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Do custody laws discriminate against fathers?

Having concrete proof of adultery was once the only way to get a divorce in Canada. That meant a detective's photograph of a cheating husband. Or witnesses in a dirty motel room. Then in 1968, a new divorce law gave couples trapped in bad marriages an easy way out. The law started a divorce trend that continues to this day, in a time when it's so simple to break the knot, you can even do it online.

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The divorce system suffers from a "damsel in distress" syndrome, explains Walter Benstead in this CBC Radio clip. Benstead belongs to Fathers' Rights, a group in Calgary that wants to change child custody laws. He says custody cases are too often influenced by emotional pleas from mothers in courtrooms.

These days, one in three married couples is calling it quits so the group says elected officials have to do something fast. 
. In 1988, 76 per cent of children went to live with their mothers after a divorce.
. One CBC news report attributed a sharp rise in the divorce rate to the selfishness of the 1970s "me decade."
. In the 1970s, Canadian colleges offered courses on getting a divorce. One called "Creative Divorce" helped ex-spouses lessen guilt and reduce emotional conflict.

. A 12-week mandatory divorce school was proposed by an Ontario politician in 1997. Liberal Member of Parliament Paul Szabo said courses are necessary to alleviate hard feelings.
. "There's a lot of acrimony after divorce -- domestic violence, even homicides," he explained.
. Although MP Szabo has routinely introduced private members' bills that would require couples to get divorce counselling, none has passed into law.
Medium: Radio
Program: Canada Watch
Broadcast Date: Jan. 23, 1982
Guest(s): Walter Benstead
Host: Garth Dolly
Reporter: Liz Palmer
Duration: 6:03

Last updated: October 6, 2014

Page consulted on October 6, 2014

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