Toronto Sun

Thursday, December 10, 1998

Divorce Act gets tune-up

Kids focus of recommendations


OTTAWA --  A Commons-Senate committee wants the words "custody" and "access" replaced with "shared parenting" in the Divorce Act as it recommended changes aimed at ending custody battles.

The committee has spent the last year studying ways to get mothers and fathers involved in their children's upbringing after marriages end.

The committee also said yesterday both parents should have access to information on their children's development, education and activities.

And relationships with grandparents and other family members be recognized as significant.

But the committee wouldn't recommend joint custody as a forced solution in every divorce, as fathers' advocates had hoped.

Instead, the report -- called For the Sake of the Children -- suggests the current system, where courts are the final arbiters, should remain. But it wants the interests of children put first.

"It will mean that parents post divorce will both be equal in terms of their legal rights," said MP Roger Gallaway, committee co-chairman. "Children are entitled to two parents post divorce."

Justice Minister Anne McLellan has said she'd be willing to consider changes to the Act if they improve the lot of children.