Magazine article Anglican Journal

Anglicans Take Up Child Custody Issue: Ottawa Group Says Divorced Dads Are Losing Custody Battles

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Anglicans Take Up Child Custody Issue: Ottawa Group Says Divorced Dads Are Losing Custody Battles

Article excerpt

KATHY BLAIR

STAFF WRITER

A group in the Diocese of Ottawa has taken up the cause of separated and divorced dads and their children.

"The project is motivated by the pain experienced by both separated fathers and their children," says a news release from Lloyd Gorling, who is heading the project as a lay member of synod.

A working group in the diocese's Anglican Network for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation will study the issue in response to a 1997 synod resolution moved by Mr. Gorling. The group will ask all interested people to give input. Mr. Gorling - who is not a separated dad himself but says he is interested in the issue from a social justice standpoint - is looking for parish volunteers to help pull together information and host discussion groups.

Well-known fathers' rights advocate, Senator Anne Cools, may be invited to speak in the diocese.

"Many fathers find themselves cut off from a meaningful role in the lives of their children after separation from their former conjugal partners," the news release continues. "In spite of great efforts to maintain the parental role, fathers lose custody of their children in over 90 per cent of separations."

Mr. Gorling acknowledged in an interview that not all separated dads seek custody and said he did not mean to suggest that men are fighting for - and losing - the battle in 90 per cent of cases. But choosing not to seek custody can often be a rational decision on the part of the father, he said.

While separated parents may agree to share custody, the mother's lawyer often successfully pushes the woman to go for sole custody instead, he said.

Mr. Gorling is hoping to gather theological views on the issue. "Where are we as Christians on this?" he asks. "What are God's plans for these families?"

He makes some potentially explosive comments in his news release, including: "The most frequent reason for fathers fading from their children's lives is the interference of the mother as well as the failure of the legal and court system to recognize and to understand the importance to children of being raised by both parents," and "Fights to get control over the children in order to get support payments is one of the largest single factors in court custody battles today."

Victor Wehrle chairs the Anglican Network which vetted the news release. Mr. Wehrle said Mr. Gorling's first draft of the news release was modified to make it more balanced. …

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