R.B. v. A.H. is an interim child custody access decision from the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court. It is remarkable for some startling yet what should be patently obvious observations with respect to the importance of maintaining children's bonds with both parents in a meaningful way.
by GLORIA ANTWI - Associate Counsel at the Gene C. Colman Family Law Centre
Due to the tremendous force of gender role expectations, it has been a struggle for divorced men to bring their personal struggles into the public sphere. On a chilly November evening, I headed downtown to attend a lecture on "Disappearing Dad's", hosted by the Canadian Association for Equality. The event was heavily protested. The irony of the backlash at this lecture was that we were joining together to discuss an issue that affects men and women alike.
I recently received some important feedback concerning a parental alienation case. The email was from the alienated child (now an adult). His point is that things are not always what they seem to be when we look only at a reported case decision. My response is that as adults we must be so very careful to never engage in behaviours that will damage a child. Here is our exchange (identifying details have been redacted):
If you are a parental alienator, here are a few easy steps that you can adopt so that you can lose custody of your child and then blame it all on the biased judicial system:
In an important child custody case, Family Court Chief Justice, John Harper, addresses parental alienation almost without using those words, "parental alienation". Clearly, F. (A.) v. W. (J.) is an egregious example of the lengths that a vengeful and ill parent will go to alienate the children from a formerly loved parent.
Check out this decision on CANLII - Ottewell v. Ottewell, 2012 ONSC 5201 (CanLII)
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.