This was a trial regarding the parenting arrangements for the parties’ 12-year-old daughter and the mother’s claim for spousal support.
The parties were married in Kenya in 2010. The father sponsored the mother to Canada, shortly after their daughter’s birth. A marriage contract was signed in Ontario, whereby the mother released her claim to the matrimonial home and agreed to exclude it from any net family property calculation.
The mother was the primary caregiver for the child, and stayed home until the end of 2018 when she began working.
The parties separated in 2021, following which the daughter resided solely with the mother.
While the mother alleged an extensive history of family violence perpetrated by the father against the mother and child, the father denied these allegations and claimed that these were lies made my the mother in order to secure subsidized government housing and government benefits. He further claimed the mother had alienated him from their child.
The mother submitted that their child feared the father and did not wish to see him due to his verbal and psychological abuse.
What parenting orders would be in the best interests of the child?
Is the mother entitled to spousal support? If so, what should the quantum and duration of support be?
The court, based on its observations during the father’s testimony, found that it could easily see why the mother was afraid of him based on his domineering, aggressive demeanor. It further found that the father was not a reliable or credible witness.
The father’s financial conduct was found to be “outrageous” as he had not paid child support post-separation until he was ordered to do so in May 2022, even though he had sold his home in 2022 and sent large payments to his mother and brother in Africa. In fact, the court went so far as to deem the father’s conduct “financial abuse” and found that it was reflective of his controlling and coercive behavior.
The father had controlled most aspects of the mother’s life during the marriage, and now, during the litigation process, he continued to make attempts to control and intimidate her with the claims he made and the positions he took in court.
Regarding the child, the court found the father to have no sensitivity toward her experiences with him. He claimed the mother manipulated the child, but there was no credible evidence of parental alienation. The court found the child’s views to be independent, and she did not wish to see the father.
Reunification therapy was sought by the father, but the court did not think therapy would be in the best interests of the child as the father could use the process to regain control over the mother and child.
Regarding the mother’s claim for spousal support: the court found the $350 monthly support for five years requested by the mother to be reasonable in light of her strong compensatory and non-compensatory claims to same. The court noted that the evidence supported an order for indefinite support.
A higher income was not imputed to her, as the father wished, since the court found that the mother’s choice to work part-time and attend school to improve her English was reasonable.
The court awarded the primary residence of the child and sole decision-making responsibility to the mother. Noting the child’s privacy and feelings about her father, the court held it would not be in her best interests for the father to have rights of information regarding the child.
The mother would not need the father’s consent to travel internationally with their daughter, as the court believed the father would not sign any such consent.
Parenting time with the father was left in the mother’s discretion.
The court suggested that the father take a parenting course and continue individual counseling. He would not be permitted to bring a motion to change until he did so.
To the mother, it was suggested that she look into individual counseling for the daughter to work through her relationship with her father through a professional.
The mother’s requested spousal support order was granted.