After a British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that an Okanagan mother would have custody of her child but be required to move to Chetwynd, she has now had the ruling reversed by the British Columbia Court of Appeal. She will no longer be required to change her living arrangements in order for the girl’s father, who lives in Chetwynd, to have access to their daughter.
In the previous case, the British Columbia Supreme Court had decided that the father would have easier access to the child if the woman returned to Chetwynd, where she lived during the pair’s brief marriage. The judge also noted that both parents would have higher earnings if they both worked there. The mother had an income of $69,000 as a math teacher when she lived in Chetwynd; however, her income decreased sharply to $40,000 when she moved to the Okanagan. The father works as a mine electrician and earns $95,000 a year.
The mother argued that the judge should not be able to order her to relocate after awarding her custody. The Court of Appeal agreed with her argument, saying that even though a court can prevent a parent from relocating with a child, it cannot require that an individual be “indentured” to a certain community. Additionally, the appellate court ruled that the father can still have parenting time with his two-year-old daughter for five consecutive nights because he has a 14-day rest period from work each month, but he will be responsible for paying for his travel to see his daughter and will not be allowed to remove her from the area to Chetwynd.
This case shows that even after a court ruling determining custody and child access, there may be hope for appealing the ruling to potentially obtain a less limiting result. A family law lawyer may help a parent in a situation like this to prepare an appeal and demonstrate that relocation could cause certain hardships for one or both parents.
Source: Times Colonist, “B.C. Court of Appeal overturns divorce ruling that forced mother to move “, Kim Pemberton, August 14, 2014
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