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One of the most difficult aspects of separation or divorce for children and parents can be those related to parenting time. It’s not uncommon for one parent to feel that the other is not a suitable parent, or that they may find themselves unhappy that the other parent is getting time with the children. However, it’s important for parents who feel this way to understand that decisions related to parenting time cannot be made in a unilateral fashion. As we see in a recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, doing so can result in an unfavourable order from the courts.

Court order establishes parenting order

The parents separated in 2006. They have two teenage daughters who at the time of the trial were aged 15 and 13. A parenting order was put into place on September 24, 2013 which established that the mother would have primary parenting responsibility for the children, but that the father would have parenting time with them on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school as well as every other weekend.

The court explained that in the years following the establishment of the order, there had been several instances of conflict between the party, including the mother making unfounded allegation’s against the father.

Mother tells father he can no longer see children

On November 30, 2020, the father received a letter from the mother’s legal counsel stating she had concerns about the children’s time spent with him. The letter specified that the concerns related to alleged threats of self-harm, the father’s interrogation of the children, and his reprimanding of them due to their relationship with the mother. The letter stated “the children will no longer be attending access until they are both able to obtain the necessary counselling that they require.” The father has not seen the children since November 30, 2020.

Court finds no evidence to back up claims against father

The court found that the mother’s statements were “rife with hearsay statements.” The court also noted that references to allegations made to the Children’s Aid Society in 2008 were made prior to the Consent Order being put in place. The court did note that some of the allegations were more recent, such as the father talking about taking his own life around the children, or threatening to disown them.

The father’s submitted materials described a loving relationship with his daughter. He has since remarried and says that he and the children enjoy their time together.

The father asked the court to impose the order made in 2013.

Based on the evidence before it, the court found it was “unable to make findings on the evidence before the Court that the father poses a risk to the girls or to find on a balance of probabilities that he has in fact been threatening to harm himself.”

The court told the mother that she cannot simply suspend access, and that if she wants to request a change to access she has to bring a Motion to Change.

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.  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 (416) 736-0200 or 1-844-736-0200 or contact us online for an initial consultation.