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June 16, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

As I said in my last piece, timing is everything. It’s as if Gideon Burrows’ scurrilous article in the UK version of the Huffington Post was the cue for various bits of information to pop up that clearly refute what he was saying. Here’s another one (Vancouver Sun, 6/12/13).

Burrows, as you’ll no doubt recall, took to his keyboard to bewail fathers who, according to his understanding, don’t care about their kids. At least they don’t care about them as much as they do about their “careers, interests and hobbies.” Funny, that’s not what the social science says about dads, even those about whom you might expect it to be true. For example, Harvard researcher Kathryn Edin has studied the youngest and poorest of fathers – teenagers mostly – and even they show a passionate interest in the children. Of course most fathers are like that, but Burrows was too busy adding to the myth of the irresponsible dad to care about pesky things like facts and science.

He’s also not interested in the fact that popular culture militates against fathers at every turn. Pop culture, including Burrows’ article, misses no opportunity to misrepresent fathers, portraying them in the worst imaginable ways. And sure enough, right on cue, out came a study of British mothers and fathers showing that they’re fed up with the way dads are depicted on television, in the movies, in newspapers, magazines, etc. They see pop culture for what it is; Burrows apparently doesn’t notice it at all.

Another little matter Burrows managed to overlook is the law that daily operates to separate children from the fathers who love, protect and support them. Burrows has never heard of family law apparently, and he certainly doesn’t know about the astonishing lengths to which the law and family courts go to remove fathers from the lives of their kids. And again, right on cue, comes the Vancouver Sun article.

It seems a single man and a single woman met and had casual sex. She had sex with several other men around the same time, and became pregnant. When the unnamed man learned about her pregnancy, he moved immediately to gain some sort of parental rights, but the misnamed Family Law Act didn’t make it easy. The woman’s plan was to decamp to Alberta, leaving her child’s father behind. But the Dad hired attorney Judith Wilson just in time to stop the move.

[L]awyer Judith Wilson represents the man, who is trying to establish a connection to the infant girl and obtained an interim order in provincial court to block the woman's planned move and obtain a paternity test.

"I argued when we got the interim order for guardianship that the Legislature could not have possibly have intended to deprive a child - on the face of it - of the right to their dad," Wilson said. "It just didn't seem to wash."

Unless the mother agrees, Wilson said, the new law forces biological fathers into court to prove a relationship and gain visitation or other rights.

"The rules of the act say the mom has to agree, you have to have visited the child, or you have to have a pattern of looking after the child - which applies to (an estranged) father or someone who has had access to the child," Wilson said.

So, that’s one hoop the dad has to jump through. The law leaves it up to the mother whether he has to go to court to prove paternity or not. How many men have the money to do that? And the simple fact is that the mother can simply do what so many have done in the past – not tell the father about his child. The fact is, this man got lucky. The mother of his child didn’t just pack up for Alberta as soon as she learned she was pregnant. Had she done so, she would easily have avoided his developing a relationship with his daughter. That situation would have obtained as long as Mom didn’t choose to receive his child support. If she chose to do that at any time in the child’s life up to and past her age of majority, then all of a sudden he would have had parental rights, albeit to a child he’d never set eyes on. He’d also have had an immense child support bill for however many years she’d kept the girl secret from him. She could cash in any time; the only drawback would be a requirement that she allow him to occasionally see the girl, who wouldn’t know him from Adam.

But fortunately, the father did learn about his child and had the money to hire a lawyer and go through all the machinations required to have even the most minimal contact with her.

"But, even if the mom agrees, you still have to have a criminal record check, you have to have a (Ministry of Children and Families) check so that they can say there is no bad stuff in its files against you - you have to prove prima facie you're not a bad guy."

Background checks for Mom? Not a chance. Only fathers are under that type of scrutiny; only fathers are per se suspected of being criminals. Funny how that works. And who pays for all those background checks? Dad does, of course. Gideon Burrows of course has no idea.

Judith Wilson gets other things right as well.

"There's nothing enshrined that says a child has a right to their grandparents, and to their extended family and their biological inheritance," Wilson said.

"What's happened as a result of this, I think it's weird to be calling it the Family Law Act because family doesn't matter any more. They don't put any weight on what is traditionally seen as one's extended family or the family unit. You're a sperm donor unless you prove otherwise, or unless the mother lets you be more than that."

Just so. It’s not only the father that the law tries its best to exclude from the child’s life, it’s all his relatives as well. All the various grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. are tossed out the window along with Dad. Why? Because he’s a man and not a woman. It may not be terribly responsible for a man to father a child with a woman he’s not married to, but why is it more responsible for a single woman to conceive a child? For reasons that can only be ascribed to a misandric culture, single fathers are treated as pariahs, single mothers like saints.

People like Gideon Burrows are all to glad to perpetuate those utterly false stereotypes, so maybe they should read the Sun article.

In this case, the man learned earlier this year of the woman's pregnancy and her plan to leave for Alberta where she has family.

She denied he was the father of the child, who was born a few days after the new act came into force on March 18, and refused to let him see the child.

The father retained Wilson to prevent the woman from leaving B.C. without recognizing his parental rights.

"I think she wanted to treat him like a sperm donor," the lawyer explained.

"She didn't know he was the father. There were potential other fathers."

She sounds like a real princess. She lied to him about his paternity and then refused to allow him to see his child. She “wanted to treat him like a sperm donor.” Nice. Burrows and the rest of the anti-dad crowd have no clue about what fathers do just to get a glimpse of their children. If mothers had to do half of that, we’d have canonized the lot of them decades ago.

"But I'm a little bit outraged that they are making me jump through so many hoops just to establish my rights," he added. "From the moment I learned she was pregnant, I knew it was my child and I wanted to be involved. I wanted to be there at the birth, that's why I have taken her to court. She denied me any connection."

“She denied me any connection.” See Mr. Burrows, mothers have the legal power to do that. The article doesn’t mention it, but her dogged attempts to deprive a child of her father will go entirely unpunished. In the eyes of the law, a mother’s lying to a father about a child and skedaddling to another province is perfectly acceptable behavior. Let a dad do that and he’s a child abductor, but when a mom does it, she’s a heroine.

To her everlasting credit, Judith Wilson is trying to get part of the Family Law Act declared unconstitutional. I hope she succeeds.

Making sure B.C. law recognizes such connections is key to her legal case, Wilson said. "The old story that blood is thicker than water and the idea that blood means something, your blood relations, is something that personally I think should be given some attention," Wilson said.

"In this world, there are so many different things out there that have torn us and put us into these little individualized cubicles of existence, there isn't too much that's holding us together in terms of our family units any more and I don't think the Family Law Act saw that as a goal."

The Gideon Burrows of the world know none of this. They’re so certain fathers are what they’re depicted to be on television, they have no room in their minds for men like the one in this article, the guy who’s paid who knows how much money, spent countless sleepless nights, just to have the tiniest amount of face time with his new daughter. Gideon Burrows should hang his head in shame. He’s not half the man this anonymous dad is. Not even close.

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The National Parents Organization is a non-profit organization that is educating the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents and extended families. If you would like to get involved in our organization, you can do so several ways. First, we would love to have you as an official member of the National Parents Organization team. Second, the National Parents Organization is an organization that believes in the importance of using social media as a means to spread the word about shared parenting and other topics, and you can visit us on our Facebook Page to learn more about our efforts. Last, we hope you will share this article with other families using the many social networking sites so that we can bring about greater awareness of shared parenting. Thank you for your support.

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