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Old 05-31-2018, 12:51 PM
CatsandDogs CatsandDogs is offline
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Default Seeking advice - OCL and Custody

Hi all,
I am a new user on here who found the forum while searching for background and trying to educate myself. I need some advice or opinion on OCL (ontario case), and what my options might be for next steps.
I have been divorced for 5 years now (2013-2018), we have one son, who will soon be 13 years old (mom moved out when he was 7).
I will try to summarize the back-story and highlight the issues at hand as briefly and accurately as I can.

Prior to finalizing the separation agreement, we used a parenting mediator to write our co-parenting agreement, but my ex didn't genuinely want to accept it, even from the beginning. The mediator saw no reason to not have 50/50, and cautioned about too much and too frequent transition.
Basically, we started the separation (different houses) in 2013 with a co-parenting agreement that had our 7-yr old son at 8 days with mom, 6 days with dad (on a 2 week schedule), with either 2 or 3 days on/off. The agreement was to help ease mom into not seeing her son for long stretches, and it stated that after 6 months, when family got used to the schedule, we would move to a 50/50 week-on week-off schedule. For the next 3 years, my ex flat out refused any efforts to amend the schedule, decrease the transitions, or move to 50/50. Due to the stress and difficulty and the impacts it was having on my son as a result of her high-conflict personality, and malicious refusal to cooperate or communicate or focus on our son and his activities and best interests, I initially did what I could to avoid escalation and court action. From the time my son was 9 yrs old, she had engaged in calling the police to the house when they would have arguments and fights. To put it lightly, her "parenting style" was not well-received by our son (control, punishment, removal of privileges, shaming, withholding affection, and projecting hatred for father on the son), nor was her co-parenting approach productive or constructive (refusal of access requests, non-consent to activities and development, vacation and holiday requests, nickel and diming and demanding reimbursement prior to agreeing to registrations, paying for pizza days, etc.).

There was co-parent conflict over almost everything. Basically, I let her aggravate me and push my buttons, and bought into the unproductive arguing. I was not able to find a way to have discussions and considerations about our son's activities and especially custody and parenting issues. All the while, the conflict and difficulties with my son and her began early on (before she moved out) and continued and escalated over the next few years. Their relationship is characterized by systematic emotional and psychological abuse, shaming, punishment, and extreme conflict. During arguments between them, mom would call police, crisis lines, her family and friends, etc. in an effort to threaten and control and intervene in the fights by embarrassing and shaming our son. Son would self-harm, shutdown, and basically be traumatized for hours and sometimes days. General theme was he was always happy to leave her care, and quite often very upset returning to her care.

Dad found new partner in 2015 and in 2016 partner moved in. Incredibly smart and supportive, fully engaged and committed to being an amazing stepmom. Son has a very strong relationship and feels loved and supported by both dad and stepmom.
Long story short, in late 2016, pressure was increasing to move to 50/50 and renegotiate the co-parenting agreement. Son was seeing a psychologist, whilst mom refused to engage or acknowledge the breakdown of their relationship and her role in it. A crisis event occurred on a long weekend that he was away with mom, and an argument in the car resulted in mom slamming the brakes on the highway, and threatenening to crash the car and kill them both. Dad responded when he found out 2 days later from son, and
called CAS and the police to report this incident, along with the 3 years of conflict and poor behaviour, and misguided "parenting style". Pending the CAS abuse investigation, dad "withheld" son as he was too traumatized and afraid to return to mom. Mom brought an emergency motion to regain access. Judge allowed for a couple of supervised visits, and ordered that her access gradually resume. Judge recommended OCL involvement and OCL agreed to assess the case. OCL started in early 2017. 3 month report took almost 5 months. Interim agreement acknowledged the high-conflict mom/dad issues, the troubled state of the mom/son relationship, put son with dad for 10/14 days, and said that all efforts had to go towards trying to improve the relationship between son and mom. Although the custody and decision-making went to father (80%), OCL report #1 appeared very biased against father, portrayed the mother as the victim, took every opportunity to downplay the abusive mom/son relationship and level of crisis and refusal for mother to accept responsibility, focused on historical aspects of the mother/father relationship, blamed son (victim) for his "sensitivity", over-reacting, and his role and behaviour in conflicts with mother, etc. Basically, OCL said that the son will only listen to and do what his father says and "if father does not improve on his work with mother, and does not support the improvement of the son/mother relationship, then she would flip her recommendation and take the son away from his (unconditionally loving and supportive and committed) father and put him with emotionally and psychologically abusive mother." OCL was to make a 6 month update and final recommendation. This took almost 10 months. OCL refused to interview child after December, even though she was aware of repeated crisis and conflict in the following months. The past 5 months have seen continued conflict between son and mother rarely are the alternate weekends with mother completed, as son requests and leaves mothers house during fights. Final settlement meeting was April, and OCL refused to provide her report until the parties verbally said they would accept her initial recommendations. OCL acknowledged that child does not want to increase time with his mother, but in the report she insisted that all parties agree to do just that, add a day in the Fall, add a day 6 months after, and then to get back to 50/50 within a year.
The OCL report is rife with inaccuracies, it is extremely biased against both father and child, ignores and does not mention the reason for this case coming to light (mom's abusive parenting, crisis and conflict between mom and son), and then threatens that "if the parents are not able to cooperate and improve things, she will consider referring the case to CAS". Absolutely no mention of the positive developments with son regarding school, sports, his improved attitude, happiness, decrease in stress, etc etc - instead only highlighting the negative comments from his psychologist about him and father. No mention of the continued mother/son conflict and breakdown of their relationship, and the mother's inability to accept her role and responsibility, and continued provocation of conflict and refusal to communicate with father.
Sorry for the long story - now my question.....
Is it worth rebutting or fighting the OCL report, even if I do partially accept the recommendation (which is status quo 10 days with Dad)? I also agree that a son needs to have a mother, and do want to help support the mother/son relationship. I want my son to love his mother, and for her to treat him well - but this has just not come to be, and it will require a lot of time and work by everyone, but most importantly, by mom as the adult. Seeing as my son is almost 13, he now has a very strong idea of where he wants to spend his time and live primarily, and why (because of his positive feelings for dad and stepmom - and because of his negative feelings and ongoing conflict experiences with mom).
Why is the OCL insisting on forcing a 50/50, in light of the difficulties between mom and son?
What are my options?
Should I even bother with submitting a complaint or rebuttal about the OCL, the bias, the very questionable report, the questionable level of "investigation", etc.?

I apologize for the length of the post, but I do look forward to learning and hearing from the very impressive and experienced people on this forum. Some of the stories and advice I have come across are extremely relevant and interesting....and hopefully helpful.
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  #2  
Old 05-31-2018, 01:29 PM
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Hey LF32 here, back from the dead. :-)

Quote:
A crisis event occurred on a long weekend that he was away with mom, and an argument in the car resulted in mom slamming the brakes on the highway, and threatenening to crash the car and kill them both
This is quite concerning.

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.......along with the 3 years of conflict and poor behaviour, and misguided "parenting style"
Naaa .. poor choice. CAS doesn't want to hear about your inability to contact them for 3 years over subjective opinions regarding parenting styles. CAS = danger to child...so stick to that.

Quote:
Pending the CAS abuse investigation, dad "withheld" son as he was too traumatized and afraid to return to mom.
This leaves a bad taste in my mouth for some reason. Parents get upset sometimes. Parents sometimes go a little hard on the brakes .. the "Im going to kill us all" is a bit much for me to digest to be honest .. just my opinion.
Withholding access for going a little hard on the brakes may have been a bit much. Remember, it's just as easy for a child to "become" traumatized via conversations "after" an event (like with you) then the event itself. (I work with traumatized children daily .. kind of know a little bit about it).

On the other hand, if your child was truly frightened and traumatized by mom hitting the brakes a bit .. then I suppose you did the right thing.

My daughter got dirty playing outside (real dirty) during a 3 hour visit early in my case. So naturally, I bathed her, not wanted to send her back to mom dirty. Mom contacted CAS saying I shouldn't be bathing her and that I had a "shark" in the tub (yep .. they were referring to my friggen penis). My ex cut contact for 3 weeks ... CAS came in ... saw the toy shark (that we played with in the bath since she was a baby), etc and gave me a stunningly positive report. One that also beat out OCL's man-hating report in the end. (Yep .. OCL also believed fathers should not bathe their daughters). Boy did Justice ____ have something to say about that in court at my motion that I won, having 3 daughters of his own whom he bathed nightly.

My point ... be careful witholding access. Could bit you in the a$$ later....and it's just not good. Focus on repairing relationships...not weakening them further. Unless you actually feel that your child's life is ion danger ... which I honestly dont believe you do.

Quote:
Mom brought an emergency motion to regain access. Judge allowed for a couple of supervised visits, and ordered that her access gradually resume.
Good stuff. Judge didn't think mom was a murderer.

Quote:
Interim agreement acknowledged the high-conflict mom/dad issues, the troubled state of the mom/son relationship, put son with dad for 10/14 days, and said that all efforts had to go towards trying to improve the relationship between son and mom.
Yes .. so stop witholding access my friend.

Quote:
OCL report #1 appeared very biased against father, portrayed the mother as the victim, took every opportunity to downplay the abusive mom/son relationship and level of crisis and refusal for mother to accept responsibility, focused on historical aspects of the mother/father relationship, blamed son (victim) for his "sensitivity", over-reacting, and his role and behaviour in conflicts with mother, etc.
Not surprised. I had a man-hating OCL as well. She was exposed and embarrassed in court. I saw to that. OCL is a disgusting waste of time. I dont recommend this service to anybody. My child's best interests were not taken in to consideration at all.

Quote:
Basically, OCL said that the son will only listen to and do what his father says and "if father does not improve on his work with mother, and does not support the improvement of the son/mother relationship, then she would flip her recommendation and take the son away from his (unconditionally loving and supportive and committed) father and put him with emotionally and psychologically abusive mother."
Make no mistake .. if mom was really as abusive as you say .. CAS/OCL, etc would have caught on by now no? I'm seeing a pattern of extreme villification on your part, access denials, etc. Stop all that sh*# and respect her as the mother. Promote her involvement in the children's lives .. speak positively about her in front of the kids. This will go a long way .. trust me.

Quote:
Final settlement meeting was April, and OCL refused to provide her report until the parties verbally said they would accept her initial recommendations.
Huh? Since when? I literally stood up and left during my disclosure meeting with OCL. She was talking about how fathers should be able to bathe daughters, etc. It was too much. NEVER agree to something before you see it. :-)

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Absolutely no mention of the positive developments with son regarding school, sports, his improved attitude, happiness, decrease in stress, etc etc - instead only highlighting the negative comments from his psychologist about him and father.
Yes, most OCL hate men. I've spoken to many people and known this fact for many years.

Quote:
Is it worth rebutting or fighting the OCL report, even if I do partially accept the recommendation (which is status quo 10 days with Dad)?
Yes, you need to rebut anything you don't agree to or else it will seem that you agree with everything and it can be used against you (especially in questioning and/or trial). Be very vocal here.

Quote:
Seeing as my son is almost 13, he now has a very strong idea of where he wants to spend his time and live primarily, and why (because of his positive feelings for dad and stepmom - and because of his negative feelings and ongoing conflict experiences with mom).
Yea .. pretty open/shut case. The kid's 13 .. he chooses now...and judge agrees.. THE END

Quote:
I also agree that a son needs to have a mother, and do want to help support the mother/son relationship. I want my son to love his mother
That-a-boy! Say that over and over. Dream it..live it. You need to say those words in COURT

Quote:
Why is the OCL insisting on forcing a 50/50, in light of the difficulties between mom and son?
Because 50/50 and "maximum contact" is usually the best way to go. CAS, OCL seem to agree also. See my "Maximum Contact thread".

Good luck to you buddy,

Take care,

LF32 out (Big shout out to Sad&Tired .. hope you're well) ;-)
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  #3  
Old 05-31-2018, 01:52 PM
CatsandDogs CatsandDogs is offline
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Thanks for the response LF32.

Just to be clear, the only time I withheld or denied access was in response to that incident 2 years ago. And yes, I understand sometimes things get "heavy"...however, I did not describe in detail in my thread the 5+ years of mom-son conflicts and the negative impacts, including self-harm by my son.Yes, the judge considered it all, and did the right thing, and I agreed with it. It was an opportunity to get someone involved and realize the seriousness of the situation, and to protect our son in the short-term, and initiate the plea for help. Up to that point, I had been trying to avoid lawyers, and courts, etc. After the motion, that part was over in a month. Then began the OCL nightmare.
CAS investigated after that highway incident, and saw the hole he had made in the drywall from banging his head after the trip and car-ride. And they got the full background on the incident, and the level of nastiness it involved. I have a long list of stories of similar abusive and mean behaviour and his self-harming responses, but that is not the purpose of my thread. CAS says no "physical" abuse, so be it, I understand their mandate and I'm not barking up that tree anymore.
I appreciate your perspective on the OCL part, and would be interested in hearing from others about their experiences with bias and inappropriate or unacceptable OCL practices, results, rebuttals, etc.
So for the rebuttal, do I write it up and submit it to the OCL bosses in Toronto? Or do it through my lawyer?
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Old 05-31-2018, 03:14 PM
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Janus Janus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsandDogs View Post
Basically, we started the separation (different houses) in 2013 with a co-parenting agreement that had our 7-yr old son at 8 days with mom, 6 days with dad (on a 2 week schedule), with either 2 or 3 days on/off. The agreement was to help ease mom into not seeing her son for long stretches
But it was ok for Dad to not see his kid for long stretches? That is such nonsense.

Quote:
For the next 3 years, my ex flat out refused any efforts to amend the schedule, decrease the transitions, or move to 50/50.
That is to be expected. Note for lurkers: Temporary agreements in family law have a nasty habit of becoming permanent. Don't agree to anything temporary that would be unacceptable as a permanent situation.




Quote:
Their relationship is characterized by systematic emotional and psychological abuse, shaming, punishment, and extreme conflict.
I deleted most of it, but you spend a lot of words saying "my ex sucks as a parent". That is not unusual, most of us think that our ex's suck as parents. That is why people fight over custody.

Quote:
General theme was he was always happy to leave her care, and quite often very upset returning to her care.
It is quite probable that you had a hand in that. If you are concerned about kid going to mom, then kid will also be upset at going to mom. Focus on the positive. Talk about the wonderful things kid will be doing with mom. When he comes back ask about the best part of the time with his mother, and be excited about it.

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Dad found new partner in 2015 and in 2016 partner moved in. Incredibly smart and supportive, fully engaged and committed to being an amazing stepmom.
Not many shades of gray in your world I see.

Quote:
Long story short, in late 2016, pressure was increasing to move to 50/50 and renegotiate the co-parenting agreement.
Seems reasonable, why not have 50-50. I know, I know, mom is a terrible parent. At least she wasn't killing the kid...

Quote:
A crisis event occurred on a long weekend that he was away with mom, and an argument in the car resulted in mom slamming the brakes on the highway, and threatenening to crash the car and kill them both.
SHE IS TRYING TO KILL THE KID!

Just kidding, she got angry and did something inappropriate. Happens to the best of us. Well, not me, but I'm even better than the best.

Quote:
Dad responded when he found out 2 days later from son
Is it helicopter week in the forum?

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called CAS and the police to report this incident
Are you for real?

Why do people enjoy conflict so much? Especially conflict that hurts their children?

Quote:
Is it worth rebutting or fighting the OCL report, even if I do partially accept the recommendation (which is status quo 10 days with Dad)?
Does Mom agree with recommendation too? If so, why even bother going to court? Just give her 4/14 and move on.

Quote:
Why is the OCL insisting on forcing a 50/50, in light of the difficulties between mom and son?
I thought OCL was recommending 10/14 with Dad? Did I miss something? As for the latter part, I get the impression that you are the cause of much of the strife. I still can't believe you called CAS and the police over hard-braking and a ridiculous threat.

Honestly, even 50-50 is fine. Kid is 13, if mom is as bad as you think he will be living with you full time anyway within 2 years.
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Old 05-31-2018, 03:38 PM
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If parents today did what parents did to us growing up we would all be in CAS care. You overreacted with the car incident. Your kid sounds like a bit of a pain in the ass who has learned to pit mom and dad against each other.

You and your ex hate each other period. You shouldnt hate each others parenting style. How would you feel if you yelled at your kid for getting expelled and your ex withheld access? You have differences in how your kid should be raised, that doesnt make you right and her wrong. Plus you arent there, youre getting the story from the kid who has a reason to say mom is mean. Theres a reason why kids ask one parent over the other when they know one will say no.

I would suggest therapy between mom and kid and possibly some other behaviour exercises for your kid. If hes acting this way at 13 I fear how he is going to act at 16.

Tell OCL you arent agreeing to anything until a final report has been reviewed. Then attempt to work with your ex for the good of the kid.
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Old 05-31-2018, 03:57 PM
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There are certainly some accurate observations from Janus and Rockscan, despite the rather harsh delivery.
I appreciate the objective interpretations, but they are a little over the top, with some inconsiderate assumptions - but in a social forum I suppose it is the norm.
I know many people here have probably gone through some long and trying situations, so dismissing or downplaying someone else's realities and difficulties might come easy.
And yes, therapy is good for everyone - and in this case, especially to help mom and kid. We are moving towards that, despite mom's denial of responsibility and her not thinking it is urgent. Kid has dealt with 5 years of extremely difficult circumstances and has had to bear the brunt of his mother's hatred and resistance to divorce and dad, which has had a significant impact on his frame of mind, self-esteem, self-confidence, and social relationships. When a child self-harms (did you miss that part?) and feels helpless to the point of suicide ideation, I don't think that notifying the authorities out of fear for their well-being is over-reacting. And as mentioned, it has been a regular thing for 5 years. Kid has been seeing psych for 4 years now. OCL and psychologist confirmed the impacts and lobbied mom to change and get help - and lobbied both of us to stop fighting with each other.
If I don't accept the OCL report - it means it likely goes to court - which looks bad on me, even given the 10/14 time with dad. I want to know how to voice my concerns about the OCL bias, poor investigation, and most of all the lack of representation of kid's voice, opinions, and experiences (both good and bad).
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Old 05-31-2018, 04:10 PM
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CatsandDogs, can you use more paragraphs in your post? Its hard to follow without them.
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Old 05-31-2018, 04:16 PM
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Hi kate331, yes, and thanks for the suggestion.

I see now that the long posts are hard to follow and appear like rambling.

It's my first time at this forum and posting stuff, and I have a lot to learn.

I am just hoping people don't tee off on the bits and pieces they choose to opine on or criticize, and that they can provide some constructive advice, or at the very least ask for more details before rushing to judgement.
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Old 05-31-2018, 05:28 PM
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I too would be very concerned with the self harm and suicide thoughts, that for sure is a cry for help. Rest assured though that his psychologist is a mandatory reporters so should they think your son is in harms way with his Mother, they will report.

I have no experience with the OCL, but does that mean there will be a lawyer there representing your child's best interest or just the report should it end up in court?

I too have been told to stop the fighting for the sake of my kids. It sounds like great advice and common sense, but at least for me easier said than done. There are some strategies you can use, like no text messages, or phone calls, just emails. Or use a software program like Our Family Wizzard. Dont attend drop off and pick up, use the school. Anything not to put the child in the middle.

Has your son said he want to live with you permanently and not spend time with his Mom? My thinking is that by the time this makes it way through the court system, he will age out and can choice with his feet which home he wants to be in and when.
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Old 05-31-2018, 07:08 PM
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I told everyone my mom was mean and I ran away from home repeatedly as a teen. Now I look back and realize how overly dramatic I was and that my mom wasnt able to give us everything because we had no money.

My niece self harmed because she didnt feel she was getting enough attention from her parents and had issues with her older sibling winning awards.

My partners child was depressed and needed therapy for her suicidal thoughts because my partner had no money for multiple section 7 activities that kid would die if [she couldnt] go to. (He was unemployed at the time.)

A friend works as a case worker at CAS and has told me dealing with difficult teens is a lot of the calls they get and now all of them have courses on dealing with difficult teens.

I could go on but the theme is teens are dramatic by nature. Im not saying your son is wrong, Im saying there could be more to the story and his hormones may be playing a part. I know what its like to live in a situation where your parents hate each other and are always in court. Plus my mother had a mental illness making life hell sometimes.

The bottom line it seems is that neither one of you can parent together and both your approaches are counter productive to the other. That could also be where the OCL is coming from. Remember they are the CHILDS lawyer. Part of their recommendation is the childs best interest.

The search function on this forum is your friend. Search OCL and see how others have battled back against unfair and biased reports and start working on your approach to your ex. Therapy may work for you too on how to deal with her.

My parents fought until the bitter end including at family events that embarrassed us. My father even pulled his I hate your mother stunts the week she was dying. I will never forgive either of them for not being grown ups and setting aside their hatred for each other. Dont be one of those parents that loves their kid but hates their ex more.

Tough love dear. Thats what Im giving.
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