Questions - AFCC Ontario

AFCC-Ontario Chapter
AGM and Conference
• London Ontario Canada
• Friday, October 17, 2014
Healing Ruptured Relationships
• Moderator: Dr. Dan Ashbourne, C. Psych.-LFCC
• Speakers: In order of talking –
– D. Smith – Family Law Practice
– Dr. Rex Collins C. Psych.-The Willow Centre
– Susan Abercromby, M.Ed. Counseling Psychology
at Merrymount Therapeutic Access Program
– Louise Vandenbosch, MSW & Tracey Lipp, MSW
on Parent Partners – Derived from New Ways for
Legal Context – D. Smith
• Case Law and legal decisions
Legal – Slide 1
• When alienation has been found to be present, a
court is left with three basic choices:
• Leave the child with (or continued to be exposed
to) the alienating parent
• Remove the child from (or restrict access to) the
alienating parent
• View this as a child welfare issue and engage CAS
or child protection services
Slide 2a
• Child is Left with (continues to have access to) the alienating
• Fielding v. Fielding, 2013 CarswellOnt 1111, [2013] 39 R.F.L. (7th) 59
• Daughter age 17, twins age 14; oldest child and twin son lived with
father and were estranged from mother, twin daughter lived with
mother and had limited contact with father and siblings.
• Mutual alienation. Children had been negatively influenced by
residential parent against other parent, but their views of parents
were also product of own experiences with them.
• Both applications for sole custody granted in part, in accordance
with living arrangements. Not a case of “pure alienation”; change in
residential custody was not ordered.
Slide 2B
• J.V.A.T. v. J.L.M.C., [2012] O.J. No. 3145 (Ont. S.C.J. Fam)
Greer J.
• Children age 11 and 5
• Judge found litigation has “the aura of parental
alienation”. Mother blocked access and “tried to force
the children to say nasty things to the father”
• Mother found in contempt of consent order. Children’s
primary residence remains with mother, but given the
mother’s alienation, interim joint custody ordered and
father’s access increased to alternate week schedule.
Slide 2c
• C. (W.) v. E. (C.), 2010 CarswellOnt 5955; O. J. No.
2738 (Ont. S.C.J.) W.L. MacPherson J. [Child age 13]
• “The child's view of her father was extremely negative…she
had absolutely nothing positive to say about him. The
mother was idealized to the point that the child referred to
her as being her "hero" and her "protector"…The child
refused to have any contact with her father even in the
presence of the Children's Lawyer.”
• Child left in care of mother and parties to participate in
“intensive reunification therapy”. Custody could not be
reversed because “both short and long term risks were
simply too great”.
Slide 3a
• Child is removed from (has restricted access to) the alienating
• Kaverimanian v. Manickam, 2014 CarswellOnt 3392, O.J. No.
1270 (Ont. S.C.J.) Van Melle J. [children age 4 and 9]
• “overwhelming evidence of alienation”
• transfer of custody to father, mother to have no contact with
children until order reviewed in 3 months, assessor to “continue to
assess and report to the court in regard to the progress, needs and
best interests of the children, the abilities of the parties to meet
those needs, and whether the arrangements set out above should
continue.” Children to be enrolled in Families in Transition. Father to
continue to receive counseling; mother to undertake therapy with a
therapist approved by assessor.
Legal 3b
• M. (L.M.A.) v. M. (C.P.), 2011 CarswellMan 98; 2011 M.J. No. 79 (Man.
Q.B.) M.A.Thomson J.
• Child age 12 and twins aged 9
• children, especially eldest, “were significantly negative in regards to their
mother…were anxious and inhibited, and as a group, they did appear to
have been scripted or at least socialized to present as distant from their
mother and, that their mother did not care or love them.”
• Family to resume working with therapist. Eldest to remain in “primary
care and control” of father, with mother to have minimum two hours’
access per week and more as determined by therapist. Twins to be
transferred to “primary care and control” of mother, no contact with
father except as recommended by therapist. Assessor to communicate
with therapist regarding progress of family and report to court.
Legal slide 3c
• Ottewell v. Ottewell, 2012 CarswellOnt 11748, 2012 O. J. No. 4467
McCarthy J.
• children age 8 and 5
• evidence established pattern by mother of denying access,
uncooperative behaviour, parental alienation, and disenfranchising
• status quo had been mother as primary caregiver. Father given
primary care of children as he “had proven to be open to cooperation and communication, and he had not been guilty of
parental alienation”; court adopted father’s proposed alternate
week schedule.
Slide legal 3d
• Zacconi v. Mahdavi, 2010 CarswellOnt 3930, 2010 O. J. No.
2513 M. Métivier J.
• child age 14
• assessor gave evidence that father’s conduct could be
described as parental alienation, although she “hesitates to
use that term”.
• mother granted custody of child against wishes of child.
Child's wishes could not be relied upon, because of
parental alienation; yet access to alienating father
increased as requested by child.
Legal slide 4a
• Court engage child protection agency, CAS
• Fiorito v. Wiggins, 2011 Carswell Ont 5622 (Ont. S.C.J.)
• children age 8, 9 and 10 & Judge resists label of “alienation” although
factors are present.
• Parens Patriae jurisdiction used to order CAS supervision. Justice
Harper: “I find that the confines of the present legislative structure that
limits my options also limit my ability to craft a workable solution for
these children. I am not prepared to give up on these children and their
need to have a close relationship with both parents. It is not in the
interests of justice, when the justice interest is the protection and
welfare of children, to be bound by the complexities and restrictions of
the Courts of Justice Act preventing me from resorting to legislation that
has a primary purpose the protection and wellbeing of children. I
exercise this court parens patriae jurisdiction in order to accomplish
what is needed on behalf of these children. I do not feel that I can co-opt
the Child and Family Services Act to make a finding on that legislation”
Legal 4b
• S.(N.) v. N.(C.) 2013 CarswellOnt 3021
• Dr. Collins to report on this decision
Questions- Dr. Rex Collins
• What are the early signs that a family are headed for a lengthy, conflictual
and expensive legal process, and what interventions might be effective
early on?
• Is there any way to be helpful when exhaustion and despair, and “frozen
narratives”, begin to pervade not only the family, but the legal process
• At what point is it appropriate to remove children from the favoured
parent’s care?
• What are ways in which the legal and the clinical might work better
Lessons Learned
• Case Discussion by Dr. Collins
Therapeutic Access Program-TAP
Susan Abercromby, Coordinator
Therapeutic Access Program TAP
What is Therapeutic Access (TAP)?
• A reintegration/reunification program designed to
restore/repair the relationship between children
and the estranged parent
• The program utilizes an attachment informed
model emphasizing emotional safety of the
children and parents.
• Contact between the estranged parent and the
child(ren) is facilitated by an experienced Mental
Health professional with knowledge of child
development, separation and divorce, high conflict
families, domestic violence, and parent/child
conflict resolution.
Therapeutic Access Con’t
• An intensive parenting experience for family members
• A safe and secure environment for children (birth to
18 years of age)
• Therapeutic relationship with parents to attempt to
understand their own behaviour and their child’s
behaviour utilizing an attachment focus
• …A slow process…..may take several months
What it is not..
• Not a Parenting Capacity Assessment
• Not a Custody and Access
• Not an Assessment for Court
• It is a voluntary program
• Susan Abercromby M. Ed (Counselling)
• Coordinator
[email protected]
Contact Information
• Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre
• (519) 434-6848 ext. 258
 Flexible Thinking
 Manage Emotions
 Moderate Behaviours
 Check Yourself
Tracey Lipp, MSW, RSW
Louise Vandenbosch, MSW, RSW, Accredited Family Mediator (OAFM)
Child Welfare
Referral through
Prior or during
court or
ADR Link
Direct referral,
NWFF combined
with ADR
Tracey Lipp, MSW, RSW
Louise Vandenbosch, MSW, RSW, Accredited Family Mediator (OAFM)

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