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April 3, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Christie Blatchford is on a roll. This article makes for hard reading (National Post, 3/28/17). It’s the story of a husband and father, Jeramey A., who was driven to suicide by family courts, family law and family lawyers. He apparently went into his divorce and custody case anticipating fairness and reason. That belief was terribly mistaken. What he found was a court, lawyers and an ex-wife who weren’t satisfied with fairness or reason. They wanted blood and they got it.

Jeramey A. once had a thriving business in British Columbia installing microwave towers for various companies. But the worst thing happened. His business dried up just about the time his wife filed for divorce. Did she do so because his business dried up? Blatchford doesn’t say, but the timing is suggestive. That of course meant that his child support and alimony payments were calculated, not on what he was earning, but on what he once earned.

He couldn’t pay and so his arrears built up and up, increased by lawyers’ fees, interest and costs. Eventually, he was in court every month and sometimes more often. The issue was always the same – money, always money, more and more money. His current wife, Angela, described what had happened.

“His bank accounts were locked, he lost his homes, his vehicle, his business. You emasculate a man and take away his ability to provide … he’s a human being. He has limits.”

The court turned a deaf ear to his perfectly reasonable plea that his business was dead. It imputed income to him of over $180,000, a sum he didn’t remotely earn, and calculated child support and alimony based on that amount.

And of course the law, having invented a non-existent income, went on to make it ever more difficult for him to earn it – or indeed any income at all. Angela again:

“Knowing you owe so much money, and they’re taking your passport and driver’s licence, your pension is ours …

That was all bad enough, but it wasn’t the worst. His ex-wife had alienated his two daughters from him. He hadn’t seen or heard from them for almost a year when he died.

He hadn’t seen his daughters, now about eight and 10, for almost 11 months. They were, Angela said, completely alienated from him…

Angela knew he was in despair, but weeps that she didn’t realize the depths of it. “I just didn’t know,” she sobbed on the phone. “If he could have seen those girls, he could have handled all this …

Surely Jeramey A. came to understand that, finally, this was his life, that he would never be free of the debt, never be a father to his daughters. And for a father, that double whammy – the inability to provide properly for his family and his erasure as a father – meant the end. When it came, Jeramey A. made one last effort to make himself worthwhile to others. He left a note describing what he thought needs to change so there would be no more Jeramey A.’s to horrify the readers of the National Post.

“FAMILY LAW NEEDS REFORM. I recommend mandated lower costs and less reward for false claims of abuse. Parental Alienation is devastating. I loved my children as much as a husband and father could. I see no light. Recommend; an authority consistent during high conflict separations: It is exploited in family law.

“Sorry Dad and Angie. I’m very sorry.”

But, like so many other of his efforts, this one will go for naught. We know the depredations of family courts; we know they’re unfair to fathers and children and, on occasion, to mothers. We know they imagine facts that don’t exist, abuse children while claiming to act in their interests, rule on the basis of bias, not science and resist acquiring the knowledge that would force them to change their misguided and destructive ways. We also know that there’ve been family court-caused suicides before and will be again. That means Jeramey A. died in vain. He’s free of the pain, the irrationality, the hatred, but let no one believe that his death matters one whit to the judges, the lawyers or the system that killed him.

That a decent, hard-working, loving father could be driven to suicide indicts the entire system of family courts and their handling of child custody cases. There is simply no way in which such an outcome could occur in a system that truly values fathers and children. That is the lesson to be learned from Jeramey A.’s death. What we are doing is madness.

 

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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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