We are writing this on behalf of our friend, Kristen, and her young daughter. Both Kristen and her daughter are US citizens, however they are currently residing in Canada since this was one of a few places where Kristen's educational training for her career was possible. Kristen was recently offered her dream job back in the US – both in her career field and near her family. Unfortunately, Kristen’s ex-partner has challenged her in the Canadian courts in an attempt to prevent her from returning home with her daughter. In a devastating legal decision, the judge denied Kristen’s relocation. The judge told Kristen that she should re-train in a different career in her current location, and that the father should not have to move and lose out on the high level of income he enjoys. The judge seemed to give no consideration to the 13 years of education Kristen has achieved to get to this point in her career. Tragically, this is only part of highly punitive judgment made against Kristen and her daughter.
As Kristen fights this judgment in the court of appeals, she faces a financial burden no single mother should have to face. We want to help Kristen fight for what is the right of all mothers - to be able to provide her child a loving home surrounded by family, while at the same time have her career valued equally to that of a man's.
We ask for your support during Kristen's fight - every little bit will help!
Kristen received her PhD in 2010, and has since been struggling to find work in her field due to the specialized nature of her work. After applying to many jobs, she was finally offered a perfect, much deserved, professor position at a university in the US. Around this time she discovered that her daughter’s father had been unfaithful throughout their brief relationship. In addition to his infidelities, the father throughout their relationship was not behaving as caregiver to their daughter.
Despite his lack of involvement in their lives, and despite knowing that Kristen was applying for and interviewing for jobs in the US, the father challenged her in court to prevent her from moving with the daughter. He was successful.
Kristen’s work is highly specialized while the father’s line of work is not. However, in a gross demonstration of sexism, the judge stated that the father was unable to move because it may hurt his career and ‘the high level of income he has enjoyed in the past number of years would disappear”. And yet the judge’s report states that Kristen should abandon her current position as a sessional lecturer (which is a stepping stone to securing a professor position) and seek out a job that pays more - and that she should do this through retraining in an entirely new field! She is nearly the same age as the father and has 10 more years of education and training invested in her career than he does. Additionally, there is no rational reason that he cannot move to the US as the company that he just began working for has offices in the US city where Kristen was offered a position.
In spite of his infidelity, his lack of parental involvement, his ability to move, her high-level of training and expertise, and the importance of this job, the courts told her that she should abandon her career and start over. We can only imagine how devastating this must be for Kristen. She is faced with either abandoning her career or her daughter. She, of course, has chosen to stay in Canada with her daughter. The position in the US has asked Kristen to teach one of the courses remotely during her appeal process. To us this demonstrates how they value her specialized expertise and knowledge. Kristen is going to appeal the decision with the courts and we are fully supportive.
In Canada, Kristen has no family support network nearby. However, if she were to move back to the US, she and her daughter would be within driving distance of not only her family, but also the father’s parents. In addition, Kristen’s mother had intended to retire and move to be closer to them, a move she could not make to Canada due to Canadian immigration laws. So in the case of the move back to the US, Kristen’s daughter would be close to both sets of grandparents and her only aunts and uncles!
Kristen understands and appreciates the bond that needs to be maintained between a father and child and she has done everything that she could to protect that relationship, even at great emotional expense to herself. She offered to travel every month so that he could see the daughter for a week at a time. She offered to bring her daughter back to Canada for 3 months every summer. In a twisted interpretation, the courts stated that Kristen was being 'too generous'. Now she is being forced to remain in one of the most expensive cities in North America with little income, no job prospects in her field, very little financial support, and no local family.
Kristen has a wonderful career opportunity, which would enable her to support her daughter and also to bring them closer to extended family. But the courts told Kristen that since she “decided to keep the child” the burden is on her to sacrifice her career.
Because of the egregious sexism in the judgment, the case has caught the eye of some women's equality legal groups. Although they could not litigate on her behalf, they would step in to ensure that women's equality is represented. Despite the emotional toll this is taking, Kristen wants to stand up for what she believes in, to fight for what she feels is the right of all mothers - to have a women’s career valued as a man’s is and to be able to pursue that career while remaining an active mother.
Kristen and her family have already used all of their money to fight for her right to move so she could take the job of her dreams and have the chance to provide for her daughter. The appeal will be very costly and is beyond what she and her family can now afford. On behalf of mothers and all women, we are hoping that people will donate to her legal fees to help her continue to fight this injustice. Any support will be of help – and if you know others who would support her cause please pass this along to them as well.
On behalf of Kristen and her daughter, we send our heartfelt thanks for your consideration of this cause.
- Liv, Elisabeth, Nuria and Beth.
- Ginger Gamber
- delfina cordero
- Katy Proudfoot
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