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Toronto Sun

CUSTODY PENALTIES RIPPED

Toronto Sun: Top Stories, By PHILIP LEE-SHANOK, March 31, 1998

Moms who deny their ex-spouses legal access to their children should be jailed, a joint Senate-House of Commons committee on child custody and access heard yesterday.

Groups representing men who have been denied visitation rights complained there was a bias in the family law system favoring women as custodial parents after a divorce.

Stacy Robb, president of the advocacy group Dads and Divorce Strategies (DADS Canada), said there should be increasingly tougher penalties, including jail time.

On first offence, the party should attend a class to educate them; on the second, community service, but on the third, a jail term. On the fourth, change the custody orders," Robb told the 23-member committee.

'CHILDREN HAVE RIGHTS'

Grant Wilson, president of the Canadian Children's Rights Council, also called for tougher penalties. "Children have a right to see both parents as judged by a court," he said.

Wilson cited the case of Mississauga mom Lisa Barbosa, 31, who was jailed after she barred her five-year-old daughter from seeing the child's dad. Barbosa was sentenced to 60 days in Metro West Detention Centre Feb. 23 for contempt. She is free pending an appeal.

In Alberta and B.C., counselling is mandatory before a couple with children can divorce. Such out-of-court programs could help solve some problems, panel member and Liberal MP Dr. Carolyn Bennett suggested.

Copyright 1998, Canoe Limited Partnership.