Le Soleil

Saturday, October 9, 1999

Mother who denied access to toddlerís father sent to jail

By Richard Henault (translated)
Le Soleil

In an unusual ruling a few weeks ago, Quebec Superior Court Justice Jacques Blanchard ordered a woman jailed for six days, for systematically preventing the father of her three-year-old daughter from seeing his child.

Before the mother was found guilty of contempt of court in a family tribunal, the Quebec City woman had refused to obey several temporary orders that granted access rights to the father. Justice Blanchard said the jail sentence was to be served "firmly, continuously, without delay or postponement," notwithstanding an appeal. In fact the mother did file a motion to appeal the sentence within days.

In the meantime, custody of the child was granted to her father. He had to take the three-year-old back to her mother upon her release from prison. In fact the judge said he was convinced the father was capable of looking after the interests and meeting the needs of the needs of the child.

Justice Blanchard said he couldnít understand the womanís behaviour. "How can a mother behave like this if she loves her child?" The judge couldnít understand exactly why the mother so adamantly obstructs the fatherís visitation rights. His failed attempts to see his daughter made no sense at all, explained the judge.

He stated that the mother acted in bad faith and considered her behaviour ęcompletely disrespectful of the rights and the best interest (of the father) and the childĽ When it came time to sentence the mother, the tribunal took note that the mother had no intention to change her behaviour or to respect further rulings from the court.

In her motion to appeal, the mother stated that her husband was a drug addict who doesnít love his daughter. "I donít want her to spend a day with him," she wrote.

She filed her brief on her own, without the help of a lawyer. The document is partly incoherent and hard to understand.

She says her daughter suffered during the few days she spent with her father. Upon her return she was apparently ęconfused because she had to sleep on a couchĽ. According to the mother, the daughter didnít seem "as happy as before."

"Why should the child have to pay the price by separating her from such a good mother" asks the woman to the Quebec Court of Appeal. She further states that "itís the liar who should be punished because he didnít spoil her, she was confused and sad-looking."

ęItís not fair to send a mother to prison, with handcuffs, like a criminal,Ľ she writes, noting that she cried night and day.

She chastises her ex by pointing out that he hasnít paid child support. And despite the fact that heís on social assistance, he still found $2000 to fight a criminal charge. And she concludes "this has lasted long enough, one court-order after another, it hasnít stopped for three years. All I want is to live in peace with my little girl."