Case Comment: Undermining Children's Rights in A.M. v. C.H.
Claire Houston, "Case Comment: Undermining Children's Rights in A.M. v. C.H." (2020) 39 CFLQ 99.
11 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2020
Date Written: 2020
The recent Ontario case of A.M. v. C.H. is troubling on multiple levels. The case involved a 14-year-old boy who was resisting contact with his father. The trial judge found that the mother had alienated the child from the father, despite evidence that the boy’s resistance was justified. The trial judge transferred custody to the father and suspended access between the child and the mother. The trial judge refused to review the order until the child agreed to "reconciliation therapy" with his father. After the custody transfer, the child assaulted the father, was criminally charged, and — prohibited from contact with the mother — was placed in foster care where he was seriously assaulted. Yet the significance of A.M. v. C.H. goes beyond its troubling facts. The trial judge’s decision and the Court of Appeal’s subsequent endorsement of that decision have implications for children’s rights more generally. This comment argues that A.M. v. C.H. threatens children’s rights in parenting disputes by allowing a judicial finding of alienation to silence children’s views, making it easier to reprimand custodial parents by transferring custody of children, and depriving capable children of autonomy to make treatment decisions.
Keywords: children's rights; family law; alienation
JEL Classification: K36
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation