Mother Oblivious to Father’s Rights: Court Awards Him Custody of Child
In our recent article, Put the Batman Costume Away: Dad’s Poor Conduct Foils Custody Bid, we wrote about a case in which the parties’ egregious behaviour –particularly that of the father – had been instrumental in the court’s decision as to which of the two parents should be awarded custody of the children of the marriage. Unfortunately, these kinds of scenarios are all-too-common; this week’s other Blog is in a similar vein.
The parents in his case were married only 21 months, and had a daughter who was 20 months old when the relationship fell apart. The separation involved the mother leaving the family home with the daughter, and refusing to disclose her new address to the father. Effectively, this prevented the father from contacting or participating in his daughter’s life for more than a year, until he was able to obtain court orders for visitation and periods during which he could exercise parenting rights.
About this tactic on the part of the mother, the court wrote:
Cecilia was wrongfully removed from her home in circumstances which approach that of an abduction. Her mother changed her familiar name, replaced the people with whom she had lived and changed her community. She was hidden. The effect of her unilateral removal ought not be minimized. From January 10, 2009 to April 10 2010 the father did not see his infant daughter. More importantly, for over a year, Cecilia was taken away from two significant caregivers in her life: her father and her grandmother.
When he mother reluctantly appeared in court to answer the father’s claims for custody and access, the court found that her conduct continued to be self-serving: her oral testimony differed significantly from her written materials, her evidence displayed several troubling inconsistencies, and she professed not to understand even basic concepts or to be aware of even the most rudimentary legal obligations in connection with keeping the father informed. Even taking into account that the mother required the assistance of an interpreter to give evidence, the court concluded the mother’s evidence was “generally unreliable.”
Even more troubling were the mother’s unsubstantiated allegations against the father, including very serious allegations of child sexual abuse and spousal violence, together with what the court described as “a number of nonsensical allegations.” All of these turned out to be unfounded. Furthermore, the mother had displayed a wholesale unwillingness to include the father in their daughter’s life. The court wrote:
During the father’s direct testimony on November 25, 2011 he stated that he had yet to be informed of his daughter’s school, teacher or any details of her education. On my direction, that information was finally made available to him in the first week of December 2011.
The mother attached a letter from Kathy Noh to her December 4, 2011 Parenting Affidavit. The letter supports the mother’s claim for custody. In the course of the letter it states that Ms. Noh recently attended Cecilia’s baptism mass and was named her godmother. This was a surprise to the father as his daughter was baptized in 2007 at the Anglican Church in Mount Forrest.
When questioned on this point, the mother confirmed that Cecilia had been baptized at Han Ma Um Catholic Church in August of 2011, and that she knew that she was previously baptized in Mount Forest. … The mother displayed no concern with having wholly disregarded any involvement by the father in the Catholic Baptism. She testified,
“I didn’t know I had to give father that information. If you give me a list of what to do I will abide by it.”
The mother testified on December 15 to a number of persons who provided care for Cecilia, none of who were previously named or made available to speak to the father. None were listed in her Parenting Affidavit. The mother provided an insufficient answer to the father’s question as to the name of the individual whom Cecilia refers to as her “House Daddy.”
Overall, and in light of this kind of conduct, the court concluded:
I have no confidence that the mother can support the father’s relationship with Cecilia. When the father pressed for information and contact with Cecilia in 2009, the mother threw up a screen of horrific sexual child abuse and domestic violence allegations. None of those allegations were established at trial. Almost none were even raised. At no time has the mother demonstrated any remorse for the effects of those allegations on the father, or insight into the potential affect of those claims on her daughter, and her daughter’s relationship with her father.
The mother demonstrates no insight into her daughter’s need for a relationship with her father. The court’s observation during the trial is that the mother was irritated by the father and dismissive of his role as a parent. I find that the mother is unable to support a relationship between the father and daughter.
In contrast, the court assessed the father’s parenting approach as follows:
I do find that the father can support a relationship between the mother and daughter. He accepts that the mother wants little to no communication with him, but is nonetheless optimistic. His intention is to fully consult with the mother and make as many decisions together as possible, recognizing that it may not always be possible.
The father does have a concern that the mother could remove Cecilia from Canada. The mother has a Korean passport. She has no property, employment or family in Canada. South Korea is not a Hague Convention State member.
In light of all the above, the court granted sole custody to the father, with specific orders for access by the mother.
For the full text of the decision, see:
Hong v. Rooney, 2012 ONSC 120 http://canlii.ca/t/fpv9q
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.