BRITISH COLUMBIA

B.C. mom loses custody "war" for daughters; dad provides secure, stable home

12/07/2012 08:07 EST | Updated 02/06/2013 05:12 EST
NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. - A B.C. Supreme Court judge has awarded custody of teenage-twin daughters to their father after a years-long "war" waged by their mother.

The conflict had become so intense between the parents that it was notorious within the provincial courts, the Ministry of Children and Family Development wouldn't deal with the case, and local police refused to respond to the mother's calls.

In a ruling posted online Friday, Justice Neill Brown granted sole custody and guardianship of the 15-year-old girls to their father who is identified only by the initials S.R.T. and is the respondent in the case.

"Whatever his faults as a parent, I find the respondent provides a home the children find secure and stable, one conducive to their healthy growth and development," said Brown, who also noted the twins have expressed a genuine preference to live with their dad.

The judge said the only relevant consideration in the case was the best interests of the girls.

Besides granting the father custody, Brown issued a retraining order, forbidding the parents from going within 100 metres of each other's residences.

They may communicate with each but only by traditional mail and email "on matters of significance regarding the girls' health," and by phone only in the case of an emergency, ruled Brown.

According to Brown's ruling, the ministry began intervening in the children's lives when they were just two years old.

During the next eight years, different judges placed the twins in the custody of each parent.

From 2008 to 2010, the girls have lived with their father and have remained in his care except for an interval between January 2011 and January 2012.

"A review of the litigant history shows the parties have amassed an arsenal of charges to use against each other," said Brown. "In either case, the parties can draw on them whenever they wish to wholly discredit the other.

"Some of them could be true, some doubtless are not."

In fact, in one court ruling dating back to 2008, a provincial court judge said the mother, who is identified as both R.L.T and R.L.C, had drawn the children into the conflict, and the twins began fabricating complaints about their father and lying to the authorities to get him in trouble.

That judge also ruled the mother was not engaged in the behaviour for her children's benefit but to "win a war with the ministry and the father in which the children are the prize."

More recently, one of the daughters moved in with her father and tried to attend the same school as her sister in Pitt Meadows, B.C., but couldn't because the mother wouldn't sign the papers, noted an affidavit included in Brown's ruling.

The teen was forced to complete assignments that were emailed from teachers in the Fraser Valley city if Chilliwack, B.C.

Brown noted that the police have refused to look at one allegation made by the mother who claimed the father tried to run her down with his vehicle.

He also referred to the mother's "histrionic behaviour" during the recent court hearing.

"The claimant sometimes could not control her emotions and left the courtroom twice," said Brown. "Her inability to modulate her behaviour in a controlled setting such as a courtroom does not reflect well on her ability to do so in an uncontrolled one."

The girls turn 16 in January.

-- By Keven Drews in Vancouver