January 18, 2013 by Gene C. Colman, Founding Member, Lawyers for Shared Parenting, Toronto
Lawyers for Shared Parenting (L4SP) is a new association of lawyers advocating for a Canada-wide legislated rebuttable presumption in favour of equal shared parenting for children of divorce or separated parents. The starting point for division of children’s time with each parent should be equal, as should responsibility for decision-making, say member lawyers Gene C. Colman and Brian Ludmer.
L4SP suggests, “There is every reason to believe that a 50/50 starting point will catalyze better results for children and reduce conflict in family law cases.” These dedicated Canadian lawyers (many are family law lawyers themselves) are convinced that equal shared parenting is appropriate for the majority of families. These lawyers will readily admit that while the concept is not perfect for all (hence a presumption that is “rebuttable”), it is the proper starting point for resolution of parenting arrangements where the parents are not able to live together and are not able to agree on a division of time with the children.
There is little empirical support for the starting point in the discourse being one “primary parent” and another who the children “go to visit occasionally.” There is little to no empirical support for the benefits of a 70%-30% timeshare split as opposed to 50% — 50% timeshare arrangements. Expensive litigation and self-representation which ends up positioning parents within those range of possibilities is both wasteful of family and government resources and serves no useful purpose. Less conflict will translate into less litigation.
A separation or divorce is not a good reason to essentially excise or to marginalize one parent from the children’s lives. Myths and sexist stereotypes about parenting roles need to be challenged. Shared parenting and equality of parents is a practical alternative based upon empirical research and best practices of other jurisdictions.
Everyone agrees that the research is clear: exposure to parental conflict detrimentally affects children. Much of the conflict in our family law system is encouraged by the “winner take all” mentality of child custody disputes. Take away the incentives for “winner take all” and parental conflict is significantly reduced.
L4SP applauds M.P. Maurice Vellacott who has recently introduced into the House of Commons Bill C-560 — a bill that would mandate a rebuttable presumption in favour of equal shared parenting. L4SP calls upon the federal, provincial and territorial legislators to move now towards implementing a rebuttable presumption in favour of equal shared parenting.
L4SP membership is open to all lawyers who support equal shared parenting. Associate membership is available to academics and others who support this alternative to the existing dysfunctional Canadian family law system.
National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization
National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved? Here’s how:
Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.
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