In an earlier blog, we examined the important decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in A.M. vs. C.H. If our readers will recall, a mother ensured that her 14 year old son was alienated from and refused to have a relationship with his father. Her behaviour was so outrageous that the Court removed the child from the mother, placed the child in the father’s custody in order that the child attend therapy. However, as is evidenced of the limited ability of the judicial system to manage human behaviour rather than monetary affairs, the 14 year old child thumbed his nose at the Courts. Since the order changing the child’s residence to the father all hell had broken loose. Both parties filed fresh evidence before the court. The mother breached the Court Orders and the Police had become involved. The child assaulted his father, the child’s friend assaulted the father, the child ran away and the Police became heavily involved in the matter. Finally, the child was arrested and as a condition of his bail he was required to have no contact with his father. The child was then placed in a foster home that he refused to attend. The child then became involved in a robbery in which he was assaulted and required surgery. As the child was approaching his 15th birthday, the Court of Appeal felt that the more appropriate venue for dealing with this matter was a Trial Judge of the Superior Court. An absolute horrendous mess and more than once this author has seen parents have been given no alternative but to abandon their relationship with their own flesh and blood in the hope that as time evolves, they will see the errors of their ways and once they become adults, will indeed wish to reestablish a relationship with the parent from whom they had been so alienated.
The parent authoring the alienation rarely appreciates the consequences of their behaviour and selfishly takes pleasure in their hollow victory in punishing the other parent by weaponizing the child. Again, evidence of mental health concerns being present in custodial fights.
However in A.M. v. C.H., the critical dynamic may very well be the age of the son (14). In our own office after a difficult fight we were successful in almost these very same circumstances (if anything even more horrific) in moving two children aged 5 and 10 from mother to father. The children 5 years later are still with their father and are doing relatively well.