When Bad Behaviour by one Spouse can Impact Parenting Time

In the recent case SEV v. TMV, 2018 BCSC 30 (“SEV”), the BC Supreme Court considered whether to grant a father increased parenting time.

In SEV, the two parties, a father and mother, were married and had two children aged approximately 7 and 9 at the time of trial. The parties separated on January 2, 2015, and in January 2017 the children began spending four days and four nights with their mother, followed by four days and three nights with their father.

The Court made several findings with respect to the father’s conduct towards the mother, including that the father sent the mother offensive text messages, communicated with others negatively about the mother, including with co-workers at the parties’ place of work (both the mother and father were RCMP officers), and that the father had two offensive decals on his truck which he acknowledged were directed at the mother – a vehicle which he used to transport the parties’ children while he exercised parenting time.

The father’s conduct was such that he was formally reprimanded by the RCMP for his communications with other members of the Detachment. The father was also ordered not to park his truck on RCMP property until the offensive decals were removed, but, at the time of trial, the father continued to park his vehicle on the street close to the Detachment so he did not have to remove the decals in questions.

In determining how to allocate parenting time, the judge noted that the legal framework for the analysis regarding parenting time is set out in ss. 37-42 of the Family Law Act and s. 16 of the Divorce Act, and that the primary purpose of these provisions is for the Court to consider the best interests of the child or children.

In reaching the decision, the judge wrote:

  • He was not satisfied that it was is in the children’s best interests that the status quo regarding primary residence and parental responsibilities should be altered;
  • The father still harboured significant anger towards the mother which at times was detrimental to the children. This included the father’s steadfast refusal to remove the offensive decals from his truck, and what the judge considered the father’s “intransigence” in communicating appropriately at times with the mother regarding the children;
  • The mother, at the time of trial, was the more stable and reliable parent;

The judge also wrote:

[40]         I would add that, although I was not asked by [the mother]to make a finding that [the father’s] conduct towards her amounts to family violence as defined in s. 1 of the FLA and its assessment per s. 37 and 38, in my view it is very close to the line in that regard. The fact that [the father] continues to drive the children in his truck bearing the decals in question remains an important consideration regarding ongoing parenting arrangements. That is because it would be a simple matter to remove the decals but [the father] has chosen not to do so, notwithstanding his employer’s view of the matter and the needless ongoing embarrassment and discomfort which they cause [the mother]. They will also, at some point, no doubt be the subject of questions from the children.

As a consequence, the judge ordered a shared parenting schedule on a rotating cycle whereby the mother would have parenting time for six days, and that the father would have parenting time for two days thereafter.