My boyfriends ex girlfriend had his son late November 2016. He is unable to see his son often and she won’t allow him to have him alone as she doesn’t think he can care for him. There is no paperwork in place yet but he’s worried she will ruin his life if he does not comply with everything she wants and says. Is there any advice for this situation on how he could get more rights to his son or how he should go about this?
Answer by John P. Schuman, C.S.
Unfortunately, young mothers refusing to allow their child’s father to be involved in their young child’s life is a very common situation. Young mothers often feel that they need to protect the child and only a mother can provide appropriate care for an infant or young child.
That approach is not consistent with the current research in social science and child development. Even at a very young age, children benefit from having both parents actively involved in their lives. Most family court judges recognise this. One parent refusing to allow the other parent to have any contact with a young child is a situation where it is possible to get an emergency family court order.
It is very important for children to have frequent, meaningful contact with both parents. That means both parents should be involved in feeding, bathing, and other parenting tasks (not just playing), at minimum, several times a week. Due to young children’s short memories and perception of time, frequency of contact is very important – more important than long periods of time. Although young age is not necessarily a reason why a child should not be spending overnights with both parents.
What is often best for a young child is to allow that child to develop a secure attachment to both parents through having both parents actively and frequently involved in the child’s care. Denying a child contact with one parent, or exposing the child to a lot of conflict, especially at a young age, can lead to long term problems.
In order to keep tensions and conflict down between parents, because conflict between parents is very harmful to the child, and to provide the best hope for a joint custody situation, it is best for parents to try parenting mediation, with a parenting professional, before going to court. The parenting professional can help the parents understand the children’s needs and help them work out a parenting plan that best suits the child’s needs at each stage of development. If the other parent will never agree to mediation, it is still important to propose it because judges get angry at parents who refuse to try to work out things for the kids without a fight.
Before a parent goes to court, it is important for that parent to understand that judges base decisions on what is in the child’s best interest. There are several factors that judges consider when deciding what is in a child’s best interest. Before going to court, it is important for a parent to have evidence that what they want is in the child’s best interest.
It is also important for separated parents to understand the difference between different types of parenting arrangements and when each will work best for the child. That will help them come up with the best parenting plan for the child or, if they have to go to court, to know what types of orders the judge will be inclined to make.
But, if a parent is not seeing a child at all, or is not having meaningful contact with a child, then that parent should see a family lawyer right away to know your options and how best to ensure the child has the best possible relationship with both parents.
You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a further explanation of child custody and parenting legal issues by downloading this $9.99 e-book for Kindle, Kobo, or iPad/iPhone/Mac or ordering the paperback version. But, to keep out of trouble, it is always best to speak with a good family law lawyer.
John Schuman is a Certified Specialist in Family Law. He is the partner managing the Family Law Group at Devry Smith Frank LLP, a full service law firm located near Eglinton and the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto. Learn more about John! Call him at 416-446-5080 or 416-446-5847 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Listen to the Ontario Family Law Podcast!
Please note that this is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice to you. Legal advice pertaining to your particular situation can only be provided by a lawyer who has met with you to obtain all pertinent background information necessary to give you a formal legal opinion. For legal advice contact one of our family law lawyers.