Custody & Access
Court Intervenes Early to Prevent Parental Alienation
In the recent decision of Ene v Ene, 2015 ONSC 867, the Ontario Superior Court intervened early to prevent lasting damage in a case where one parent was attempting to alienate the others. The parties were married in 1990 and had two daughters, aged fifteen and four. An incident occurred on December 20, 2015, when the mother attempted to access files on the father’s work computer. He objected and a dispute ensued. Although police were called, no charges were ultimately laid. Following the dispute, the parties separated on December 23, 2014.
Shortly after separating, the mother left the family home with younger child, T. The father made a request for normalized weekend access, following which the mother served an Application, called an urgent case conference and brought a motion before the court on January 14, 2015. In her motion materials, the mother sought, among other things, an order that the father be prevented from having contact with the mother and T. The mother also sought sole custody of T., an order that the father have supervised access of T on alternate Saturdays, and that each parent have reasonable telephone access to each child.
The father requested an adjournment, which was granted and the motion was adjourned to January 28, 2015. The day before the return of the motion, the mother called York Child and Family Services alleging that the father was abusive.
The Court found that the voluminous evidence submitted by the mother, including affidavits from family, friends, and the mother’s former counselor, was either inadmissible or largely irrelevant to the issue of the father’s access to the child.
In the Court’s view, the mother was not acting in T.’s best interests [para 71]. The Court was shocked to learn that “the mother had removed T. from a weekly activity that both parents agree she loves” [para 54]. The Court also found that the mother’s allegations of physical abuse by the father were “so extreme they lacked the ring of truth” [para 34]. The Court further found that the mother’s actions “can only be interpreted as her personal, perhaps even panicked response to the breakdown of the marriage” [para 71].
At paragraph 70, the Court stated:
“The end of a spousal relationship does not terminate the parent – child relationship. Nor does it remove a child’s fundamental need for love, attachment and the support of each parent. A parent who intentionally removes the other parent from his or her child’s life commits an abuse upon the child.”
The Court was concerned by the fact that the mother took no meaningful steps to pursue a relationship with her older daughter, C., and to ensure that the sisters have time together. The Court issued a temporary order that T. reside with her father for one month with the intention of allowing T. time to recover from the abrupt changes to her life. The Court felt that immediate action was warranted in this case to prevent long-term damage.
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To read the full decision, click here.