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Santa Wants Kids

December 8, 2006 permalink

Fathers-4-Justice is back, this time dressed as Santa Claus, and asking for both parents to have time with their kids.



'Superheroes' fight for father rights

Courts overwhelmingly side with women in custody cases, group says

(York Region) - Superheroes and Santas protesting outside Newmarket's courthouse were battling the elements and inequality yesterday. A steady stream of people, seeking shelter from the driving snow, craned their necks to shoot curious looks at a small gathering of the newly formed local branch of Fathers 4 Justice.

Denis Van Decker
Staff Photo/Steve Somerville

Dressed as Santa Claus, Denis Van Decker gets Markham resident King Ng to sign a petition yesterday outside the York Region courthouse in Newmarket. The petition is headed to Ottawa on behalf of divorced fathers who charge courts are unfair when deciding child custody cases. Mr. Van Decker is the awareness and recruiting co-ordinator for the newly formed York Region Fathers 4 Justice chapter.

Donning Superman fatigues, Mark Litman approached men heading into the Eagle Street courthouse.

"Are you going to family court today?" he would ask, often to no response, while handing over the organization's leaflet.

The group, which has just started a chapter in York Region, is planning more similar publicity stunts to help turn up the pressure on the bias they insist exists in the courts over granting custody of children.

The courts overwhelmingly side with women when it comes to child custody during divorce proceedings, organizer Denis Van Decker said.

Their superhero and Santa get-ups don't detract from their credibility, he said.

It's symbolic, Mr. Van Decker added from behind a faux white beard.

"Superheroes. That's how kids see their dads," he said.

A drawn-out divorce of his own provided the inspiration to pull up his bright red pants and strap on a set of black boots in yesterday's frigid temperatures.

The 44-year-old Aurora resident, who normally favours a Mr. Incredible persona, simply wanted to see more of his 10-year-old daughter.

He figured there must be many fathers in a similar position and took up the cause.

Gary Keenan can relate to Mr. Van Decker's situation.

"I lost a lot of time with my boys," he said.

He felt the courts used his financial hardship at the time to build a case against him.

But Markham family lawyer Stephanie Ansky disagreed, saying the courts will use all the information available when determining where a child's primary residence will be.

"It may be primary residence, in most cases, is with mom. Mom is usually the primary caregiver. That's the reality. If it's perceived as a bias, that's unfortunate, but that's how families are usually run," she said.

Often, decisions about a child's best interests will be made by the parents out of court.

But when divorce proceedings go before a family court judge, a father can just as easily be selected as the primary caregiver for a child over the mother if the court deems it in the child's best interest, Ms Ansky said.

"It's case specific. So for fathers to say they get the crappy end of the stick, it's not like that."

Fathers 4 Justice has 15 York Region members, however, there are more than 1,000 members Canadawide.

For more information about the group, go to or call 905-786-9806.

Source: Northregion newspapers

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