Russian Billionaire Who Bankrolled Sochi Olympics Faces Ugly Divorce

GEO#1Natalia Potanina has found justice in an American courtroom in the latest twist in her divorce from Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin. After 30 years of marriage with three children, Ms. Potanina is struggling to locate her husband’s assets so that she can return to Russia and obtain a court order for half of them, in accordance with Russian family law.

A United States federal court judge in Brooklyn has ruled that two American executives for private equity firm Altpoint are compelled to testify with regards to investments made by Mr. Potanin, age 53, and his company Interros.

Interros, a conglomerate headquartered in Moscow, has interests that include mining, finance, agriculture, tourism, energy, retail and real estate.

Chief Financial Officer Eric Chan and Managing Director Yuki Narula have also been ordered to produce 13 categories of relevant financial documents including all emails between them, Mr. Potanin and Interros.

Ms. Potanina told the U.S. Court that her husband warned her that if she did not accept his verbal terms of settlement, she would get nothing from him.

For his part, the billionaire says the couple did not separate a year ago as his wife insists, but seven years ago, and that he has already made his wife a wealthy woman. He also alleges that he and his wife divvied up his assets some time ago, a statement denied by her.

With wealth estimated at $14 billion, Mr. Potanin has a reputation for philanthropy and endorsed Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffet’s “Giving Pledge” promising to give a significant portion of his net worth to the poor in undeveloped countries.

His spokesman recently announced that he had divested himself of most of his assets in order to fulfill his pledge, however, he still has plenty of money for extravagance, as it was reported that he paid $95,000 to a New York restauranteur for a 4 pound white truffle in October last year, the most expensive truffle in the world.

Ms. Potanina’s lawyers say the billionaire’s charitable donations are a scam intended to hide his wealth and deprive his wife of her share.

The parties are scheduled to be in court in Moscow later this month, a hearing that will no doubt be tainted by Russia’s infamous and corrupt judiciary.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Judge “Friends” Wife While Hearing Her Divorce Case

P1010870 - Version 2She’s a Facebook fan and also a Florida judge who thinks its OK to “friend” a litigant in the middle of her divorce trial. No, I’m not kidding!

Sandra Chace and her husband Robert Loisel had just finished their divorce hearing and were awaiting the Judge’s decision, when Sandra received a request from the Judge to become a Facebook friend.

Ms. Chace immediately contacted her lawyer who recommended she not accept the request, so she ignored it.

Shortly thereafter the Judge handed down her Reasons. To Ms. Chace’s dismay the decision was highly favourable to her husband. Notably, the Judge left her responsible for the majority of the family debt and granted her spouse extremely generous alimony.

After learning this Judge had previously contacted litigants through social media and had been compelled to recuse herself, Ms. Chace’s lawyer brought a motion before her alleging a reasonable apprehension of bias based on her internet overture to his client and his client’s rejection of it.

The protocol for applications alleging bias is to go back to the Judge who made the order and have him or her review the situation.

Several years ago I brought a similar application before a judge in the British Columbia Supreme Court on the basis that his remarks during the hearing could lead a reasonable person to believe he was biased against my client.

At the time I thoroughly researched the law on bias and was not surprised to see that in 99.9% of cases, the judge determined there was no bias. That’s the finding this Judge made as well.

Ms. Chace then appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal who disagreed with the Facebook friendly trial judge. The Appeal Court found that Ms. Chace was caught “between the proverbial rock and a hard place”. She was trapped in a difficult position: Should she respond to the Judge’s ex parte communication or ignore it and risk offending the judge?

The Appeal Judges quashed the order of the trial judge and remitted the matter back to the trial court. Ms. Chace can only hope she does better the second time around.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

BC Court of Appeal Allows New Hearing for “Game-Playing” Litigant

BarristerThis week’s decision from the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Ghavim v. Jamali provides a stark picture of how a family law litigant can use the system to thwart a “just, speedy and inexpensive” resolution to a family law case.

The parties were married for 20 years, immigrating from Iran to British Columbia. The marriage broke down in 2009 and in September of 2010 Ms. Ghavim filed a divorce action seeking division of property and child and spousal support. There were several interlocutory applications and a five-day trial was set for November 2012.

Ms. Ghavim’s lawyer, in an effort to bring an end to the issues in the case, set down a hearing in August 2012, called a summary trial. A summary trial is an expedited hearing to resolve a case, short of a lengthy trial. Family law lawyers are encouraged to bring finality to family law cases to decrease costs and the emotional wear and tear of protracted litigation.

On the appointed date in August, Mr. Jamali showed up without a lawyer and sought an adjournment to obtain counsel. I have never seen a Court refuse an adjournment application brought by an in-person litigant and the case was adjourned for a month.

When the case began in September, Mr. Jamali, not surprisingly, still had no lawyer, but the case proceeded, as it should have. He did bring an interpreter with him.

On a summary trial the evidence before the court consists of affidavits, transcripts of other sworn testimony, and relevant documents. Each of the parties filed two affidavits.

The wife alleged her husband had a luxury apartment in Tehran valued at $1 million dollars that provided rental income of $7,000 per month. Her husband brought a lease agreement to court that showed a rental income of $50.00 a month. He also said the apartment had only $50,000 in equity with a fair market value of $200,000 to $300,000. Ms. Ghavim asserted that the rental agreement was a forgery, a recurring feature in cases like this one.

The parties sold their home in the Lower Mainland in 2009, each receiving a portion of the net sale proceeds of $259,000, however, Mr. Jamali’s previous lawyer had given an extra amount from his trust account to Mr. Jamali, although he had no authority to do so. That money, of course, was long gone and the judge voiced his criticism of the lawyer’s questionable actions.

During the hearing the judge asked questions of Mr. Jamali in order to elicit the testimony he would need to make a decision. Notably, the judge queried him with respect to the deposits in his bank account. He was utterly unable to explain the source of the funds.

The judge asked to see Mr. Jamali’s wallet, noting that for someone who had no income he was carrying a large amount of cash. Of course, Mr. Jamali had an answer for that: it was money to pay the interpreter. As an aside, I am puzzled that Canadian immigrants like Mr. Jamali who cannot speak English manage to obtain status in Canada, but that’s for another day.

The judge was openly skeptical of the husband’s evidence and at one point suggested that he stop “playing games”. The Court ultimately did not believe that Mr. Jamali had no income and imputed income to him, ordered him to pay retroactive child support and provided Ms. Ghavim with $32,000 in lump sum spousal support, which was the amount remaining from the proceeds of sale of the home.

Of course, Mr. Jamali retained the apartment in Tehran and its rental income, since only a court in Iran could divide that property.

Mr. Jamali appealed on the basis that the judge showed bias against him during the hearing. The Court of Appeal characterized the issue as to whether a reasonable observer of this trial would conclude that Mr. Jamali’s trial was unfair and ruled they would.

The Court of Appeal noted that Mr. Jamali probably didn’t understand the process of a summary trial, he probably didn’t know that he could argue that there be a full trial, he probably didn’t know that when he answered the questions of the judge that the judge would rely or scrutinize his replies to determine credibility, he probably didn’t know that he could ask to cross-examine his wife on her affidavits,and he probably didn’t know the judge would make a decision.

Yes, that’s the upshot of the case. The Court of Appeal saw Mr. Jamali as a victim of an unfair hearing and ordered that the parties start over, while confirming that the new process should also be a summary trial.

Perhaps its been too long since the Appeal Court presided over a family law hearing where there is nothing but excuses: I don’t have a lawyer; I don’t speak English; I didn’t have enough time; I didn’t know I could do this or that; please believe me, although I could have brought appraisals and documents to prove my case.

This is just one example of why the Canadian public is fed up with the system of family justice and yes, these cases happen time and time again.

How much do you want to bet that Mr. Jamali shows up again without a lawyer and the new judge makes a similar ruling?

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Father Ordered to Pay His Wife For His Outrageous Behavior

DSC00507 (2)It happens far too often in family law…a marriage breakdown that should and could be resolved, turns into scorched earth litigation.

Case in point: Madam Justice Watchuk in British Columbia’s Supreme Court walloped a litigant for his reprehensible behavior, ordering him to pay $35,000 to his wife. His over-the-top antics included rude, nasty, demeaning, and inflammatory language directed against his former wife, his wife’s lawyer and the court process itself, during a nineteen-day custody trial.

The usual rule in litigation is that the losing party must pay “costs” to the winning party. Costs are not, however, a reimbursement of the successful party’s legal fees, rather they are a contribution to them, usually amounting to about one-third.

In this case the judge ordered the father to pay “special costs”. These costs are intended to punish a litigant for outrageous or reprehensible behavior before the trial or during the court process.

What seemed to escape this belligerent litigant is that no judge will award shared parenting to an individual who is so out-of-control that he cannot rein in his rage in the face of the court.

Yes, there are litigants whose attitude and behavior is despicable, but they are smart enough to clean up their act by the time they get to court, as if butter couldn’t melt in their mouth. Often times these narcissistic creeps fool the court into believing they are the ones who have been abused.

What is common in these cases is that by the time the trial begins, they have alienated any lawyer who had the misfortune to try to assist them. As well, some percentage of these types of litigant don’t want a lawyer because they believe that acting in person allows them greater freedom to harangue, harass, and obfuscate the issues.

Unfortunately, many of these reprobates simply ignore court orders and it would not surprise me if this woman never sees the money she has been awarded, particularly because the fellow in this case spent a lot of his time in the United Kingdom.

But, you may say, once the trial is done, it’s over? Not so fast…these litigants often appeal the trial court’s decision and for good measure, often report their spouse’s lawyer to the Law Society alleging unfounded unethical conduct.

Wise words to family law lawyers: Run as fast as you can when you see this kind of client. It is never worth it…

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Father Pays His Child Support, But Still Jailed for Six Months

DSC00280Texas father Clifford Hall has a great relationship with his 11-year-old son. He pays child support and sees his son regularly. So what’s the problem?

In November 2013 Mr. Hall was in court where his ex-wife’s lawyer confirmed there were no arrears of child support. Fast forward to January 2014, when he reappeared in court and was advised that due to an administrative error his direct deposits of child support to his ex-wife’s bank account had resulted in an underpayment of support. His ex also complained that he was not in adherence with their parenting agreement, as he was seeing his son more often than the agreement permitted.

He immediately paid the $3000.00 owing and expected to walk out of court with everything squared away. Not so fast…

Houston Judge Lisa Millard had something else to say “I sentence you to Harris County Jail for 180 days”. Gulp… That’s six months!

I have to wonder whether it gets dumber than this. A good father who pays his support and sees his child, who, but for an unintentional underpayment, will no longer be in a position to pay support, and can only see his son in a prison visiting room, while the State of Texas expends tens of thousands of dollars to keep him locked up.

Fortunately, there is now talk of a state judicial investigation and Change.org have started a petition directed at Texas governor, Rick Perry, calling for the release of Mr. Hall.

This judge needs her head examined!

PS Change.org is the online petition company that launched the internet petition against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, obtaining 2.2 million signatures

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Round Up of 2013 Celebrity Divorces- Part 2

DSC01152_2 (2)_2Hollywood’s gossip editors had plenty to write about this year as they followed the ups and downs of the stars’ relationships, while L.A. divorce lawyers stayed as busy as ever.

1. Clint Eastwood and Dina Ruiz

Clint started his spectacular Hollywood career as the star of several Italian produced “spaghetti westerns” and later morphed into Dirty Harry, before launching his third act as an Oscar-winning director and producer.

While his professional life seemed to be one of repeated success, his personal life has been complicated, to say the least. Clint has seven children from five women, two of whom he married. Unfortunately Mr. Eastwood’s current marriage to former LA TV anchor, Dina Ruiz, 35 years his junior, has come to its conclusion, after 14 years.

They separated earlier in 2013 and Ms. Ruiz filed for divorce, only to abandon the proceedings and attempt to reconcile. But as is typical in marriage breakdown, the reconciliation failed.

Ms. Ruiz is seeking custody of their 16-year-old daughter and spousal support. Clint has already announced his unwillingness to pay Dina support but I suspect that absent a solid prenuptial agreement, California law will ensure she receives support and a large share of his assets.

Apparently Clint and Dina have each moved on to new relationships. In a curious twist, Dina has been linked with old friend and University of Hawaii basketball coach Scott Fisher, while Clint was recently seen with Mr. Fisher’s ex-wife.

2. Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti

Actress and political activist Ashley Judd married acclaimed British Indy race car driver in 2001. Raised in a show business family, Ashley’s mother Naomi Judd, and step-sister Winona, admitted on Oprah that their family life had been dysfunctional and detrimental to Ashley as she grew up.

She moved to Los Angeles from Kentucky, studied acting, and worked as a waitress at L.A.’s famed Ivy Restaurant, before catching a break that landed her on the silver screen and television.

The couple had no children. Ashley once said that it would be irresponsible to bring children into a world where so many impoverished children needed a home.

Several years ago she attended Harvard University and received a Masters Degree in Public Administration. She was also rumoured to be interested in running for the US Senate, but so far has not thrown her hat into the ring

They separated in January 2013. On 6 October 2013, Dario was involved in a serious crash at the Grand Prix of Houston, when his car flew into catch-fencing after contact with another racer’s car. He suffered two fractured vertebrae, a broken ankle and a concussion in the accident. A month later, on 14 November 2013, Franchitti announced his immediate retirement from motor racing.

He retired with 31 victories from 265 starts in American open-wheel racing, a record which put him in a tie for eighth place on the all-time wins list, with Paul Tracy and Sébastien Bourdais.

Ashley flew to his side after the accident. Who knows, maybe they will reconcile yet?

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Roundup of 2013 Celebrity Divorces- Part 1

GEO_edited-1Once again Hollywood had more than its fair share of divorce this year. In fact, if you count the breakups of those that were just living together, you could call it a banner year.

Here’s Part 1 of the list of the most recognizable celebs:

1. Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi

The British tabloids exploded when a photo of Nigella and Charles was released: they were dining in a posh London restaurant, he had his hands around her neck and she had a desperate look on her face. Their divorce after ten years of marriage moved quickly, but the aftermath has been more than ugly.

The latest episode saw Nigella in court testifying at the criminal prosecution of her two assistants who were charged with fraud. The allegations included unauthorized spending on Lawson/Saatchi credit cards and misuse of household funds. Nigella underwent a vicious cross-examination by defence lawyers who forced her to admit her cocaine/marijuana problem and her extravagant spending.

Can this television chef recover her once-stellar reputation? With her phalanx of highly paid public relations people she likely will. As for Saatchi, he will take his millions and move on to his next marriage.

PS The assistants were acquitted this week after 90 minutes of jury deliberation.

2. The Kardashians and the Jenners

You couldn’t make this stuff up. The reality family was immersed in divorce in 2013. Of course, beauty Kim Kardashian was finally granted her divorce after her 72 day marriage to Kris Humphries. Not a moment too soon as she gave birth to Kanye West’s baby, North West, and the pair got engaged at a gala party in a large sports stadium.

Meanwhile her mom, Kris Jenner and her step-father, Bruce Jenner finally admitted their marriage was on the rocks. Apparently he had been living in their Malibu home for some time. For Bruce it must be sweet release after playing a ridiculed spouse weekly on television.

But they did not go quietly into that dark night. No, rumours abounded that Bruce was contemplating a sex-change operation and frankly, recent photos of him look decidedly more feminine than when he was an American Olympic hero. While Mrs. Jenner had her facelift live on TV, Bruce’s plastic surgery was more discrete, but he did look like an old woman, thanks to dreadful cosmetic surgery.

Finally, Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom’s marriage also collapsed in 2013. It’s been a tough year for Khloe as her short-lived gig on “The X Factor” also came to a screeching halt.

Lamar Odom suffers from the same problem as many professional athletes: too much of everything including celebrity worship from his basketball fans, and an excess of drugs, booze, and the party life.

The only good news for the Kardashian/Jenner family is that their reality show has been renewed and they have plenty of salacious story lines to explore in 2014.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Family Law Nightmare: The Novacks

BarristerIt always amazes me to hear another “stripper marries millionaire” story, but it seems to be one of the favored professions for more than a few millionaires. The story of the Novacks from Florida is just such a case.

Ben Novack Jr. was the son of the owner of the spectacular Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami. After the hotel business went bankrupt, Ben Novack Jr. made most of his money as a convention planner for Amway International.

Mr. Novack met Narcy Novack, a stripper from Ecuador, and they married in 1991. Ms. Novack’s lifestyle went from near-poverty to posh. Mr. Novack treated Narcy’s daughter from a previous relationship as his own. The couple worked together in the convention business and financially flourished.

But the loving relationship they showed the world was not real and that would soon be apparent. In June 2002 Mr. Novack called 911 to report that he had been the victim of a home invasion engineered by his wife, Narcy. She, together with four men, held him hostage with a gun pointed at him, handcuffed him to a chair and looted the safety deposit box, stealing almost $500,000.00 and all the corporate records and personal documents. Narcy left the home with the loot and all of her personal belongings.

The police advised Mr. Novack that a squad car was on its way to their lavish home in Ft. Lauderdale, but an anxious Novack forbid them to come, saying that his life was in danger if the police appeared on the scene.

When the police asked Narcy for her side of the story, she attended at the police department with bags and boxes of bondage paraphernalia, pornography, and stories about violent assaults on her by her husband. She advised the detectives that the alleged home invasion was a part of their usual intimate activities.

Narcy also told the police and her husband that if charges were laid against her, she would release all the damaging evidence contained in the bags and boxes. Mr. Novack implored the police to let the matter go and Narcy and Ben reconciled, for a time.

Marital peace, if it ever existed, lasted only a short time. In 2009, Narcy was alerted to an affair her husband was having and became worried that Ben may dump her, leaving her with only the six figure payout from their prenuptial agreement. She stood to gain much more if he predeceased her.

By this time, the Novack’s net worth was about $10 million, including Ben’s million dollar Batman collection containing the original Batmobile prototype.

The couple’s business was booming and Narcy, Ben and Narcy’s adult daughter, May Abad, jetted off to an Amway convention in New York, checking into a suburban Hilton Hotel. On the first day of the convention, July 12, 2009. Mr. Novack was nowhere to be seen, which was very unusual for the hands-on business owner.

An hour later Novack was found brutally beaten in his hotel room, his face wrapped in duct tape, which also bound his hands and feet. His eyes had been gouged out with a knife.

Narcy feigned shock and horror when she discovered her husband’s body. She told the police that an hour earlier he had been alive and well in their hotel room and the likely suspects were business enemies of Mr. Novack or other Batman collectors.

More lies, of course. Surveillance photos from the hotel cameras captured Narcy’s brother, another relative and two others skulking away from the scene. She also failed a lie detector test. The whole sordid bunch were indicted for murder and on August 10, 2010 Narcy entered a plea of not guilty and was denied bail.

In yet another twist, the police later alleged that Narcy Novack had also murdered her 81 year-old mother-in-law, Bernice Novack in April 2009. Her death was ruled accidental at the time. In order for Narcy to inherit, she first had to get rid of Ben’s mother, which the prosecutors say she did.

Ms. Novack’s previously loyal daughter, May, then took the position that her mother was evil, and as the sole beneficiary of her husband’s estate, she ought to be deprived of the inheritance. Of course, it was May who would inherit if Narcy was convicted of her husband and mother-in-law’s murder.

But there was still more. The prosecutors also disclosed that Narcy was involved in a plot to plant drugs on her daughter May and to have her beaten up, perhaps murdered as well?

After a lengthy trial Narcy Novack was convicted of murdering her husband and his mother and was sentenced to life in prison with no parole. Her brother and several others were also convicted of murder.

Thomas Perry, American mystery author and Edgar award winner summed it up nicely:

“Sociopaths are people who do evil things because they don’t see any reason not to.”

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Family Law Nightmare: Nozolino v. Nozolino

BarristerIf you thought you had an ugly divorce, you may reconsider after hearing about Nozolino v. Nozolino. The Nozolino’s from Colorado were divorced in 1999. Unhappy with the outcome of his family law trial, Bruce Nozolino, a software engineer in his 50′s, appealed the decision before Chief Justice Gil Martinez, regarding division of property, attorney’s fees and several other issues. To no avail, as his appeal was dismissed.

But Court was not over, it was merely adjourned to await the next battle. And there were many.

The Nozolino’s fought over every issue, whether large or small. They fought over the cars, his wife’s pension, her jewellery, the burgundy leather ottoman and particularly over the kids, how much time they would spend with their dad and how much money Bruce Nozolino would pay for their support.

Mr. Nozolino eventually fired his lawyer and redirected his fury from his allegedly adulterous ex-wife to her lawyer, John Ciccolello, a leading Colorado attorney, who he insisted was unethical and unprofessional, delaying hearings to prejudice Mr. Nozolino and making false statements against him.

At one point, Mr. Ciccolello sought to bring trespassing charges against Mr. Nozolino in respect of Nozolino’s attendance at his office, but the charges did not proceed. Meanwhile, Mr. Nozolino took every opportunity to bring Ciccolello to the attention of the Court, seeking sanctions for serious ethics breaches. None were ever proved.

In the midst of the divorce battle in October 2001 a shot was fired at the home of Chief Justice Gil Martinez. No arrests were made but soon after the Chief Justice removed himself from the Nozolino case. Most people thought it was just a coincidence until it was revealed that bullets had also been fired into the home of John Ciccolello a few months earlier.

On January 23, 2002 attorney Ciccolello was in his second floor office when a sniper’s bullet pierced the window and lodged in his eye socket . He believed he was going to die, but thankfully survived his injuries and even with his loss of vision and related hearing problems, continued his thirty year family law practice.

All eyes turned to Bruce Nozolino as the attacker, but with no inculpating evidence, charges could not be filed. Mr. Ciccolello spent years watching over his shoulder wondering and worrying what might be next.

He left the Nozolino case shortly after the shooting and in August 2002, the Court ordered that Mr. Nozolino pay his former wife’s attorney fees in the amount of $30,000.00. By this time, Mr. Nozolino was barred from having any contact with Ciccolello, his ex-wife and his children.

Colorado Springs lead investigator Terry Bjorndahl continued to pursue the investigation against Nozolino and also found himself the subject of a lawsuit brought by Nozolino against him. Nozolino alleged that when Detective Bjorndhal seized Nozolino’s gun collection, Bjorndahl had made the seizure in order to sell the guns to ensure that Bjorndahl’s divorce lawyer, none other than John Ciccolello, was paid his attorney’s fees arising from the Nozolino case. The suit was dismissed.

On November 30, 2008, 46 year-old Richard Schreiner was outside his Colorado Springs home shoveling snow when he was gunned down on his front sidewalk. Good police work uncovered information that indicated that during the Nozolino trial, his name had come up as a “friend” of Mrs. Nozolino’s.

After nine years of investigation and a three-month grand jury hearing, Bruce Nozolino was arrested in July 2010 and charged with thirty-one counts, including the murder of Richard Schreiner and the attempted murders of John Ciccolello and Chief Justice Gil Martinez. A public defender was assigned as counsel for Nozolino, who was being held without bond. Not one to lay idle, Nozolino was also busy tampering with witnesses and had five additional charges levied against him.

In September 2012 Nozolino was convicted of tampering with witnesses and perjury in relation to the grand jury inquiry into the murder of Richard Schreiner and the attempted murders of the judge and his wife’s lawyer. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison.

His trial on the remaining charges is scheduled for January 2014. Colorado is a death penalty state. You don’t say?

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Shared Parenting Law Introduced into Canada’s House of Commons

GEO#1It’s been fifteen years since a joint House of Commons/Canadian Senate report titled “For the Sake of the Children” recommended that shared parenting be introduced into Canada’s Divorce Act, a move spearheaded by Senators Anne Cools and Roger Galloway.

The report, however, languished and then disappeared into oblivion. But the sentiment that children deserve and need both parents in their lives, and in most cases, their grandparents, continued to flourish, gaining support from social science researchers, therapists, journalists, and family law lawyers, among many others.

This week Maurice Vellacott, Conservative MP for Saskatoon, introduced Bill C-560, An Act to Amend the Divorce Act in respect of equal parenting.

Vellacott said in the House of Commons: “Mr. Speaker, I am quite honoured in these few moments to be introducing a private member’s bill which would direct the courts in regard to divorce to make equal shared parenting the presumptive arrangement in the best interest of the child except in proven cases of abuse or neglect.

Fifteen years ago, a joint House-Senate committee presented to Parliament a report entitled: “For the Sake of the Children”. That report urged Parliament to amend the Divorce Act to make equal shared parenting the normative determination by courts dealing with situations of divorce involving children.

This non-partisan recommendation from that joint House-Senate report was based on compelling research made available to the committee members. Over the past 15 years, the best research has continued to demonstrate far superior outcomes for children in general when both parents, mom and dad, are actively involved in their children’s lives even if the parents divorce or separate.

Polling from the past several years demonstrates overwhelming support from Canadians for this equal shared parenting. There is in fact slightly more support among women than men for equal parenting. This strong support from almost 80% of Canadians exists across the country with the strongest regional support coming from Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Canadians claiming to be Liberal and Bloc supporters expressed the strongest endorsement for equal shared parenting at 80.6% among Liberals and 82.9% among Bloc Québécois supporters, with the NDP and Conservatives just slightly under 80%.

A variety of countries such as Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Australia and various U.S. states have implemented equal parenting, joint custody, or shared parenting presumptive legislation which has resulted in lower court costs, less conflict and improved social outcomes for the children of divorce.

This bill is one of the most apolitical non-partisan pieces of legislation introduced in this current Parliament.

I look forward to strong support for this important piece of legislation from all members of Parliament who are committed to the best interest of our children.”

As a proponent of shared parenting, except in cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment, which I say ought to be liberally interpreted, I have recently been invited to join “Leading Women For Shared Parenting” a group that counts as members prominent lawyers, child advocates and activists, journalists, politicians and psychologists from the United States and Canada.

If you also believe that children need both a father and a mother in their lives, I urge you to contact your Member of Parliament and tell him or her to support Bill C-560 and check out the “Leading Women for Shared Parenting” website at lw4sp.org.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang