F. v. N.
(Ontario) (Civil) (By Leave)
(Publication ban in case) (Publication ban on party)
Family law - Custody, Parental authority, Courts, Jurisdiction - Family law — Custody — Parental authority — Courts — Jurisdiction — Mother leaving non-Hague Convention country with children without father’s consent and retaining them in Ontario — Did the majority of the Court of Appeal err by affirming the trial judge’s decision to decline jurisdiction pursuant to s. 23 of the CLRA? — What factors and to what extent should the “best interests of the child” principle inform a s. 23 analysis in determining the risk of serious harm? — Did the majority of the Court of Appeal err by affirming the trial judge’s decision to return the children to the UAE pursuant to s. 40 of the CLRA? — How and to what extent should the “best interests of the child” principle inform the exercise of judicial discretion and available remedies under s. 40 of the CLRA?
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(PUBLICATION BAN IN CASE)
The appellant and her former husband, the respondent, were married in Pakistan in 2012. They have two children under the age of five who are both Canadian citizens, as is the mother. The father is a Pakistani citizen. The parties resided in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) during the entire course of their marriage under a series of temporary residence visas directly linked to the father’s employment there. The mother and children were issued visas as dependents of the father, who had discretion over the renewal process. The mother advised the father shortly after arriving in Canada with the children in June 2020 to visit with her family that she would not be returning to Dubai with the children.
The father initiated proceedings for divorce in Dubai, and brought an application under s. 40 of the CLRA for an order requiring the children to be returned to Dubai to have the matters of custody and access decided there, as the children’s habitual residence. The UAE is not a signatory country to the Hague Convention. The father obtained a divorce from the court in Dubai and was also granted custody and guardianship of the children. The mother did not participate in the proceedings in Dubai. The mother asked the Ontario court to assume jurisdiction in this case under ss. 22 or 23 of the CLRA to decide the parenting issues.
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