We ask courts to solve intractable problems

  • January 04, 2018

Originally published as a Letter to the Editor in the Victoria TImes Colonist.

The tragic loss of Aubrey and Chloe Berry on Christmas Day has left many of us in shock and feeling lost as to how to respond. The staff and volunteers of the Canadian Bar Association, B.C. Branch, extend our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the girls’ mother and their family, friends and entire community.

Many comments in mainstream and social media seek to assuage the helplessness felt by so many by condemning the judicial decision to continue the family’s multi-year history of co-parenting and shared access to the children.

Family law is one of the most difficult and emotion-laden areas of law for everyone involved in the legal system. If a family issue comes before a judge, it means that deeply personal and emotional issues have proven unresolvable by the people involved.

In every case, many individual factors are considered in seeking a solution that provides the largest potential for minimizing the harm that can occur when parental relationships break down. In almost all cases, this includes access to children for both parents, unless the police, ministry officials or recent violent behaviour would instruct otherwise. None of these was present in this case.

We ask our judicial system to solve the most intractable of social problems. It is cruel and unrealistic also to demand that it foresee the unpredictable horrors that can arise in families. Let us instead focus our collective energy on supporting the parents and children all around us, to the best of our own abilities.

By Bill Veenstra, 2017/18 CBABC President