In the matter of Abbott-Ewen v. Ewen, the parties married in 2003, had one child, separated in April 2009 and unsuccessfully made a brief attempt at reconciliation in July 2009. Initially, the parties resided in Alberta, and then the Applicant Mother and child moved to Ontario, while the Respondent Father continued residing in Alberta as he worked towards completing an apprenticeship program. The Respondent ultimately moved back to Ontario, shortly after which the parties separated.
In November 2009, the parties entered into interim, interim agreement which provided the father with access time on alternate weekends and two evening visits per month. At the same time as negotiating the interim, interim agreement, the Applicant Mother applied for custody of the child. Both the agreement and the Application were silent with respect to the issue of relocation of mother and child to Alberta. While the Applicant Mother's custody application was pending, the Applicant moved with the child to Alberta on November 26, 2009. As a result of the move the father did not have regular access time with the child.
The mother purported that the move was required due to the father’s relentless harassment and the impact that this had on the mother's physical and mental health. The Applicant further claimed that she wished to move back to Alberta because she had family and friends residing there who offered a network of support for her and the child. At the motion, the mother presented a report from her physician which substantiated her claim that she suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, depression and stress-related physical illnesses and that the child, affected by mother’s stress, exhibited behavioral issues and significant stress reactions requiring hospitalization and treatment.
Although the father opposed the mother’s move to Alberta, the Mother successfully applied for interim custody and permission to move with child to Alberta. In this matter, the Judge hearing the motion decided that while the mother’s unilateral decision to move with child was troubling, requiring the mother to return to Ontario was contrary to the child’s best interests. The court concluded that the child's best interests were served by remaining with mother who was the child's primary caregiver since birth.