One of the unfortunate realities of separation or divorce for people with children is that one of the parents may make a decision to move to a different city than the other parent. Sometimes this can be a personal choice, but it’s often the case that factors such as employment or new relationships might spur a move. In a recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the court had to determine whether a mother could move from Brampton to Toronto with the parties’ child, of whom she has primary custody.
The parties were married on March 6, 2016. While married, they lived in Brampton. While married, they had one child together, a daughter born on October 13, 2019. The mother had been working in Toronto and commuting from Brampton up until the birth of the child.
The marriage broke down on January 28, 2020, when the father was charged with assaulting the mother. A no-contact order was made in connection with that, and the father was not permitted to return to the matrimonial home. The mother and child continued to live in the home until the parties agreed to sell it. It sold in July 2020 and closed in September.
A hearing was held to establish access time for father, who was granted parenting time with the child on Tuesday evenings and every other weekend.
Following the sale of the house, the mother informed the father that she intended to move to her parents’ residence in Toronto. The mother made the move prior to receiving approval to do so, but maintained the previously ordered access schedule.
The father asked the court to require the mother and child to re-establish residency in Brampton within 30 days.
The mother explained her reasons for moving to the court. She told the court she works full time in Toronto, and since she is living with her parents, she is able to avoid sending the child to daycare and the expenses that come with it. Her place of employment is close enough to her parents’ residence that she is able to respond to the child’s needs in short order if required. Additionally., she said that the child will benefit from having a close relationship with her grandparents.
The father said that the mother has “manufactured” a new status quo through fabricated assault charges and a move to Toronto. However, the court found that once the parties sold their home, the mother had to move somewhere, and that her parents’ residence was a reasonable place to move. The court was also not overly concerned with the time the child would have to spend commuting between Brampton and Toronto, adding that the four one-way trips were not too many, and that at the child’s young age, should might sleep through most of the drives.
The court rejected the father’s application, allowing the mother to remain in Toronto with the child.
If you are contemplating a separation, or are already in the process, and there are children involved, your first step should be to consult with a family lawyer who has experience with custody and access matters. NULaw and its predecessors have been helping clients in Toronto since 1953. We provide clear, practical advice so that clients can make informed decisions about their parental rights. Contact us online or at 416-481-5604 to book a consultation.