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We Can Make Changes to the Family Court System A Call to Action

Friday, January 11, 2019 - FamilyLaw - PRobertson - Family Law in Canada - A Citizen Call for Reform

This will be a very long read, but I am asking you to spend the time, read the entire article, and take action. It will cost you nothing, all I am asking for is that you support me and all other parents that have been denied access to their children. In my case, I am the grandfather. I am doing this to support my son. Selfish reasons, I want to see my grandkids. It was my grandson’s birthday a few weeks back, Christmas has come and gone, tomorrow will be my granddaughter’s birthday, no card, no presents from her father, not that we don’t try, but tomorrow I’m sure the mother will be telling her “See, your father doesn’t care about you”.

While I wish I could help every parent across Canada, even throughout the world, I have to concentrate of issues here in Ontario. Others may choose to use this approach in other areas, I wish you the best of luck and I would like to hear your results.

As I live in Ontario, this is where I am concentrating my efforts. Some of these issues cross both provincial and federal line, but we have to start at the provincial level.

For the purpose of this article, I am only going to refer to the different systems as the Court System, I am not going to try to break things down into the Ontario Family Courts or the Ontario Court of Justice or whatever court system you are dealing with.

The following points need to be addressed:

  • FRO. The Family Responsibilities Office. FRO acts as a collection agency for the custodial parent. FRO’s is responsible for ensuring that court ordered support payments are collected from the non custodial parent and paid to the custodial parent. To do this, they have been granted the power to seize wages right at the source. They have also extended their reach to allow them to seize income from federal sources such as income tax refunds and pension payments and from private pension funds. The only purpose of FRO is to enforce the financial transactions of the court system. They are no different from any other collection agency with the exception that they have more power.

  • Court Orders. A judge in the court system issues orders based on their opinions. And we all know what opinions are, everyone has one. Orders are issues based on information provided to the judge, the information is often misleading, it may be incomplete, and in the family court system, it is often based on outright lies. Information is often blocked by the lawyer for the custodial parent, information that may prove that the custodial parent is lying, information that may be detrimental to the efforts of the custodial parent, information that could be important to the safety and well being of the children involved.
    When an applicant swears out an affidavit and submits it to the court, it is taken as fact, there is no opportunity to challenge the affidavit, no ability to force the applicant to prove false claims. The applicant must be available to be questioned by the judge or the respondent’s representative. Funny how people will lie on a sworn affidavit when they know that they can’t be challenged in the courts. But with no challenge permitted to the affidavit, a judge makes their decision on the written word only. Orders are then issued based on lies and usually detrimental to the non custodial parent.


  • Orders for assessment of the parties involved. Often the judge will order the assessment of the children by a professional in the required field and may order an assessment of the other parties as well. The custodial parent, having control over the child has the option as to who sees the child. Often lawyers will have access to a list of doctors, physiologists, and other experts that are willing to provide reports to the courts. The list will only include those that have worked with the lawyer before and delivered the results that the applicant requires to support their position. They will refuse to accept any specialist that they have no control over what they may include in the reports.


    Any assessments of the children must be done by a representative selected by mutual agreement, and if there is no agreement, the courts must assign a specialist. As in many cases the custodial parent will attempt to suggest to the child what they should say during any assessment, something must be done to avoid pressure on the children to say what the custodial parent wants. Perhaps any interviews could be conducted at the school during the school day with no advanced notice to minimize custodial parent interference, the is no question that this will be difficult, however a true independent professional should be able to determine if the child has been influenced by the custodial parent.


  • Enforcement of Court Orders. In many cases, there is no method of enforcing court orders. In other issues, it is easy to enforce a court order. Financial orders are enforced by FRO, they have the ability to seize funds to from just about any source, custody orders are enforced by the police, should the non custodial parent be late returning the child, the police will respond, seize the child, and arrest and charge the non custodial parent.


    Unfortunately even with a police enforceable court order, the police will only respond as a low priority call if they respond at all. Even though the order is police enforceable, the police will not take the children from the custodial parent and turn them over to the non custodial parent. The police, if they respond, will only take notes and advise the non custodial parent to go back to court to get another order or file a contempt charge. Another Oder that won’t be followed, but a contempt charge that should be enforced, but seldom is.

From Family Law Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3

 

Contempt of orders of Ontario Court of Justice

  • 49 (1) In addition to its powers in respect of contempt, the Ontario Court of Justice may punish by fine or imprisonment, or by both, any wilful contempt of or resistance to its process, rules or orders under this Act, other than orders under section 46, but the fine shall not exceed $5,000 nor shall the imprisonment exceed ninety days.  R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3, s. 49 (1); 2006, c. 19, Sched. C, s. 1 (2); 2014, c. 7, Sched. 9, s. 9 (1).

  • Conditions of imprisonment

  • (2) An order for imprisonment under subsection (1) may be conditional upon default in the performance of a condition set out in the order and may provide for the imprisonment to be served intermittently.  R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3, s. 49 (2).

Full text available here:

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90f03

 

So what can I do?

Step 1

Postings to social media do nothing, they are ignored. Not that we shouldn’t share our stories, but the politicians aren’t following your FaceBook page. Postings to sites like this give us a chance to share our stories, but we are preaching to the choir, those on here already know the issues. And Online Petitions carry little if any weight to the government, just a bunch of anonymous signature. But a letter, in the old days, or an email gets their attention.

As a first step, I ask that every person that is being denied access to their children send an email to their Provincial MPP with a copy to Belinda Karahalios  at belinda.karahalios@pc.ola.org

Ms. Karahalios is the Parliamentary Assistant to Minister Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services/Minister Responsible for Women's Issues the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services as well as being my MPP for my riding and is supporting my efforts.

A link to a complete list of all MPPs and email addresses if below.

In the email, please include a few lines about your personal situation, how long it has been since you have seen your children or other issues you have had seeing you kids. Call on your MPP to make changes to the Family Responsibilities Office to change FRO from a collection agency to an agency fair to both parties, and most important, Fair to the Children.

A sample,,,,

Dear MPP:

It has been close to 5 years since I have seen my children. The custodial parent has done everything in their power to alienate my children from me by telling the children that I have no interest in being part of their lives and then blocking all access to my children as a way of confirming to them that I don’t love them.

While I have court orders allowing access to visit my children, the custodial parent has continued to violate these orders. Charges of contempt have little effects as a judge is hesitant to issue a finding of contempt as they do not want to imprison the custodial parent or fine them, the only options under the Family Law Act.

Birthdays come and go, Christmas, other special days, and I am prevented from participating in my children’s lives. I’m afraid that by the time they are old enough to make their own decisions the custodial parent will have completely alienated my children from me and they will never recover.

While the Family Responsibility Office acts as a powerful collection agency for the custodial parent, there is nothing in place to enforce the non custodial parent’s rights to see their children, to participate in their lives, their well being, their education, and to tell our children that we love them.

While there are many issues with the court system that need to be addressed, you have the power to correct some of these injustices with changed to the Family Responsibilities Office. By changing the mandate of the Family Responsibility Office from a collection agency to an enforcement agency that has the ability to make sure that not only are support payments are enforced but that access orders are also enforced.

There are many divorced couples that have been successfully able to ensure that both parents are involved in the lives of their children, they are not the issue. The issue is when one parent chooses to punish the other parent by blocking all access to the children. These are the cases that require assistance.

With the power of the Family Responsibility Office, adding in the power to withhold payments to the custodial parent if they refuse to follow court ordered access could be a great step towards correcting access rights. When a judge issues an order in a valid court in Ontario, one would expect that the order is not a suggestion, it is an order to be obeyed. When a judge issues a support order, it is enforced by FRO, when a judge issues an access order, why can it not also be enforced by FRO.

The non custodial parent currently has no options except paying for a lawyer to go back to the courts for another order that the custodial parent will violate again. Contempt doesn’t seem to be an option in the current system. But a financial penalty could go far to correcting the actions of the custodial parent.

I am not suggesting that the support payments be forfeited, only held back until the custodial parent chooses to follow the court ordered access orders. I would expect that most of the time this would correct the actions of the custodial parent, however consideration must be still given to those that will deny access for several months and then allow one visit to collect the support payments and reset the clock and then go back to violating the order.

As most divorced parties do not need this, they are more concerned about the well being of their children than punishing the other parent, provisions only need to be made to allow the non custodial parent to call for this enforcement.

Every child deserves two parents, you have the power to make this happen. I am calling on you to support changes to the Family Responsibility Office to turn it from a collection agency to an agency that will ensure that Family Responsibilities includes raising and loving our children.

Every child deserves two parents that love them.

Thank You

A concerned parent.

 

Please feel free to copy and paste this into an email, make changes to personalize it for your situation, or write your own email.

If 1 or 2 email their MPP, nothing will change, if 20 email their MPP, they will take notice. If a hundred people send in this request, we will have a force to make changes, and if a thousand affected parents and families were to contact their MPPs, we can force change.  

If every parent that has been denied access to their children were to send this to their MPP, we can change the laws.

This is only the first step, but we must succeed here first, and with support, we can change the Family Law Act to provide joint parenting in every case.

Remember, EVERY CHILD DESERVES TWO PARENTS.

 

Ontario MPP Contact Info

A complete list of all Ontario MPPs is available here

https://www.ola.org/en/members/current/contact-information

Please copy Belinda Karahalios on the email.

Together we can change the system. This is only the beginning. 

Participate here / Automated parliamentarian / federal/ Canada wide or any other contact list e-mail bomber
http://www.advocacycanada.com/AdvocacyCanadaCampaignDetails/33

 

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We Can Make Changes to the Family Court System A Call to Action Update

Information | PRobertson Voice Page created 1/22/2019 7:35:05 PM Audience: Public

Re: We Can Make Changes to the Family Court System A Call to Action Update
   
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We Can Make Changes to the Family Court System A Call to Action

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I can relate to your problem very ... George Marques
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Hi..I am very interested in this...I have already done th... Steven Martin
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We Can Make Changes to the Family Court System A Call to Action

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