A free e-book on father’s rights has come out this past week, published by the Canadian Constitution Foundation, ‘Review of Ideology and Dysfunction in Family Law- How Courts Disenfranchise Fathers‘, by author, Grant Brown.
Two of the chapters are entitled “Disenfranchised Fathers” and “Deadbeat Judges”, which should give you a good idea as to the tone of the book. The author’s arguments start from the premise that, within the context of the legal system at least, our views of fatherhood have not kept pace with many of the social changes that have taken place in society over the last few decades. Based on a review of some social science literature, the author argues that there should be a presumption of shared parenting/shared custody in the court system. He questions the usefulness of the current model of parenting that we use in family court cases- namely, that there is a primary caregiver in each family (usually the woman). The author believes there are other ways to think about parenting beyond the “primary caregiver” model which would be more useful, and lead to less injustice.
On the one hand, I’m not sure how practical the author’s suggestions about nesting or open mediation are. Nesting is where the child lives in one home and the parents rotate in and out of that home, usually on a weekly basis. While I can see the benefit to the children, a nesting arrangement would require the family to maintain 3 separate households. Instead of litigation, he proposes open mediation, where couples would be tied into a seemingly endless round of mediation sessions through which they try to resolve their ongoing disputes. Unfortunately, you can’t force someone to agree to mediate a dispute. Even if you could, attending a mediation doesn’t mean someone will ever agree to compromise their position.
On the other hand, many familiar with the legal system might agree with the author that there are virtually no penalties imposed on women who keep their children from their fathers for no reason, or who don’t abide by existing custody and access orders. I also agree with the author that it might be time to question the usefulness of seeing families in terms of there being only one “primary” caregiver to children, particularly when both parents are working.