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When parents get separated or divorced, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are disagreements between them, and that they may not get along. However, no matter how one parent feels about the other, it’s important to remember how critical it is to always treat the other parent in a way that isn’t considered abusive. A recent decision from the Ontario Court of Justice highlights why this is so important.  

A relationship that never was

The mother and father met online in 2010 and maintained a friendship that wasn’t romantic. This changed when the mother purchased a condo in the same building as the father. They had a few intimate encounters, one of which led to a pregnancy.  Despite this, the parties did not ever live together and did not enter a monogamous relationship.

Following the birth of the child, the mother stayed home to take care of this baby. The father testified he visited every night, thought mother said such frequents were infrequent. Either way, their relationship deteriorated and in 2016 they could not agree on how much access the father should have with the child. The father felt the mother used him to have a baby and treated him as dispensable. The mother says the father upsets the stability she had attempted to put in pace and that the father is misinterpreting these boundaries as obstacles in the way of his attempt to have a full and meaningful relationship with the child.

Father asks for access rights

The court documented a series of incidents beginning in 2016 when the father demonstrated abusive behavior towards the mother.  This included calling her names, undermining her requests to have the child home at a certain time, and telling the child that the mother only pretends to love her. In a previous decision, the court determined these were sufficient reasons to limit his access. The court summarized,

“that the father has not taken the necessary steps to address his inability to protect (the child) from the anger he has displayed towards the mother and his consuming need to be an ‘equal parent’, the court is very concerned that the father will continue to involve (the child) in the conflict, use her as a confidante and pawn to get what he wants. As (the child). gets older, the risk her father poses to her emotional and psychological wellbeing grows exponentially as she will understand far more then she does as a 5 year old.

“The court finds that there is no evidence to demonstrate that the father’s attitude towards the mother has changed in any significant way. While he says he has changed and that there is little recent evidence of inappropriate behaviour by him towards the mother, it was readily apparent during his evidence that he sees himself as the victim and the mother as the villain and that this belief system informs his judgment and decision making process.”

The court allowed the mother to retain custody of the child, with the father having access to the child on an alternating schedule that includes overnight stays with him on weekends and during the week.

At Gelman & Associates, our team of knowledgeable family law lawyers can protect your custody and access rights. We provide our clients with the information and resources necessary to make informed decisions about family law matters. To help you maintain positive mental health during a difficult period, we also offer our clients a free consultation with a psychological professional.

Conveniently located in six offices throughout Ontario, our offices are easily accessible by transit and off-highway. In order to be available to clients and prospective clients, our phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM. Call us at 1-844-769-0737 or contact us online for an initial consultation.

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