Sunday, November 13, 2011

New resolve around better divorces, or just window-dressing?

I'm a bit puzzled by this story, on the province's big new initiative to reduce the court fights when people split up. A good idea to do that, of course, but isn't that the case already? Mediation has been the option of preference for divorcing couples for many years now, at least from the court system's point of view. The big sticking point is getting them to take that option.
As for the example of the Lee family and how we need to view violence against a spouse as threatening to a child - well, that's not a new thing either. In fact, for poor families caught up with the Children and Family Development Ministry, parents risk losing their kids into government care if there's any threat of spousal violence. So even when Dad's violent and Mom's not, she can lose her children just for not being able to figure out how to get away from Dad.
The problem in the Lee case is that the family was well-off. We all have a hard time believing that well-off families can be dysfunctional and dangerous. Different decisions get made - by the ministry, by police - when a family's got money. Tightening up the Family Relations Act isn't likely to change that.
But hey, I don't want to sound like Little Nancy Negative. It's just that this story line seems a bit like someone's trying to dress an old issue up in new clothes and sell it to us as change. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jody you're one smart cookie. Unfortunately most of the public just reads the headlines, or a very least skims the articles. They don't take the time to think about the issue.

I recognize this as window dressing too because the same thing is happening with BC's elder laws. New! Revised! they trumpet. See a lawyer and you'll be protected! I wish. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As an elder advocate I see case after case where a nursing home or hospital dismisses the legal authority of a Representation Agreement or other legal document. If a person tries to be firm or raise concerns, they are bullied by staff and authorities. The existing laws are routinely ignored. It's truly dreadful.

It seems to me that in the case of elder laws, the legal community is pumping out so-called new laws that are just as lame and will be just as unenforced as the old ones. Not surprising when you think about who makes the changes to our laws – lawyers.

The only people who come out ahead seem to be the lawyers and their bank accounts. I am loathe to be so cynical, but I've seen too many horror stories about lawyers' efforts amounting to naught for elderly persons, yet costing dearly, sometimes taking tens of thousands of dollars or more just for routine matters.

Thank you for alerting people to this "window dressing".