Family courts are not working

Canada’s family courtrooms are in dire need of reform. Children everywhere are slipping unnoticed through the cracks; families are being destroyed both emotionally and financially.

Canada’s family courtrooms are in dire need of reform. Children everywhere are slipping unnoticed through the cracks; families are being destroyed both emotionally and financially.

Countless lawyers are getting away with extracting every dime out of their client, like we wring out a dishcloth.

Courts, under current law, are enabling bitter custodial parents to further alienate children from their other loving parent and extended family.

Non-custodial parents have become ATMs and gratefully accept any time awarded with their own children as a privilege, not a right. Something has gone dreadfully wrong.

Entering through the large, heavy doors from a courthouse foyer into the family courtroom itself, takes a person into a completely different world: a world that appears for the most part, to somehow have forgotten the primary purpose of their groundwork. That purpose should be to protect the best interests of the child, above all else.

As a newcomer to this world, one would squish themselves amongst others and find a seat along one of the cold, hard wooden benches. They would be full of anticipation and hope that justice will be fairly served, either for their own child, a grandchild, nephew, niece, step-child, god-child or themselves.

They imagine walking out of the room feeling truly blessed that justice was indeed served, the child will be OK and life will move forward in a new direction with high expectations. This is merely a delusion.

In reality, while sitting on that bench one will see people from all walks of life, in various states of despair.

Lawyers crouch down over their briefcases pretending to review their files or sit whispering in the ear of their clients.

Security guards chit chat with court clerks, smiling and joking casually, waiting for the process to begin another day.

These people seem hardened to the fact that whole families’ lives depend on this system to correct what has gone wrong somehow.

The room suddenly goes quiet, people will stand and the judge, head down and overloaded with papers enters the room. He or she may not even look up.

Literally within minutes, a good part of the lawyers, lined up in the centre aisle as if in an unruly food line, make their way to the podium, mumble a few excuses for postponement while the judge quickly mutters a reply.

The lawyer will bow half-heartedly somewhere in the judge’s direction and back away, all the while the judge has probably still not even looked up.

The court clerks with their backs to the judge, will look at their lawyer friends, raise eyebrows or roll their eyes as the judge speaks. I suppose they think they are as invisible to us as we are to them.

For a newcomer, this room could quickly become a reminder of childhood memories at a three-in-one ringed circus — without the laughter.

It leaves your heading spinning.

Issues of importance are pushed past the eyes of justice with barely a glance. Words like abuse, expedited, alienation, access, interference and child are often left ignored.

Until law reform happens in our country, try as it may, a family court of law rarely works out to be what’s truly in the child’s best interest.

Please Support Bill C-422.

Rhonda Pisanello

Ponoka County

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