Kurt Kobain and Courtney Love's daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, was placed in the temporary guardianship of her paternal grandmother, Wendy O'Connor and her paternal aunt, Kimberly Dawn Cobain. Love and Kobain's daughter is now seventeen (17) years old. The court documents do not specify a reason for the change in guardianship and counsel for the grandmother and aunt simply called it a 'private family matter'.
We will recall however, that in September of 2005, Courtney Love was being treated at a drug treatment facility for violating her probation in 3 different cases: one for illegal possession of painkillers, one for being under the influence of alcohol and another for battery and assault.
How would this situation be dealt with in the Ontario Court?
Although, we do not know the details of why Frances' temporary guardianship was awarded to Wendy (Kurt's mother) and Kimberly (Kurt's sister), we can assume that, given her age, Frances made this decision herself. Alternatively, the decision may have been made pursuant to a court order on the basis that Frances required protection from her mother given her past track record with drugs and alcohol and the possibility that these problems are occurring again for Love.
Although this case is taking place in the U.S., we can analyze it in accordance with the laws of Ontario and Canada. In order to do so, we will examine the relevant provisions of Ontario's Child and Family Services Act (the Act). The purpose of the Act is to promote the best interests, protection and well being of children. Where a child is deemed to be in need of a Guardian, the Act recognizes that it may be in the best interest of the child to involve relatives, extended family or the community where it is more appropriate to do so, then to place the child in a foster home, for example.
We must establish whether France meets the definition of a 'child' in Ontario under the Act. The Act generally defines a 'child' to be under the age of eighteen years. However, under Part III of the Act, which pertains to the protection of a child, a 'child' does not include a child sixteen (16) years of age or older, unless the child is the subject of an order under this particular section.
The court believes that a child is in need of protection where their current parent or Guardian has physically harmed them, or has neglected them or failed to care for them properly. However, it is important to note once again that this section of the Act is only applicable where the child under 16 years of age, unless there is a previous court order in place under part III of the Act.
Therefore, if there was a previous court order that Frances was subject to, then this section would apply. We could then assume that the Judge felt that remaining in Courtney's care was contrary to Frances' best interests and, as such, guardianship was granted to Wendy and Kimberley. However, if there was no court order in place, we can assume that given her age (17 years old), France's decision to live with her grandmother and aunt was one that was made of her own free will and she simply made her wishes known to the court, who acted upon them. In this case her grandmother and Aunt may have applied for custody of Love and Kobain's daughter under the Children's Law Reform Act.