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Support for Bill C-560 (Shared Parenting Bill)

The following was written prior to the defeat of Bill C-560 in the House of Commons:

I urge you to support the Private Member’s Bill – C-560 (Equal Parenting), introduced into Canada’s Federal Parliament by Maurice Vellacott MP and currently scheduled for its 2nd hour of debate in Second Reading on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. This Bill promotes a legislated rebuttable presumption for Equal Shared Parenting as being in the “Best Interests of the Child”. This Bill represents a long overdue clarification of the “maximum contact” provision of s. 16 (10) of theDivorce Act, 1985. To be specific, on behalf of Lawyers 4 Shared Parenting and on my own account, I ask that you give serious consideration to contacting your federal member of Parliament to urge support for this Bill. This Bill enjoys non-partisan support amongst MP’s and Canadians across our great country.

Canadians overwhelmingly support Equal Shared Parenting. A 2009 Nanos poll revealed close to 80% support country wide. A cross Canada poll of 1,500 respondents conducted very recently showed 72% support but only 10% opposition (of which only 4% was indicated as “strong opposition”). Social science literature has come out strongly in favour of shared parenting concluding that children in these relationships have superior academic, emotional, social and economic outcomes with drastically lower incidence of substance abuse, crime, and incarceration. In fact, in what is probably an unprecedented event, last month 110 renowned social scientists explicitly endorsed an article supporting shared parenting- no doubt as a signal to the academic community this is now settled science.

In Europe, France, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and Luxemburg have adopted shared parenting. In the UK, the current Coalition Government formally endorsed shard parenting in 2012 and is currently proposing legislation based on the continuity of relationships principle. Malta is also reportedly a shared parenting jurisdiction. In addition, Norway, Germany and Spain are in various stages of shared parenting deliberation.

In the USA, 36 States now explicitly authorize Joint Custody (i.e. some variant of joint legal and residential custody) with 14 having a presumption in favour of variably defined Joint Custody, and six having the equivalent of a rebuttable presumption of substantive shared parenting. Furthermore, shared parenting initiatives have been reported in: Minnesota, Florida, South Dakota, Arkansas, Massachusetts and South Carolina.

Most of my colleagues at the bar oppose this proposed legislative reform. A rebuttable presumption in favour equal shared parenting will serve to reduce conflict, reduce the need for intensive lawyer intervention in many cases, reduce fees to lawyers, and promote the true best interests of Canadian children to enjoy a decent relationship with both parents. I stand strongly for social justice and fairness. Please join me in contacting your M.P. today so that we can take a step to promote social justice and fairness for the kids of Canada. Here is a link to find your M.P.’s contact information including email address.

Lawyers 4 Shared Parenting (L4SP) was created in late 2013 as a vehicle for Canadian lawyers to advocate in support of shared parenting. The intent of Parliament in passing the Divorce Act, 1985 was not intended to lead to the current state of affairs in family law. We support C-560 as the correct instrument of social policy.

For further information re Equal Shared Parenting, you may visit:


Gene C. Colman

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Director, Lawyers 4 Shared Parenting

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