Parental alienation can be one of the most difficult situations for parents or children involved in a divorce or separation. While the parent who is subject to the alienation may not feel like they have any control over what is happening in their lives, it is important to remember that the courts still ultimate authority over what is to occur in terms of access and parenting time, and can also mandate that the parents or the family participate in programs designed at mending broken relationships between parents and children. This was recently illustrated in a decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Father is alienated from child
The parties were married in June 2012 and separated two years later. They have one child together. She was born in 2012. The parents had been managing access to the child for seven years, but in 2018 there was a physical altercation involving both parents and the child. For some time after that, and with the mother’s support, the child refused to see the father.
The parents appeared before the court to help resolve this issue in April 2020. The court determined that the mother had wrongfully withheld access for the father, and that the parents needed a mediator to facilitate a resumption of access.
No success in rebuilding relationship
By the end of January the court observed that after working with a mediator and a psychologist, there had still been no success in the rebuilding of a relationship between the father and the child. While the professionals working with the family said the father needed coaching on his parenting techniques, the mother was the “major obstacle to the reunification of (the child) with her father.” The mother was observed to “say the right words, yet model something different,” and that the anxiety felt by the child was transferred from the mother.
This anxiety was played out through violent behaviour from the child while visiting the father (including punching holes in the walls of his home) and unbuckling her seatbelt while he was driving with her. The father said that as a result of this, he did not want to continue having access to the child until they could get support and direction.
Mother’s tactics complicate the situation
The court noted that the mother had terminated her lawyer and was representing herself. This resulted in materials being filed improperly. In addition, the mother had asked that the parties split the costs for co-parenting sessions 50/50 dispute the courts order to do so on a pro-rated basis related to income. The court found that the mother was responsible for yet another appearance before a judge, and that “a message needs to be sent that her actions have consequences.” Therefore, the court ordered that the parties immediately engage in co-parenting sessions with a professional, and follow his recommendations. In addition, the court ordered the mother to pay costs of $2,500 to the father as a result of bringing the matter to the courts.
For questions that only a family law lawyer can answer, contact Howie Johnson Barristers & Solicitors at 519.973.1500 or contact us online. Howie Johnson Barristers & Solicitors has been a fixture of the family law community of Windsor and Essex County for over 25 years, and so understandably, many prospective clients come to the firm through referrals from current or past clients, and also through referrals from lawyers, accountants, medical professionals and marriage counsellors.