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by Kammie M Holder Fathers & Parents 4 Justice
I am often accused of challenging the status quo, or not toeing the line. Recently, we saw the Chief Magistrate, a court officer, a person of compassion, immense wisdom and empathy, suggesting that parents should be held liable, when minor children run afoul of the law.
Let me say, I do agree, but where does such liability begins, and where does it end? The issue of co-parenting, and custodial parents, must be taken into consideration in a society that may be matriachal, and sometimes gynocentric, due to the desire to ensure gender equality.
How could a non-custodial parent, which is most often the father, be held liable when mothers are most often, seen as the custodial parent? When our society, and institutions by virtue of court rulings, and social workers pronouncements, espouse that children are best raised by mothers.
We live in a society where most fathers are absent from the lives of their children for various reasons. Thus, if we are going to hold parents liable we should lay the blame where it should lie, and not on all parents.
Many fathers are forced out of the lives of their children under various conditions, by what some fathers and attorneys consider to be unfavourable court rulings and slow justice to ensure equal or co-parenting orders are enforced.
They absent themselves to avoid conflict and maintain peace in highly charged emotional situations and the most compelling reason is to avoid malicious allegations.
Many fathers also feel let down by a court system that puts a greater responsibility on fathers adhering to court orders than mothers not flouting orders of unhindered access. Thus, we can only truly hold parents collectively responsible when co-parenting means fathers’ names can no longer be deliberately left off a school registration form, when court officers will examine cases on facts presented and not on theatrics of custodial parent, when lawyers can no longer profit from highly charged emotional access and maintenance cases.
In early January 2022, a 13-year-boy died in Miami after crashing his dirt bike into a wall during a police chase. This dirt bike was bought the day before by the deceased mother for his birthday despite the legal age for riding such a bike in Miami is 16.
When we look at the court pages, fathers are never seen signing bail, or ever seen in the precinct of courts when their kids run afoul of the law.
Again, how can you hold a non-custodial parent accountable when our society sees mothers as owning kids. To add credence to the aforementioned, men who have access and may be reluctant to hand back over a child often report been told “Hand over de woman child” by law enforcement officers and third parties.
I Kammie Holder of Fathers & Parents for Justice Barbados would wish to make a public appeal to the Chief Justice and Chief Magistrate. Please carry out a survey to ascertain the status of court breaches by custodial parents, cases in the system over two years and the number of cases which have not gone to mediation and the number of access and maintainence charged to Legal Aid as well as the lawyers benefitting.
Only when co-parenting becomes a reality and willing, capable, non- threatening, supportive fathers are given equal parenting rights in the socialisation of their young impressionable minds, can we hold both parents collectively responsible when their minor children run afoul of the law.