We often cover situations in our blog where parents can’t agree on a suitable arrangement for access and custody of their children, leaving the courts to establish a schedule. However, it’s unfortunately not too uncommon for life events to interrupt established custody arrangements, and from time-to-time, a child might not want to spend time with one of their parents. A recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice serves as a good example of how courts might respond to such pushback.
A physical incident leaves to loss of access
The parents were married in 2012 and had a child that same year. They separated in 2014. Following their separation, the parents had a parenting schedule established. However, things went south when there was a physical altercation in June 2019, involving both parents and the child. The incident occurred during an access transition. For some time after the incident the child, with the support of the mother, reused to see the father.
The parents eventually met with a mediator who was tasked with helping the parents facilitate a resumption of access. The mediator made a report a couple of months after meeting with the family. The report stated that while some progress was made, the mother was still projecting her resentment of the father onto the child. In addition, the mediator found that the father had to improve how he interacted with the daughter and had to learn how to respond better to her fears.
Mediator stresses the need for cooperation from mother and child
In the fall of 2020, in-person access was planned to resume between the child and the father. Since that date, four visits had occurred, with each one being problematic according to the court. The mediator found that the child’s anxiety was largely transferred by the mother and that the mother and child are “very enmeshed”, adding that the child still sleeps with the mother. The mediator also found the child needs to understand that visits with her father will continue and should be seen as a normal part of her life. It was recommended that visits between the child and the father resume on a weekly basis and eventually resume in length.
The court reviewed the mediator’s report and added that it appeared the child was manipulating the access arrangement.
Parents and child need to work towards a positive relationship
The court stated that the father was making a sincere and concerted effort to “welcome (the child) and connect with her,” adding that the mother was not doing enough to promote the relationship, including failing to impose consequences, stating the mother “must immediately take assertive and consequential parenting steps to achieve a meaningful improvement in (the father’s) access visits with (the child).”
Going forward, the court ordered the parents to continue to work with the mediator to determine how access will unfold, with them to start on a weekly basis and gradually increase in length. The court also ordered that neither parent shall videotape the child or the other parent during visits and that the child must sleep in her own bed.
For questions that only a family law lawyer can answer your questions about custody & access, 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.