ClickCease Is There A Penalty For Flouting Child Access Rules? – SplitEasy

Can A Judge Punish A Parent For Not Following An Access Order By Switching Custody of Children?

Can A Judge Punish A Parent For Not Following An Access Order By Switching Custody of Children?

This issue was presented to the Ontario Court of Appeal in the child custody case of Chan v. Town [2013] O.J. No. 3437. Nancy Chan and Kenneth Town were the parentsĀ of two children, aged 16 and 13, and around whom an access dispute had arisen.Ā Ā 

There was a final order granting the father access to the children. Despite the order, the oldest child refused to accompany her father on a trip to Whistler during March Break. The lower court found thatĀ the mother manipulated the child into believing she could have other plans andĀ not travel with her father.Ā 

Child access cases can also prove challenging for the courts

The lower court subsequently punished the mother by granting the father sole custody of the children with exclusive decision-making authority.Ā In a decision released on July 15, 2013, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled thatĀ the lower court judge erred, stating:

ā€˜Having regard to the childā€™s conversations about her wishes, it wasĀ unreasonable to find beyond a reasonable doubt the motherā€™s manipulation wasĀ the sole factor that led her to refuse to accompany her father on the WhistlerĀ vacation. The finding of contempt was thus set asideā€™

As for the form of punishment that a court can use, the court stated:

ļ»æā€˜Custodial arrangements of children cannot be used as a punishment for contempt. That isĀ not to say that there may not be a circumstance where a change in custodialĀ arrangements would be in the best interests of the child, but this is not that caseā€™

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