Extreme Parental Alienation can Change Child’s Residence
This is the case of Webster v. Suteu, 2016 ONCJ 39. You can read the original decision here.
This deals with a motion to change a final Order involving child custody. It is a particularly “high conflict” case.
The order that is asked to be changed is dated 29 September 2015. It is an unusual order.
There was joint custody. The child would reside with the Mother ordinarily. At the time of the decision, the Father’s access was only 3 hours each week. Over time it would expand to: a full day, then overnight, a full weekend and then to 3 full weekends out of four. At that time there would be a re-examination.
Although it was joint custody and the children resided with the Mother the Father had final say if there was an irreconcilable dispute about the child’s health and education. The Mother could not schedule new medical appointments for child without Father’s permission.
In the case discussed here, dated January 12, 2016, the Mother brought a motion to change. She wanted to have final authority regarding the child’s health and education. The Father brought a contempt motion against the Mother. Specifically, the Mother was taking the child to doctor’s appointments without the Father’s knowledge or permission. The Mother’s family members were not to be present.
The Honourable Madame Justice Roselyn Zisman considered these motions.
She made the following findings in fact:
Based on the evidence that I accept of neutral service providers and the medical professionals, I find that the mother has persisted in making physical and now sexual abuse allegations against the father that are unfounded and have resulted in the child being subjected to unnecessary and intrusive physical examinations and multiple children’s aid society and police interviews.
Based on the past history of the mother’s resistance to any increased access to the father, I find that there is a reasonable probability that the mother interfered with the father’s access by alleging he was too ill to attend or she delayed bringing the child so that the father would have less time with the child. The mother presented no evidence that as a result of bringing the child late she offered any further time to the father although she did agree to a make-up visit for one of the cancelled visits.
[The Mother] has continued to attempt to exclude the father from attending and learning about the child’s needs and ensuring that the health provider only heard her version of concerns. Arranging for home visits by doctors and obtaining notes that the child is too ill to attend school is designed to ensure that the father cannot monitor the child’s alleged illness. I also note that the mother never produced any of these notes on this motion. The mother continuing to attend all appointments with her entourage is only being used to yet again bolster the mother’s allegations that she is intimidated and fearful of the father. As a result the child continues to be exposed to conflict that had inevitably occurred between the father and members of the mother’s supports. The father on the other hand has abided by the terms of the court order and not brought any third party to these meetings and appointments.
The Father adduced evidence that he was ready to care for the child full-time.
The final Order was as follows:
- Father had custody
- Child’s primary residence is with the Father
- Mother to have supervised access
- Mother was in contempt of September 2015 Order.
- Sentencing on contempt would be adjourned to see if Mother’s behaviour improved
This final order is extraordinary in three respects:
- To move from three hours per week access to having the child reside with you is extra-ordinary
- Mother’s attempts to alienate the child were extreme.
- Mother had an extensive support network of friends and professionals willing to assist her in her claim. This network was discredited by the judge, however. The Mother should have obeyed by the original court order in good faith.