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Help! RE:Child access/custody [Long]

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  • Help! RE:Child access/custody [Long]


    - Girlfriend and I moved in together, in the fall of 2000 in BC (where I am from).
    - To assist girlfriend to go to university in her native language (French) and to bring her closer to her family, moved to the Ottawa area (but, the Quebec side of the water).
    - Lived in the same rental apt. for 4+ years.
    - Married in 2003.
    - Had beautiful boy in 2005.
    - Bought a house in QC* in spring 2006, with the intention of moving there IF everything worked out right i.e. wife and I found ok paying jobs there. Otherwise, it would've been a good investment opportunity. The house is also closer to her parents town/village.

    * In some effort to be discrete, using abbreviation for a place 2.5 hours east of Montreal.

    When things went south:
    Things between us became rocky shortly after the arrival of our child, but in my view, were salvageable. My efforts to work on things (seek counseling etc.) fell on deaf ears.

    In fall 2006, wife went to 'visit' her parents with our son and was 'hesitant' to return. Shortly after, she moved into the QC house and I received divorce papers with two important lies/claims:

    1. Mental abuse
    2. I unilaterally changed my mind not to move to QC

    Of course, she was claiming custody for our son, saying that she did more for him and that I didn't participate enough.

    I had to find an English speaking lawyer in QC (not easy). The lawyer is nice, but in a manner of speaking, has been steering me towards the path of least resistance by just accepting things and not putting up a fight. For example, I wanted to contest the two claims mentioned above (because they are not true!) and even though she recognizes that it is simply a strategy to get out of the marriage earlier, she simply stated that by the time things go through court, it will be past the 1 year mark and the allegations won't matter. I also have a neighbour here that clearly remembers my wife telling her that our decision to not move to QC this year was mutual (because I have a good job in Ottawa and she couldn't find full time work in QC. Needless to mention, the lack of jobs for predominantly unilingual Anglophones like me in QC).

    Also, I have been told by the lawyer to be very 'cautious' and even if my wife attacks me physically, to not retaliate because: I am a male, don't speak French and happen to be non-white. Needless to say that being a proud and patriotic Canadian, the last point stings...all these years trying to fit in, despite being born here and raised all over this beautiful land. Might as well add that to the stack of alienation.

    Fast forwarding a bit...I personally, have not had to appear in court in QC yet. We have come to an arrangement whereby I go to QC every second weekend and spend time with our son on Saturday late afternoon to evening and then Sunday morning to noon. My lawyer wisely suggested that routine to show 'the judge' that I can take care of him comprehensively. There is talk of me being able to bring my son to Ottawa periodically, by meeting in half-way to do the switch, pending an evaluation to prove that I am actually a fit parent. But, finding an English-capable evaluator is proving quite the chore for them.

    Now, I can do one of two things:

    A. Keep with the path that is laid out, accept that at best, I will be a paying accessory in my child's life and to start looking at making the transition to the west coast to be close to my family and friends (will post another topic with regards to how to best be an out-of-town access parent).

    B. If the justice system claims that they work in the best interests of the child, they should force my wife to move back to the area. Here, he has a chance of more balanced parenting. She should have no problem finding a job here because she graduated and with a fair bit of credit to me, bilingual now. My lawyer says that because I actually paid for my share of the house in QC, it makes my argument to force her to move back here, less effective.

    I am sticking with these bi-weekly visits to QC, just waiting for my evaluation to happen, so that I can start having visits here in Ottawa. But, I can't keep up with these visits forever. I know everyone involved in the process is simply counting on me just giving up and fading into the background.

    When I appeared for my visit on Saturday, I could hear my son's excitement, hastened footsteps towards the door and the subsequent wide smile and jump into my arms. Made me think how pure children are and how wrong our marital laws are...there are so many kids, alienated from a loving/willing parent, just because one parent is putting her 'needs' first. If there is any hope for giving him balanced access to both parents, I'll put up a fight.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    PS: I am only shedding light on the child access component. Property etc. are being handled with some degree of fairness. Also, no linguistic politics/opinions intended.

  • #2
    I don't understand why an assessment would be required for you to see your son for more than just a few hours at a time. You have the right to more access than a few hours every couple of weeks.

    If it were me in your situation, I would quickly pursue more access - first by telling your ex what you want and if she doesn't agree, then through the court.

    Unless there is something you have left out, the assessment is not necessary for more access - it might be an attempt by the other side to delay progress.

    If she unilaterally moved your son to QC then I don't think it will look good to a judge.

    If you don't like the advice from your lawyer, then get a new one or tell your current lawyer what you want. They work for you - not the other way around.


    • #3
      Thanks for your response...

      We are both going to be assessed. Apparently, it is standard procedure.

      From what I am being told by my lawyer, the law works like this, in our case:

      - They decide Primary parent, based on the assessment and other factors
      - That person decides where to live (within reason i.e. QC or Ottawa/Hull)
      - The other parent becomes the access/visitation/paying parent

      Given that:

      - The law is biased towards the mother
      - I invested in the house in QC with an intention to make it a residence
      - Our child hasn't lived in Hull/Ottawa for that long

      ...chances of me becoming the Primary parent are slim. If I do not become the Primary parent, I can't get the court to 'force' my wife to move back here. My wife would have to seriously mess-up during the assessment in order to things to turn around.

      My chat with my lawyer to say that a judge should look at precedence; we lived here most of our life as couple, our child was born here etc. didn't result in a fruitful response, "Once they decide a Primary parent, they can't force that person to live anywhere, within reasonable distance from the Access parent", I was told.

      Courts working in the best interests of the child, my <insert expletive here>. Oddly, they extend the hands of justice into places where they don't belong and like to back off in others. From a social evolution standpoint, even some third-world countries know better.


      • #4
        Should read:

        Courts working in the best interests of the child, my -expletive-.


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