A recent ruling from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Carey v. Carey, 2024 ONSC 2887 (CanLII) highlights the complexities and challenges in high-conflict parenting disputes. In this case, the father (Applicant) seeks to alter the existing parenting order due to alleged interference by the mother (Respondent) in his relationship with their two children. The mother counters, claiming the children’s resistance to their father is due to his alleged abusive behavior, including an incident of assault.

Case Background

The parents of two children, Jackson (8) and Connor (5), separated in January 2020 and entered a separation agreement in June 2021. This agreement granted joint decision-making responsibility, with the children’s primary residence with the mother. The father was given defined parenting time.

Key Incidents:

  1. August 26, 2022 Incident: The father, allegedly intoxicated, was denied access to the children by the mother.
  2. March 25, 2023 Incident: The father was accused of being intoxicated at a hockey rink, leading to the children staying with the mother.
  3. September 25, 2023 Incident: Jackson reported being assaulted by the father, leading to police and Children’s Aid Society involvement.

Motions and Court Orders:

  • The father seeks sole decision-making responsibility, primary residence, a 120-day no-contact period with the mother, and a police enforcement order.
  • The mother seeks suspension or supervised parenting time for the father.

The court’s interim orders addressed immediate parenting time but did not resolve the underlying allegations. Subsequent visits were fraught with difficulty, with the children refusing to engage with their father despite attempts to facilitate contact.

Court’s Analysis and Decision:

The court acknowledged the high conflict and the serious allegations from both parties but highlighted the lack of tested evidence. The judge noted the potential trauma to the children if forced into contact without proper support, and the mother’s insufficient effort to facilitate the father’s relationship with the children.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Importance of Evidence: In high-conflict cases with serious allegations, courts require tested and corroborated evidence before making significant changes to parenting orders.
  2. Best Interests of the Children: Courts prioritize the children’s psychological well-being and the potential harm from abrupt changes in their living situation.
  3. Judicial Oversight and Clinical Intervention: Ongoing judicial oversight and clinical interventions are critical in managing high-conflict cases. The court emphasized the need for a detailed plan, including reintegration therapy and professional support for the children.
  4. Case Management: Appointment of a case management judge ensures continuity and focused attention on resolving the conflict efficiently.
  5. Trial Necessity: Some disputes, especially those involving conflicting affidavits and serious allegations, are best resolved at trial where a comprehensive evaluation of the evidence can occur.


This case underscores the complexities of high-conflict parenting disputes and the court’s careful balancing of allegations, evidence, and the best interests of the children. It highlights the importance of detailed and professional intervention plans, continuous judicial oversight, and the potential need for trial to achieve a fair resolution.


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