Canadian Parental Alienation Court Cases

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In researching my recent article Alienating Mother Ordered to Pay $286,641.75 in Fines and Fees regarding decisions by Canadian Justice McWatt in a decade-plus parental alienation child custody case, it was difficult to find adequate information in the mainstream media. I was fortunately able to obtain court decision documents from the Canadian courts via their legal decisions web site. This site offers functionality in both English and French, something common for Canadians given the French-speaking population of Quebec.

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Canadian Courts Provide Good Access to Decisions

I noticed that there are many other parental alienation cases listed in this legal decision database, and that it is very easy to find them and read the orders and reasoning of the judges. This is one thing the Canadian courts are doing right.

American Courts Do Not Provide Good Access to Decisions

While some American courts do offer access to the text of decisions, it is not common for many of them to do so, especially at county and local levels. This is ashame as these courts make the majority of family law decisions. The lack of access to their decisions makes it much more cumbersome for litigants who are trying to understand the law and judicial decisions to find the information they need. Perhaps more importantly, it is also against the best interests of the citizenry as the citizens cannot review judicial decisions to determine if a judge is competent and responsible if they cannot obtain the decisions. In many places in the United States, many judges must run for election and re-election. The failure to publish decisions in a manner to make it easy for citizens to access and review them is alarming. It is as if the judges prefer the citizenry to be ill-informed and unable to make responsible votes on judges based upon their decisions.

Maternal Alienator Enabled by Court’s Shoddy Ill-Reasoned Decision

As an example of what you can find in the Canadian CanLII legal database, the case C. C. v. M. S., 2005 CanLII 17274 (QC C.S.) was heard by Justice Kirkland Casgrain. Although the court acknowledges that a child has been alienated by a parent, Casgrain refuses to take any corrective action. Justice Casgrain’s decision is illogical and not backed by adequate explanation. Further, it appears to be enablement of child abuse. He essentially whitewashes and excuses the mother’s alienating behaviors. While I have not examined any of Casgrain’s other decisions, if I were a litigant in his court in a similar case, I would be very concerned that he is not competent to be deciding complex child custody decisions.

Paternal Alienator Enabled by Court Disregarding Its Responsibility

Another example of a flawed Canadian court decision is the case S.G.B. v. S.J.L., 2009 CanLII 24230 (ON S.C.) heard by Justice Herman. In this case it is clearly established that the parental alienator is the father. It is clear based upon expert testimony mentioned in the decision and my personal experience and observations that the mother has no realistic chance of re-establishing her relationships with her sons without judicial action. Unfortunately, Justice Herman is cowardly and does not step up to the plate to do what is necessary for the best interests of the child. He should have exercised the court’s discretion to put in place temporary measures to get the ball rolling to re-establish contact between the mother and sons. Instead, he punts the whole thing back to the litigants who are unable to agree on anything and asks if they want a trial. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the children. Justice Herman’s decision on this matter is irresponsible and unwise.

Example of Well-Reasoned Decision for Custody Change Due to Alienation

Not all of the cases in CanLII are indicative of irresponsible decisions, passing the buck, and failing to protect children. The case S.P. v. P.B.D., 2007 CanLII 31787 (ON S.C.) with decision in 2007 by Justice Whalen appears to be very well thought out. Whalen did an excellent job explaining reasoning and refused to pass on responsibility or delay for trial making orders that would benefit the children. I find this decision to be rational and thoughtful. Perhaps that is why it is cited as precedent by two other judicial decisions.

Courts Fail to Appropriately Handle Many Parental Alienation Cases

It is disturbing to see that Canadian judges are still mostly making the same inane and unjust decisions as courts in America, Australia, UK, and many other nations that use “family law” systems involving courts. For the benefit of our children, we must hope that more judges start to deal with reality as Justice McWatt did in her decisions. Even in cases in which alienation is clearly established, the courts usually act is if it is permissable and will be allowed to continue. This is nothing short of court-sanctioned child abuse. While judges may make mistakes from time to time, if they show a pattern of ignoring parental alienation and thereby alienating it, I believe they should be at a minimum removed from office and in extreme cases perhaps even criminally prosecuted as accessories to child abuse. Unless judges are held accountable for their decisions, too many will make bad decisions because often those are the easier ones to make.

How Courts Should Handle Parental Alienation Cases

Alienating parents must be put into a position in which they are limited in their contact with their children unless they successfully participate in therapy programs and demonstrate that they will cease their alienating behaviors. The alienating parents should initially start with individual therapy, then sessions with their children should be started when it appears they are making reasonable progress. The individual and conjoint therapists must coordinate with each other to ensure that the therapy is working effectively. It is better to have separate therapists for these roles as otherwise the sole therapist would tend to identify too much with the alienating parent.

Alienated children should be removed from the primary custody of alienating parents and enrolled in therapy programs designed to enable them to deal with the hostility and unlearn the alienation. They need both individual therapists and two conjoint therapists, one with each parent. The rationale for this is again ensuring the best chance for objectivity by the therapists.

Finally, target parents need to be in therapy, too. It is almost impossible for a target parent to function optimally for the children’s benefit after being subjected to years of alienation, false accusations, and harassment while being banned or virtually banned from contact with the children. The default position should be the target parent belongs in therapy, also, both individual and conjoint with the children.

The long-term goal should be reintegration of both parents into the children’s lives. Any judge or court that does not respect and understand this reasoning is likely not competent to be hearing complex child custody cases, especially those involving parental alienation and false abuse allegations. The public needs to be able to review judicial decisions on these cases and recall or vote out of office judges who fail to do their jobs properly.

Further Reading

Alienating Mother Ordered to Pay $286,641.75 in Fines and Fees

Holding Family Law Judges Accountable

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