Drunk Father’s Access Visits Limited to Mother’s Front Yard – Should He Get Another Chance?
In a recent Ontario case called Allard v. Allard, the parents had been married for seven years and had two children together when they separated. The children went to live with the mother, and access by the father went smoothly until there was an incident the court summed up this way:
As a result of an incident on April 11, 2012, which the [father] was stopped by police with the children in the car and was found to have an alcohol reading in the “warning range” on the breathalyzer machine, access has been supervised, but not successfully, and now the [father] is only allowed to visit the children in the [mother’s] front yard – a very unsatisfactory arrangement.
The matter came before the court to determine custody and access. The mother wanted to be awarded primary custody, while the father wanted joint custody, even despite the incident.
The court found that the historically-poor relationship between the parents militated against any sort of joint custody arrangement; rather, it was in the children’s best interests to maintain the status quo, which meant that they should remain in the mother’s custody and to continue to live with her.
In terms of the father’s access, the mother asked that it continue to be supervised. The court considered this suggested solution to be “quite harsh”, in light of the fact that (prior to the breathalyzer incident), there had been three years of relatively successful access by the father.
Without further evidence, the court was not prepared to order that the father’s access be permanently supervised. As the court put it:
Clearly, he should not be allowed access if he is using intoxicants, but other than that, he should be allowed reasonable access on reasonable notice along the lines of the old access arrangements.
The court ordered the father to be allowed generous access, with supervision for a 3-month period, and after that time was up the access could return to an unsupervised arrangement on alternating weekends or as agreed by the parents.
For the full text of the decision, see:
Allard v. Allard (2014), 2014 ONSC 492 http://canlii.ca/t/g2s14