Halifax Daily News

Custody not awarded fairly, says Senator

Monday, April 27, 1998
The Daily News

Men and women are not treated equally before the law," said Cools. "Children are not the possession of any one parent; they are not the possession of the mother." Her personal hope is that the weight of public opinion will sway judges' minds. "In a divorce, all assets are shared, all burdens are shared, all children began as shared, and the law has to uphold shared parenting," said Cools. "What we do know about custody is that courts have been reluctant to enforce access. The courts have been reluctant to hold custodial parents - who are mostly mothers - responsible. "All I say, is let's have balance; these are children. And the best interests of a child begin with a mother and father."

Director of the Nova Scotia Shared Parenting Association, Rick Johnson, agrees. He recommends judges stop listening to lawyers and start talking to kids. "If you listen to the children, you're going to get honesty, truth and sincerity."

Johnson says the frustration that can make parents abduct their children begins in the courtroom. "When you walk into the courts, it is lawyer against lawyer, man against woman; the child is just the prize you get afterward."

Johnson wanted joint custody after his divorce. But lawyers could not settle on a compromise, and he joined the minority ranks of fathers who have full custody of their children. "Most non-custodial parents are men, and in the '90s, men want to be dads," he said. The parliamentary committee will meet May 26 in Halifax; The Daily News will report the time and place when they are confirmed.

The Nova Scotia Shared Parenting Association will hold its next meeting on April 30 at the Captain William Spry Community Centre. The group can be reached at 475-1492.

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