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

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8 thoughts on “Shared Parenting Law Introduced into Canada’s House of Commons

  1. What say you when one parent has been abusive or other complications? Too many times have I seen sole custody and/or primary given to an abusive parent 😦

  2. Where a parent is abusive it is very difficult for shared parenting to work. What is required is professional counseling to assist the abuser to understand the damage he or she is causing and how he or she is sabotaging his or her chances for a full, meaningful relationship with his or her children.

    Sometimes the abuse and anger is only directed at the other parent and not the children, however, children sense tension and all steps must be taken to provide a calm, healthy environment for the children.

  3. It always bothers me to see claims of abuse used to oppose this type of bill, as to do so is to imply that it is fathers that are the vast majority of abusers, and that it is the abusive fathers that are most likely to get away with that abuse. When we are talking about abuse in general, we are clearly talking about that abuse that can not be proven, as these types of bills ALWAYS include provisions for abuse. So in cases where abuse can not be proven, the current system tends to place the child in the hands of a single parent, often the mother. If the abuse is coming from the father, this certainly acts to help that child. But when the abuse is coming from the mother, the child is effectively being abandoned, as our current court system rarely, if ever, enforces it’s own rulings on access, meaning the abusive mother can simply not grant the father access whenever there is a bruise to hide, and the child will see their father so infrequently, they will be unable to trust them enough to speak up, or suffer the consequences upon returning to their primary care. Furthermore, all those children who are not abused are likewise denied meaningful relationships with their fathers, especially in cases of vindictive primary parents (since, again, courts seem unwilling to enforce their own orders, in most cases… I’ve even seen some court rulings where courts gave up, and stripped the father of access because the mother kept refusing to comply)

    Alternatively, with equal shared parenting, in cases where abuse can not be proven, it grants the child equal time with both parents, giving those children a reprieve from the abuse, and time spent with a loving parent, and granting the non-abusive parent an opportunity to discover evidence of abuse to bring forward, an opportunity children of abusive mothers will never truly have under the current system.

    Therefore, when one opposes equal shared custody, on the basis of abuse, one must necessarily believe it is fathers, and only fathers, who are abusive to their children. Which, as far as I’m concerned, is an incredibly sexist and chauvinistic position to take.

  4. My ex left alberta to go to ontario. The only reason my son is still here is because i had an emergency court order filed that stated he wasn’t allowed to leave the area. I haven’t heard from her since, been over 2.5 months. I am currently waiting for my court date for full custody. While i believe that shared parenting is probably for the best in most cases, in my case I don’t believe that. What kind of parent leaves their child and doesn’t even phone to see how they’re doing? Would you consider that abandonment?

  5. This bill has been defeated… I also learned this bill was nayed universally by two particular political parties. Perhaps there was political motivation or aspirations behind this. Anyway, let me know when the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights reviews it or any further progress gets made.

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