These numbers are estimated, based on the Ontario numbers provided by the Ontario Provincial Auditor, as details for all of Canada were not available. With one third of the total population of Canada residing in Ontario, the totals for Canada were prorated accordingly. In those cases where input numbers included Civil and Criminal justice, the proportion to Family Justice was approximated. These costs do not include the many other associated costs such as mediators, social workers, police, children’s aid societies, etc. They are just the costs related to the Family Court portion.
References: Attorney General, Ontario Court Services Annual Report 2005, Ontario Provincial Auditor – Annual Report 2003, Federal Funding of Provincial Child Support enforcement, Department of Justice – Report on Plans and Priorities 2004-2005, Canadian Judicial Council, Profile of legal aid services in family law maters in Canada, CanLaw.
The Total Yearly Cost to Canadian Taxpayers and Families in Crises is approximately $6 Billion per year. Remember though, that is only the administrational costs.
For this huge expenditure, there is absolutely no value or benefit to our Canadian families, or Canadian Society as a whole. In fact, our Family Justice System only brings about harm and damage to our Families, and our Society. The only people benefiting from the court created family conflict are the Judges (Former Lawyers) and Family Law Lawyers, as well as the Assessors, who charge up to twenty thousand dollars to do an assessment.
What is the financial cost of the adversarial Family Justice System to Canadian society as a whole? When you add up the costs incurred by society for items such as; courts; legal subsidization; additional costs to healthcare; additional costs to education systems and other social institutions; the increase in crime, including juvenile delinquency; policing; welfare costs for those single parent families that fall into poverty; E.I.; support and enforcement agencies such as FRO; the impact on workplace productivity and placement, as well as loss of productivity on the part of affected adults; personal bankruptcies; crime; and the future costs related to be responsible for such a situation; the costs to Canadian society and Canadian Taxpayers is astronomical. Some estimates have been given as high as 10 to 12 Billion Dollars annually.
Although buried in our social fabric, these are real costs that impact the country’s bottom line, and from a global business perspective, they impact our competitiveness. For our society as a whole, the dissolution of marriage is a costly proposition.
- Couldn’t this money be put to better use?
- Can you imagine the benefit to society as a whole if these funds were used for healing families, or for dealing with poverty?
- Couldn’t this money be used to speed up the wait times in our National Health Care system?
- Wouldn’t this money be better spent on Education programs?
France has free University for its Citizens, to the extent that there is no tuition charged by public universities. Students are only responsible for their own housing, food and other expenses. Couldn’t the billions being wasted on our failing Family Justice System be used to put a similar Public University Program into service here in Canada? Wouldn’t such a Public Service be more beneficial to Canadian society???
Shouldn’t the Billions wasted be redirected for programs to:
Who Does Equal Shared Parenting Hurt?
Why does the Canadian Government regard negotiation as the best means to resolve government conflict, police standoffs, land claims, union and management disputes, etc, etc, yet appears to view the adversarial, courtroom approach as the best way to deal with family disputes? Why??? Because it is big business, that’s why.
Make no mistake about it; The Canadian Bar Association is one of the most powerful lobbyist groups in Canada, and they like the Family Justice System exactly the way it is, because the primary losers in the change from the adversarial system, to a system based on equality, are the lawyers and judges themselves.
Divorce represents a limitless capacity to the legal profession to generate income, and they don’t want to lose it. You would think that the Canadian Family Court System’s sole purpose would be to focus on the needs and best interest of the family, but in reality, it encourages conflict with the sole purpose of generating profits for it’s own best interests. The Canadian Family Justice System is an extremely self-serving industry.
The groups that will most adversely be affected by Equal Shared Parenting are lawyers, judges, assessors, and other elements of the legal system. To read what Lawyers are saying about the Presumption of Equal Shared Parenting, please click on the February 03, 2006 article from The Lawyers Weekly, by Cristin Schmitz.
You will see that they don’t want things to change, but when you look at their arguments as to why they don’t want things to change, you will see the transparency in their statements. For a lawyer like Toronto family law practitioner Carole Curtis to say, “The current situation of custody and access, although not perfect, is working,” shows just how out of touch Lawyers are with the failings of the system. Mrs. Curtis goes on to say, “I would rather have no change, than a move towards shared parenting or joint custody or parenting plans, or whatever other euphemism somebody wants to use, because the current situation, for the majority of separated families, reflects the arrangements that existed before separation, and the arrangements still are that the mother is usually the primary caregiver and often that translates into sole custody, and that the father is an access parent paying support.” Is Mrs. Curtis really that clueless? Does Mrs. Curtis really believe that we, the Canadian Public are that clueless?
The majority of Canadian Families today, and for the longest time now, see both parents working outside of the home and both parents sharing child-rearing duties inside of the home. Socio-economic conditions in Canada and North America have contributed to the need of dual incomes for families. Truthfully, most Canadian Families could not survive today if there was only one income in the home.
The Ontario Women’s Directorate, a social program that provides a vehicle for government action on issues of concern to women, states on their website under the heading “Economic Independence”, “The increased participation of women in the paid workforce has been one of the most significant social trends in Canada in the past 25 years. In 2004: 58% of all women aged 15 and over were part of the paid work force, up from 42% in 1976.” So, if in 1976, over 30 years ago 42% of all women in Canada, aged 15 and over were part of the paid work force, and today, 58% of women in Canada are part of the paid work force, are we really expected to believe that mothers today, in 2009, are stay at home Moms in charge of all of the care giving for the children, as well as the cooking and the cleaning?
The Ontario Women’s Directorate also states that economically, “the number of two parent families below the poverty line would increase to an estimated 78% if they were to become single income families.” Socially, it was the norm in the past, for women to stay at home having a more expressive role in the family; taking care of the children and providing emotional support for the family, but it is no longer like that. We are living in the year 2009. We are no longer living in the 50’s and 60’s. Yet, the Lawyers making big bucks off of the Canadian Family Justice System would expect you to believe that we are.
People, especially Family Law Lawyers, who oppose the Presumption of Equal Shared Parenting need to fill us in on why it is okay, given all we know about the value of Fathers to children, to separate the two. We know from mountains of social science accumulated by a vast array of researchers in countless different ways, in many different cultures, that children with actively involved Fathers do better than those without. We know that children, mothers, fathers and society greatly benefit from father involvement with children. They must provide us with well-documented research and statistics on why the current system is working, to show us why it should not be changed. They must provide us with well-documented research and statistics on how the current system is benefiting our children, our families, and our Canadian society.
As all of the research points to the contrary, the Lawyers feeding off of the Adversarial Canadian Family Justice System, cannot provide us with an intelligent well-documented argument. Instead, they can only make unintelligent and self-serving statements such as the one made by past chairperson of the Canadian Bar Association’s national family law section, Judith Huddart, of Toronto’s Dranoff & Huddart. Mrs Huddart has unintelligently stated, “I don’t think we are in favour of the shared parenting presumption scenario. It has a lot more to do with power struggles between parents. What we want is parents to find a way to communicate positively about their children.” Mrs. Huddart’s statement makes no sense whatsoever. It is a transparent statement that is only meant to serve Lawyers Best Interests.
It is almost as if Lawyers don’t even see Children any more. All they see is dollar signs with pigtails and baseball caps. Haven’t they made enough money off of our Children’s pain?
Make no mistake about it, Equal Shared Parenting Only Hurts The Lawyers.
A Lawyer Speaks The Truth About The Canadian Family Justice System
I leave you with a straightforward and truthful article written by an honest Lawyer named Michael Cochrane, entitled The Flaw In Family Law, that was published on May 4, 2009, in The Mark: News and Perspectives Daily.
Michael Cochrane is a Partner at the Toronto Law Firm Ricketts, Harris LLP. Mr. Cochrane has been practicing law in Ontario for over 30 years in both the public and private sector. His practice has an emphasis on civil litigation, family law, estates and public policy law. He was the host of BNN’s “Strictly Legal” for three successful seasons and has appeared as a legal expert on numerous television and radio programmes including: the CBC’s “Counterspin,” “As it Happens,” TVO and Canada AM.
He is the author of a number of books on legal issues, including the best selling Surviving Your Divorce: A Guide to Canadian Family Law (4th Edition) and Strictly Legal: Things You Absolutely Need to Know About Canadian Law. He was the Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Civil Litigation (published by Carswell) from 2001-2004. He is also the Legal Expert for Zoomer Magazine.
In addition to being trained in negotiation and advanced negotiation, Harvard Law School, he was a Fellow at the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, D.C. He has lectured at a variety of law schools in Canada, including the University of Ottawa, Osgoode Hall (York University) and Ryerson University.
May 4, 2009
The Mark: News and Perspectives Daily
The Flaw In Family Law
You would be hard-pressed to find a knowledgeable Canadian who could defend our current family law system against reasonable standards. Is it efficient? Cost-effective? Good for families? Good for men? Women? Children? The answer is no on every score. Day in and day out, our justice system drains the spirit, energy, and life savings out of tens of thousands of Canadians who are going through separation and divorce. Factor in the millions of dollars transferred from Canadians’ savings to lawyers’ accounts and the cost to taxpayers of the entire industry surrounding divorce in Canada – Legal Aid, police, judges, court staff, disrupted schools, doctors, and social workers – and we have nothing short of a billion-dollar drag on the Canadian economy. If the system is indefensible, which it is, can we just start over again? Or should we let millions of Canadians continue to suffer through the nation’s divorce grinder?
We need a wholesale reform of family dispute resolution, and we can start by taking it out of the courts altogether. No one can recall or really cares how we began to think that family relationships could be untangled in the same way as car accidents, commercial disputes, and negligence claims. Some families need financial planning advice at the time of separation more than they need an opinion from the Supreme Court of Canada. Some need direct and immediate access to police because there are safety concerns, others advice on getting one of the spouses retrained and back into the workforce as quickly as possible. And almost all families need some form of counseling to help them transition from one dysfunctional household to two healthy, functioning homes. Our current court system handles these sensitive needs with the blunt instrument of adversarial court orders. We need, instead, the equivalent of a labour relations tribunal – a Family Relations Tribunal, if you will, where resources are devoted to the multi-disciplinary needs of families.
I would rather see separating couples approach a tribunal asking for help in exiting their relationship peacefully, in a way that ensures the family’s resources are shared fairly. That same tribunal should help the family divide responsibility for the children, financially and otherwise, in a way that reflects part of the reality of that family’s pre-separation existence. It is a painful mystery to think how some mothers and fathers are forced to transition from seeing their children every single day to seeing them every second weekend for a few hours. How can we expect families and children to thrive after separation if they move into an artificial parenting universe totally unlike that to which they were accustomed?
It is difficult to keep the focus on the children involved in these kinds of disputes. We have a justice system (and, dare I say, a political system) that is focused very much on the rights of mothers, the rights of fathers, the rights of men, the rights of women, and the rights of grandparents. There has been very, very little emphasis on the rights and needs of children. Mothers and fathers exhaust their emotions and resources paying lawyers (if they can afford one) to fight over custody and access, but the children emerging from these high-conflict divorces will exhaust taxpayers’ resources when they end up with eating and mood disorders, depressed, drugged, smoking, drinking, taking up time in our classrooms, sitting in doctors’ and social workers’ offices and Children’s Aid Societies, and – as is the case for many children of divorce – moving into our young offenders’ justice system. Parents fight over their children because our family law system facilitates that fight. We need to stop letting that happen.
Let’s tear down Canada’s family law system and start over. Disagree? Debate me – anywhere, anytime. The current system must go.
– Michael Cochrane
I’d love to see Carole Curtis and Judith Huddart intelligently debate Michael Cochrane.
A Final Statement from the “Parliament of Canada’s” own report “For the Sake of the Children.” (1998)
“The prevention of divorce and the resolution of family disputes before divorce should be high on the agenda. The societal ill caused by divorce of which child poverty is a priority, requires radical change in both priority and method in which the government dictates the approach to divorce”