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Custody/Access: The “Unlawful” Status Quo

An interesting new Ontario Court of Appeal decision, AM v JM 2016 ONCA 644 highlights the difficulties access parents encounter when faced with a status quo parenting arrangement.  A status quo parenting arrangement is the primary and ongoing parenting arrangement that is being implemented by separated parents for the purposes of sharing time with their children.  Obtaining and/or maintaining the status quo is often the subject of many high conflict custody/access battles, as once the status quo is established it is difficult to be varied where the children are happy and thriving.

In this case, the trial judge found that the father had obtained the status quo unlawfully by failing to disclose relevant information at an ex parte motion.  The trial judge awarded custody of the children to the mother.  The decision was eventually overturned at the Ontario Court of Appeal.  However, by the time the decision was made the children had already been residing primarily with the mother for nine months.  This established a status quo that was not varied.

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