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    January 14, 2019
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Proposed changes to the Divorce Act: John Syrtash invited to comment at House of Commons hearing by Orly Katz federal govenmment John Syrtash 8. A. Hon LLB grandparent, who is member of the household, faces retirement. An abuse of this legislation could lead to preventing any further contact plans to change Canada's divorce laws On November 26, 2018 John with his or hergandchild if he or she faces the risk of a drop in income when he retires LP Syntash of Garfin Zeldenberg Garfin Zeidenberg LLP was invited to present his Among various other ideas, Mt Syrtash aso applauded the proposed views on proposed changes egisation to the Divorce Act that would now allow caregivers other to Canada's Divorce Acr for 37 years than parents to apply for parenting rights. Howeves, he noted (Bill C-78) to the House of hat grandparents be expressly included with the word other care Commons. His unsolicited invitation was made by the Parliamentary givers,just ke a simlar law Ontario recently passed for children of Standing Commitee on Justice and Human Rights and he attended as unmarried parents and former spouses Mr. Syrtash also made his own family Law Counsel to B'nai Brith Canada. The invitation was based suestions for changes. He was troubled by a part of the Divorce Act on Mt. Syrtash's experience as a Senior Toronto Family Law lawyer of that alows a parent to ask a Court for a reduction in child support 7 years as a litigator, mediator and author Mr. Syrtash has written payments if he has more than 40% of a child's time. Mr Syrtahex. innumerable family law articles in the Canadian Jewish News, the plained that many times such a parent has little or no inerest in the Tnbune, Nabonal Post and in his weekly summary of family law cases child but will sk the Court for more time that he never intends to ex the Sytash Family Law Nenlermer in Quicklaw/Lexis Nexis. He also just to save money. He also explained that the Courts are vague successfuly developed and lobbied for important le slative reform, about calculating the 40% means it's unclear whether it includes the Mitc Syrtash was happy to go as a voice of the people, not just as child's sleeping and/or sthool time. In's not cdlearly defined. Instead Mr lawyer a voice for human rights He presented his written brief and Syrtash proposed that only people with similar incomes who actualy old the Commitee that laws should be reliable, predctable and fai execke the right to a child's time equally be excused from paying All of Mt Syrtash's suggestions were made to save divorcing spouses child support. He also objected to another proposal which appears time and money. They were also designed to enhance dtaty to make mediation mandatory as a first step in the Divonce process and protect children from legal dsputes Medation should be an optional, not mandatory, as each case is different, In some high conflict or abusive divorces a spouse may feel Bil C-78 proposes to change Canada's Divonce Act Among these, it intimidated by their wife or husband. d mandatory, mediation may would emanate words like·custody. and .access" and replace them present yet another financial hurdle that may not work for all families with parenting and contact Orders. The govenment's intention is and should semain an option. He further suggested to adopt one that changing the language will help diffuse the number and intenity idea he got from a Judge. To deal with parents who don't show up of Court battles over children since they would not be fighong over for access visits or fail to come at all, Mt. Syrtash proposed a law that these words. Mt Synash delivered both a speech and a detailed 10 allows Judges to increase did support by 25% retroactively by one page brief to Padliament.Although this change of language is well in- year t,aes that time a parent has failed to visit his child at times entioned Mt Syrtash said that no parent will care about this change scheduled for such visits. Finally, Mt. Syrtash suggested a rebuttable of language and wll connue to fight for primary care and control of presumption" that a child's time and decisions for himher be shared their children or access, no matter what it's called. Mt. Syrtash quoted equally by both parents. What this means is that in most cases a Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: "a rose by any other name would Court would presume that the parents are fit to care for a child but smell as sweet. Mr. Syrtash told the Commitvee that wordsmatter. tCot can also decide differently, especially if a parent is unfit As he explained, doing away with the words "custody and access could eliminate decades of then have to pay needless funds on legal fees for reinterpretations of amended. it is transparent that Bdl C-78 has taken a lot of time and the law e Parents in the Courts would The government has recognized that the Divorce Act needs to be effort. Mt. Syrtash applauds the Commitbee for soliciting the advice of family law lawyers such as himselt who deal with families going The Bill defines family violence" to include "financial abuse and through divorce every day. M Syrtash thanked the Chait Anthony conteolling behaviour. While Mr.Syrtash acknowledged that such Housefather for the invitation and spoke with compassion for reduc. a change in definition is well intended, a parent who wants more ing the high financial cost of divorce His most significant advice was money from their spouse could now attempt to deny the other parent to make the legislation reliable, predictable and fait access to the chid for the wrong reasons While sometimes theré may very well be financial abuse andlor controling behaviour it is not the same as violence Broadening the definition would cheapen the word olence"and trivialize the suffering of those who are physically at tacked, indluding childre As with the definition of "lamily vidlence in Bil C-78 the initial proposed changes to the Criminal Code in Bill C-75 signficantly reduced the meaning of such words, such as "geno- oide Ul B'nai Brith made its recommendations to Parliament, tha1 change in language could have meant that a criminal prosecuted for genocide couild have asked for a jail teem as short as six months to wo years Mr, Syrtash also expressed his concern that the proposas that include "inancal abuse" as one type "family violence coukd lead to unintended consequences. There are many situations where a household member is at risk of losing his income; this could then be interpreted as "financial abuse"Once example may occur where a Family Law Counsel John Syrtash (L) talks with Chair MP Anthony Housefather while testifying at the House of Commons Mr. Sytash is Senior Family Law Associate to Garfin Zeidenberg LLP celebrating 37 years as a Family Law lawyer this year Suite 800, 5255 Yonge St (at Norton) just north of Mel Lastman Sq. Civic Centre Subway station, Toronto, ON M5G 1E6 John Syrtash can be reached at (416) 642-5410, Cell (416) 886-0359 Visit;:; Neither Garfin Zeidenberg LLP nor John Syrtash is liable for any consequences arising from anyones reliance on this material, which is presented as general information and not as a legal opinion Sponsored by the Community for Jewish Cuiture of B'Nai Brith Canada