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Dads fight to see their kids PDF Print E-mail
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Written by JILL ELLIS, Special to QMI Agency   

Women get full custody in most cases in the event of separation or divorce, but author Molly Murphy feels that joint custody is the way to go, when possible.

While it's a day all about dad, some fathers aren't looking forward to Father's Day, as they won't be able to spend it with their children. Dads like Brad Corbett, of London, Ontario, have little or no contact with their children due to strained custody situations.

During the separation process, Corbett's ex-wife had him charged with assault in order to stop his access to their children, then nine and 12. He believes that she had been coached by a lawyer to do so as a tool to ensure she'd receive full custody. "It was well orchestrated systematically," he explains. "She had been to a lawyer and had me charged with assault. It didn't matter if it was a false allegation."

Though the university professor had no pattern of such behaviour or record before or since, Corbett has faced financial problems, feared for his job and had his relationship with his children damaged in the case of the younger, and decimated in case of the older.

Molly Murphy says that this is a situation that happens all too often. She's written a book illuminating three fathers' struggles to gain access and regain their dignity in Winner Take All (Dog Ear Publishing, available nationally). Murphy was prompted to write the book when she heard so many woeful tales of men seeking access to their children and having their reputations and finances ruined. A divorcee herself, she's experienced the problems with Canada's family law system personally. "I've witnessed it and it's the worst crime I'd seen in my life," says Murphy.

"Families are set up to fight each other (in divorce). They pay lawyers all kinds of money - from $250 to $500 per hour - and a lot of them lose their income to lawyers, and then (in the case of fathers) have no more money left to fight for custody," she explains.

Deciding she couldn't participate in such a travesty when encouraged to go for the family assets, full custody and full support by her own lawyer, Murphy decided to share custody with her ex-husband and that they'd sit down to discuss the children's financial needs on an ongoing basis. "Not everyone can do that but its best for the children if you can. It truly puts them first."

Murphy affirms that false claims of assault are sometimes used as weapons in the divorce wars. "False claims of abuse happen; it's sad but they do happen."

Corbett has been active in Canadian Equal Parenting Council. CEPC is a national group, according to president Glenn Cheriton, that is trying to bring balance to the system. "We are working to make it (the system) more rational and responsible," explains Cheriton.

Murphy agrees, "The pendulum has swung from women having no rights to women having all the rights. We have to balance that out."

Women get full custody in most cases, but Murphy feels that joint custody is the way to go, when possible. "Shared parenting should be assumed. When a child has both a mother and a father, why would one get them, unless the family decides it should be that way because of work schedules or something? And when there are allegations of abuse, make sure they are valid."

To help parting couples work together for the best interest of the children, and the family as a whole, Murphy feels the solution is to make the system less adversarial. "Get rid of the lawyers and get mediators in there."

Children are the ones who would win in the long run, and making sure kids are happy and well-cared for is what Father's Day is all about.


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