Listen to Their Tears: How Canadian Divorce Law Abuses Our Children

Description

159 pages
Contains Bibliography
$8.95
ISBN 0-88894-311-3

Publisher

Year

1982

Contributor

Reviewed by Claude A. Guldner

Claude A. Guldner is a professor of family studies at the University of
Guelph.

Review

Don Peacock writes out of his own experience of being twice divorced and struggling with custody of a child in each instance. This fact is both a positive and negative element in this book. It is positive in that the author’s personal experience makes the work much more satisfying reading. His style of writing is to present first a brief section describing his personal experience, followed by carefully researched facts and data on the Canadian judicial system and child custody laws. Without the personal experience all the other could make for dull reading. The approach is negative in that the reader is likely to feel he/she has had enough of Peacock’s struggles with his former wives, lawyers, judges, psychologists, etc., by the latter part of the book. I also had the nagging feeling throughout that I really wanted to hear the other side. Why was it that both former wives were so hostile and vengeful toward this man that they did not want him even to have visitation rights with his children? One felt there were a lot of missing links to the personal story. Nevertheless, there is much that is valid in what Peacock has to say. He was not out to make friends with lawyers and judges when he wrote this book, for he has little sympathy with their approach to marital mediation. As a marriage therapist who has seen several couples through divorce, I can agree that often the couple have worked out their marital separation quite adequately and then when legal counsel is obtained it moves to conflict and an adversarial position. Peacock feels that judges in the Canadian system have no clear guidelines other than personal bias for the kinds of decisions which they make regarding custody rights. For the most part in the past this has been to award children to women and to limit interaction of children with fathers, which he calls “judicial sexism.”

The author refers a lot to the effect on the Canadian custody model of the work Beyond the Best Interests of the Child, written by Goldstein, Solnit, and Anna Freud. This work forcefully stated that joint custody was a problem and that a child should be granted to one parent (usually the mother) and have limited visitation with the other parent. They believed this provided the stability a child needed for psychodynamic development of the personality. This work, which was based primarily upon theory, has not been validated in a number of research studies which Peacock refers to throughout the book. These latter studies indicate that a number of models of custody (including joint custody) have reflected positive effect upon both child and parents. The point he makes is that research has had little impact upon the judicial system in Canada. Although there is still much that needs to be reformed in the Canadian family law system, the last few years have seen modification. The book reflects where we have been but not so much where we are currently, nor does Peacock give clear guidelines on how the judicial system needs to change other than suggesting that marriage dissolution be taken out of the courts and given over to mediation.

Citation

Peacock, Donald, “Listen to Their Tears: How Canadian Divorce Law Abuses Our Children,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38970.