A Quebec father who was taken to court by his 12-year-old daughter after he grounded her in June 2008 has lost his appeal.
Quebec Superior Court rejected the Gatineau father's appeal of a lower court ruling that said his punishment was too severe for the wrongs he said his daughter committed.
The father is "flabbergasted," his lawyer Kim Beaudoin told CBC News.
In its ruling, issued Monday, the province's court of appeal declared the girl was caught up in a "very rare" set of circumstances, and her father didn't have sufficient grounds to contest the court's earlier decision.
The family's legal wrangling started with a dispute over the girl's internet use.
'Either way, he doesn't have authority over this child anymore. She sued him because she doesn't respect his rules. It's very hard to raise a child who is the boss.'— Kim Beaudoin, the father's lawyer
She had been living with her father after her parents split up when he grounded her in 2008 for defying his order to stay off the internet. The father caught her chatting on websites he had blocked, and alleged his daughter was posting "inappropriate pictures" of herself online.
Her punishment: she was banned from her Grade 6 graduation trip to Quebec City in June 2008, for which her mother had already granted permission.
The father — who had custody — withheld his written permission for the trip, prompting the school to refuse to let the girl go with her classmates.
That's when the girl asked for help from the lawyer who represented her in her parents' separation, and petitioned the court to intervene in her case.
"Going to court was a last resort," said Lucie Fortin, a legal aid attorney who represented the girl. "The question was that there was a problem between the father and the mother, and the child asked the court to intervene because it was important to her.
"The trip was very important to her."
A lower court ruled in the girl's favour in 2008. She went on the trip, but her father appealed the decision on the principle of the matter.
He doesn't have regrets, his lawyer said.
"Either way, he doesn't have authority over this child anymore. She sued him because she doesn't respect his rules," Beaudoin said. "It's very hard to raise a child who is the boss."
The girl — who now lives with her mother — doesn't have much of a relationship with her dad now, Beaudoin said.
"We went from a child who wanted to live with her father, and after all this has been done, they're not speaking anymore."
"We have a lot of work to re-establish a link between those two."
Beaudoin believes the ruling reflects a loss of moral authority in Quebec's court system.
"Is this what we want in our society? Laws are supposed to reflect our values. And if the courts aren't reflecting that, maybe the government will, to prevent children from going this way," she said Tuesday, adding her client may take the case to Canada's Supreme Court.
In its Monday ruling, the appeal court warned the case should not be seen as an open invitation for children to take legal action every time they're grounded.
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
at 12:00 PM ET
Sorry, the father's punishment did not fit the crime, and apparently, he did
not gain the mother's permission for the punishment. He knew or ought to have
known that preventing her from going on the graduation trip was going to be the
end of their relationship, yet, he thought he was right, that he was the boss
and simply lost the ability to reason, as do many parents, male or female when
faced with another parent who engages in the sabotaging of the other parent's
Children are often very intelligent and manipulative, they often only think of WIFM, "Whats in it for me", and, how to turn one parent against the other, to divert from their own misbehaviours, lack of respect or to get one parent to "pay a price" for having dared to attempt to exercise control, control that is preprogramed by one parent , by way of "deliquent parenting:", that is giving the child anything and everything they want, even allowing them to stay up late and do virtually anything they want.
Children who grow up without such boundries , can and do end up with the dysfunctional parents personality disorder, "borderline personality disorder", these same children pass it on to their children like a virus.
Our society places little value on parenting, joint parenting and everywhere except Quebec, fails to have a legal presumption of equal parenting after separation.
I'd say that if this case was heard by six different judges, there would have
been six different rulings, all reflect the level of experience, motivation,
passion, and ability to understand family dynamics, something the elite upper
crust of society often has trouble grasping especially when considering a family
that is not of their social cast.
The girl is back with mother which is probably what mother may have planned but we don't know that. Typically, a mother will lead the child to do things to piss off dad, cause him to apply a punishment thats just effective parenting and good discipline but, allows the child to gain total control and chose the parent who gives the least control.
Children, especially a young teenage girl, are not interested in accepting discipline over an alternative parent who gives everything they want and does not provide repercussions for deliquent behaviours.
A more pro active judicial approach would have been to first get both parents and child to go to joint counseling on parenting, in fact, his court room would have been an ideal place to give them all a talking to about how their collective failure to communicate and compromise was going to cause this child to lose at least one parent and probably grow up prejudiced with some personality problems.
If you asked someone with some real experience, such as a grandparent and school principle, the solution could have been for each parent and the child to write a 2,000 word essay on why communication, compromise and discipline are important for effective parenting and child development.
The later could have been part of an innovative solution. And that was probably yet another judicial option.