Can Mom’s New Partner Participate in “Family” Counselling if He’s Subject to a Restraining Order?
The father and mother, now separated, had two children together. The father, who worked as a taxi driver, had full custody of them and received no child support from the mother.
The mother had a new partner, Mr. V., who had apparently been abusive not just toward her and the children, but towards the father as well. As the Court put it, the litigation record was “replete with allegations of abuse perpetrated by Mr. V.” against the father, mother and their children.
On two occasions, the father refused to let the mother have access to the children, despite a Court Order requiring him to do so. In the face of those two incidents, the mother went straight to court and successfully obtained another Order which held the father in contempt. The Order also included a provision requiring the mother, father, and children to participate in counselling, and – quite unusually — added that Mr. V. was to participate in the counselling as well. Moreover, the father was ordered to fully co-operate with all recommendations made by the counselor, and in connection with Mr. V’s participation as well.
Among other grounds, the father successfully appealed the stipulation as to counselling, in part.
Firstly, the Appeal Court observed that in requiring the mother’s current (and allegedly abusive) new partner at the counselling, the trial judge had likely not considered the children’s best interests. But even from a practical standpoint, that term of the Order was untenable because Mr. V. was the subject of a restraining order, which had been folded into the Order that granted the mother access to the children. That restraining order prohibited Mr. V from being within 500 meters of where the mother was exercising her access rights. The Court found it was an actually an error in law to order counselling that involved Mr. V. in the face of an order that restrains his ability to be anywhere near the children.
The Court therefore set aside the part of the Order relating to Mr. V’s involvement, and merely directed that the father was ordered to “attend and co-operate with the counselling process.”
In other words: The Court concluded that it was a bad idea to have the mother’s new boyfriend at the fractured family’s counselling sessions – particularly since he was alleged to be abusive to everyone else attending, and since he was subject to a restraining order. Perhaps not a surprising outcome.
For the full text of the decision, see:
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 RussellAlexander.com