Father’s Very Poor Lifestyle Choices Foreclose Access to His Kids
There is no question that Family Law courts have to deal with a broad and interesting array of human stories, not to mention a host of difficult decisions. In a recent case called H.P. v. P.L.C., the Ontario court had to consider how a father’s poor lifestyle choices and history of violence should affect his access to his children.
The spouses, who had two children together, had a tumultuous relationship throughout their 5-year marriage. The father was violent, and had sexually assaulted the mother at least eight times, including one three-hour ordeal when she was five months pregnant. The children were present or in the next room for all but one of those incidents. There was also evidence that during the marriage the father had sexual encounters with both men and women.
The father’s history as a provider was also checkered: he had worked seven different hobs during the course of their relatively brief relationship, and they had lived in 10 different homes in the 6.5 years they were together. When the mother indicated that she wanted to leave, the father stole her bank card, and emptied her account.
After separation, the mother obtained an order for full custody, together with a restraining order. He was also criminally charged with four of the eight sexual assaults, pleaded guilty to one, and served 16 months in jail.
The father then applied to the court for access to his children, claiming that there had been a material change in circumstances affecting the children’s best interests. He professed to having developed “adaptive coping strategies” to his anger issues, including reliance on spiritual beliefs, community, exercise and counseling.
The court considered all the evidence. It noted that the father had had a terrible upbringing, and had been both the victim of abuse, and as an older child had sexually abused siblings and their friends himself. He professed to having turned his life around; he had also been recently diagnosed with a Gender Identity Disorder, and embarked on a medically-supervised gender transition program. (He filed materials in court using his new female identity.)
However, the court was still troubled with the father’s present-day conduct. It went through a host of concerns relating to the father’s current behavior. For example, he was still engaging in “I Love Sex” parties with random strangers, liked to post explicit pictures and sexual descriptions on Facebook, and was engaged in prostitution, which he continued to do so even throughout the court proceedings. The court expressed its concern with the nature of that enterprise:
While [the gender-reassigned father]. has denied that she entertains clients in her home, the phrasing of the advertisements is of concern. One advertisement on the internet sets out where she is prepared to engage in sex: “my place, his place, outdoors, restroom, bathhouse, theatre, truck stop or gym”.
And while the father had undertaken some counseling from Sexaholics Anonymous, he did not put forth any evidence that he had completed any of the therapeutic measures that had been recommended for him. He also claimed that it was difficult to obtain work as a transgendered person, but the court found that even with that in mind, the father was not making much of an effort to look.
In short, the court concluded that there was simply no evidence that the father had started to focus on the children’s needs in terms of obtaining regular work, or offering to pay any child support. Nor was there any indication that the children would benefit from contact with him at all. In terms of the legal test involved, there had not been any “material change” which would support a finding that the father should have access to his children in these circumstances.
For the full text of the decision, see:
H.P. v. P.L.C., 2013 ONCJ 399 (CanLII) http://canlii.ca/t/fzqtc
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