Court quashes dad's grounding of 12-year-old daughter
A father plans to appeal after a Quebec court ruled that he didn't have the right to punish his 12-year-old daughter by barring her from a school trip.
Quebec Superior Court Judge Suzanne Tessier ruled Friday that the girl should be allowed to attend the three-day trip within Quebec this week.
The girl's parents are divorced, and after she had an alleged row with her stepmother, her father barred her from going on a school trip to mark the class's graduation from elementary school, the newspaper reported.
"When he said, 'OK, it's final. You're not going,' she smacked the door, left and went to live with her mother," the father's lawyer, Kim Beaudoin, told CBC News.
Last Wednesday, the father received a motion petitioning the court to overturn the punishment.
'This will only lead to more poor behaviour and will encourage other children who do not like their parents to do the same thing.'
Two days later, the judge ruled the punishment was too severe because the girl had already been sufficiently disciplined, Beaudoin said.
Beaudoin said the judge also said there was no reason for the punishment to stand, since the girl was now living with her mother, even though the father has custody.
Beaudoin said the father, who has four children, was "devastated," especially since the ruling came days before Father's Day.
Court has role: lawyer
But the judge's decision was not just a case of a child going to court to get out of trouble, said Miriam Grassby, a Quebec family lawyer who has spoken with the various attorneys involved.
Under Quebec family law, it is not uncommon for a child in a high-conflict situation between two parents to have an attorney appointed to protect his or her best interests, as was the case here, Grassby said.
"In Quebec, no matter who has custody, we have joint parental authority," Grassby told CBC News on Thursday. "There are issues of discipline where both parents have to agree, and if they don't, we will have a place" to resolve the issue in court.
The attorney representing the child had been chosen and agreed to by both parents, she noted.
"The court is there to be an objective third party, and these children who are in these high-conflict situations need the protection of the court," Grassby said.
"I think we could presume the judge had good judgment in the fact that she read the statements and found out what both parents were saying, and that the child was punished at least once for that, and this was excessive punishment."
While Beaudoin said the case is a first for her, she doubts it will trigger a flood of similar claims.
"Usually children have lots of respect for their parents and they wouldn't go there," said Beaudoin.
She said the judge stressed that the case was an exception.
"But for a field trip, I'm thinking this is a big exception," she said.
With files from the Canadian Press