I am a dad living in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. Sadly, my story is not unusual, fathers in Canada and the U.S. are being denied the basic human right of a father to see his children. The courts have labeled men as the villain in child custody cases.
Most fathers face a heavy financial burden over and above child support. While legal aid is immediately offered by the government to mothers, fathers are forced to make great financial sacrifices to have a normal relationship with their children.
In Britain, of all the fathers who enter the court system to fight for their rights as a parent, 40% will never see their children.
This blog is one father’s attempt to shine a light on court system gone wrong. The victims of this bias are not only the fathers, but their children too.
Every child needs a dad, and every child deserves a dad.
ON NOV 17. 2006 FIVE POLICEMEN CAME TO MY HOME AND TOOK MY 5 YEAR OLD SON. I was handcuffed and searched in front of my son. “Why are your hands behind your back Dad?” he cried with tears in his eyes. I told him we were playing a game.
I showed the police a 15 month old Court Order granting me access to my son this weekend in Vancouver. Apparently there was a discrepancy on whether I was to implement my weekend access at my home in Vancouver or at a hotel in Alberta. The police said a new Court Order called “Ex Parte” had been written that day authorizing them to pick up my son “Ex Parte”. This means that the Judge changed the court order without notifying me. Why not notify me? I would have brought my son back immediately if I knew I was in violation of the Court Order. I HAVE NEVER BROKEN THE COURT ORDER, AND I HAVE ALWAYS RETURNED MY SON ON TIME. Why subject my son to such a traumatic experience? Why? This is a question for lawyer Jane Hoffman and Justice J. Coutu.
Off To Jail
On Jan 18, 2007 I went to court in front of Justice Coutu. My lawyer reminded Justice Coutu that she stated 5 times that if there were any discrepancies in the court order she would take my Vancouver access away. (but never mentioned anything about jail.) Justice Coutu responded “I do not care what I told Mr. Marshall, he is going to Jail for 30 days. I would put him in jail for 60 days if I could, but the law says 30 days is the maximum”. Why is this statement deleted from the court transcript? I was sent to a dormitory style prison for 30 days with 60 crack addicts for contempt of court, because of a discrepancy on where my weekend access was supposed to be on Nov. 10, 2006. In reality, I was sent jail because I was featured on the 6:00 o’clock news with this letter on Global TV, Calgary on Jan. 13, 2007.
I did not see or speak to my son for 6 months as per Justice Coutu’s Order. I spent 30 days in jail and completed my 2nd $2,500 psychiatric risk evaluation. I returned to court in front of a new Judge as Justice Coutu quit my case :and quit being a judge.
The new Judge implemented an access schedule that brought access costs to my son from $25,000 a year to $52,000 a year, and I see my son less. I make $55.000 a year: this leaves me with $3,000 to pay my millionaire ex-wife $8,000 a year in child support. I now purchase 104 airline ticket’s a year and stay in hotels restricted to Red Deer 104 days a year with my 5 year old son.
My “Father’s Story”
My name is Chris Marshall, I am 47 years old and I have been to divorce court 50 times in Calgary in the last 4 years, with access to my son being the only issue. I never would have thought that I would find myself handling out 10,000 copies of Divorce story at hockey games and universities, but I do not know what else to do to fight judicial parental abuse. I love my son more than anything in the world and the so called “Justice System” has taken my access away and is now threatening to throw me in jail on January 18 12007. These are your judges and lawyers. Your family could be next. I would like to thank Kevin Newman and Global TV for airing the documentary “The Dads Who Fought Back”. (Kevin Newman, from Global TV, read my story and instructed me to join Fathers 4 Justice and rally the people of Calgary). We have to stand up for a PARENT’S RIGHT TO SEE THEIR CHILD.
FIND ANOTHER WOMAN, HAVE ANOTHER BABY, MR. MARSHALL .
I returned to court on Dec.1, 2006 with a lawyer. Justice Coutu refused to hear my side of the story and postponed the court deli to Jan 18. 2007. She cancelled my Christmas access to my son and all future access. She then order me to undergo a second psychiatric risk evaluation at a cost of $2.500.This is legal extortion designed to destroy me financially and keep me from my son. During my first Psychiatric evaluation, Dr. Pierce said to me “Why not have my son at home in Vancouver I weekend a month?” I answered him that this is exactly what I have been asking for all along but my ex-wife and her lawyer Jane Hoffman refuse to allow this. He then said that I should FIND ANOTHER WOMAN AND HAVE ANOTHER BABY
A Court Battle Running Longer Than The Marriage
In July 2000, I saw my first love that I dated from 1982 to 1986. I had not seen her in 15 years and we were married 3 months later in October 2000. It was a short marriage wind, lasted only 20 months but produced a beautiful baby boy in September 2001. I am from Vancouver and she is from Red Deer, Alberta. I have never broken a court order and have always treated my wife with respect. I have never missed a scheduled access with my son with the exception of 10 to IS times that I flew from Vancouver to Calgary rented a car and drove 130 km’s to Red Deer, only to have my ex-wife say that her Lawyer, Jane Hoffman has denied ‘me court ordered access with no consequences from Justice C.L. Kenney or Justice J. Coutu.
My legal nightmare began in 2002 when I turned to the Justice system to gain access to my son. I hired a lawyer in Red Deer by the name of Brian Adair. Mr. Adair went to court on my behalf and wrote up a court order granting me access to my I year old son only 1 day a month while he sat in day care 10 hours a day. I said to Mr. Adair: “The Judge said 2 days a month with overnight access”. He responded “How do you know what the judge said, you were not there”. I said “yes I was!” and showed him a copy of the court transcript. He then said, “give me another $3,500 and I will get you the 2 days a month access”. I fired him and have been self represented ever since for financial reasons.
One year into the divorce, Justice Kenney who seized control of the divorce case for over 2 years recorded my income as triple the value in order to increase child support to my Millionaire ex-wife. I fell 3 months behind on support payments and maintenance enforcement illegally suspended my driver’s license. Licenses are not to he suspended unless you exceed $3,000 in arrears. Jane Hoffman told my ex wife to deny me access to my son unless I was current with support. I had to stop paying creditors to get my drivers license and access back. I lost my business of 10 years and my credit got destroyed in the process.
During my 10 day trial for a 20 month marriage, Jane Hoffman asked for costs on the $100.000 spent on legal fees. I jumped up and said “I cannot believe my ex-wife spent $100,000 to keep me from my son” The judge intervened and said money was spent protecting the assets in the marital home (which had appreciated $800,000 during the marriage”. I responded that I told my wife that I would not pursue the assets in the marital home and that all I wanted was to be friends and have access to my son. Justice Coutu asked my wife if this was true. and my wife responded that it was. Justice Coutu then charged me $30,000 to pay my wife’s lawyer in legal costs, and said that the legal fees were my fault. Coincidentally, this was the same amount Justice Coutu said I was entitled to from the marital home dirt had appreciated by $800,000 during our marriage
The 38th time I went to court I informed Justice Coutu the she changed the access schedule which had been working fine for the past year from weekly to bi-monthly, basing her decision that my 3 year old was in school. I told her that my son was still sitting in day care 10 hours a day. She said it did not matter, and charged me $1,500 in court costs. Coincidentally, this was he same amount which I have overpaid in child support. Justice Coutu then told me that she could take away my access if she did not like my attitude. I told her my attitude was fine to my ex-wife and son and I had never broken the court order. Justice Coutu then said that I did break the court order. You took your son to the doctor, and did not tell your wife. This is a blatant violation of the court order and I can take your access away. I responded by saying that I did tell my ex-wife. Justice Coutu to which she replied, “take this as a warning”.
I have never broken the court order. yet my ex-wife continuously does so with no consequences to her. This is not fair to me or my son. Please help me fight this abusive divorce process which uses our children as pawns for judicial extortion. Let’s put access to our children in the hands of qualified psychiatrists and psychologists, not lawyers who charge $300-$500 an hour. Their only motivation is to keep us in court until one of us gives up. Those who suffer the most are our children. I do not blame my ex-wife for this legal nightmare. She has been manipulated by an abusive self-interested lawyer in the amount of $138,000 and still counting.
What Do I Want?
All I want is to bring my son to my home in Vancouver I weekend a month, and come back to Red Deer 1 weekend a month for access to my son. With a little cooperation from my ex-wife, this access schedule would cost $18.000 a year. The Psychiatrists and Psychologists agree with me. Why won’t the Justice System listen to the professionals?