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ulysses101, Lawyer
Category: Canada Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 3478
Experience:  Over 10 years litigation experience in family, criminal, and civil law
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The father of my children has not had overnight visits since

Customer Question

The father of my children has not had overnight visits since October 2015. He is wanting to return to taking the kids on weekends but this still makes me uneasy. I am wondering if Im being unreasonable and should return to the overnight visits and if I do return to the overnight visits is there anything I can ask for to put my mind at ease. We do have a court order in place that states parenting time is to be agreed upon by both parties. I having all decision making responsibilities. Also the father is not allowed drugs or alcohol before or during visitations.
The reason why I stopped overnight visitations is Becuase in October of 2015 while my kids were with their father an argument broke out between his girlfriend and him where the police were called to the residence, acohol was involved. I had to pick the kids up a day early. They also told the children not to tell me what had happened but my children did tell me. The father later admitted that this was not the only time there had been drinking around the children. For the past year I have allowed him to see the children when ever he wants as long as he wants as long as it's not over night. He sees the kids 3 to 5 hours one day a month. I am hesitant to return to overnights Becuase before the incident I thought he was not drinking later to find out he was. Also telling the children not to tell me anything worries me to what goes on there.
Again I am just wondering if I am doing something wrong or if I'm being unreasonable and should return to the longer overnight visits. Also I live in Alberta.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Canada Family Law
Expert:  ulysses101 replied 8 months ago.

Hello, thank you for the question.

Is he still with this girlfriend? Were any charges laid on the October 2015 incident?

How old are the children?

Were the child welfare authorities involved? When police are called to a domestic often they report it.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
He is still with the girlfriend. I am unaware of any charges or child welfare being involved. He did phone me saying he wasnt at the house and needed me to pick up the children. I was never notified by anyone. Which upsets me. What I know about the situation only comes from him and the kids. My kids did say that when the police came they had to hide in the bathroom with the lights off.The children are 8, 7 and 5 right now. At the time they were 7,6 and 4
Expert:  ulysses101 replied 8 months ago.

I understand your concerns. I assume that you have sole custodial authority here under the court order?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I do
Expert:  ulysses101 replied 8 months ago.

OK, here's what I recommend. Take your order to the police station and ask about what happened. You want to see the report involving the police attending the residence for a domestic when your children were there. You have sole custody and you're entitled to information about your children. You especially want to know whether any charges were laid, or any no contact / restraining orders in place (which is technically public information) especially regarding the children (which you definitely have a right to know about).

The police likely won't give you a copy of the file, and because of privacy legislation they shouldn't. But you might be able to bluff your way into some info. Maybe they'll show you the file or read to you sections that relate to the children. That would be a good start. Ask if CFS was contacted about the incident, and whether or not it's the police's policy to contact CFS when children are present or involved in violence in the home. Perhaps you'll get some results from that approach; it's not guaranteed but worth a try. Don't go in there screeching, but be assertive and firm. Don't do it by phone.

After that, go to CFS with any information you have gleaned from the police. Go to their intake department, ask about whether the police made a call to them about the incident. If so, ask for that information. If not, ask if the police are supposed to contact CFS when there's domestic violence involving alcohol and children in the home. Again, don't be screeching about the children being in danger, but be firm and assertive. Don't do it by phone either.

Depending on what you find out, you can then consider father's request. If you want to buy more time or put reasonable conditions on it, you could insist on some things and father's commitment in writing, perhaps including:

-That there be no consumption of alcohol by him or the girlfriend or anyone else in the home while the kids are there and 12 hours prior to the start of his weekend.

-That the girlfriend not be present during his access.

-That he do some relapse prevention and/or anger management and/or couples counselling with the girlfriend and/or some joint counselling with the the children to talk about what happened and why it was wrong and that it won't happen again.

-That he sign releases allowing you access to the police records regarding the October 2015 incident, and to any and all CFS records about the children to see if anyone has made any referrals to that agency.

-That he work up to weekends. He's hardly seeing the kids now, and going back to full overnight weekends isn't going to happen; he's got to work up to it by taking all the kids for full daytime access every second Saturday or something to make sure that the kids are comfortable and to demonstrate his commitment.

You could also ask why he now wants full weekends after a year. What's changed on his end?

Remember that he has a right of access. Don't forget that. But it's access as you two agree upon, so if you can't agree then it doesn't happen. And if he doesn't like it he can take you back to court. And he's entitled to if he doesn't like the conditions you give him, so of course you have try to make your conditions reasonable.

Thus your question of what's reasonable is an excellent question. While some of the conditions I mentioned above would likely be considered reasonable, insisting on them all would probably not be. A good idea would be to get a lawyer to write to him about what you've decided as conditions. Then your ex is more likely to take it seriously, and you'll have the lawyer's opinion about what would be considered reasonable by the family courts in your area.

Does that make sense? I'll await your question or comment. If I've answered you fully may I please have a positive service rating? Ratings are how I get credit from the site for helping its customers. I'd appreciate it very much.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thanks. That makes sense and helps. I have also thought about supervised visitations. Is that something I could ask for? not as an on going thing but like 5 supervised visitations by a third party just so I know it's a safe healthy environment.
Expert:  ulysses101 replied 8 months ago.

Insisting on supervised access at this point probably isn't going to fly, unless father hasn't had his access in his own home since October 2015 and the supervisor is mutually agreed upon and will go to the home during the access. That's a tall order. Finding someone willing to do that won't be easy, and father is unlikely to agree to that anyway.

Because he's been seeing the kids for the past year, insisting that the access now be supervised at an access centre is certainly over the top. I assume you meant in his home.

I think you should talk to a family lawyer who will write him a letter. As well, you could demand some info about the girlfriend especially if she's living there: does she have a criminal record, or any other children, any current or past involvement with CFS, things like that. The lawyer will know how to phrase it. But you can't go too hardcore on that issue since she's been in the picture for a while as well.

Anything else to discuss?

Expert:  ulysses101 replied 8 months ago.

I'm still here if there's more about this access topic.

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