A great man once said, "Politics is inherently stupid." That great man was me.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Supreme Court of Canada Rules Against Fathers

- UPDATE1 - : I'd like to point out that some of the women involved in this trial were justified in seeking additional payments from their ex-husbands. One of the women lived in poverty for quite some time and finally decided to seek more from her former spouse only after her phone service was cut off. The point here isn't that men shouldn't pay child support or meet their responsibilities towards their kids and ex-spouses - this they should do whole-heartedly. However, the point here is that the role of these fathers should be more than simply that of an ATM. These fathers have rights that come with their responsibilities, and these rights should be respected.

Looks like the war on men has reached a new low:
Canada's Supreme Court has ruled ex-spouses could face hefty retroactive child support payments if they fail to declare increased earnings -- a decision that could affect thousands of divorced and separated couples across the country.

In a unanimous 7-0 ruling Monday, the top court decided that ex-spouses -- the fathers in most cases -- who pay support have an obligation to report increases in income which could therefore boost their court-ordered payments.

The court also ruled that former spouses should be hit with retroactive penalties if they fail to inform their ex-partner about any changes to their income. CTV.CA

It's no secret that divorce courts are usually a formality for men, who can fully expect to pay exorbitant child-support and have access to their kids restricted. In 1998, Statistics Canada reported that, "most children (86%) lived with their mother after separation. Only 7% lived with their father, about 6% lived under a joint custody arrangement, and the remaining (less than 1%) lived under another type of custody agreement." Canada's divorce courts care nothing for the rights of fathers.

Don't get me wrong here - clearly, there are deadbeat dads out there who shirk their responsibilities towards their ex-spouses and their kids. However, the number of men forced into poverty and denied access to their children by so-called "fair" divorce courts is simply obscene. Many fathers are forced into poverty while faithfully paying child-support even in situations where the ex-wife makes more than they do. The despair felt by many of these men has driven some of them to suicide.

This recent ruling highlights the anti-father attitude held by the courts:

In the four Alberta cases, Smith said the fathers dutifully paid everything they owed under the initial support orders made by the courts when they divorced or separated.

However, Carole Curtis, the lawyer for two of the four women receiving support payments, said although the men stuck to the original deals, they did not tell their ex-partners their incomes had gone up and they could now afford to pay more under federal guidelines.

"They were paying the wrong amount, and they knew they were paying the wrong amount," she told CP.

These men weren't deadbeats - they paid what they were told to in order to support their kids. In spite of all this, according to Curtis these men were still paying "the wrong amount" - regardless of the fact that the previous amounts had been approved as "fair" by divorce courts.

Canada's attitude towards males in divorce cases needs to change, starting with a review of the way child support and custody of children is determined.

Most of all, the courts need to recognize that these men are fathers - not ATMs.
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