In Bedzow-Weisleder v. Weisleder, the divorcing parents had three children. Since their separation, the mother’s relationship with all three had deteriorated, mainly because she had sent them a barrage of harassing and hurtful messages by text, email, and Instagram. As the court explained:
At the moment, her relationship with the children is fractured. Much of this is as a result of the difficulties [the mother] has had in regulating her emotional responses to the stress she is under.
There was significant evidence before me of [the mother’s] emails and text messages, principally to [the father], but also to the children. In addition, there was significant evidence before me of [the mother’s] Instagram posts. The emails, texts and Instagram posts entered into evidence were harassing, abusive, vulgar, and hateful. Many of these were sent in the latter part of 2017 when the conflict in this litigation was exceedingly high.
For this same reason, the mother’s relationship with the eldest child, who was nearly 18, was particularly strained. The court offered one illustration of the type of messages the mother had been sending him:
For example, in December 2017 [the mother] texted [the eldest child] to tell him that she would sit shiva for him, in effect telling him that he was dead to her. It is clear this text was a breach of [the Restraining Order], in that it was abusive, emotionally threatening and inappropriate.
The referred-to Restraining Order had been temporarily obtained at a previous hearing by the father. He had convinced the court that the mother’s messaging was so hurtful that she should be barred from sending anything to him that did not involve necessary communications about the children. (And those permitted messages were to be polite, courteous, and contain no emojis.)
Of its own accord, the court also granted a Restraining Order to cover the mother’s communications to the eldest child, since it found her emotionally threatening messages were having a negative impact on him.
Yet when the matter came back before the court to firm up various matters, the mother admitted she had breached both Restraining Orders, by continuing to send harassing messages both the father and eldest son. (She also admitted to messaging the father’s new partner on Instagram. The court commented that “[the mother] does not seem to be able to help herself.”)
The father was successful in getting both temporary Restraining Orders made permanent, which in the case of the eldest child would mean it would be in place until he turned 18. This would address the child’s best interests as well as his views and preferences, which were to be given considerable weight in light of the fact he was nearly an adult.
The court heard evidence that the eldest child was reluctant to even spend time with the mother as required under a previous temporary parenting time order. Nor was the father encouraging him to do so after the mother’s hurtful “sit shiva” text. The father was unwilling to allow the eldest son to put himself in a position to be further damaged by the mother’s inability to regulate her emotions.
The court said:
… I share these concerns. I am not convinced that in her current emotional state, [the mother] has the ability to regulate her emotions or the ability to consistently parent [the eldest child] without behaving in an emotionally abusive manner.
(As an aside, the court also ruled it was in the eldest child’s best interests to set aside the original parenting schedule requiring him to spend half his time with the mother. At nearly 18 years of age, he could decide for himself where he wanted to invest his time.)
For the full text of the decision and a related ruling, see:
Bedzow-Weisleder v. Weisleder, 2018 ONSC 1969 (CanLII), <https://canlii.ca/t/hrmxb>
Bedzow v. Weisleder, 2020 ONSC 6363 (CanLII), <https://canlii.ca/t/jbns2>,