December 16, 2015
Source: The Province / Keith Fraser
A B.C. judge has found that three young children were wrongly brought to Canada by their mom and ordered they be returned to their father in Ireland.
The parental abduction case heard that the father, identified only as C.M. in a court ruling, and the mom, identified as J.M., had a tumultous relationship featuring heavy drinking by both parents.
C.M., a 43-year-old Irishman employed as a commercial director of a software business based in Ireland, married J.M., 40, a Canadian citizen, in August 2000.
The couple and their three children, ages 11, eight and five, lived in a number of countries before settling in Ireland, from 2009 to 2014.
J.M., unhappy in Ireland, wanted to move to Canada to be near her parents, who lived in West Vancouver.
Court heard that through a series of “unfortunate disputes” and drinking in December 2013, the couple agreed to move to Canada and bought plane tickets for July 2014.
But in mid-June 2014, J.M. was arrested and convicted of impaired driving and paid a fine. Two of her children were in her care at the time.
C.M. agreed in a letter to J.M. to the kids coming to Canada, and the mom and their three children left Dublin for Canada to live with her parents.
When she arrived in Canada, she advised C.M. that she wanted to separate from him.
The desire of J.M. to separate from him caught C.M. by surprise. He felt he’d been unduly pressured to allow his three children to come to Canada and applied to have the children returned to him.
After C.M. and the kids came to Canada, the mom came to the attention of child protection authorities, who reported that she’d been seen drinking to excess and failing to properly care for the kids.
The children were removed from her care at one point and placed in the care of their grandparents.
The messy dispute saw allegations of abusing the children levelled at the dad. The mom had a report filed that found the children wanted to remain with their mom.
At issue in the case was the question of what was the “habitual” residence of the children and whether the father had consented to the children coming to Canada.
The judge also looked at whether the children’s views should be taken into account and whether there was a “grave risk” to the children being returned to Ireland.
In siding with the dad, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Grace Choi found that the children had been influenced either overtly or subtly.
“I have concluded that the children have been wrongfully retained in British Columbia by Ms. M. I have found that she has also failed to prove that Mr. M acquiesced to the children’s removal or retention.
“Furthermore, I have found that Ms. M has not proved that the children’s return to Ireland would expose them to a grave risk of harm or place them in an intolerable situation.”
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