Preparing the Child for the Parenting Time Access Exchange:
Disputes over child custody and access tend to consume inordinate amounts of court time, parents' scarce financial resources and these disputes cause parents and children untold harm on many levels. Such organizations as the Canadian Equal Parenting Council, Lawyers for Shared Parenting, and Leading Women for Shared Parenting amongst others, were in the forefront of the Canadian 2013-2014 campaign in support of a private member's Bill (C-560) that would have legislated a rebuttable presumption in favour equal shared parenting.
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):
The international treaty known as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is part of the statutory framework in all Canadian jurisdictions as well as in over 75 countries. The Convention addresses the inter-jurisdictional legal conflicts when a parent or guardian removes a child from country "A" to country "B". Children wrongfully removed ought to have their residential status determined by the jurisdiction with which they have the closest connection. "Forum shopping" is discouraged.
Brown v. Lloyd was a motion by the dad to change the previous final order so as to increase his already liberal access time with his then 9 year old son to equal parenting time. The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed dad's appeal from the trial decision (five day trial) that had dismissed his motion for equal time. The appellate court reminds us that even before you can get to first base, you have to establish a "material change in circumstances".
Procedural Fairness is crucial for an effective judicial system. And it's not just an issue of 'fairness' to parents; rather, to protect the most vulnerable in society - children - there need to be solid safeguards in our family law system to preserve and indeed promote parental/child relationships. The use of summary judgment remedies has been particularly destructive of families in the child welfare system, as I have commented previously. In addition, I have already warned of the emerging trend to deny to litigants generally their day in court.
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:
It should not be a matter of "win" or "lose" when it comes to Ontario child welfare law. Ontario's Child and Family Services Act tells us that the paramount purpose is to "promote the best interests, protection and well being of children." One might note the glaring lack of any reference to family. In fact, there is a paucity of references to family throughout the entire CFSA even though many judges recognize the importance of maintaining family whenever possible.
As the temperature dips, the leaves fall, and the Halloween costumes are safely stored away, many begin to look forward to the Christmas season. You have made a shopping list for gifts and have pulled out your trusted recipe box and have begun to plan a delicious Christmas dinner. Perhaps you have lovingly brought out the box of ornaments in anticipation of decorating your tree. So what does all this have to do with child custody and child access?
We have previously commented upon procedural fairness in child welfare cases and the role that summary judgment motions play: Part 1 Part 2. We have called for reforms. The growing threat to procedural fairness principles has been further exacerbated by the Supreme Court of Canada decision, Combined Air when it may be applied to child welfare cases. It has already been applied to at least one family case - Jivraj v. Jivraj.