In a recent decision of the Ontario Court of Justice, the Court denied a father expanded access to his two young children despite the fact that the Court accepted the father’s assertion that he legitimately wanted to spend more time with his kids. Not only did the Court deny the father’s motion for greater access, it imposed a new condition that the access be supervised at an access facility.
The foremost consideration for the Court in Davis v. Davis, 2016 ONCJ 254 was to make a decision in accordance with the best interests of the children. The unique facts of this case that led the Court to its conclusion included the following:
- In the years prior to the decision, the father had not taken advantage of the access that had been in place, seeing the children only very sporadically;
- The father had never exercised overnight access;
- Both of the children had been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the older child had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Both children required very specialized and educated care from their caregiver on any given occasion, even for short periods of time;
- The father had failed to properly educate himself about problems which would have inevitably arisen with the children during access visits, even during short periods of unsupervised access.
Since the father had failed to make himself available over the years to be an active and nurturing parent to the children, a decision allowing him to spend more time with them would have required real effort on his part to learn how to parent in a constructive, meaningful and supportive way. He had failed to do so. The Court granted him up to two hours per week of supervised access for a period of not less than six months. The Court also specified that the father would not be able to bring a motion to change the access order until he had demonstrated a consistent pattern of attending all scheduled access visits and proven that he had completed a recognized education program of autism for children, among other conditions.
The Court’s decision sends some important messages to parents seeking to increase access to their children:
- Ensure that you have made genuine efforts to take maximum advantage of any access already in place; and
- In situations where your children have special needs, ensure that you are working hard to educate yourself about the specialized care-giving that that they will require.
To find out more about your rights during separation, divorce or other family law disputes, call Gelman & Associates at (416) 736-0200 or 1-844-742-0200 or contact us online for a confidential initial consultation.
To read the full decision, click here.