11 February 2011

Child Abduction Cases and the Courts

I've spent much of the past week at a legal conference in Calgary (not the one featuring the Chief Justice, that was in Toronto). One of the sessions dealt with interprovincial and international child abduction and offered a lot of information I think might be of interest to a broader audience.

International Abduction

The website of the Hague Conference on Private International Law can be found at www.hcch.net. This is where you'll find a complete listing of the international Hague agreements on domestic relations, covering legal issues ranging from adoption to support obligations, as well as the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Conference's child abduction case law database can be found at www.incadat.com.

Certain signatories to the convention on child abduction have offered up a member of their judiciaries to the International Hague Network of Judges, formed to support the convention by easing communication between the courts of signatory countries. The list of participating judges as of December 2010 can be found here (PDF); the Canadian judges are:
  • Civil Law: L'hon. Juge Chamberland, la Cour d'appel du Québec
  • Common Law: Hon. Madam Justice Diamond, Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench
The Central Authority for the convention in British Columbia is Ms. Penelope Lipsack of the Attorney General's office.

Interprovincial Abduction

The primary federal legislation on custody and access rights is the Divorce Act, RSC 1985, c. 3 (2nd Supp.). Although the Divorce Act contains no enforcement provisions, s. 20 provides that Divorce Act orders have effect throughout Canada and may be registered in the court of any province and be enforced as an order of that court. Another federal law, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Act, RSC 1985, c. 4 (2nd Supp.) provides for the release of government information about a person for the purposes of enforcing orders about custody and access.

The current provincial and territorial legislation on the enforcement of custody and access rights is:
(Interestingly, the Nova Scotia enforcement legislation only applies in respect of those provinces which have reciprocal agreements with Nova Scotia, and not all do.)

The Judicial Response

The Canadian Judicial Council has established a network of superior court contact judges to address interprovincial and international abduction cases and facilitate communication between the courts of different provinces and between Canadian courts and foreign courts. The current members of the Canadian Network of Contact Judges for Interjurisdictional Cases of Child Protection are:
  • Chair: Hon. Madam Justice Diamond, Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench
  • Alberta: Hon. Madam Justice Moen, Court of Queen's Bench
  • British Columbia: Hon. Mr. Justice Butler, Supreme Court
  • Manitoba: Hon. Madam Justice MacPhail, Court of Queen's Bench
  • New Brunswick: L'hon. Juge Robichaud, la Cour du Banc de la Reine
  • Newfoundland & Labrador: Hon. Mr. Justice Cook, Supreme Court Trial Division
  • Northwest Territories: Hon. Madam Justice Schuler, Supreme Court
  • Nova Scotia: Hon. Mr. Justice Dellapinna, Supreme Court Family Division
  • Nunavut: Hon. Mr. Justice Johnson, Court of Justice
  • Ontario: Hon. Mr. Justice Harper, Superior Court of Justice
  • PEI: Chief Justice Matheson, Supreme Court
  • Quebec: L'hon. Juge Gaudreau, la Cour supérieure
  • Saskatchewan: Hon. Madam Justice Ryan-Froslie, Court of Queen's Bench
  • Yukon: Hon. Mr. Justice Gower, Supreme Court
A similar network has been established between the provincial courts. The current contact judges are:
  • Alberta: Hon. Judge O'Gorman, Provincial Court
  • British Columbia: Hon. Judge Wingham, Provincial Court
  • Manitoba: Associate Chief Judge Thompson, Provincial Court
  • Newfoundland & Labrador: Hon. Judge Howe, Provincial Family Court
  • Northwest Territories: Hon. Judge Gorin, Territorial Court
  • Nova Scotia: Chief Judge Comeau, Provincial Family Court
  • Ontario, Toronto: Hon. Justices Weagant and Scully, Ontario Court of Justice
  • Ontario, Central West: Hon. Justice Maresca, Ontario Court of Justice (Brampton)
  • Ontario, West: Hon. Justice Glenn, Ontario Court of Justice (Chatham)
  • Ontario, East: Hon. Justice Malcolm, Ontario Court of Justice (Belleville)
  • Ontario, Northwest: Hon. Justice McKay, Ontario Court of Justice (Fort Frances)
  • Ontario, Northeast: Hon. Justice Kukurin, Ontario Court of Justice (Sault Ste. Marie)
  • Quebec: Juge en chef adjointe Gaumond, la Cour du Québec