Case law: Parental alienation

Fiorito v. Wiggins, 2017 ONCA 765:The mother and father married in 1998, separated in 2008 and have three children together. This is a case of parental alienation on the part of the mother and the use of bankruptcy proceedings by her to avoid paying costs to the father.

After more than two years of litigation immediately following the parties’ separation, they entered into final minutes of settlement in October 2010 on the issues of custody and access. The mother was to have custody of the children with the father having substantial access equivalent to 40 percent of the residential time.

Justice Harper found that access was taking place in accordance with the schedule ordered in 2011. However, the children’s behaviour during access was completely unsatisfactory. They refused to interact with their father. They were rude and disrespectful to him and his new wife, “at times, they were downright cruel”.

Justice Harper stated, “I find that the children can no longer be in the custody of the mother. She has not been able to remove the children from the harm and future risk of harm of emotional abuse.” He ordered the following:

  1. Father shall have custody of all three children, with the custody change to take place no later than July 5, 2013.
  2. Mother shall have access to the children during the therapy sessions with the court-approved doctor only.
  3. Mother will have to bring a motion to change in order to obtain increased access and, upon such a motion, will have to demonstrate that she can both act and articulate to the children in a manner that promotes the ability of the children to have a loving relationship with both of their parents.

The mother was found in contempt of court and ordered to pay the father costs of $200,000.

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