Ontario Civil

Contempt of Court

By unilaterally transferring schools without consent of father mother willfully breached order

Mother taught at elementary school in Brampton. Mother saw that daughter was having social problems at school in Mississauga, and younger son was having academic difficulties. Mother unilaterally transferred children from school in Mississauga to her school in Brampton. Mother claimed she tried to contact father week earlier by phone but he became angry and hung up. Father had recently re-located home to be closer to children’s home and Mississauga school in order to reduce travel time during access visits. Court order required parties to bring any dispute regarding custody or access, including children’s education, to court for resolution if it could not be resolved by mediation. Father brought motion to have mother found in contempt of court order. Motion granted. By unilaterally transferring children’s schools without consent of father who shared custody and without leave of court, mother wilfully breached court order. Limited evidence did not allow court to assess whether transfer of children to new school was necessary or appropriate. Transfer added to distance father and children were required to travel when he exercised access and it deprived father of opportunity to challenge mother’s decision that transfer of schools was in children’s best interests. Court was reluctant to order further change in schools until Office of Children’s Lawyer (OCL) provided assessment. Mother’s unilateral transfer of children to new school in violation of court order with negative impact to father’s access was material change of circumstances that required fresh consideration of what arrangements were in children’s best interests. Order was varied. Pending assessment by OCL, it was in children’s best interests that negative impact of transfer on father’s access be remedied by interim variation of older son’s residence to father and increase in father’s weekend access to two other children.

Skura v. Fibingr (Feb. 14, 2014, Ont. S.C.J., Price J., File No. Brampton FS-08-3792) 241 A.C.W.S. (3d) 326.

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