The stigma around mental health has been slow to change, but change is happening. Mental health issues can be difficult for anyone to deal with, even if they are living in a family not going through separation or divorce. In a recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the court looked at a situation involving access to the children where the mother suffered from mental health issues, and lived in a different province.
Mother unresponsive to father’s application
The matter began with the father requesting an order that the parties’ children, who are 19, 12, and 9 years old, reside with him and that he be the sole decision-maker for all matters regarding the children. He also asked that any contact between the children and their mother be supervised.
The father was seeking summary judgment, likely due to the time it had taken to get to trial. The motion was originally brought in December 2019. It was adjourned on January 7, 2020 to June 30, 2020. A temporary order with the same conditions the father was seeking was put in place at that time. On February 12, the court set the hearing date for March 30, 2021. During the hearing, the mother was represented by the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (“PG&T”). The mother requested an adjournment, but the request was opposed by the children’s lawyer as well as the father.
The court denied the mother’s request for a number of reasons, noting that she had more than a year to deliver responding materials, but failed to do so.
Court recognizes importance of relationship between children and mother
The court noted that it is,
“beyond any debate that the mother has a lengthy history of serious mental health issues. She is the mother of these children, however, and always will be. I am sure that she loves them, and they love her. She deserves the respect of this Court in being provided with some reasons for the disposition of the Motion, notwithstanding that she did not oppose it.”
The mother currently lives in New Brunswick, while the father and children remain in Ontario. She currently has supervised access with the children via Zoom for 45 minutes every Saturday. However, these visits happen infrequently, and is mainly between the mother and the two younger children. In addressing how the kids are doing, the court stated that their views and preferences of the children are “clearly in favour of the relief being sought by the father.”
It was found that it was in the best interests of the children to bring some finality and formality to a situation that had been the status quo for a number of years. The court found it was also in their best interests to continue to live with the father, for him to make all decisions for them, and that the children’s visits with the mother be supervised.
Contact Gelman & Associates to learn how knowledgeable family law lawyers can protect your custody and access rights. We strive to provide you 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.
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