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Posts from the ‘Ontario Custody’ Category

When Can (or Should) a Court Force Parents to Go to Reunification Therapy?

When Can (or Should) a Court Force Parents to Go to Reunification Therapy?

Reunification therapy is court-ordered counselling, conducted by a court-designated therapist, designed to help bridge the rift between a parent and a child after a divorce or separation.  It can be part of a determination as to custody and access, or may come up as part of a review once these orders have already been made. Reunification therapy can be ordered at a motion or at a trial.

Two recent Ontario cases provide guidance on when these kinds of orders are appropriate.

In Testani v. Haughton, the court considered whether to order reunification counselling for the daughter of two parents who had significant conflict in the post-separation period.  At separation, they had been married about 12 years and had two children together, including a 13-year-old daughter who the father claimed was actively being alienated from him by the mother.  The father had had no access to the daughter for several years, and she wholly refused to see him.

The child had attended counselling as directed by the court, and it resulted in the therapist’s recommendation that – while the daughter loved her father and was looking forward to future access with him – she should not be forced to see him at this point, since it would damage the prospect of any future relationship.  It was also recommended that she should receive individual counselling, as well as joint reunification with the father, to ease his transition back into her life.

The mother claimed she was on-board with these recommendations, but also did not want to force the daughter if she was currently unwilling to see him.

In examining this scenario in the context of resolving the parents’ issues, the court stipulated some of the criteria it must consider, in deciding whether to make an order for reunification therapy in the first place.

First, the court reflected on whether it even had the jurisdiction to make this kind of order at all, and after reviewing the prior cases, concluded it did.  Then it summarized the governing principles to be applied, as follows:

  • Orders for reunification therapy are to be made sparingly.
  • There must be “compelling evidence” that the therapy will be beneficial.
  • The request to the court must be adequately supported by a detailed proposal, identifying: a) the proposed counsellor; and b) what is expected.
  • A parent’s or a child’s resistance to therapy is an important factor in deciding whether to make the order, but it is not a determining one.
  • Where practical, the court should give appropriate direction to the counsellor or therapist, and should receive a report after the therapy is concluded.
  • If a clinical investigation or assessment is already underway, the order should wait until those steps have been concluded.

On the point of a parent’s resistance to participating in therapy, a second recent case called Leelaratna v. Leelaratna stresses that a court must look beyond a parent’s stated refusal to co-operate, and assess how likely the parent would be to actually go.  The court said:

There may be various reasons for a parent’s resistance to therapeutic intervention; the parent may not be satisfied that the cause of the breakdown in the child-parent relationship has been properly identified; the parent may feel that therapy is premature and that other steps must first be completed; the parent may lack the financial resources to retain the recommended therapist, and/or; the parent may not wish to have to physically force a resistant child to attend counselling.  The court should assess the likelihood that a parent will comply with a therapeutic order once it is made, despite that parent’s professed refusal to engage. 

For the full text of the decisions, see:

Testani v Haughton, 2016 

Leelaratna v. Leelaratna, 2018

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

 

 

Court Decides it Can Order “Reunification Therapy” To Repair Fractured Parent-Child Relationship

Court Decides it Can Order “Reunification Therapy” To Repair Fractured Parent-Child Relationship

The parents had a child together who was now 12 years old.  When the husband returned from a two-week trip out of the country to deal with some urgent matters, he found that the mother hand moved out of the matrimonial home. The next day, he received a letter from the mother’s lawyer, saying she was formally separating from him.  Aside from a few visits within the next few days, the father was told that the child did not want to see him.  He launched legal proceedings immediately, to get a court order allowing him some access and shared parenting time.

Unfortunately, the twice-weekly access visits between the father and son did not go well, and the child showed strong resistance to participating in them. As the court explained:

I found, based on the evidence before me, that it was undisputable that [the child] experienced significant stress and anxiety around his visits with his father.  However, the cause of that fear and anxiety was quite unclear.   The mother blamed that fear on the father’s own behavior and actions, whereas the father was of the view that the mother was the cause of that fear as a result of her alienating behaviours and lack of support for the father-son relationship.  The contradictory and untested evidence did not allow me to come to any clear conclusions in that regard.

What was clear to the court, however, was that imposing more access with the father in these circumstances would likely lead to a further deterioration of the relationship with the child.  This was echoed by a  registered psychologist, who had been hired to perform a full parenting assessment.  The psychologist noted there was “something terribly amiss here”, and it led to extraordinary distress and conflict.  He recommended that separate therapy for the father and for the mother, as well as private counselling sessions for the child.  He also recommended joint counselling sessions for the child and his father, to try to build a functional and healthy relationship, and concluded that progress could not be made unless the court imposed participation and progress requirements on the parents.

In alignment with these recommendations, the court added:

It is crystal clear to me, based on the evidence before me, that without an integrated professional therapeutic intervention with this family, any hope to rebuild a positive relationship between [the child] and his father will be lost forever.  There is simply no legal solution for this family, unless it is grounded upon, and supported by, therapeutic assistance.  If this court does not have the ability to impose on the parties and their child the therapeutic order that is necessary to achieve the long-term changes in behaviours which are essential to rebuild [the child’s] relationship with his father, this court will have no power to assist this family or this child.  This conclusion is rooted in my finding that, without a sustainable change in behaviour, access between [the child] and his father, in its current form, is detrimental to his mental health and overall well-being, and not in his best interests.

However, this raised an important legal question:  Whether the court had the jurisdiction to make a therapeutic order requiring the parents or the child to engage in these various types of counselling, including “reunification therapy”.

After noting that the significant controversy arising from Ontario court rulings on this point, the court concluded that it did have the needed powers under the provisions of the Children’s Law Reform Act and under the Divorce Act, in accord with the “best interests of the child.”  The court was already imbued with broad powers allowing it to address a child’s best interests when the parents could not agree; these could comfortably include making therapeutic orders where warranted.   Also, even though they are not expressly provided-for in the legislation, courts routinely make a wide variety of orders in the course of adjudicating on custody and access matters (including requiring a parent to complete a parenting course; deciding in which school or in which activities a child will be registered; determining whether a child will be allowed to travel to a specific country; and deciding whether a child will be raised in a particular faith or educated in a particular language).

Having concluded it had the legal authority to make the order, the court considered all the established factors that are relevant to its exercise of discretion in this particular case, including the child’s own willingness to participate. It added while access to the father was not currently in the child’s best interests, there was still hope that the relationship could be repaired “if everyone meaningfully engages in the therapeutic work necessary to achieve that goal.”

In the end, the court ordered the father, mother and child to each engage in the therapy and counselling recommended by the psychologist, before access to the father could resume.  The court also asked the psychologist to undertake an update assessment in six months’ time.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Leelaratna v. Leelaratna, 2018 

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

Mom Unilaterally Pays for Kids’ Special Expenses for School – Years Later, Should Dad Be Expected to Contribute?

Mom Unilaterally Pays for Kids’ Special Expenses for School – Years Later, Should Dad Be Expected to Contribute?

At the time of their separation and divorce 20 years ago, the court had made an order requiring the father to pay child support to the mother, to help cover the expenses of their two children, who were now both in their early 20s.

Some of these expenses related to their son’s attendance at a U.S. university until mid-2018, and to their daughter’s briefer stint at a local college for about a year.  The father faithfully paid the required child support over the years.

The mother now applied to the court to have that decades-old prior order changed retroactively, to add a new requirement that the father share in paying for the “special expenses” (as prescribed in section 7 of the Child Support Guidelines) relating to both children.  She asked that the father be obliged to pay for a period starting in at least the year 2000.

It seems that over the years, the mother had been unilaterally paying what she said were significant special expenses for the children’s in relation to their schooling, especially in the past few years when the children were pursuing post-secondary education.  However, she was either remiss or reluctant to ask the father for his contribution.  As the court explained:

The [mother]  claims that on June 12, 2014, she emailed the [father] alerting him to the fact that the children would both be attending university, and impliedly requested the [father] to contribute.  The [father] insists that he did not receive the email, and points out that he had changed his email address approximately a year before the email was sent. 

In explaining why it took her a further four years after that e-mail to go to court to try to have the father’s obligations enforced, the mother said she was afraid of the father, because he had been abusive towards her during the marriage and after separation.

In response, the father pointed out that:

1) There was nothing in the original order requiring him to contribute to section 7 expenses;

2) He was never consulted in any way as to the expenses the mother was incurring;

3) He never had an opportunity to provide input on what activities should be contributed to;

4) He already spent about $80,000 on extracurricular activities for the children over the years, himself, which would already fall in the category of the section 7 expenses being claimed.

After assessing the evidence on the whole, the court rejected the mother’s retroactive request for the section 7 special expenses, writing:

There are several difficulties with the [mother’s] claim for a contribution to section 7 expenses. 

First, apart from some general emails there was no formal request for a contribution to specific special expenses.  Ordinarily, parties would discuss which specific activities or other matters would legitimately constitute a special expense, to which both parties should contribute, and court action, in the event of disagreement, could sort out the matter at the time.  That did not happen.

Furthermore, at this point it would be difficult to determine, with any accuracy, exactly what contributions either party has made to what could legitimately be considered to be special expenses.  Both parties have attempted to do so, but I am not convinced that their calculations are particularly accurate. 

The court observed that at this late stage it would be “difficult, if not impossible” to impose a reasonable cost-sharing agreement after-the-fact.  It also noted the parents had essentially been informally sharing the children’s extra educational costs over the years, without a formal court order being in place.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Lochhead v. Lochhead, 2019

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

Court Strikes Down Law Barring Platonic Parents from Adopting

Court Strikes Down Law Barring Platonic Parents from Adopting

In an important recent case called S.M. (Re), an Ontario court struck down as unconstitutional a legislative provision requiring adoptive parents to be “spouses”. The ruling opens the door for platonic friends to jointly adopt a child in certain scenarios.

The court was presented with joint application for adoption put forward by two women, who had been “good friends” for 12 years but were not in a romantic relationship of any kind.  They wanted to adopt a child, S.H., who had been living with them for three years as part of a foster care arrangement, since having been made a Crown ward only a few days after being born. The child’s half-sibling also lived in the loving home environment provided by the women, and they all considered themselves a family.

The glitch was that the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 (“CYFSA”) (and the former Child and Family Services Act, which it replaced) contained language to the effect that only “spouses” could jointly adopt a child that had been made a Crown ward.  The term “spouse” was specifically defined to include not only married partners, but also those in a “conjugal relationship outside of marriage”.  Since the women were only platonic friends, and not spouses, this wording technically precluded them from jointly adopting the child.

The women asked the court to strike down the spousal requirement, on the basis that it was contrary to the Charter because it discriminated against them on the basis of marital status.

In readily doing so, the court noted that one of the public policy goals of the CYFSA was to try and promote an increase in the adoption rates of children who were Crown wards.  It cited studies and statistics showing that CYFSA-prompted changes were indeed making a difference.

The court then observed that the restrictive spousal requirement in the CYFSA was having the opposite effect: It reduced the pool of joint applicants who could adopt a Crown ward.   More to the point, it did so by drawing a needless distinction between applicants who were marred or in a conjugal relationship, and those who were not.  The purported distinction was based on the women’s personal characteristics as two “single” individuals rather than spouses.

This, the court found, was in breach of the Charter, and could not be reasonably justified. The court added:

The applicants have chosen, in a free and democratic society, to live together as a family with emotional and financial interdependence.  They both sought to open their home to the most vulnerable in our society – children who are in need of protection.  The applicants applied for and were approved to be foster parents.  The subject child S.H. knows the applicants as her only parents.  The applicants, not unlike other long-term foster parents, now seek to adopt S.H., with the support and recommendation of the Society.  However, they cannot do so.

Why?  The answer:  their relationship is platonic; it is not conjugal.  They are not “spouses.”

While it may be argued that limiting joint applications to spouses will enhance the prospect of securing prospective adoptive parents who are in committed and stable relationships, it does not follow that those attributes would be absent when two individuals are in a long-term familial non-spousal relationship.

The absolute exclusion of non-spousal couples from joint adoption is arbitrary and is based on irrelevant personal characteristics, bereft of any merit-based assessment. 

The distinction created by the impugned legislation foments the stereotypic dogma that only traditional families with two “spouses” are able to apply for joint adoption.  I agree with the submission of the Attorney General of Ontario that the “prohibition also perpetuates and reinforces the pejorative view that families must match a specific model in order to be appropriate adoptive homes for children and youth.”

 The exclusion of the applicants is “at the front door.”  They cannot even apply.  …

The “front door” exclusion of non-spousal joint applicants without any opportunity for an assessment of their suitability as adoptive parents underscores the exclusion’s arbitrariness.

… The impugned legislation, rather than having an ameliorative effect, worsens the prospect for children to be adopted because it lessens the pool of prospective adoptive parents willing to make the crucial decision to adopt a child and give that child a loving home.

The court accordingly ruled that, under either the newer CYFSA or its predecessor Act, the legislative wording that required adoption applicants to be spouses was unconstitutional.  It “read down” or severed the law, by declaring the words “who are spouses of one another” of no force and effect in this context.

For the full text of the decision, see:

S.M. (Re), 2018

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

 

Despite Canadian Order, Court in India Refuses to Allow Child’s Return

Despite Canadian Order, Court in India Refuses to Allow Child’s Return

Given the impressive multiculturalism of modern-day Canada, it is not uncommon for parents to have originated from different nations before settling down to raise their children here.  But when those same parents later find themselves on the brink of separation or divorce, they may choose to return to their country-of-origin (often to rejoin extended family), and ideally take their children with them.

This can give rise to disputes involving numerous international law issues, including: whether a parent actually has the legal right to do so; which country’s laws and judicial system should govern the matter; where a trial or hearing should be held; and how or whether Family Law orders validly issued in one country can be enforced in a different one.

This last issue was the illuminated in a recent ruling from a court in India.  The decision shows that – as with the courts of all countries — the judgments of Canadian courts are not always respected and enforced, especially when they happen to relate to children.

The ruling emanated from the northern Indian state of Rajasthan, which borders on Pakistan.  Despite the existence of an order by a Canadian court requiring a 10-year-old boy to be returned from there to rejoin his father in Canada, the presiding Indian court concluded that the boy should not be allowed to go.

The boy’s parents, who had lived together in Ontario while married, were now embroiled in a custody dispute over him, post-separation.  The mother took matters into her own hands, and unilaterally decided to move the boy back to India with her, against the father’s wishes. This prompted the father to successfully obtain an order from Family Court judge in Hamilton, Ontario, granting him sole custody of his son, and directing his return.  That order also directed all law enforcement agencies – including INTERPOL – to take enforcement steps as necessary.

The matter then came before the court in India, where the father merely sought to have the pre-existing Ontario court order enforced.

However, the Indian court refused to do so, stating:

“If now he is forced to go back to Canada in the sole care of his father, is likely to psychologically disturb him, particularly when he will be required to now adapt to an education system of that country. This would adversely affect his over all growth and grooming as in the absence of his mother, his father being a busy professional, he is not likely to remain under the care of a Nanny.”

The Indian court was untroubled by the existence of the prior Canadian order stating otherwise; it concluded that it still had the authority to decline the boy’s return in light of what it adjudged to be his best interests.  That remained the prevailing and paramount consideration.

Indeed, the Indian court observed that the existence of the Canadian court order was “only one of the factors” and that it should not get “fixated” with it.   Rather, in these kinds of cases the India court had other factors to consider, too: – such as how settled the child had become in the new country, whether he or she would be exposed to physical or psychological harm, and whether the child’s own views could be ascertained in light of his or her age and maturity.

Applying those tests, the Indian court was satisfied that the child’s removal back to Canada to rejoin his father was not in his best interests in this case, since he had already been living in India for several years, and suffered from some health concerns.  (Still, the court did acknowledge the father’s access rights, by issuing directions specifically mandating that he still be allowed to maintain contact with his son.)

The court added that the boy should be allowed to stay in India until he reached the age of majority, at which time he would be entitled to choose between pursuing citizenship from that country, or else obtain citizenship rights in North America.

See the full text of the Indian court’s judgment, here.

 

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

 

Can Scam Immigration Marriage Be Annulled?

Image result for immigration marriage

Can Scam Immigration Marriage Be Annulled?

In this Blog we often focus on divorce, and its fall-out.   A topic that doesn’t come up often, is the effect of immigration fraud on the validity of a marriage.

This unusual issue was the focus in an Ontario case called Grewal v. Kaur, where on a motion for summary judgment the court was faced with the following question in its own words:

“Can immigration fraud, where one spouse has married the other for the sole purpose of acquiring citizenship status in Canada, unbeknownst to the other sponsoring spouse who thought they were entering into a genuine marriage and who was deceived as to the other spouse’s motivation for entering into the marriage, form the legal basis for the granting of an annulment of a marriage, if such can be proven at trial?”

In this case, the husband had been tricked into marriage by the putative wife. His lawyer argued that if for none other than public policy grounds, immigration fraud should be a ground for annulment to discourage anyone from “jumping the queue” in the Canadian immigration system.  It would also deprive the fraudster from being eligible for certain marriage-based remedies under Ontario family law.

The court rejected these policy-based arguments. It held that that changing the law around marriage and annulment would not impact the flow of the immigration system in the least, since the laws governing that regime already define “spouse” to exclude immigration fraudsters.   As for the impact on family law entitlement, the court noted that it is “difficult as a practical matter to conceive that family law remedies would be awarded to a proven immigration fraudster.”

The court also dismissed the added argument that cultural sensitivities might dictate expanding the law in this area, stating:

Certain individuals may be motivated by the belief that for cultural and/or personal reasons an annulment is preferable to a divorce.   While these beliefs may be sincerely held, I see no good reason to recognize a legal right to an annulment. The courts are already having difficulty dealing with the existing volume of pressing criminal, family and civil matters.  I see no public interest in adding to the caseload if the principal motivation relates to saving face or conceptions of personal or family honour.

More to the point, the court concluded that it was bound by several existing Ontario Court of Appeal decisions holding that immigration fraud cannot be relied on to grant an annulment, even where – as here – one spouse had tricked the other into marriage for the sole purpose of acquiring citizenship status in Canada.  If the prevailing caselaw on this point was ripe for being overturned based on public policy and related arguments, then this was a task that only the Court of Appeal itself could do.

In short, the court concluded that the grounds for granting an annulment have already been firmly set by legislation; there was no reason to try to expand them to include immigration fraud even where it involved deception of one spouse by the other.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Grewal v. Kaur, 2009 

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

 

 

Does Employer Discriminate Against Woman Who Lacked Child-Care?

Image result for parenting

Does Employer Discriminate Against Woman Who Lacked Child-Care?

“Family status” is one of the prohibited grounds of workplace discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code.  It is defined as “the status of being in a parent and child relationship.”

The scope of an employer’s duty to accommodate an employee’s “family status” was the focus of a recent case called Peternel v. Custom Granite & Marble Ltd. where the court heard a human rights complaint by a woman who was returning to her job from having taken maternity leave.  She claimed the employer had discriminated against her by requiring her to report to work each day at 8:30 a.m., even though she had no morning child-care for two of her three children.  She claimed this was tantamount to a failure to accommodate her “family status” under human rights legislation, and asked for six months’ pay and $20,000 in punitive damages.

The woman had started to work for the small company – which made and installed granite counters — in 2010, taking on the role of scheduler.  And important part of her job was to respond to early-morning calls and attend morning meetings, and the woman acknowledged that an 8:30 a.m. start-time was one of the stipulations in her job description.  Still, during the years leading up to the birth of the woman’s third child, the employer had accommodated her child-related needs to some extent, for example by giving her a cellphone that allowed her to make work early-morning work-related calls from her home.

But in 2015, while the woman was still on maternity leave, the employer advised that upon her return she would be required to consistently report to work at 8:30 a.m., due to changes in the workplace. The employer gave her time to try to find child-care, but she was unable to do so in advance of her return date.

The employer did offer her an alternative job, at comparable pay, that would allow her to start work mid-morning, rather than at 8:30.   However, the woman did not even respond to that offer; instead she chose not to return to work when her maternity leave came to an end.

In light of these facts, and after pointing out some issues with the woman’s credibility, the court dismissed her discrimination claim.   The court concluded that she had essentially frustrated the employer’s efforts to accommodate her.

First, the court noted contradictions in the woman’s dealings with the employer, and some discrepancies in her evidence to the court.  For example, she had told the employer that she could not come into work by 8:30 a.m. because she needed to take her children to the school bus; however, the court noted the woman’s mother lived with them, and was often called upon to watch the children including taking early mornings when the woman’s job absolutely required it.

After shining light on further discrepancies, the court noted:

Taken as a whole, the evidence leads me to conclude that [the employer] Custom was a good employer to the plaintiff. Custom allowed the plaintiff flexibility with her hours, and showed her sympathy and accommodation following earlier miscarriages and throughout her last pregnancy. In return, Custom expected and understood that the plaintiff would be able to come to work in the early morning when required, and be willing and able to field early morning telephone calls from home or en route to work.

When it came time to accommodate her third child, the employer was ill-positioned since the woman had not provided key information concerning her need for accommodation, and not given details about her efforts to secure child care.

By law, all employees have a positive duty to cooperate with an employer as part of the human rights accommodation process, which includes providing information concerning family-related needs, and working with the employer to identify possible solutions.  In this case, the woman had simply failed to provide the employer with the information it needed to accommodate her.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Peternel v. Custom Granite & Marble Ltd., 2018 

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

 

 

 

Long-Overdue Divorce Act Amendments Are Likely On the Horizon

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Long-Overdue Divorce Act Amendments Are Likely On the Horizon

Canadian law has not seen a substantive change to the federal Divorce Act in more than 30 years.  But with the mid-2018 introduction of Bill C-78 (which has the unwieldy title of “An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act”) that long-overdue revision and update is in sight.

Bill C-78, which is expected to be passed into law in 2019, is touted as having a long list of legal substantive and procedural objectives, including:

  • Simplifying certain processes, including those related to family support obligations;
  • Creating duties for parties and legal advisers to encourage the use of family dispute resolution processes (including negotiation, mediation, and collaborative law);
  • Introducing measures to assist the courts in addressing family violence; and
  • Establishing a framework for the relocation of a child.

Importantly, the Bill also proposes to give clarity to what is considered the “best interests of the child”, by establishing a non-exhaustive list of criteria.  It also strengthens the court’s ability to focus on a child’s best interest when crafting its orders, by mandating that the court consider the child’s own views and preferences in the context of his or her age and maturity (unless those views cannot be ascertained in the circumstances).  This is in keeping with existing court rulings on the point, and essentially imports the established principles into a more modern version of the statute.

Bill C-78 also injects two important concepts into the existing legislation:

  • That part of fostering the “best interests of the child” requires a court to consider each parent’s willingness to support the development and maintenance of the child’s relationship with the other parent; and
  • That grandparents, or other persons who play an important part in a child’s life, may be eligible to obtain a court order formally entitling them to have contact with the child.

Finally, the Bill updates terminology throughout the existing Divorce Act, so that references to “custody” and “access” are replaced with terminology related to “parenting” and “decision-making responsibility” instead.

In a nutshell, the changes proposed under Bill C-78 are designed to clarify and promote some well-established family law principles (especially those relating to children), and to make the family justice system more accessible and efficient.  Further updates on these pending changes will follow in future Blogs, as the Bill gets closer to being passed.

At Russell Alexander Collaborative 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