Ontario recognizes grandparents’ rights in custody battles
“Family” doesn’t just mean children and parents. For many people, grandparents can provide an equal – and sometimes greater – positive influence and sense of stability, especially when the nuclear family is going through a crisis like a divorce or custody battle.
That is why Ontario’s Bill 34, also known as the Children’s Law Reform Amendment Act, gives more legal recognition of the rights of grandparents to visit the child, and consider them in custody cases.
Until the Bill was passed in December, an estimated 75,000 grandparents had very limited or even no access to their grandchildren. This was caused by a number of factors: complicated relationships with their children, or messy divorces that broke down the couple’s relationships not only with each other but other family members.
Unfortunately, the children are caught in this conflict and cut off from a possible source of support, safety and security.
Grandparents have turned to support groups and been vocal about their desire to be part of their grandchildren’s lives. Many of them had asked the courts to intervene. Unfortunately, until the Children’s Law Reform Amendment Act was passed, these grandparents hit a legal dead end because there was no basis for their right to access.
The amendment corrects the issue and recognizes the “elevated role” of grandparents in a child’s life.
The role of courts and litigation is to help people work through problems in a fair and just way. However, Family Law often deals with cases that are complicated by emotional factors. It is normal for animosity to build — muddying the issue and fracturing relationships even further.
In this situation, the one clear directive of the court is to protect the child. “The courts will consider anything that’s in the best interests of the kids,” explains Paul Mazzeo, family lawyer and principal of Mazzeo Law.
If children enjoy a strong emotional bond with the grandparents, and if access will not endanger the child, or if the parent is acting arbitrarily and there is no strong reason to say that limiting grandparent access is in the child’s best interests, then Children’s Law Reform Amendment Act provides the court a legal basis to intervene.
The amendment also provides further legal guidance on what defines the situations when the law can be applied, and what constitutes as a positive and supportive relationship.
The Children’s Law Reform Amendment was implemented in December and brings Ontario in line with other provinces.
Contact us at any time:
Mazzeo Law Barristers & Solicitors
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Phone: (905) 851-5909
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BILOXI, Miss. — A former Mississippi Gulf Coast police officer is headed to prison for the death of her 3-year-old daughter, who was left in a patrol car while her mom had sex with a police supervisor.
The Sun Herald of Biloxi reports ex-Long Beach police officer Cassie Barker was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison in the 2016 death of Cheyenne Hyer. The 29-year-old pregnant woman pleaded guilty last month to manslaughter in a plea bargain after being indicted on a charge of second-degree murder.
On Sept. 30, 2016, Cheyenne was strapped in her car seat in the patrol car for four hours while Barker was with her then-supervisor. The car’s air condition was turned on, but it wasn’t blowing cold air. Cheyenne was unresponsive and had a temperature of 107 degrees when Barker returned.
Barker, who was working two jobs at the time, originally claimed she had been talking to Clark Ladner at his house early on a hot weekday morning when she fell asleep. Ladner and Barker were fired by the city of Long Beach within days. Ladner hasn’t been criminally charged, telling officials he didn’t know the girl was in the car. Reports at the time indicated Ladner told officials he had taken a sleep aid and also fallen asleep.
The mother had left her daughter alone in a car at least once before, at a store in nearby Gulfport in April 2015. Police responded and child welfare officials took temporary custody of the girl at the time. Barker was suspended from the Long Beach police for a week without pay.
BRUSSELS — EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier says that Britain’s exit from the European Union without a deal “becomes day after day more likely” after the U.K. parliament again rejected alternatives to the government’s unpopular divorce deal.
Despite the downbeat assessment, Barnier did say that “we can still hope to avoid it” through intensive work in London ahead of an April 10 summit. A no-deal Brexit could come as soon two days after that.
Despite the difficulties of a chaotic exit, “the EU will be able to manage,” Barnier said, although he warned that “not everything will be smooth.”
Exit without a deal would affect trade and travel overnight, with new checks on borders and new regulations on dealings between Britain and the 27 remaining EU nations.
The Associated Press
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HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Senate passed bills to raise taxes on hotel rooms, rental cars and marijuana sales ahead of Monday’s deadline to send revenue bills to the House, where they face an uncertain fate among Republican representatives who oppose tax hikes.
Senators and representatives closed a busy stretch of the 90-day session in which they spent hours hearing and voting on money bills that packed their agendas and would have died if they had not passed.
Besides the tax and marijuana measures, lawmakers kept alive bills dealing with prescription drug pricing, retaliation complaints against Child and Family Services, ongoing child support for children with disabilities and a long-running effort to expand the Montana Historical Society’s museum.
Here are some of the measures that made the cut:
The Senate passed a bill to raise money to renovate and add on to the Montana Historical Society museum and provide grants for other museums by increasing the tax on hotel rooms and campsites from 3% to 4%.
Republican Sen. Terry Gauthier said the bill would, over the next five years, raise $34 million for construction of the Montana Heritage Center near the Capitol, with out-of-state visitors paying about 80% of the tax. Some of the increased tax will go to grants for museums around the state.
Efforts to fund a new, larger history museum have been thwarted because lawmakers rejected plans to borrow money for the work while fundraising efforts struggled. The Montana Historical Society has said for years it needs additional space to display more of its vast collection.
RENTAL CAR TAX
The Senate passed a bill to increase the rental car sales tax from 4% to 6% of the base cost of the rental, which would bring an additional $2.8 million on average into the state’s checkbook in each of the next four years. Part of the tax funds a program that provides transportation services for senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
Republicans rejected Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s proposals to raise taxes on hotel rooms and rental cars during the November 2017 special session, which was called to address a projected $227 million budget shortfall.
Before the House passed a $10.3 billion spending plan last week, Republican Rep. Nancy Ballance noted the House Appropriations Committee decided not to raise taxes and said she hoped the Senate “holds up” the budget. The House in February passed a bill that would have required a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to increase any tax or fee, but it was tabled in the Senate Taxation Committee.
Senators also passed a bill to restore the tax on gross sales on medical marijuana to 4% to pay for needed regulation. The tax was initially set at 4% starting July 2017 and was reduced to 2% starting in July 2018.
The House passed a bill Monday requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to report prices for prescription drugs whose cost increased by more than 10% and for drugs that cost $100 or more for a one-month supply or a single course of treatment. The bill requires manufacturers to explain the factors that led to any price increase, the drug’s research and development costs and the names of any available generics.
DISABILITIES AND CHILD SUPPORT
The House passed a bill to extend the child support obligation when the custodial parent of a person with a disability must continue to be a caregiver after their child turns 19. Courts can order such support until the individual is no longer financially dependent on the custodial parent or is no longer considered to have a disability. The bill allows custodial parents of adult children with a disability to petition the court for a new support order with the judge taking into account the adult child’s eligibility for public benefits and services.
CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES
The House also passed a bill to allow a parent, family member or foster parent to submit a complaint to the ombudsman of the office of Child and Family Services for alleged retaliatory actions by the agency or its workers against people who complain about the system. It appropriates $167,000 over the next two years to pay for a staffer to investigate the complaints.
Amy Beth Hanson, The Associated Press
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ATLANTA — The parents of a 9-year-old girl who was seriously injured when a car careened across her front yard, hit her and then hit the house, hope the public can help identify the driver.
Security camera video shows LaDerihanna Holmes playing with a friend in the front yard of her house in Lithonia, about 20 miles (32 kilometres) east of Atlanta, when the driver hit a stop sign on a corner across the street, kept going across the girl’s front yard and hit her as she tried to get out of the way.
The girl’s parents were upstairs inside the house when the crash happened just before 7 p.m. Friday. Charlette Bolton, LaDerihanna’s mother, said in a phone interview Monday that the sound was deafening and it felt like an earthquake when the black sedan hit the house.
Bolton screamed for her daughter and ran down the stairs and out of the house, where she saw the girl lying on the ground appearing lifeless, she said. Bolton’s 12-year-old son and a man started doing CPR on LaDerihanna, and her mother felt a heartbeat.
The girl’s father, Derryl Holmes, picked up his daughter from the ground and drove her to the hospital, “keeping his hand on her heart to make sure she was breathing and that her heart was still beating,” Bolton said.
When Bolton arrived at the hospital a short time later, she learned that her daughter’s skull was fractured, her pelvic bone was broken in three places and the right valve of her heart was leaking blood, among other injuries. Doctors have been doing tests and X-rays to make sure that her spine is OK.
“She’s so tiny. She’s only 45 to 50 pounds,” Bolton said. “I just don’t know how she made it.”
A DeKalb County police report says an officer contacted the car’s owner, who said her boyfriend had the vehicle while she was at work. A police spokesman didn’t respond Monday to an email seeking more information.
L. Chris Stewart, a lawyer for the family, said police have said they have leads.
Despite the devastating injuries, LaDerihanna is in high spirits, talking and laughing, her mother said. She was set to be moved out of the intensive care unit into a regular room and to start physical therapy on Monday.
LaDerihanna is an avid cheerleader and tumbler who loves to do back flips. It may take a long time, along with physical therapy and frustration, but doctors have said it looks promising that she’ll be able to do those things again, Bolton said.
The family’s house has been badly damaged and the girl’s medical bills will likely be staggering, Stewart said. A GoFundMe account was started for her on Sunday to help pay for medical costs.
Bolton had a message for the driver and passenger who left the scene: “Y’all thought my baby was dead. Y’all didn’t look down at my baby one time, and I want you to turn yourselves in.”
Bolton wants the driver and anyone who might be helping shield him to be punished, she said. But more than anything, she’s grateful her daughter’s alive.
“I asked God to save my baby and he did,” she said. “I can take this long road. I couldn’t have handled planning a funeral.”
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