Policing a child custody dispute in Canada

On behalf of Gary Kirk of Kirk Montoute Dawson LLP posted in Family Law on Tuesday, August 9, 2016.

One of the least pleasant aspects of divorce is figuring out what happens in regards to the children involved. Sometimes child custody arguments linger long after the actual divorce has been finalized. Unfortunately, these disputes can turn ugly and become quite complicated. An excellent example comes from outside of Alberta in an eastern province.

The couple in question separated in 2007 and became officially divorced in 2011. Five years later, they are still arguing over custody of the youngest of their four children, a 10-year old girl. The other three children are all at least 18 years of age, making them legally adults.

Accusations have been leveled by both parents, including reports of forcible confinement and child abuse, although no charges have been filed based on either of those claims. On Oct. 30, 2015, the ex-husband brought two friends, both of whom were off-duty police officers, to an exchange with the ex-wife. A judge later ruled that the officers’ involvement in the dispute was “improper and intimidating.”

In an unusual turn of events, the judge ruled that the nearby Cambridge detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police should oversee the delivery of the child between the parents. Although the detachment is in place to handle traffic offenses, it was felt that to include the local Waterloo Regional Police in the situation would represent a conflict of interest, with the ex-husband being an officer there. The OPP filed an appeal, and the Waterloo police declared there was no conflict and claimed that the department has a procedure in place for such situations.

No reasonable parent wants to cause his or her children to suffer, regardless of the tension with the other parent. However, when one parent’s rights are being denied, there is a temptation to overstep the bounds of legality. Legal counsel can assist with all aspects of divorce, including child custody. By seeking legal assistance, an Alberta resident can be assured that the rights of all involved are protected, along with his or her child’s welfare.

Source: jm.therecord.com, “OPP appeals decision to ‘police’ custody dispute between Waterloo Region officer and ex-wife”, Liz Monteiro, July 21, 2016

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