Judges Message to parents
Obey custody orders or face jail
The Ottawa Citizen
Saturday August 06, 2005
An Ottawa judge has sent a message that if you disobey court orders in child custody cases, even if you do it to follow the wishes of your child, you risk being thrown into jail.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Jennifer Mackinnon made this loud and clear by jailing a woman last week after finding her in contempt of court.
The judge found the woman in her mid-40s, refused to follow a court order that her 12-year-old son live with his father, that the father decide on the boys education and medical care, that she not speak badly of her husband to her son and their other two children, ages six and nine, not discuss court proceedings with the children, and not entered her husband's home without authority.
"In my view, the serious nature of her contempt, the period of time over which it has extended and the multiple findings of contempt warrant a period of incarceration," Judge Mackinnon said.
"A sentence of incarceration is necessary in this case to serve the public interest in the enforcement of custody and access orders and serve as a deterrent."
The father's lawyer, Allan Hirsch, who prosecuted the case, said he was pleased with the judge's ruling, which ordered the boy to move back to his dad's home, but that it was sad such drastic measures needed to be taken.
"The good thing is my client's child is now back with him, and the healing will begin." Mr. Hirsch said, "hopefully, she'll now start following these court orders."
The child custody case is in the context of bitter divorce proceedings between the parents.
Initially, the children lived with their father, who is in his late-50s, four days a week, and their mother three days a week. But after assessments done by court-appointed psychologists and a court hearing, a judge decided that it was in the children's best interests to live full time with their father until a ruling on custody and access was made.
Under the interim ruling, the mother could have the children every second weekend and one night a week.
However, in February, the father and the boy had a spat, the boy went to his mother's, she called the Children's Aid Society and police, alleging her husband assaulted him.
After investigations by both agencies, these allegations were deemed to be unfounded. But despite several letters being sent to the woman to return the child, she refused, because he said he wanted to live with her.
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