In a recent Ontario case that made headlines, a court allowed a father’s request to fly his daughter and her mother to a resort in Turkey to allow him in-person parenting time with the daughter.
Mother Moves Child to Canada Following Parents’ Separation
The parents met in New York City and lived together for six years in various locations around the world. In 2018, they had a daughter who was born in Germany. When the parents separated in December 2020, they were living in Dubai. Soon after, however, following an altercation with the father, the mother surreptitiously left Dubai with the child and relocated to Ottawa where her parents and extended family reside. The mother is a Canadian citizen.
The court described the father as a Russian citizen with international business interests and access to significant wealth.
Mother Alleges Abuse, Father Alleges Unlawful Removal of Child
The mother alleged that the father was abusive towards her, including financially and emotionally, and that on the day she left Dubai with the child, the father had brutally beaten her.
The father denied the mother’s claims of abuse. In turn, he alleged that the mother had wrongfully removed their daughter to Ontario, where she continued to be wrongfully retained, as the child’s habitual residence was in Dubai.
Father Seeks In-Person Parenting Time with Daughter in Turkey
While the parents both had outstanding legal issues before the courts, in the context of the instant proceedings, the father sought in-person parenting time with the daughter.
At the time of the court application, the father had not seen the daughter in person in six months, although he had communicated with her virtually.
In June 2021, the father therefore sought an order allowing him to exercise in-person parenting time with the daughter in Turkey, where he was residing for the summer. Specifically,the father wanted the daughter to travel with her mother to the Six Senses Resort located in Kaplankaya, Turkey, for a period of three months. He stated that he was prepared to pay all travel costs associated with the mother and the daughter’s travel from Canada to Turkey, including the travel and housing costs of the maternal grandmother, if she wished to accompany her daughter. He was also prepared to consent to a number of orders meant to alleviate the alleged risks that he might wrongfully remove the daughter from Turkey to take her back to Dubai.
In response, the mother strongly objected to the daughter leaving Canada at all. She stated that the father presented a serious risk of flight for the daughter, and she asked that any in-person parenting time between them, in Ontario, be supervised at all times. The mother argued that the father had limitless financial means, that he had countless international connections and that she was frightened the father would abduct the daughter.
Court Finds Issue With Both Parents’ Proposals
The court began by explaining that its decision must be governed by consideration of the best interests of the child.
In response to the father’s proposal, the court stated:
“The uncontested evidence before me confirms that Turkey has no travel restrictions in place preventing [the daughter] and her mother from visiting, and there is no burdensome visa application process prior to entry (visas can easily be obtained online). The father says that because most of its guests are either long-term or permanent residents, Six Senses is an extremely safe place to be during the pandemic. The Resort has testing and medical facilities on site, and a strict quarantine system in place for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 upon their arrival.
[W]ere it not for the risks associated with [the daughter]’s possible removal from Turkey by her father, it is undisputed that the Six Senses Resort is a perfectly appropriate and safe environment which is known to [the daughter] and in which in-person parenting time with her father would be highly enjoyable for her.”
However, the court also expressed concerns with the mother’s proposal, stating:
“The mother’s plan, unfortunately, would result in [the daughter] having no in-person parenting time with her father in the foreseeable future. She has not offered any alternative to her position that the father should only have in-person, supervised parenting time in Canada. Although, at the very end of her counsel’s submissions, she expressed the possibility that she might be agreeable to the father seeing [the daughter] in New York; I have been provided with no concrete plan and no evidence as to how the risks of abduction from the United States might be less than those present in Turkey; how they could be alleviated; and whether there are any requirements or restrictions for the father to enter the U.S.”
Court Allows Father’s Request for Daughter’s Visit to Turkey
In its analysis, the court rejected the mother’s proposal outright, finding that it would deprive the daughter of any in-person contact with the father, which would not be in her best interests. Instead, it found that the father’s proposal was more acceptable, stating:
“I find that the father’s proposal for in-person parenting time to occur in Turkey, aside from the risks of abduction that it presents, makes ample sense. I am also of the view that there are many very good incentives for the father not to attempt to wrongfully remove [the daughter] from Turkey during her stay there, and that with very stringent safeguards to ensure the father’s compliance with this court order, the alleged risks of abduction are sufficiently mitigated to give me confidence that [the daughter] will be safely returned to Canada at the end of her stay in Turkey.”
As a result, the court ruled that the father would be allowed to exercise in-person parenting time with the daughter in Turkey at the Six Senses Resort. However, the court substituted his request for a three-month stay with that of a four-week visit. The court further ordered the father to pay for all expenses (including airfare, transportation to and from the airport, housing, food and reasonable expenses) related to the trip for the child, the mother and one family member of the mother’s choice to accompany them on the trip.
At Feigenbaum Law, our goal is to help you move forward following the breakdown of a relationship while retaining as much financial stability as possible and ensuring your children are provided for. Mark Feigenbaum is able to counsel his clients on all potential risks that may result from a family law dispute, not just those related strictly to the breakdown of a marriage. Contact Mark online or call him at (416) 777-8433 or toll-free at (877) 275-4792 to book a consultation.