Child custody cases are perhaps the most difficult. It is heartening to see that some courts continue to uphold kids' rights to enjoy a decent relationship with both parents. We will from time to time briefly comment on cases where kids' rights to be free from parental interference with child access are upheld.
My colleague, Philip Epstein, has recently captured the developing trend within child custody law to uphold kids' rights (or viewed from another angle - "parents' rights"). He wrote:
We ought to be reaching a point in Canada where counsel must warn parents that, if they interfere with access and general parental rights, there will be a significant price to pay. All family law counsel and judges know that the best predictor of poor outcomes for children is continued conflict between parents. The courts are no longer prepared to put up with parents who interfere with access and attempt to alienate the children from the other parent. The courts are increasingly sending a message that they will not reward a parent who interferes with access rights with a right of sole custody. [our emphasis added]
In Hefter v. Hefter, a judge in Nova Scotia basically read the riot act to a mom of a 16 month old to the effect that she could not treat the child as her possession and that the dad should have increased access including overnight access for this very young child.
In the case of Faber v. Gallicano [not on CanLii], Justice A.J. Goodman ordered an immediate change in residence where it had been found that the mother and maternal grandmother had made "serious, unsubstantiated and bald accusations of abuse" against the father and had placed "continual roadblocks" to his "meaningful contact with his children" "for several years". The judge specifically decided that he had "not found parental alienation, per se", but he did find "that there exists extreme irrational and paranoid behaviour by one parent which has adversely affected the well being and the needs of the children."
This case sounded a lot like "parental alienation" to me.
But no matter what you call it, signficant interference with the parent/child relationship will result in drastic judicial measures being adopted. ... Bravo!