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CUSTODY AND ACCESS - Considerations - Best interests of child - Conduct of parents - Maximum contact principle - Status quo - Removal of child from jurisdiction

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 @ 9:35 AM  

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Appeal by the mother from denial of an application for permission to relocate with the parties' children. The parties moved in together in 2005, married in 2008 and separated in 2010. Their daughters were born in 2007 and 2009. A 2010 separation agreement, confirmed in 2014, created a weekly shared parenting regime. In 2015, the mother gave the father notice of her intent to relocate with the children from Medicine Hat to Cranbrook. The proposed relocation arose due to the mother's new partner losing his employment in Medicine Hat and finding new work in Cranbrook. A mobility assessment found that the children were healthy, excelled at school, and were actively involved in extracurricular activities. They had a strong attachment to both families and extended families. The trial judge rejected the mother's concerns with the father's parenting ability. A fresh inquiry based on the proposed relocation concluded the children's best interests were consistent with refusal of the mother's application. The mother appealed.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The trial judge did not err in the application of the mobility factors or in assessing the effects of the proposed relocation in comparison with the status quo in respect of the children's best interests. There was no failure to appreciate the nature of the shared parenting arrangement and any likely disruption to the bond between the children and the mother arising from refusal of the relief sought. The trial judge did not overemphasize possible detrimental effects of the move in relation to the positive effects of not moving. No palpable and overriding errors were established with respect to the conduct of the parties and its impact upon the parenting regime. The trial judge's exercise of discretion disclosed no reviewable error and was entitled to deference.

M.M.G. v. J.A.S., [2017] A.J. No. 669, Alberta Court of Appeal, J.D.B. McDonald, B.L. Veldhuis and S.J. Greckol JJ.A., June 29, 2017. Digest No. TLD-July102017007