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Family Law - ADOPTION - Consent of natural parents - Practice and procedure - Discovery - Production and inspection of documents -- Appeals

Thursday, February 23, 2017 @ 7:00 PM  

Application by the appellant father to vary an appellate chambers judgment. The father was a citizen of Saudi Arabia living in Canada under an expired student visa. The child was born in 2009. The mother initially denied paternity, listed the father as unknown, and commenced the adoption process. The Director of Adoption became the child’s guardian. In 2010, DNA testing established the father’s parentage. The Director advised the father that the child was placed for prospective adoption. The child resided with the prospective adoptive parents from September 2010 onward. The father commenced a claim for custody and guardianship. In 2014, the first trial resulted in the father obtaining two and one-half hours of supervised contact every six weeks. In 2015, an appeal granted the father co-guardianship with conditions that included a provision for a second trial in the event the parties were unable to agree on parenting arrangements. No agreement was reached and the matter proceeded to trial management. A trial management conference resulted in refusal of the father’s request for specified interim unsupervised parenting time, and further oral and documentary discovery of the Director regarding the prospective adoptive parents. The father appealed on the basis the trial management judge misconstrued the scope of the issues at trial. An appellate chambers judge denied leave to appeal. The father sought variation of the order refusing leave.

HELD: Application allowed in part. The order refusing to grant the discovery orders was not a limited appeal order and the chambers judge erred in principle in requiring leave to appeal. The upcoming trial to determine parenting arrangements was ordered pursuant to Rule 10-3(7)(d) of the Supreme Court Family Rules. The trial management discovery ruling thus constituted directions for the conduct of a pre-trial proceeding, from which leave to appeal was not required. No error arose from the refusal to grant leave to appeal the refusal of the father’s request for an interim increase in parenting time. The order under appeal was varied to the extent of declaring the discovery refusal orders were not limited appeal orders.