Is it Legal for a Parent to Hide the Birth of a Child From the Other Parent?

Ontario Family Court Judges generally have a very dim impression of parents, mothers or fathers, who deny their children the opportunity to have a relationship with both parents. Section 16(10) of the Divorce Act requires that judges give children of married parents the maximum possible contact with each parent that is consistent with the child’s best interestsSection 20(1) of Ontario’s Children’s Law Reform Act Section 20(4) of the Children’s Law Reform Act says that, until decided otherwise, parents are equally entitled to custody of a child. A significant exception to this is when one parent leaves the child in the care of another parent at separation. say that by doing so the leaving parent gives the other parent temporary full custody of the children. This section may not apply in a situation where the separation occurred prior to the child’s birth and the leaving parent was never given the opportunity to leave the child.

Even for very young children, especially infants, current research says that frequent contact with both parents is ideal to allow the children to form a relationship with both parents. Current social science research also shows that it is important for children to develop attachment to both parents. Young age is not necessarily a reason why a child should not be spending overnights with both parents, but what is most important is frequent contact with both parents and having both parents actively involved in caring for the child, not just visiting.

One parent refusing to allow the other parent to have any contact with a young child is a situation where it is possible to get an emergency family court order. This is unfortunate because there is also good scientific research that exposing children to parental conflict can cause children to suffer brain damage. Those effects can be long-lasting and serious. To avoid that damage parents should first try parenting mediation, with a parenting professional, before going to court. The parenting professional can help the parents understand the children’s needs and help them work out a parenting plan that best suits the child’s needs at each stage of development. If the other parent will never agree to mediation, it is still important to propose it because judges get angry at parents who refuse to try to work out things for the kids without a fight.

But, if a parent is denying a child the opportunity to have a relationship with both parents, it is time to go to Court.

You can learn more about the family court process, how to start a family court proceeding, and what to do at each step by listening to the Ontario Family Law Podcast episodes on the Family Court process and the video below.

John Schuman Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law book cover

You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of parenting cases (parenting time and decision making), child support, spousal support, property division, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback. But to understand how the law works precisely in your situation, it is always best to speak to a good Family Law Lawyer.

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