Parenting, custody and access issues between spouses can become ugly, very quickly. Generally, issues arise between former partners or spouses, who are attempting to decide parenting issues following a divorce or separation. Issues can become ugly when parents are unable to get along, or one parent believes, in error or not, that the other parent poses a threat to the children and seeks to revoke their access. However, access issues can also arise between parent and child, particularly when the child is older, nearly an adult themselves, and they believe they are safer or healthier or better off in some way when they are away from their parent, or parents.

This was the case in a recent decision of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, which had to decide on an application brought by the mother of a teenaged boy, just a few weeks from turning 18. In her application, the mother sought an order mandating her son “immediately commence counselling and reunification counselling”, in an attempt to force him to resume contact between them. She claimed he suffered from a host of challenges, including PTSD, brain injury, ADHD, and depression. She further claimed her son had been unwittingly alienated from her by Alberta Child and Family Services (CFS).

The application was approved to be heard on an urgent basis, as the judge said it originally appeared to have been a “last-ditch effort, by a concerned and desperate parent, to get help for her unwell and at-risk child before he slipped from her reach on his 18th birthday”. However, upon a full review of the materials presented, the court saw a different picture emerge.

A Child Choosing to Enter CFS Care Rather Than Remain at Home

BP, at the time of the hearing, was a 17-year-old boy who had been raised by his mother, along with an older sibling. BP had been apprehended by CFS in 2015 and returned to his mother’s care in the spring of 2018. One year later, BP entered into an Enhancement Agreement (EA) with CFS, under which CFS would provide him with the support and services he would need to live independently from his mother. CFS was engaged the second time by a third party, but BP, via his counsel, confirmed he had entered into the EA on his own accord.

The relationship between mother and son had always been fraught. The mother had previously brought legal proceedings against another family BP had often turned to for support, and police had been called to deal with domestic issues on a number of occasions.

Court Finds Relationship Was Abusive

In assessing the application, the court received evidence from the mother, as well as the son, via his counsel. Included in the evidence were pages of emails between the two, in which the mother repeatedly attacked her son. The court noted the emails from the mother contained the following:

  • vulgar abuse;
  • attacks on BP’s basic agency and self-conception;
  • attempts to “gaslight” BP by asserting he was mentally ill;
  • attempts to manipulate BP to the mother’s will by promises of money and gifts;
  • veiled, collateral threats of litigation and involvement of the police against BP; and
  • threats that BP’s social and friendship networks were at risk if he acted contrary to the mother’s wishes

In contrast, the court found BP had been succeeeding from an academic standpoint since leaving his mother’s home, achieving an 87% average at school. Further, he was gainfully employed and in his own words, was happier and more at peace away from his mother’s home.

The court found the mother was unreliable in her statement of facts. Given everything, the court refused to grant the mother’s application, finding BP was better off, and it was in his best interest, to have no contact with his mother.

The family law lawyers at Mincher Koeman are exceptionally experienced with respect to child custody and access following the breakdown of a relationship. We are also extensively experienced with respect to child apprehension issues involving Child & Family Services. We put the best interests of the child first in every case, diligently working to secure an outcome that will benefit them to the greatest degree. Contact our office today by calling us at 403-910-3000 or contact us online.

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