A recent Ontario custody case demonstrates how emotional and verbal abuse towards a co-parent can result in a loss of custody for the abusive parent.

What Happened?

The mother and father met on-line some time in 2010. While they maintained a relationship, it was mostly a friendship with the exception of a few intimate encounters after which the mother became pregnant.

The couple never lived together and were never involved in a monogamous relationship.

After the birth of the child, the father claims he visited their daughter every night, while the mother stated that his visits were infrequent.

The couple’s relationship remained fairly amicable until some point in 2016 when it deteriorated as a result of disagreements between them as to when the father should have care of their daughter.

The father claimed that the mother used him to have a baby and that once that happened he was dispensable. He believed that the mother has treated him as a sperm donor and blank cheque. His claim was that he was simply trying to assert his right to be an involved father for his daughter who he loved very much and that it was his belief that it was in his daughter’s best interest to spend equal time with her parents.

The mother’s evidence was that she has always supported her daughter’s relationship with the father but once his involvement became an intrusion in her life and upsetting to the daughter’s routine and stability she attempted to create boundaries which the father misinterpreted as obstacles to having a full and meaningful relationship with the child.

This trial proceeded in order to determine the appropriate access schedule to be exercised by the father with the 5 ½ year old child.

Decision

The court began by reviewing the law on access and proceeded to look at the specifics in this case. The court reviewed ample evidence showing the father to be abusive towards the mother, especially through their communications by text message and email.

In these exchanges, the father called the mother a variety of names, including “f**king pathetic”, “bitch”, “f**king idiot”, “c**t”, “delusional”, “truly sick”, “psycho” and “f**king truly insane”, among others.

The court characterized this behaviour as:

“The text messages the father sent to the mother exude an alarming level of anger. His verbal and emotional abuse of the mother is a very serious issue for the court. What is obvious to the reader and of major concern to the court is how disproportionate the anger is in relation to the issue. The vitriol in his emails is often completely unprovoked or unleashed with such vigor in response to a relatively unimportant or innocuous issue or incident […]”

The court took note that the father said that he regretted the way in which he communicated with the mother and was embarrassed by his behaviour. At trial, he claimed he apologized to the mother in writing for his abusive communications on many occasions, yet the court noted that he did not produce any evidence of an apology. The father also stated he would never resort to such offensive behaviour again.

Despite the father’s claims, the court stated:

“The court finds that there is no evidence to demonstrate that the father’s attitude towards the mother has changed in any significant way. While he says he has changed and that there is little recent evidence of inappropriate behaviour by him towards the mother, it was readily apparent during his evidence that he sees himself as the victim and the mother as the villain and that this belief system informs his judgment and decision making process.”

Additionally, the court expressed concern over the impact the father’s behaviour had on his ability to co-parent, as well as the negative impact his abuse towards the mother would have on the daughter.

As a result of the father’s abusive behaviour towards the mother, the court gave the mother continued custody of the child, but gave the father scheduled access to the child, including overnight stays on weekends and during the week.

Get Advice

At Feigenbaum Law, our goal is to help you move forward following the breakdown of a relationship while retaining as much financial stability as possible and ensuring your children are provided for. Mark Feigenbaum is able to counsel his clients on all potential risks that may result from a family law dispute, not just those related strictly to the breakdown of a marriage. Contact Mark online or call him at (905) 695-1269 or toll-free at (877) 275-4792 to book a consultation.