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Judge orders homework for divorcing parents PDF Print E-mail
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Written by SAM PAZZANO, Courts Bureau   

A Brampton judge has thrown three books at an estranged couple and assigned them some homework that’s due before their next court date.

Justice David Price ordered the parents of 11-year-old twins to read three books about parenting in a divorce situation before they return to family court in December and provide proof they completed the assignment by Nov. 30.

Karen Garney and Melvin MacNeil must also write “a one-page summary for each book of one insight that they have gained from it and one strategy, if any, they are prepared to adopt based on it,” the Superior Court justice wrote in a judgment obtained Thursday.

The books are former New York Times best-seller Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen, Parenting After Divorce by Philip M. Stahl, and Parenting from the Inside Out by Harvard-educated child psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell.

The judge explained the reasoning behind his unusual order.

“This may improve their ability to communicate and resolve some of the issues that are still troubling them,” said Price, listing a number of issues that the couple cannot resolve, including providing access to the children.

Garney has already finished reading the books and embraced the advice prescribed by the authors.

“I try to keep positive, say nothing personal and I always do things that are in the best interests of my children,” Garney said in an interview Thursday.

These books should be recommended reading for any and all parents who find themselves in the same situation, she said.

“These are three books everybody in our position (divorcing) should be reading,” said Garney, a former Etobicoke travel agent who has sole custody of twin 11-year-olds, a boy and a girl.

Earlier this year, the judge recommended the parents read the books. The judge credited the 41-year-old Garney with having read the books already, while her estranged husband hadn’t, so the judge ordered the reading and writing assignment.

MacNeil, now 43, and a construction contractor, and Garney became a couple in August 1996, married two years later and separated in March 2007.

They kept living together under the same roof until June 2007 when Garney left the matrimonial home. The twins continued to live primarily with their mother.

MacNeil is seeking to vary the custody order and asserts his rights to access are being violated, the judge wrote.

MacNeil had access to his children on Wednesday nights and every other weekend as long as he brought their son to his hockey games and practices on the weekends.

MacNeil was not available for comment.


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