'I never stood a chance?

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'I never stood a chance? ? Father lashes out at gender bias in the courts


A divorced father has spoken out against the legal system after he failed to stop his estranged wife from taking their children to England. The father-of-two, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the court?s decision had left him devastated, and with only a few weeks a year in which to spend time with his sons. The Warwick man said what hurt most was that his ex-wife left Bermuda with the children on Friday ? only two hours after the written decision had been received. ?She left with the boys without even telling me,? he said. ?I never got a chance to see them or say goodbye before they left. It was only when I got a voicemail message left at my house that night that I found out they had gone.
?I think that is a wicked thing to do. I managed to speak to my sons on Sunday night and they were both upset that they hadn?t said goodbye. I still have all of their toys and clothes at my house.?

The dad said his ex-wife informed him last September that she wished to take
their children to England this summer.
She said she wanted to place the boys in a boarding school
He said since they had divorced, they had enjoyed shared custody of their
boys, aged 12 and ten, although his wife had had care and control of the
youngsters.

But when his wife voiced her intention to take them overseas, he petitioned
the courts and filed for care and control of the youngsters himself.
He said: ?I used to have them two nights a week, sometimes three, and I had
them for three days every week.?
?When my ex-wife was off the Island, I would have them, and then, of course,
I would take them on vacation.
?I had had a very strong bond with my sons from the time time they were born.
Academically, they were doing very well in school, they had a lot of friends,
and they were involved in a lot of sports.
?My sons were blissfully happy here. Bermuda is all they have known. They had
lived here all their lives.?
The dad said the crux of his argument was that his ex-wife was taking their
sons to England to place them in a boarding school during the week nights
when she only lived five miles away.
He said, despite the fact that he had joint custody, with equal rights about
their schooling, he was given no say in where their sons would be educated if
and when they moved to England.
?I did not want my sons to go to boarding school,? he said.
?Certainly at their young age. She lives only a few miles from the school,
and will have them at weekends. ?What I don?t understand is why I could not
keep them here, where they could live with me at home.
?They are effectively going to lose both their mother and father around them
when they go back to school in September.?
The dad said he believed that no matter what situation both he and his
ex-wife had been in, she would still have won custody.
He added: ?When it comes to children, the law is totally gender-biased. I
never stood a chance. I don?t think any dad in Bermuda has a chance to win
custody of their children in cases like this.?
Health and Family Services Minister Nelson Bascome said the proposed
amendments to the Children?s Act would have a big impact on married dads.
He said, at present, the law states that where estranged parents are equally
as able to care for their children, then the mother should be given care and
control by the courts.
That is why, he said, where a mother has proved capable, and has fought for
care and control, she will always get it.
However, he said the proposed amendments will change that to put dads on an
equal footing.
He said: ?The courts and social services will have the authority to put
children into the care of the parent that can best meet the needs ? that?s
how they have to approach it.
?It has been against dads in the past. But we are hoping to change that.
While we have already been in the consultation process over this, we are
going to have to sit down with the judges and talk about the changes and the
impacts.
?The legislation will change the mindset. Fathers will have equal rights.?
 


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