Vancouver lawyer Carey Linde is one of the city’s foremost crusaders for fathers’ rights. So it shouldn’t be a big surprise that he wants Attorney General Wally Oppal to amend the Family Relations Act to recognize that fathers have equal rights as parents in custody, access, and guardianship.In an interview in his Howe Street office, Linde said this could be accomplished by introducing a new section in the law stating that there is a “rebuttable presumption of shared parenting”. “If one parent says I want 50-50 access, it’s going to have to be the other parent to prove it shouldn’t be the case,” Linde said. “Now it’s the complete reverse.”
The attorney general’s ministry is reviewing the Family Relations Act. Linde noted that there is already a legal presumption that property acquired after marriage should be divided equally. But Linde suggested that the onus is still on men to prove why they should have an equal right to parenting. “Where the time and money and energy is being spent now is on children, because there is no presumption,” Linde saidâ€¦Grace Choi, chair of the Vancouver family-law section of the B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association, told the Straight that she doesn’t think the B.C. legislature will adopt Linde’s recommendation. “Basically, what he is trying to do is limit the scope of the evidence that a court should hear when considering what to do with custody, access, guardianshipall those thingswhen the best interests of the child is paramount,” Choi said.
UBC law professor Susan Boyd, who specializes in family law, told the Straight she doesn’t think that a legal presumption of shared parenting is always appropriate, because not all biological fathers and biological mothers end up sharing a household or sharing parenting. She also wondered how it would apply with lesbian parents or in cases in which three or four people are involved in parenting a childâ€¦.
“The judges are too quick to think if there is a problem, it must be caused equally by both of the parties,” he said. “The judges are not strong enough to call a spade a spade. They’ll do it more frequently if they think the man has done something wrong.”
Linde claimed that if the Family Relations Act was amended to incorporate a “rebuttable presumption of shared parenting”, many women in custody fights would stop playing “head games” with former spouses.
Alison Brewin, executive director of West Coast Women’s Legal Education Action Fund, told the Straight that it’s a “myth” that women act out their bitterness in the court system.
There you have it a myth! No woman every acts out through the courts! Boy, I feel at easy now that Ive been told that lie!