Parent refusing to return a child to the residential parent (myself) claiming the child has decided they want to stay

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Customer: Parent refusing to return a child to the residential parent (myself) claiming the child has decided they want to stay with that parent full time. Child is 12 and no consultation on this occured
JA: What steps has the parent taken? Have they filed any papers in family court?
Customer: nope Sent me a text message saying the child has decided to live with him full time and he will not be forcing her to return on Sunday. We are in the province of Ontario and have a signed final separation agreement
JA: Has she talked to a lawyer about this yet?
Customer: My child you mean?
JA: The Family Lawyer will be able to walk you through that. Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: As far as I know, no lawyer has been consulted regarding changes in residence
Answered by Debra in 15 mins 2 years ago
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Debra
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Debra
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Debra
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163842 Satisfied customers

Jessica

Jessica

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Debra, Expert

Hello! My name is Debra (formerly known as Legal Ease). Thank you for your question. I'm reviewing it now, and will post back again shortly.

Customer
Thank you
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Debra, Expert

I am sorry to hear this.

Is this out of the blue or were you expecting something like this?

Does your agree have a provision for dispute resolution?

Customer
If we can not agree, mediation is listed as dispute resolution step. and unexpected. She was here last night, dropped off at school this morning by me, and ex sent text tonight saying she has decided she wants to live there full time so he will not force her to return here on Sunday I am concerned because my two eldest children both became suicidal while living over there full time - again without any legal changes to separation agreement or consultation. One was admitted to hospital after an a overdose and the other needed constant supervision for several months after returning to live with me full time
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Debra, Expert

That's unbearably sad.

Do you believe him?

Customer
I have reason to believe she has been coerced. Her stepmother believes i record phone calls through my daughters phone so won't allow daughter to have her phone in the same room while she is talking to her. I also have had all the children tell me that the stepmother states she is a better parent than I am and that I poison the relationship she has with them. So I don't know for sure, but I do strongly suspect my daughter has been manipulated.
Customer
The separation agreement states that :The children will reside primarily with the wife. And he is now stating that he will not return her as scheduled
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Debra, Expert

Have you spoken to her today?

Customer
The agreement does state that: Such further and other times for the Husband to spend with the children shall be determined by mutual agreement between the parties.
Customer
I spoke with her this morning when i dropped her off at school. I texted her this evening saying I wanted to see her tomorrow to talk with her
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Debra, Expert

What did she say?

Customer
Her response was: I don't think I'm ready to talk. I need more time
Customer
This situation happened completely out of the blue. No prior indication. Absolutely no discussion about it with my ex
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Debra, Expert

Oh dear.

There are a few things you can try.

One is to show up at the house to pick her up at the end of the weekend and see what she says.

Another would be to pick her up at school on Monday.

You could also call the police. They cannot enforce the agreement but they will attend to make sure she is safe and wants to be there.

You can also try and get a quick mediation appointment.

Or you can bring a motion to the court to enforce the agreement.

But if at the end of the day she is really refusing to go home to you then at 12 there is really no way to force her.

Do you see what I mean?

Please feel free to post back with any follow-up questions you may have.

Customer
I do have 3 other children who can attest to the negativity of the living environment over there, so is there any way to try to find out if she has been manipulated? A social worker appointment or counselor?
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Debra, Expert

Yes for sure.

You can ask for a custody/access assessment to be done. That is an excellent idea.

Customer
Can I also ask the school not to release her to her stepmother?
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Debra, Expert

Yes for sure. You have the agreement.

But she is 12 and I don't see that how they can actually stop her.

Customer
not really unless I get a legal process started and concluded to back me up...
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Debra, Expert

But even if you do get an order that tells the father he must return her if she really refuses to go then you are still stuck. The police will not drag her home for example.

Customer
Well, when you get Lululemon over there and Old Navy over here...not funny, but true...
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Debra, Expert

The term Disney dad is no joke really.

Customer
What if an assessment concludes that the father and stepmother have a history of emotional abuse? Currently they are refusing my 15 year old daughter access to her belongings over there because she does not want to go over (despite my encouragement) after a traumatic summer holiday with them during which she was blamed for ruining the holiday and not wanting to have fun. She had severe anxiety which resulted in constant nausea and vomiting and inability to eat for most of a 3 week period
Customer
I try to always have a written record of conversations with my ex because what he says and what he claims he said are often two different things. So if i meet with him in person, should i record the conversation - provided i tell him i am doing so?
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Debra, Expert

You don't have to tell him you are recording him because only one party has to consent.

That assessment will help you for sure if you get that outcome.

At the same time a judge ordering you have sole custody doesn't do a thing if she won't leave his house.

Customer
If it's an abusive situation though, surely someone can intervene?
Customer
Her responses to me appear to be scripted and I do see signs of parental alienation - although it may mostly be coming from her stepmothers influence
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Debra, Expert

She needs to have a safe environment to talk to someone about her real wishes.

That is why an assessment is best.

Customer
How is it that one minute she's my adorable loving daughter and the next minute she does not want to meet me alone - which is what the text her dad just sent says, so I suspect he's reading her messages
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Debra, Expert

Oh I have no doubt.

Customer
if she's been manipulated, then how do we know what are her actual real wishes and what has been programmed into her?
Customer
do I just wind up waiting until I get a phone call from someone saying she's in the hospital after attempting suicide...or that she's dead
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Debra, Expert

There are parental alienation experts so perhaps you should consult with one?

Customer
I know I might be sounding over dramatic...it's a fear based on previous experience with my other children. But thank you for your help. I just feel pretty helpless and like I'm losing a daughter that he has said he never even wanted.
Customer
I'm dealing with an ex who has told me that his wife can say whatever she wants about me because she isn't bound by the terms of the separation agreement and who listed her as the other parent when he registered her for a new school - the school had no idea I even existed until I went in to see the secretary. He claimed it was an oversight
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Debra, Expert

That is sickening.

Customer
I've been dealing with it for a decade now...and all I want is a quiet peaceful life and happy kids. Instead I have two eldest kids who comment on how broken they are after living over there and I just don't know what to do anymore. How does a 12 year old go from loving you to not wanting to even see you in the space of one day?
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Debra, Expert

It is beyond reason.

Customer
There have been all sorts of issues: not informing me of children's events, such as my eldest daughters graduation ceremony from high school. When confronted about it, he claimed it was my daughters responsibility to inform me of the occasion. Kids not allowed to take anything of theirs from his house to bring to my house ( because he claims my house smells too much like cats - despite his owning a dog). When they have gone to his house, they must change clothes immediately and toss them into garbage bags, which are then thrown into the garage. I'm not going to claim I've always taken the high road but i have tried to do so as much as possible.
Customer
Youngest daughter has been told by stepmother that she looks nothing like me and only resembles her father The list goes on and on.
Customer
Kids were told that my getting a new car was unreasonable because their dad had to pay for it (via the support payments) and that I only deserved a used one. (I replaced an 11 year old rusting out minivan in need of major repairs with an Elantra - admittedly a new one)
Customer
I'm not even sure if he's paying the correct amount of support because he does the maths on that
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Debra, Expert

That's all terrible.

You need your own lawyer to help you assert your rights and at least figure out if you are getting the right support.

I am going to bed now.

Have a good night.

Customer
Met with ex-spouse yesterday. He is saying 12 year old daughter doesn’t want to meet with me alone because she told them she’s “afraid of me and that I’ll yell at her because I lose my temper frequently”. I’m dumbfounded by this as is my significant other
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Debra, Expert

He is lying or she is saying that to him because it is what he wants to hear.

You clearly need your own lawyer and you can also have the police attend and speak to her alone.

Customer
I will go over to daughters school at end of day to see if she will speak with me. I also need to see the secretary there to make sure daughters file has been properly updated. When she was registered, I was not listed on the registration form. Stepmother was listed as parent 2 and guardian and the school was not even aware I existed until I went in to ask if she had been registered there without my knowledge
Customer
I will see what happens today at the school and record any interaction I have with her while there.
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Debra, Expert

That makes sense.

Customer
Hi. I went to the school in Monday. Daughter asked why I was there and then asked if her father knew I was there. She did state that she had not said she was afraid of me. Ex later called to say that daughter was very annoyed that I had shown up at her school. She has been making minimal responses to my text messages. She answered a phone call I made to her this week.
Customer
Her father sent a text this morning saying: Just a quick update, to keep you informed... I have asked Julia whether she is ready to call you or meet with you in the four-way that you suggested. She is not ready yet (in part because of what happened on Monday) but I will keep working on it, with a view to a possible meeting this weekend. I’ll let you know one way or the other
Customer
I replied by asking if he’s set up counselling for Daughter as she is not behaving like her normal self. His response was: Julia seems happy and normal - but I am arranging counselling for her just in case
Customer
This mess seems to be getting messier
Customer
I would argue that is is not normal for an until recently loving and affectionate daughter to suddenly declare that she is afraid of her mother
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Debra, Expert

No. None of this is normal.

She is angry and very hateful right now and she needs help.

Customer
I replied to his text on Friday stating I did not believe her behaviour is at all normal and reiterated my request that she have counselling and that it be with a therapist who has no prior association with him or his wife. They have a child psychologist friend who has been “advising” them and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the therapist he was considering setting Julia up with - although I would hope the psychologist friend would be ethical enough to inform them she couldn’t take on my daughter as a client. He has not informed me one way or the other as to her willingness to see me over the weekend. She has been texting somewhat limited responses and did initiate one brief phone call on Friday evening.
Customer
There has been no explanation or reasoning given from her as to this decision. All she has repeated is that living there full time is her decision alone and no one has influenced her - the “independent thinker” phenomenon. I could ask her via text about her being afraid of me, but it may prove counterproductive at this point
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Debra, Expert

I don't think you should send that text. But I do think she needs to see someone and you may need to have an assessment done so her honest voice can be heard.
Customer
I saw 12 year old daughter yesterday at a neutral
Location (cafe). I did ask her for some reasons as to why she decided to move. Received some what I would consider superficial responses ( ie: there is cat hair, etc) and another round of how this decision was entirely her own and that it was actually inconvenient from their perspective to have her make this decision.
She said she was coming over today from 2-5 as it is her brothers birthday.
Customer
Then received text from the ex stating: Julia wants to change her visit this afternoon and just meet Charlie at Merla May’s this afternoon instead. Can I drop her there around 4pm? She would like me to drive her back once she is done there.
Customer
I called daughter and asked her what was going on and she said a friend was over visiting and was staying longer so she wanted to meet only her brother at Merla Mae’s ( an ice cream place) . I stated that she had said she was coming over here and that I expected her to come over and honor her commitment -. That her sister was also wanting to see her. She said sister could also come to Merla Mae’s. I asked her why not come here ( my house is a*****away and Merla’s is a*****away. She then asked if she could call me back. I said aure
Customer
Ex then tried to call several times but I did not pick up as I was feeling emotional and he also has a history of denying he said things.
Sent him a text stating: I would hope that you would teach Julia is is respectful and responsible to honour a commitment which she previously made and which you were fully aware of her making - seeing as you were present at the Tim Hortons table when she said she would be over here between 2 and 5 today
Customer
Reply received from him said:” I would prefer to talk about this civilly with you, but you refuse to take my calls.
So this will have to be said, unfortunately, by text......Your interrogations of Julia are intimidating and they are upsetting her. She does not want to come over to you or talk to you until you change your attitude.
She would love to see Charlie and Merla May’s was a way of doing that without her being made uncomfortable, “
Customer
Other than take him to court, I don’t know what to do. I feel he is deliberately interfering with contact but will claim he is simply protecting the best interests of daughter.I am sure he is monitoring her text messages from me and possibly her siblings.
Customer
I could challenge him on his interrogation comment, but would it really do any good...
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Debra, Expert

There is nothing you can do except court. And it would make sense to have the court order a custody and access assessment so that your daughter’s voice can be heard in a safe environment.
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