lawyer to handle what essentially is some paperwork.

A good price will be about $2,000 for a lawyer and about$300 through self-help service like DADS Canada (it’s in the phone hook). Neither the payors nor the beneficiaries of FSP/FRO are happy with the system and as of May12 some changes may help.

Separated couples are now able to “opt-out” of the garnishee system though the penalties for non-compliance are now much more severe. My advice is to keep paying until the court determines your status.

Toronto Sun

Custody penalties ripped
Group: Jail moms who deny access
March 31, 1998, by Philip Lee-Shanok

Moms who deny their ex-spouses legal access to their children should be jailed, a Joint Senate-House of Commons committee on child custody and access heard yesterday.

Groups representing men who have been denied visitation rights complained there was a bias in the family law system favoring women as custodial parents after a divorce.

Stacy Robb of the advocacy group Divorce and Defence Strategies D.A.D.S. Canada, said there should be increasingly tougher penalties including jail time.

“On a first offence, the party should attend a class to educate them: on the second , community service, but on the third a jail term. On the fourth change the custody orders,” Robb told the 23 member committee.

Grant Wilson, president of the Canadian Children’s Rights Council, also called for tougher penalties. “Children have a right to see both parents as judged by a court” he said. Wilson cited the case of Mississauga mom Lisa Barbosa, 31, who was jailed after she barred her five year-old daughter from seeing the child’s dad. Barbosa was sentenced to 60 days in Metro West Detention centre Feb. 23 for contempt. She is free pending an appeal.

In Alberta and B.C., counseling is mandatory before a couple with children can divorce. Such out-of-court programs could help solve some problems, panel members and Liberal MP Dr. Carolyn Bennett suggested.

 

Toronto Sun

DADS STRAIN AT CUSTODY CHAINS
Monday, August 31, 1998 By ELAINE MOYLE,

They’re angry men who feel their right to be active fathers is being ripped away.

“Deadbolt dads” — separated and divorced fathers who claim the courts grant them too little time with their kids — are banding together through support and political groups to vent their frustrations.

During the past year, they’ve seized the opportunity to express their outrage to a government panel — the Joint Senate-Commons Committee on Child Custody and Access — researching the issue through national hearings.

The plight of these “locked-out” fathers is all-too familiar to Deborah Powell, acting president of Fathers Are Capable Too, an organization that rallies for the rights of children and non-custodial parents (primarily dads).

“They’re devastated because they’re not only losing a partner, they’re losing their kids,” says Powell, a single mom who became a supporter of fathers’ rights after rallying behind her brother during his custody dispute.

Deadbolt dads are frustrated by a court system that, according to Powell, shoves parents “into adversarial roles that ultimately end up hurting their children and themselves. “Instead of saying ‘hallelujah, we are still two people who love our children,’ parents are thrown into a win/lose situation where the winner takes all.

There’s no incentive for negotiation or compromise.” In most cases, Powell adds, women are victorious — earning custodial parent status because they’re still regarded “as nurturers while men are providers.”

The government committee, headed by Sarnia Liberal MP Roger Gallaway and Senator Anne Cools, will table its response in a reform bill by Nov. 30. Clearly impacted by testimony from deadbolt dads about the financial and emotional trauma they’ve endured, Gallaway says he’s particularly disturbed by allegations that women gain custody of children by claiming abuse without providing actual proof.

“The Divorce Act is suddenly becoming an instrument of the Criminal Code,” he told The Sun. Senator Cools is suggesting lawyers be held accountable for knowingly filing false allegations. But Kaarina Pakka, co-founder of MAFIA (Mothers Against Fathers In Arrears), says, regrettably, “mind games” are played by both sides during custody hearings.

“There’s always an element of disturbed, angry people,” she says. “Unfortunately, you can’t legislate good behavior.” Meanwhile, figures released by Statistics Canada indicate fathers are getting more access to their children. In 1995, 5,128 men were awarded custody, up 444 from the previous year.

Conversely, 31,847 women became custodial parents in 1995, representing a drop of 1,317 from 1994. Joint custodies climbed from 9,752 in 1994 to 10,062 in 1995. It’s a trend embraced by men’s groups whose growing fraternity is creating a thriving political force.

“The tide is changing,” says Neil Campbell of Dads Canada Initiative. “We’re getting a lot of calls from men who are involved in their children’s lives and want help fighting their way through litigation issues … It’s becoming very clear that we have to become more sensitive to the father/child relationship.” Jim Hodgins, chairman of the Committee for Fairness in Family Law, agrees.

“Throughout North America and some other countries, there’s a growing consciousness of the numbers of children who have been impacted by separation from a parent — specifically denial of access,” he says. “We still have governments and (legal) structures that don’t yet recognize the importance of contact with both parents.” Hodgins, who shares custody of his three children with his ex-wife, says although women “want a guy who can give and receive love,” men who truly care about their kids are regularly denied custody in the majority of divorce cases. “We need a situation where kids are at the centre of the universe,” Hodgins says.

Meanwhile, Stacy Robb, president of Dads Canada, points out legal injustices facing parents who default on child support payments. There have been cases in which unscrupulous employers kept garnisheed wages earmarked for child support while shutting down their companies. “Fathers (and mothers) are still obligated to pay the money so, in fact, they pay twice.” The province’s seizure of driver’s licences from non-paying parents is unconstitutional, Robb insists, because it often renders the worker non-employable. “The Ministry of the Attorney General’s office is suspending licenses without proper notice,” he says. “Many people are notified after the fact.”

But Pakka of MAFIA says she’s skeptical about such claims: “It’s so easy to say there’s a lack of notification, blaming the postal system or the fact you receive large volumes of mail.” Robb, like other advocates of dads’ rights, blames the courts for the woes afflicting deadbolt dads. “We’ve got to take the profit out of divorce,” he says. “The legal system isn’t designed to deal with this problem in an effective matter … Men are frustrated by a system that isn’t user-friendly.”

 

The Toronto Sun

Dads are ‘dying’
Suicide note is a grim reminder that our family laws are flawed
November 18, 2002 PAGE 6, By MARK BONOKOSKI

The suicide note came to this newspaper in the form of an e-mail, as if the sender wanted an expanded world to know that he had had enough.

Addressed as a Letter to the Editor, it carried the two-word heading — “Inquest request.”

After setting the scene, the writer ended his letter as follows: “I have no family and no friends, very little food, no viable job and very poor future prospects. I have therefore decided that there is no further point in continuing my life. It is my intention to drive to a secluded area near my home, feed the car exhaust into the car, take some sleeping pills and use the remaining gas in the car to end my life.

“I would have preferred to die with more dignity,” he continued. It is my last will and testament that this letter be published for all to see and read.”

It was signed, A. T. Renouf.

As it turned out, there was no rush to find Markham’s Andy Renouf and attempt to stop him from what he was about to do.

The deed had already been done — seven years ago to the day that this latest e-mail arrived.

In fact, his suicide note is recycled every year on the anniversary of his death, with cyberspace providing the possibility of reaching millions.

It was the first time, however, that it came in this direction and it was therefore a rather unsettling missive to receive, especially since it read as real as it turned out to be.

Stacy Robb remembers the day Andy Renouf left this mortal coil. He had recently co-founded an organization called Dads Canada, a fathers’ rights advocacy group, and had just left his east Toronto home for a meeting, missing Renouf’s call by 10 minutes.

There was a garbled recording left behind and then, two days later, two men showed up at Robb’s door to tell them of Renouf’s demise.

They had been roommates of Renouf, pooling their money to share an apartment, and they gave Robb a copy of the suicide note — as an indictment against the Family Support Plan (now known as the Family Responsibility Office) which not only took away Renouf’s wages but took away his hope.

“Fathers are just written off,” said Robb.

The desperation in Renouf’s suicide note was undeniable.

He had been driven to the brink by a government agency which, instead of giving him a bit of air to breathe, decided to smother him instead.

“Last Friday my bank account was garnished (by FSP), and I was left with a total of 43 cents in the bank,” he wrote.

“At this time I have rent and bills to pay which come to somewhere approaching $1,500. Since my last pay was deposited directly last Friday, I now have no way of supporting myself.

“My employer tells me that they will only pay me by direct deposit. I therefore now no longer really have a job since no money will ever reach me,” he said. “I have tried talking to the Family Support people but their answer was, ‘We have a court order’ — something they kept repeating.

“I have had no contact with my daughter in over four years,” he continued. “I do not even know if she is alive and well. I have tried to keep her informed of my current telephone number but she has never bothered to call.”

And then he wrote those final paragraphs — about having no friends, about the car exhaust, and about his wish for his suicide note to be published.

According to Oakville’s Vern Beck, founder of Fathers Are Capable Too (FACT), Andy Renouf then drove to a Markham industrial park, ran an exhaust hose into his car and waited for the eyes to close.

“The Family Responsibility Office doesn’t give a damn about anyone,” said Beck.

“It has no sense of fairness when it comes to fathers and the decisions which come out of family court.

“It’s the strong arm of the family court system,” he said. “It takes nothing into consideration, doesn’t care about custody changes or alterations.

“Across Canada, the deaths of seven fathers a day can be related to family law.

“It’s a horrible statistic, but true.”

If that is indeed the case, and no source could be found to deny it, then the time has come for the Ontario coroner’s office to hold a full-scale inquest when the next A. T. Renouf takes his own life while pointing a finger at the Family Responsibility Office.

It’s a can of worms begging to be opened.

 

The Toronto Star

Birth rights,
A small but vocal group : of estranged fathers is fighting for fairness and equality
March 1, 1997, BY: PETER CHENEY STAR REPORTER

As Stacy Robb sees it, the battle of DADS Canada is an up hill one against the combined forces of radical feminism, legal apathy and cash flow. The current bank balance is $15.39 and headquarters is the basement of an Etobicoke bungalow.

But austerity doesn’t faze Robb, a 41-year old unemployed trucker and founder’ of DADS Canada– “Justice has to prevail,” he says. Right now there is none. Many tiny splinter groups have sprouted in the battle-fields of the divorce wars.

DADS (Divorce And Defence Strategies) is one of more than a dozen men’s rights groups that operate in the Metro area alone. No one knows exactly how many men belong but it’s clear their numbers are relatively small. DADS, for example, has taken calls from more than 1,000 people in the past two years and has become actively involved in about 150 cases.

Not everyone sees things Robb’s way. Women’s organizations, in particular, view his group and others like it as something akin to terrorists. “They’re fanatics,” says Carole Curtis, a Toronto lawyer who specializes in family law. “They make an already difficult process impossible….. They turn it into war.”

Despite their small numbers, men’s rights groups have been surprisingly effective in some ways. Most notably, they mounted a successful lobby against a bill that would change the way child support payments are taxed. Bill C41, which would affect more than 350,000 divorced and separated parents in Canada, was recently passed by the Senate, which held it up after extensive lobbying by groups like DADS, who says it would unfairly punish non-custodial parents (most of them men).

Under C41, which is expected to be passed by the House of Commons by May 1, parents paying support payments could not deduct them from their income for tax purposes, as they do now. And parents receiving those payments would no longer be taxed on them. In the view of men’s rights groups, the bill increases support payments by non-custodial parents without taking into account the income of custodial parents.

As well, they say the bill makes no provisions for a reduction in child-support payments by fathers who spend time with their children and spend money on them during that time. Like virtually everyone else in the men’s rights movement, Robb became involved alter a nasty marital breakup:

He and his wife split in 1991 and have battled ever since over custody and support., Robb’s experience left him bitter, poor and convinced that something had to change. He moved back into his parents’ house, stone broke, carrying nothing but his guitar, a computer and a few clothes.

On Fathers’ Day, 1993, Robb started DADS by printing labels on his computer and sticking them up in the bathrooms at courthouses across the city. The stickers read: “Real Crime Starts At Family Court.”

Today, DADS is virtually a full-time operation. Robb researches case law, helps members draft legal documents and maintains the DADS Web site, which includes everything from tips on divorce law to a list of the 10 U.S. states that do not co-operate with Canadian authorities trying to collect unpaid support payments.

Robb is quick to point out that he doesn’t advise men to flee the province to escape custody payments: “The best thing is for parents to sit down and work out an agreement,” he says. “But that doesn’t always work … Some guys, the only way out they see is to bugger off. And that sucks.

That’s not a good way to do it.” Robb and others in the men’s rights movement believe that women’s groups have made it seem like deadbeat dads are the biggest problem in the field of family law, while avoiding the issue of fathers who are denied access to their children. “No one seems to talk about that much,” Robb says. “But it’s a huge problem.”

In early January, DADS scored its biggest publicity coup yet when a Hamilton woman went to jail after DADS member Wayne Allen won a contempt of court motion in family court. Allen argued that his former girlfriend, the mother of their 2-year old daughter, had broken a court order by refusing to let him see their child.

Allen, a high school dropout who boned up on the law through DADS and private research, represented himself in court. When his ex was jailed for six days on Jan. 6, DADS called the media, presenting the case as a landmark “That hasn’t happened in 20 years,” Robb said. “Guys go to jail all the time. But a woman? It doesn’t happen.”

For Deborah Grenier, the woman who went to jail, the event was anything but a landmark She is bitter that she has been used as a publicity tool by the men’s rights movement. Sitting in a Hamilton restaurant, Grenier is angry as she talks about what happened. “What I can’t stand is that my case got presented like it was some big victory for Wayne and that group he’s in. It’s not! The whole thing was a mess. No body won here. Nobody.”

Grenier, 33, blames DADS for making a bad situation worse. She says Allen became a fanatic after hooking up with DADS. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re just bullies who hang out at family court all the time. They make comments – it’s designed to intimidate you. They’re obsessed.”

The relationship that began Grenier and Allen’s titanic legal battle was surprisingly brief -they dated only a few times after meeting at a wedding in 1994. They quickly realized they were not an ideal couple, but the real troubles came after Grenier found out she was pregnant. By the time baby Jenna was born in the fall of 1994, Grenier and Allen were barely speaking. At the time, Allen worked on the assembly line at the Ford plant in Oakville.

After the courts ordered him to pay $600 a month in support, the two battled over payments and access – she said he wasn’t paying, he said she wouldn’t let him see Jenna. Soon after, Allen quit his job at Ford. He says it was because the job was “going nowhere.” Grenier says it was because he wanted to escape his support payments.

In the meantime, Allen discovered DADS Canada. Grenier says DADS encouraged Allen to wage a vindictive court battle that has made it impossible to achieve the kind of compromise necessary for their daughter’s well-being. An unlikely legal pioneer, Wayne Allen sits in the living room of the small Hamilton two-story he shares with his parents, smoking a series of Players Filters as he savors what he sees as his moment of triumph. “Why is it that it took a layman to put a woman behind bars?” he asks.

“All those lawyers out there who went to school for seven years, and a high school dropout changes legal history.” As Allen, 33, sees it, the entire legal system is stacked against men when it comes to custody and child support “Are women protected under the law? Sure – does the sun rise in the east?”

Upstairs, Allen has a room outfitted with a crib and toys. For now, he has his daughter three days a week. What will happen next in his legal battle with Grenier is anyone’s guess. Their case is scheduled to go to court in the spring. Allen wants joint custody of Jenna – each of them would get her half the time, and no support would be paid. Grenier wants to be named as custodial parent, with visitation rights for Allen, She also wants Allen to pay support, and plans to file a contempt motion of her own if he refuses. Allen’s supposed victory over fairness .

The men’s rights movement believes women’s groups, such as Mothers Against Fathers In Arrears headed by Kaarina Pakka, have made it seem like deadbeat dads are the biggest problem in the field of family law. Grenier doesn’t cut much ice with family law specialist Carole Curtis. “This was a case that got completely out of hand. A lot of lawyers would have talked him into a better solution. If he wants a finding of contempt, fine. But jail was not the answer.”

Curtis is dismissive of men’s rights groups, which she thinks have done nothing but make an already difficult problem even worse: ” They are polarizing. They throw gas on the fire. ” The amount of disputed access cases is far lower than these fathers’ rights groups would lead you to believe. They have created the impression that this is epidemic. It’s not. It’s not nearly the problem that support payments are: 98 percent of payors are men and there is a high level of payments in arrears.”

On the other side of the divorce wars are women’s groups devoted to fighting deadbeat dads. One of the best known is Mothers Against Fathers In Arrears, which was started by Kaarina Pakka, a flight attendant who had a dispute over support payments with her former partner, a fashion magnate. Pakka made headlines when she and other MAFIA members came up with an attention-grabbing strategy: they picketed his company. Pakka takes issue with the idea that children can be split 50-50 between parents, a view that is often expressed by men’s rights groups as a way to resolve disputed custody. “A child has to have one home,” Paka says. “They can’t maintain friendships or schooling. And there are a lot of other factors, too. It’s an unrealistic position.” Pakka says the fact that women are granted custody more often than men reflects the fact that women still, in most cases, take the brunt of responsibility for child care. Monday: The high price of bitter custody battles.

 

The Toronto Star

MOM GETS 60 DAYS FOR DENYING FATHER ACCESS TO THEIR DAUGHTER
February 28, 1998, BY PATRICIA ORWEN

A Mississauga mother of two is serving a 60-day jail sentence for failing to allow the father of her 4-year-old daughter access to the child “I’m devastated… I don’t understand how this could happen,” Lisa Barbosa said during an emotional interview yesterday at the Metro West Detention Centre.

“I know people get sent to jail, but couldn’t the judge have understood how horrible this is for my children? “Their mommy is suddenly gone and she’s in jail.”

Barbosa, 31, had been ordered several years ago to allow Richard Dadd, the father of 4-year-old Britney, regular visits with the child.

He took her to court, arguing that he was denied access a number of times.

She, however, maintained she always complied with the order, except when the child – who is asthmatic was sick.

She was jailed Monday after a hearing in a Brampton court.

Dadd said he was not surprised by the judge’s decision.

“I can’t say I’m happy that the mother of my child is in jail,” he said.

But “this is really the other side of the coin,” Dadd said.

“I’ve been prevented from seeing my daughter on all her other birthdays… Fathers Day… a lot of times… so now things have turned around.”

Barbosa, who was allowed only a short telephone interview from behind a plexiglass wall in the visitor’s room of the jail, said she fears that both her children will he emotionally scarred by her legal battle with the father and, now, by her jailing.

Tuesday is Britney’s 5th birthday.

“What will she feel when I’m not there?” asked Barbosa, who has always been a stay-at-home mother to Britney.

Barbosa and Britney’s father were never married. She has another child 18-month-old Joey, by her husband, Tony Barbosa.

Barbosa said her children have never been without her for any length of time.

Little Joey, she said, is so upset by his mother’s absence that Tony has had to take time off from his job to take care of him.

“I’m afraid for my children and I’m afraid for myself” said Barbosa, who was sentenced for breaching a court order which allowed Dadd, 34, of Mississauga to visit the child.

In court, Barbosa denied breaching the order. Dadd, however, testified that he had been prevented from having his court-ordered access to Britney on numerous occasions.

Dadd and Barbosa began their relationship in 1983. Though they dated until 1993, when their daughter was born, they never lived together.

Barbosa said she has custody of her daughter; Dadd was granted access and ordered to pay $250 a month in child support.

PROTECTIVE CUSTODY

Dadd, who is now married to another woman, has temporary custody of Britney while Barbosa is serving her sentence.

Asked how the child was reacting to her mother’s jailing, Dadd said he had not told the girl.

Barbosa was placed in protective custody last night after she reported to officials that other inmates had threatened to beat her.

She has requested a transfer to another facility.

Her mother, Nancy Tempelmann, has contacted Toronto family lawyer Lauren Israel.

She has also enlisted the support of the mothers’ right group Mothers Against Fathers In Arrears.

Dadd says he has kept his child support payments up to date.

When told about the case, Israel said she had never heard of any woman receiving a 60-day sentence for such an offence.

“It’s very unusual,” she said.

Tempelmann, 51, who attended the court hearing with her daughter, plans to picket outside the jail.

“I told the judge they (Barbosa and Dadd) were both to blame for the situation.. . and I asked for his mercy,” said Tempelmann, recalling her shock at seeing her daughter led away in handcuffs.

The most unfortunate aspect of the case is that “two children are being punished by having their mother taken away;’ said Kaarina Pakka of MAFIA.

Her organization knows of only one other case of a mother being jailed under similar circumstances.

Last year, Deborah Grenier of Hamilton was jailed for six days after the father of her child won a contempt of court motion in family court.

In that case, the father argued that his former girlfriend and mother of their 2-year-old daughter had breached a court order by refusing to let him see their child.

The Ottawa Citizen

People are going to be picketing “deadbeat judges” in Perth Tuesday, and if it bothers them, they can blame it on former justice minister and now health minister, Allan Rock. It’s all part of a growing demand for speedy changes to Ontario’s family courts, and suggestions they should be shut down.

The definition of a deadbeat judge comes from Stacy Robb of Toronto, who three years ago founded DADS Canada (Divorce and Defence Strategies). “They (family court judges) don’t read the files. In one jurisdiction (in Southern Ontario), you have to make an application to get your file read.”

Tuesday’s co-ordinating group was formed by Brett Peters of Perth, and is called FARE (Fathers After Rights Equalization). A strong contingent from Toronto-based FACT (Fathers Are Capable Too) is expected. It has a membership of more than 200. Although all of these groups claim they will try to help any woman caught in the same system glitches, they are mainly male.

Their definition of a deadbeat is anybody who doesn’t do an assigned task properly. Aside from failing to read files prepared at great cost in time and money, family court judges don’t use perjury laws. Women are seldom arrested for breach of court orders. Mr. Rock’s involvement came about during the federal election in June, when members of these groups picketed his Etobicoke Centre office with signs like: “Access denied is child abuse.” The candidate told the protesters they were in the wrong place. His directions were picked up and quoted in a suburban newspaper: “You should be picketing judges.”

A year ago, men from these groups picketed the home of a “deadbeat mom” in Mississauga. The father was not in support arrears, but she was denying access. The protest got national attention and forced a judge to have the woman charged with contempt of court. She was given a five day jail sentence.

Mr. Robb, a former truck driver, says he’s a victim of poor court work. ‘I called to ask about the welfare of my children, and wound up charged with criminal harassment. My file wasn’t read. I felt so harassed by the system, that I decided to harass back.” Dads Canada offers a paralegal service, doing divorce legwork for $60 an hour. It collects the paperwork, and when the file is complete, the client takes it to a lawyer. It’s a cost-cutting service offered to mothers as well as dads.

Ottawa lawyer and former law professor Evita Roche says changing the system “is like turning the Queen Mary.” Everybody knows it’s going to happen, but it’s slow. Meanwhile, her approach is to try to change public attitudes. She holds family law seminars with the intent of steering divorcing couples away from family courts. She considers herself “in recovery.” With 18 years in family law, her thought processes were shaped to fit the system. ‘When I went to law school, we were taught nothing but litigation. I have seen the cost of separation and divorce escalate needlessly over the past few years. I’m trying to do something about it. “Family law isn’t rocket science. Ninety per cent of the time things can be worked out.” A judge is needed only to declare the marriage dead. How does she see the family law court of the future? “I hope there won’t be one.”

Years ago, my criticism of family courts resulted in a challenge from a lawyer: “Find a better system. ” My views haven’t changed. If children are involved, there is need for speed. A tribunal, made up of a lawyer, a financial manager and a child care specialist should make immediate rulings. Lawyer Roche said yesterday those thoughts appealed to her. Pilot projects, called Unified Family Courts, have been running in other parts of the province. They would get matters resolved with fewer trips to court.

It could be like putting faster engines in the Queen Mary, when maybe it’s time to scrap the thing. The Roche seminars will be held tomorrow and Saturday and cost $187.25. She says that’s about seven hours of her time for the price of one. She usually gets a good turnout of people who work in the marital breakdown field, but believes more couples should study the updated rules. Resolve the issues by using lawyers as mediators, not litigates. She’s at 237-7335. FARE is at (613)267-4950. DADS Canada (416)410-3237. FACT (416)233-3911.

 

The Ottawa Citizen

Fathers must push for right to help raise their children, man says.

An honourable man walked out of an Ottawa courtroom recently and made an observation: “It cost me 16 months and $35,000 to get something I would have had in the first place, if the Government of Ontario was doing its job.”

It took that long and that much to prove he was not a deadbeat dad, and not abusive or violent.

With those allegations disproved and behind him, Norman Christie is once again in a position to assist in the raising of his children. He is firm in his belief that the majority of society’s losers, especially those in trouble with the law, are products of an upbringing that did not include a father.

Mr. Christie is an engineer and a historian, and when he applies his logic to Ontario’s court system, he sees need for massive re-tooling.

“It’s so simple. A false allegation of abuse, or a refusal to obey an access order, should result in immediate reversal of custody. And the system lacks accountability. For a start, social workers are not licensed. That means they can’t be sued. They have too much power to be unaccountable.

“I met some (social workers) who were excellent, but too many who showed a lack of ethics.” Mr. Christie praised Justice Michel Charbonneau.

“Too often I appeared in front of judges who had not done their homework. They hadn’t read the paperwork, prepared at high cost, and made decisions I can only describe as status quo. One judge’s mistakes cost me thousands of dollars to correct. Judge Charbonneau made himself fully informed and then rendered a judgment.”

Mr. Christie was represented by lawyer Andrea Camacho.

When Mr. Christie first contacted me to report the marital-law playing field, or court, was tilted, he was told that wasn’t news, but general knowledge. Children get caught in the middle, as pawns. If one side doesn’t fight, there is no middle. Most men walk away.

“That’s not honourable,” was his reply.

“It won’t change until men of honour stand up and fight.

” There was also the question of the media being reluctant to identify combatants in marital legal wars. “I understand. I would rather see my children temporarily embarrassed, although they have no reason to be, than to be damaged by being raised without my influence, and that of my parents and sisters.

” Mr. Christie says his work is far from finished, and the word most often used is “accountability.

” Sixteen months ago, with the help of a women’s shelter, his home was cleared of furniture and family, and he walked in to find only a restraining order.

Until his recent court win, he didn’t know where his children lived. The restraining order was issued after allegations he was abusive. From that point it was a long and costly uphill court battle. Throughout the process, Mr. Christie kept asking: “Where’s the accountability?”

During those 16 months we had several meetings as he updated his progress, and his reverses. His crawl through the legal minefield was secondary to his concern for his children.

At one point, looking in shock at a judge’s order that exceeded the judge’s authority and was a major setback, the suggestion was made that maybe it was time to walk away.

It was the only time I saw anger, and it was aimed at me. “Are you nuts! We’re talking about my kids here!”

Between his work and his legal battle, his housekeeping slipped. His sisters visited regularly to help with that, and give their support. He frequently said he had to fight injustice, because: “That’s the way my father raised me.” There were times when, frustrated and exhausted, he needed a shoulder to lean on. His father was always there.

To give himself confidence, he refurnished the home and with the help of his sisters, included were nicely decorated bedrooms for his children. That’s the way an engineer thinks. Design container. Fill same.

In records of this case, one finds a report from Dr. David A. McLean of the Family Court Clinic at the Royal Ottawa Hospital, raising serious questions about ethics. “I find it extremely disconcerting that there are professionals who provide one-sided assessments on custody and access disputes in the face of clear ethical guidelinesĀ  Indeed, were (a social worker) subject to licensing, such actions could lead to a severe reprimand, if not revoking of the licenseĀ  Providing (a biased report supporting the mother) only underscores her (social worker’s) complete lack of understanding of responsible and ethical guidelines.

” Stacy Robb is the founder of DADS Canada (Divorce and Defense Strategy) in Toronto, an organization that has frequently picketed “deadbeat judges” who didn’t read the paperwork, or insist their access orders be enforced. They have also, with some success, picketed the homes of “deadbeat moms” who refused to adhere to court orders. That support orders are quickly enforced, but not access orders, says Robb, is an example of gender bias in the system.

Making life more difficult for Mr. Christie was that he had to keep coming up with money for his legal bill, while at the same time keeping his support payments up. He’s self-employed. The easiest way for an opposing lawyer to stall the court system is to point out the father’s finances are in arrears. That spells deadbeat.

It’s a bias the Joint Senate-Commons Committee on Child Custody and Access has been finding as it tours the country holding hearings. Co-chaired by Sarnia MP Roger Galloway and Senator Anne Cools, its report is due in November. They have given hints the Divorce Act needs new teeth.

Mr. Galloway has said the custody-access system has become bogged down in too many rules, and too many questionable accusations which are often never proven but colour decisions. Senator Cools has been pushing a movement to have lawyers held accountable for knowingly filing false allegations.

Mr. Robb was also celebrating this week. He had just had his two children for an overnight visit for the first time in seven years. His legal bill isn’t high because he quit his job “to learn the system” and represented himself.

That the system has become bogged down with needless paperwork and slow processes, says Mr. Robb, is understandable. Lawyers bill by the hour. “It isn’t in their interest to speed the system, and face it, the system is run by lawyers.

” Says the engineer in Mr. Christie: It isn’t much different than designing a system to produce high-grade steel. You know the objective and design the system. In the court system, the objective should be to produce ethical decisions that will protect our society.

“Instead, it’s a system that produces nothing, and nobody is being held accountable for the design problem.

” In his view, false allegations, using children as pawns, and refusing to obey access orders, would end immediately if the penalty was reversal of custody.

Mr. Robb favours immediate mandatory mediation.

Mr. Christie takes it a step further. Public funding to all and any agencies that are not accountable to the public should be stopped. That includes women’s shelters and agencies that employ social workers who have not joined the fledgling social work society. Accountability is his battle cry.


Dave Brown is the Citizen’s senior editor.

The Perth Courier

Protesting ‘deadbeat judges’ at the courthouse
Perth Courier, By Ian Gray, WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 29, 1997

The first ever deadbeat judge protest in Canada was held in front of the Perth courthouse last Tuesday. Representatives from three fathers’ rights groups took part. Brett Peters is president and under of Fathers After Rights Equalization (FARE). His group was joined by Fathers Are Capable Too (FACT) and Dads Canada on the protest march. “What we want is to bring equality back to the judiciary pertaining to child access, custody and visitation,”. Mr. Peters said. He says there is a bias in the family court system toward mothers. The fathers’ groups describe “deadbeat judges” as those who, in their opinions, adopt these gender biases. “(Fathers) have had enough of our constitutional rights denied. A mother can go in (to court), make an allegation of abuse – they do not have to prove it – and daddy is restricted to the children. “We just want to level the playing field.” He sees the court system as a business, and self-serving. “We’d like to see the system speed up…to just go to trial.” Stacy Robb is president of Dads Canada, based out of Toronto. He feels the gender-bias is so wide spread, “there’s no point in a father or non-custodial parent filing anything. “It’s time the judges take responsibility,” Mr. Robb said. Mr. Peters says judicial protests like the one in Perth last week will I become more frequent across Canada in the future. “And we’re going to start naming judges,” said Mr. Robb. “But we want to be fair, we want to put the judicial system on notice that we will have people…in their courts. “We will be recording court judgments.” Mr. Robb says judges should be accountable to the public, and suggests they should be voted to the bench, as in the US.

Fathers on the protest line chanted slogans like, “We cloth them, we feed them and now we want to see them.” The groups are fighting for the rights of the children, Mr. Peters said. “The children have the right to both parents, and far too often they’re used as pawns in this battle.” He says 77 percent of young offenders are fatherless boys. “We do understand that there are bad fathers out there, but there are also bad mothers, too,” Mr. Peters said. “The biggest unreported crime in the country is abuse towards a man from a woman.” Mr. Robb said, “There has to be a better alternative” to the present family court system. “The children are the real losers in this system.” Supporters from Toronto, Kingston and across eastern Ontario joined in the Perth walk, Mr. Peters said. We’re Growing…but eventually I’d like to put myself out of business.