Parental alienation is a difficult topic for everyone. This recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court demonstrates that both parents need to be reasonable on a claim of alienation. While this written decision only addressed the issue of costs, the Court did make some important comments on what alienation means for bitter parents. Both parents need to be reasonable on claim of alienation.
My Ex-Spouse is Withholding Access to My Child
The parents were never married. When this application was heard on June 15, 2020, the father had not seen his eleven-month old daughter in four months. He turned to the Courts on an “expedited or urgent basis”. While Courts have been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, urgent applications will still be heard.
The father argued that the mother was withholding access to the baby. While the father agreed that the mother had offered two visits per week, he said that this wasn’t enough. Further, the father said that the mother’s offer was tied to unacceptable conditions, such as forgoing custody rights.
My Ex-Spouse is Not a Suitable Parent
The mother did offer access two days per week, with the added condition that access was to be exercised at the grandparents house. While there isn’t any information in the decision on why, presumably the only reason a parent would request these conditions is if there was a problem with parenting.
This Court decision was on costs and it was pointed out to the father that it was too late to advance this argument. If he wanted to dispute the mothers view, he needed to do it during argument on the motion, not after the motion was already decided.
While the mother was successful in this proceeding, being more reasonable may have resolved this without Court. Though the mother received costs from the father, the costs were determined by the Judge and were not her actual costs. The mother sought actual costs, but after reviewing the leading authorities on the issue, her actual costs were not awarded.
How to Obtain Access When a Parent is Alienating
In the end, the Court found that this was not an urgent motion, as access was being offered. The result of this decision was the father was ordered to pay $900 in costs to the mother.
In this case, the father went to Court seeking further access. In taking this route, he declined to exercise the access he was offered. Effectively, his argument was that it is better to have no access than to accept the access terms offered by the other parent. The decision addressed this point and suggested the father take immediate steps to commence the visits, while waiting for his motion to be heard, which may not be for months.
The lesson learned here is not to assign blame to the other parent, while refusing to exercise access. A Court case may take months to resolve. This means for an infant, it could take more than half of their life to resolve. Time with your children is precious and don’t let animosity with your ex-spouse interfere with this time.
Both parents, acting reasonably, will reduce animosity, reduce court costs and increase time with their children. This was an expensive lesson for the father here. The father paid his own lawyer for the application and also paid the mother’s costs. He didn’t exercise the access offered while building his relationship with his daughter. He could have taken a more measured approach in Court, which may have offered a greater chance of success.
Contact Hearty Law for More Information
Parental alienation is an extremely difficult topic. It is hard for the parent being alienate and it can be hard for the child. Every child deserves the opportunity to spend time with both parents. If you are finding yourself in a similar situation, seek legal advice.
Contact Hearty Law with your questions on custody, access, child support, spousal support, divorce, division of property and any other family law question.
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