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  • Case Conference Info

    I need info on how a Case Conference in a custody/access motion works. The parties attending will be myself,my lawyer and my ex girlfriend with no lawyer. It concerns my 14 month old son.

    Thanks for your help.


  • #2

    Case Conferences are mostly procedural. It is somewhat of a relaxed process. A Judge may give directions on how the case should proceed. (Date for motion or subsequnt conference). A Judge may recommend mediation or involvement of the children's lawyer. A Judge may make orders for disclosure. A Judge may give an opinion how the court would rule on any of the issues. Generally no major orders would be issued as conference briefs are unsworn documents.



    • #3
      Case Conference Info Request

      Ex girlfriend mad at me wouldn't let me see my son. After 1 month I had to take her to court to see him. The judge ruled I could see him 2 days a week for 3 hours. Exchange had to be at a Government location called Merry Mount. The judge had no other alternative since my ex would not allow exchanges at her House or anyone else she knew. I have been involved in my son's life since birth for approx 95% of his life. The six hour per week access is almost unbearable for me. I used to see him more than six hours per day. My ex is very vindictive and is putting our son in the middle of her anger toward me. My question is at the up coming case conference can this very short access of six hours weekly be changed and increased? I do have a legal aide lawyer who specializes in Family Law. But after only receiving a six hour access order I don't know if he is good or not. My ex has no lawyer.

      Thanks for helping.


      • #4

        there must be a reason why the child's access is restricted. Were you given a reason by your ex? Have you requested to have the child's access increased?

        ie: tender years, breastfeeding, or stress dependent child etc?

        Is there any question about your parenting ability, If so, take as many parenting courses you can. The court will be impressed with this commitment to your child by doing so.

        The restriction in your child's access to you is not supported by modern infant child development research.



        • #5
          Case Conference Info Request

          Thank you logical velocity. We use Merry Mount Agency services for Supervised Exchange because ex girlfriend won't let me pick up my son at her house. This is the way my ex is after a major argument.She would say you can't see your son because you did this or said that. Usually after a few days we would start talking again and then I could see my son again. This time it was a bigger argument. After not letting me see him for a month I said I would have to take her to court. We don't live together and at present have equal access to him. Their has never been any question about my parenting ability. On an almost daily basis I would go to her house for several hours to spend time with my son. We both worked together to take care of him. We just couldn't seem to get along on a regular basis. When I hired my lawyer I told him I wanted to see my son as frequently as possible. Simply because I had seen him since birth on an almost daily basis. The only reason my ex gave my lawyer and the judge for denying me access was that during our last argument I questioned her parenting ability and called her names. She did also mention that I was Bipolar. We have been together for 8 years and she has known this all along. I have been stable and well with the help of Meds and Therapy for some years. I am also the Treasurer of the Mood Disorders Group I attend. My Lawyer gave the Judge a letter from my Psychiatrist and his 80 page resume. I have been under the care of my Doctor since 1994. The letter said I was Stable,well and posed no problem spending time with son etc.. The Judge said that after reading my Doctor's paperwork me being Bipolar was not an issue. He then gave the 2 day,3 hours per day ruling. Also he gave an 8/8/06 date for a Case Conference. My lawyer said I would definitely get more access but for now we have to take small steps to get their. I would appreciate any input you might have with this matter.



          • #6

            Have you asked for some for of custody in your current court action. I suspect you have ie Joint custody. It is to your ex's advantage if there is no co-operation and very little effective communication.

            Did the Judge give an order for the access regime or a recommendation. Have you looked after the child at all on your own prior to separation. Have you lived together as a family prior to separation.

            Some case law that you want you lawyer to take a look at to support your stance.

            1. Huffman v. Kuffner, 2003 SKQB 208


            Child in the heart of this case was 19 months old. In paragraph 3 of this interim motion, the honorable SMITH J. states

            [3] It should be noted that Aza is 19 months old. The child’s tender years are a significant factor in determining parenting times. It is important that the child have an opportunity to bond with each parent, however, at the same time disruption to a toddler’s schedule should be kept to a minimum.

            as a result,

            i) every second weekend from Friday at 6:00 p.m. to Sunday at 6:00 p.m., commencing Friday, May 9, 2003, said overnight access to be exercised at the petitioner’s parents’ home;

            (ii) in those weeks where there is no weekend access, starting the week of May 11, 2003, the petitioner shall have parenting time with Aza two nights per week (Monday to Thursday), the precise two nights to be determined in the petitioner’s discretion from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

            2. Baird v. Webb, 2002 SKQB 518 Child was 12 months old


            The honorable Dickson J. states in paragraph 8-10

            "[8] The father dismisses the mother's fear that the child will be distressed by change of his overnight caregiver. He presented an article by Joan B. Kelly and Michael E. Lamb published in Using Child Development Research to Make Appropriate Custody and Access Decisions for Young Children, Family and Conciliation Courts Review, Vol. 38, No. 3, July 2002, 297-311 at pages 308-309:

            The extent to which infants and toddlers can tolerate separation from significant attachment figures is related to their age, temperament, cognitive development, social experience, and the presence of older siblings. Aside from their very immature cognitive capacities, infants have no sense of time to help them understand separations, although their ability to tolerate longer separations from attachment figures increases with age. The goal of any access schedule should be to avoid long separations from both parents to minimize separation anxiety and to have sufficiently frequent and broad contact with each parent to keep the infant secure, trusting, and comfortable in each relationship.

            Preschool children can tolerate lengthier separations than toddlers can, and many are comfortable with extended weekends in each parent's home as well as overnights during the week. In general, however, most preschool children become stressed and unnecessarily overburdened by separations from either parent that last more than 3 or 4 days. The exception might be planned vacations, in which parents and siblings are fully available to engage preschool children in novel, stimulating, and pleasurable activities. Even so, most parents would be advised to limit vacations at this age to 7 days and to schedule several vacations rather than one single lengthy vacation.

            This quotation was cited and approved by McIntyre J. in Cooper v. Cooper, [2002] S.J. No. 226 (QL)(Q.B.) when he granted a father weekend access to a one-year old.

            [9] I am concerned about the impact on a one-year old child of an access order that subjects him to six hours of highway travel every time he is delivered into the care of his father. Unfortunately, it cannot be avoided. If the access is to be meaningful and beneficial to the child, it must be exercised as the father sees fit. It must take place in a surrounding that is comfortable for both father and son; a place where the father can behave in a spontaneous and relaxed manner. Only then can the child know his father. That will not happen if contact with the father is limited to a few hours in a Wal-Mart mall.

            [10] I am satisfied that alternate weekend access is appropriate in this case, although not for the length of time suggested by the father. To begin, his access should be from Saturday morning to Sunday evening twice a month. The mother should share the transportation burden by delivering the child to the father in Regina and picking him up there when he is returned. It would, therefore, be convenient to her if Daniel's access weekends coincided with the weekends the mother takes her older child to Regina for visits with his father. Time of delivery to the father and return to the mother will have to be worked out by the parties to their mutual convenience. There will be an order accordingly. If the visits go well, Daniel's time with his father should be extended, perhaps commencing on Friday. Hopefully, the parties can work this out themselves, together with such things as holiday and special events access."

            3. D.D. v. A.S.S., 2004 BCPC 0056,

            The child in this case was 18 months old. The court held that the mother appeared to be proceeding on the assumption that she had exclusive proprietary interests in the child, definitely to the exclusion of the father, and for the father to have access to the child he must qualify by meeting the mother’s standards and conditions for access. In paragraph 26, ROMILLY J. states:

            "Counsel for the applicant referred me to Mr. Justice McQuaid's 1993 decision of Sherry v. Sherry, D.R.S. 94-05914 where Mr. Justice McQuaid referred to a leading Supreme Court of Canada decision of Young v. Young, quoting from Mr. Justice Sopinka's judgment as follows:

            “The long term value to a child of a meaningful relationship with both parents is a policy that is affirmed in the Divorce Act. This means allowing each to engage in those activities which contribute to identify the parent for what he or she really is. The access parent is not expected to act out a part or assume a phony lifestyle during access periods. The policy favoring activities that promote a meaningful relationship is not displaced unless there is a substantial risk of harm to the child.”

            as a result,

            [28] I therefore order that A.S.S. shall have Interim Unsupervised Access to his son specified as follows:

            1. On alternate weekends from Friday at 5:00 p.m. until Sunday at 6:00 p.m. with access extending to Monday at 9:00 a.m. on long weekends.

            2. When A.S.S. has no access weekend he shall have mid-week access on Tuesday and Wednesday from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., when D.D. presumably will be working.

            3. The child shall spend Mother's day with his mother and Father's day with his father whether or not those days fall on an access day, and there shall be no "make-up" day if it falls on an access day.

            4. The child shall spend Easter Sunday with his mother and Easter Monday with his father whether or not those days fall on an access day, and there shall be no "make-up" day if it falls on an access day.

            5. The child shall spend half of his birthday with his mother and half with his father, unless the parents could put aside their differences and get together to spend at least the child's birthday together with the child.

            6. D.D. shall be responsible for drop offs of the child promptly at the scheduled times of access and A.S.S. shall be responsible for returning the child promptly at the end of his access periods.

            4. Schmidt v. Haley, 2004 WL 530212 (Ont. S.C.J.),

            The child was 21 months old. The honorable Matheson J. accepted the comments made by Joan B. Kelly and Micheal E. Lamb; in their article "Using Child Development Research to Make Appropriate Custody and Access Decisions for Young Children". This is found in Family and Conciliation Courts Review, Vol. 38 No. 3, July 2000 297-311 at page 300:

            “The empirical literature also shows that infants and toddlers need regular interaction with both of their parents to foster and maintain their attachments. Extended separations from either parent are undesirable because they unduly stress developing attachment relationships. In addition, it is necessary for the interactions with both parents to occur in a variety of contexts (feeding, playing, diapering, soothing, putting to bed, etc.) to ensure that the relationships are consolidated and strengthened.”

            In the result, the court held that it is in the best interests of the child, whatever the age, that the child has as much contact as possible to each parent, as long as there is a fixed routine. In the result, the court ordered alternate weekends and each Wednesday overnight.

            5. Szczecina v. Szczecina ,[2003] O.J. No. 1249 (Ont. S.C.J.),

            The issue centered on the custody of a nine-month-old child. The court rejected the "tender years" doctrine, awarded temporary custody to the father and access to the mother on alternate weekends from Fridays at noon to Mondays at noon.

            These are just some cases that you could cite to support your stance.

            If you desire and have a claim for Joint custody of your child, remember this, Until a court orders otherwise and or an agreement is in place Both parent's have coextensive custody of the child.

            Don't let your ex push your buttons. Be pleasant,communicative and co-operative.



            • #7

              In Easton v. McAvoy,

              The court held that the an interim order should seek to permit the children to have meaningful and maximum contact with each parent. The principal of maximizing contact as expressed in the Divorce Act R.S.C. 1985 (2nd Supp.), c. 3 [as amended] was not expressed in the Children’s Law Reform Act, However, the principal could easily be inferred from section 24. The honorable Y.A. Renaud J. states in paragraphs 24-26:

              “24 In matters of interim custody, upon the court's weighing all the evidence, although conflicting, and taking into account the legislated factors mentioned above, the interim order should, unless there is strong and cogent reason for doing otherwise, seek to permit the children to have meaningful and maximum contact with each parent.

              25 Subsection 16(10) of the Divorce Act, R.S.C. 1985 (2nd Supp.), c. 3 [as amended], gives statutory recognition to this principle:

              16(10) Maximum contact. - In making an order under this section, the court shall give effect to the principle that a child of the marriage should have as much contact with each spouse as is consistent with the best interests of the child and, for that purpose, shall take into consideration the willingness of the person for whom custody is sought to facilitate such contact.

              26 Although this principle does not finds its expression in the Children's Law Reform Act, it stands to reason that this factor must be considered in the court's analysis of the best interests of the children and moreover, this principle may quite easily be inferred from the factors listed in section 24.”



              • #8
                Case Conference Info Request

                Dear Logicalvelocity,

                I have only asked the court for access at this time. Mainly because access was denied to me suddenly for over a month. I do plan to ask for custody at the case conference. I have to ask my lawyer to be sure. His focus also has been just to get me seeing my son again. We do have joint custody. How is it to my ex's advantage if there is no co-operation and very little effective communication?

                The just gave a temporary order to the access regime until the case conference I would imagine. We also are ordered to not call each other or come closer than 1000M from each other's door. He said we needed a break from each other. I have looked after my son on my own many times for several hours at a time,also once overnight at my home.

                Most of the times I watched him alone though were at the ex's house while she was at work. Their also have been numerous times spent alone with him at malls and parks. We have never lived together. Main reason is we never seemed to be able to get along without an argument for very long. The 8 year relationship should really have lasted less than a year. Then life went on and now we have a beautiful son together.

                I really appreciate all the info and help you have given me. You have really gone out of your way. I am going to go over all the material and then submit it to my lawyer. I will keep you informed on how things progress. Case conference is scheduled for Aug 8/06.



                • #9
                  I'm wondering how you have joint custody, yet a temporary order was just given?
                  It's to ex's advantage b/c if the parents don't get along or communicate well, that's acasse for her to say there shouldn't be joint custody, just access. Because the child's main residence is with Mom , chances are the judge won't uproot the child so you will get access. If the child llived with you and you had defacto custody, it would be a different story.


                  • #10

                    I suspect no custody order would be granted at a case conference.

                    Generally for a joint custodial regime to work in the best interest of the child, co-operation and communication between the parent's are a relevant consideration of the court. However, this is well known, and often a parent who wants sole custody can easily thwart communication and deliberately not co-operate. Courts are aware of this tactic.

                    I suspect your health is not really an issue even without medical evidence. Reason being your ex and yourself was a couple for a number of years and only became a problem to them when competing claims for custody and access are brought forth into the equation.

                    Don't let your ex push your buttons. Always be pleasant to them no matter what. Remain child centered.

                    Remember it is your child's right to a meaningful relationship to you.



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