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What’s in a Name? Mother Not Faulted for Having Children Use Her Name on Facebook to Avoid “Stigma”

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What’s in a Name? Mother Not Faulted for Having Children Use Her Name on Facebook to Avoid “Stigma”

This is another one of those cases that illustrates some of the more arcane aspects of divorce, and some of the more esoteric points affecting children that must be considered when parents decide to end their union.

The couple in this case had been married less than ten years when they decided to separate; they had two children together. Upon separation, the mother was granted interim sole custody of the children, while the father was allowed interim access. However, the mother testified that periodically the father cancelled scheduled access visits “due to work, vacation or other plans he ‘can’t get out of’”.

Nonetheless the father applied for custody of the children, as part of numerous applications aimed at resolving the outstanding issues between the parties. In this context, the father claimed that the mother had been actively obstructing his relationship with the children, and had been alienating them from him. As evidence of this, he claimed among other things that:

• the mother had registered the children for hockey under her surname (rather than his), and their hockey jerseys bore her surname on the back; and

• the children’s Facebook accounts use the mother’s surname as well.

(And it should be noted that because of the use of the mother’s surname on the jerseys, the father refused to make any financial contribution to the children’s hockey-related costs).

The mother testified that the reason for this decision was simply so that the children would avoid any stigma: the children’s paternal grandfather had been convicted a few years earlier for various sexual crimes, including some that involved the children’s own cousins as victims. She did not want the children to be associated with their grandfather’s name (and unavoidably, their father’s name) on social media and in their sports milieu.

The court considered the evidence, and was not persuaded that the mother had been trying to alienate the children from their father. For one thing, her decision to have the children use her surname was limited to a relatively narrow sphere of the children’s lives and activities; moreover she had worked with the police in connection with her concerns over Facebook, and her decision on the surnames in that regard. The court wrote:

… I am not prepared to make any finding of fault against the respondent with respect to her decision to use the G. surname for the children’s hockey registration/jerseys and/or their Facebook account. The respondent gave uncontradicted evidence that she used the G. surname in those two specific instances specifically in response to the risk she assessed arising from the criminal conviction against the applicant’s father for sexual interference with children and the proximity of his probation office to the residence of the children. It is not the function of this Court to decide whether the respondent was right or wrong in taking those limited precautions but rather whether she has acted reasonably. I find that she has acted reasonably and in making that finding note that the respondent used the M. surname for the children’s school, doctors and otherwise. I make the related finding that the respondent has not obstructed the applicant’s relationship with the children on the basis of her registering the children using the G. surname for their hockey and Facebook registrations.

The court also pointed out that – the complaints about hockey and Facebook notwithstanding – neither the father nor any of his witnesses had given evidence to establish any specific incidents to suggest that the mother had tried to obstruct or deny the father’s access to the children.

Accordingly, and after balancing a host of other considerations that are germane to a final determination on custody and access, the court ordered that sole custody was left in the mother’s hands, although she was to consult with the father on major issues. The father’s access was to continue.

J.M.E.M. v. K.L.G., 2012 ONSC 3332 http://canlii.ca/t/fs7qq

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at www.RussellAlexander.com.

Twitter — Facebook Poll: Is it ever too early to put up your christmas tree?

Is it ever too early to put up your christmas tree?

We have friends who put their tree and christmas decorations up right after Halloween.

We like to set up a real tree and often wait until December so it doesn’t end up looking like a Charlie Brown christmas tree.

Some wait for the local Santa Claus parade before they start to get into the spirit.

So what do you think?

Is it ever too early to put up your christmas tree?

Please read our responses or submit your own comments.

Become a Fan and join the discussion here: http://www.facebook.com/RussellAlexanderFamilyLawyers

Facebook – Twitter Poll: What’s up with the NHL? #NHL

Facebook – Twitter Poll:  What’s up with the NHL?

It has been almost 2 months since our last blog on the NHL.

The lockout continues and there has been some musings about the NHL owners considering a 50% profit split with the players.

But there has been really no movement by either side other than the cancellation of the Winter Classic.

So what is up with the NHL lockout?

Please read our responses or submit your own comments.

Become a Fan and join the discussion here: http://www.facebook.com/RussellAlexanderFamilyLawyers

Facebook – Twitter Poll: Do You Movember?

Facebook – Twitter Poll: Do You Movember?

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on men’s faces, in Canada and around the world to help raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer.

In 2011 245, 000 Canadian men participated in Movember and raised $42 million for prostate cancer research.

So the question this year is:  do you Movember?

Please feel free to submit your comments here or send us a pic of your Movember.

Become a Fan and join the discussion here: http://www.facebook.com/RussellAlexanderFamilyLawyers

For more information about Movember visit  http://ca.movember.com/?home

Should an unhappy mother be allowed to move from Canada back to Italy with her children?

Should an unhappy mother be allowed to move from Canada back to Italy with her children?

This was the issue a Court recently decided in a case we examine in our blog Parents Neither Separated Nor Divorced – But Mother Permitted to Move Them Back to Italy

What do you think?

Please read our responses or submit your own comments.

Become a Fan and join the discussion here: http://www.facebook.com/RussellAlexanderFamilyLawyers

How Important Are the Presidential Debates?

How Important Are the Presidential Debates?

With the U.S. presidential election just around the corner lots of people (even non-Americans) are tuning into the televised presidential debates.

Polls suggests that debate success can swing the voting public by several percentage points.  With the race tightening how important do you think these debates are?

What do you think?

Please read our responses or submit your own comments.

Become a Fan and join the discussion here: http://www.facebook.com/RussellAlexanderFamilyLawyers

Should mediation be mandatory for divorcing couples?

Should mediation be mandatory for divorcing couples?

Last week Associate lawyer Wendy’s video MIP – New process mandatory for divorcing spouses in Ontario was quite popular.

So this week we are asking: Should mediation be mandatory for divorcing couples?

What do you think?

Please read our responses or submit your own comments.

Become a Fan and join the discussion here: http://www.facebook.com/RussellAlexanderFamilyLawyers

It is Thanksgiving weekend this weekend in Canada.

 

It is Thanksgiving weekend this weekend in Canada.

Russell will be taking in a CFL Argos football game and hosting family.

What are your plans for this Thanksgiving weekend?

Please read our responses or submit your own comments.
Become a Fan and join the discussion here: http://www.facebook.com/RussellAlexanderFamilyLawyers

 

 

Should Divorce Court be Televised?

Should Divorce Court be televised?

Public access to our justice system is a fundamental principle in Canada.  Many US jurisdictions permit their court proceedings to be televised.  Should Canada head in the same direction?

Please read our responses or submit your own comments.

Become a Fan and join the discussion here: http://www.facebook.com/RussellAlexanderFamilyLawyers

Who are you siding with during the NHL lockout: the owners or the players?

Who are you siding with during the NHL lockout: the owners or the players?

Last weekend the NHL club owners locked out the players in a dispute over how the next collective agreement should be structured. There are reports that some of the star NHL players have been offered positions with Russia’s professional hockey league for next year.

This lock out could be a long one.

Who are you siding with: the owners or the players?

Please read our responses or submit your own comments.

Become a Fan and join the discussion here: http://www.facebook.com/RussellAlexanderFamilyLawyers