Berrios & Berrios 2010 FMCAfam 1276

The case involved parents of two girls aged 11 and 10 years.  The mother had an older daughter aged 19 years from a different relationship.  The parents separated after the 19 year old girl reported that the father had made inappropriate sexual comments to her (inappropriate comments), which the father acknowledged.  The two younger children lived with the mother and subsequently resisted spending time with the father.  The father alleged that the younger children were influenced against spending time with him by the older daughter and mother, but no specific evidence was presented to support this claim (align).

Supervisors of contacts with the father reported that the girls did not greet the father on initial meeting, retreated from him and avoided physical contact with him.

A family consultant noted that the father attributed all of the children’s behaviour to the influence of the mother and older daughter, and disagreed that his own actions had contributed to the children’s feelings towards him (attributions externalising).

The family consultant described the girls as being aligned with the mother.  The family consultant described a continuum of attachment from positive relationships, an affinity, alliance, estranged, to alienateThe children demonstrated some ambivalence towards the father, so did not meet a definition of alienation (alienate).

The judge found that, while the father’s actions with the older daughter were inappropriate, the younger children were not at an unacceptable risk of harm by spending time with the father as the father’s actions towards them were not abusive.  The judge noted that the mother had not sought an order for supervised contact.

The judge found, “…  that although the mother has taken practical steps to improve the children’s relationship with their father, she still lacked insight, and could do more to support the children’s time with their father.  It is not so much the practical issues of facilitating time, as it is the more subtle emotional support for the relationship that is important” (withhold emotional approval).

The judge ordered that the children live with the mother, and that the children spend time with their father.  Both parents were granted shared parental responsibility.