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May 7, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Sometimes it feels like it would be easy just to throw up my hands at how the news media deal with issues relating to parents and children. Here’s a prime example (Globe and Mail, 5/2/18).

It’s an advice column written by one David Eddie. His correspondent is a woman who’s become pregnant by a guy she describes as a “club-going partier.” He’s 25 years old. Being a “club-going partier,” he wants nothing to do with the child and asked her to have an abortion. She says nothing about whether she intends to terminate the pregnancy, but we assume she doesn’t. Oddly, she’s written to Eddie to ask what she should do.

I call that odd because, if she intends to carry her pregnancy to term, it would seem her path is clear – let the guy know her decision, tell him she’s going to demand child support and let him know he can be involved in his child’s life if he wants. These are not difficult concepts.

Except for Eddie, they’re too much to sort out. He refers to the woman’s situation as “quite complex,” “outside the comfort zone of my skill-set” (whatever that means), “murkier and more grey area-filled” (whatever that means). So he called a lawyer to have answered the simplest of questions.

But not before he takes one inexplicable detour.

The courts cannot enforce that the “father” (aka “the inseminator”: I’ve written in this space, and quite recently, how I hate when those two terms are used as synonymous, so I won’t go through all that again) cannot actually be compelled to have a moral, physical, or emotional relationship with the child.

Which strikes me as sad, weird and unfair.

Hmm. Why is the court’s inability to force anyone to have a “moral, physical or emotional relationship with the child” “sad, weird and unfair?” Does Eddie really believe that courts should, in some way, have that power? If they did, how would they enforce it? Would he like a court of law monitoring his life to ensure that his relationship with his child is sufficiently “moral, physical and emotional?” What would be the criteria for deciding whether it is or isn’t? The man is utterly incurious about his own words.

Why is the burden on her, just because she gestates the child in her womb?

Which “burden” he refers to is anyone’s guess and of course Eddie’s not letting on. But I’ll guess he’s referring to the “burden” of having a “moral, physical or emotional relationship with the child,” although why that’s a “burden” to a woman who wants a child is left a mystery. If so, the answer to his question is all too obvious. She has that “burden” because she’s the one who made the decision to go through with the pregnancy. It’s not a decision anyone forced on her any more than is the one to not place the child for adoption or simply take it to one of the places designated by Baby Moses laws available to mothers who wish to give up their newborns. She’s chosen to not take any of those alternatives and to keep the child. Her choice, her “burden.” Eddie hasn’t a clue. He asked the question, but makes no effort to answer it.

The good news (from my POV) is he can be compelled by the courts to have, if not a moral or emotional or (what I would call) paternal relationship to the child, then at least a financial one, i.e. to pay child support.

Eureka! Eddie managed to stumble onto the answer to the woman’s question he considers obscure but is in fact known to about 90% of people over the age of 16. Yes, Mr. Eddie, a man who fathers a child can be made to pay child support.

Ah, but for Eddie, the issue becomes a dense, dark thicket from which there’s no apparent way out. What if the father denies paternity? That one’s almost too much for him to handle, but somehow, against such great odds, he soldiers on. It seems there’s something called genetic testing. (Who knew?) Not only that, but some courts will force the man to be tested for paternity and others will simply assume he’s the dad if he fails to accede to testing. In short, the Canadian child support system makes it exceedingly easy for a woman to get child support from a man. Memo to Eddie: this is not news to anyone but you.

Still, the attorney Eddie consulted to provide him information everyone else already knows did come up with one gem.

“[I]n a relationship of some permanence if they are the natural parents of a child” it is possible (though not certain) you might qualify for spousal support as well as child support. This business of you spending time in his apartment as well as having clothes and cosmetics there as well may come into play.

Amazingly, Canadian law is so eager for fathers to support mothers, that seemingly any set of circumstances can give rise to an order of spousal support on top of child support. So if the letter writer spent some nights at the guy’s house and left some of her stuff there temporarily, that may be all it takes.

As usual, the message to men is clear: take what responsibility you can for contraception if you don’t want a child; never let a woman move in with you if you don’t want to pay spousal support.

Or, stated another way, the law once again makes sex between men and women a mine field for the man. As public policy, it’s utterly irrational because any sane society encourages stable, long-term relationships between men and women. Of course if the goal is simply a transfer of wealth from men to women and the hell with stable relationships that are the best for children, well, we’re already there.

Readers can decide for themselves, but unfortunately, I suspect David Eddie cannot. For someone who doesn’t understand the basics of child support, the multiple flaws in Canadian policy that encourage divorce, discourage marriage and tell men loudly and clearly that marriage and children are in no way in their interests are far beyond his ability to imagine, much less describe to readers.

 

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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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