Obese Ottawa dad loses custody of kids

An Ottawa man says he can't regain custody of his two boys ages 5 and 6 because a family court deems him too heavy, even though at one point he lost 180 pounds.

Man weighed 525 pounds before losing 180 pounds, but he's still too heavy for court

Scales of justice

10 years ago
Duration 2:03
Ottawa dad wonders why his weight prevents the return of his two sons.

An Ottawa man says the court will not allow him to regain custody of his two sons because he is obese.

The man, 38, who can't be identified under the Child and Family Services Act, is currently in a custody battle with the Royal Ottawa Hospital’s family court clinic.

That clinic does court-ordered assessments on parents and can use obesity as a factor when deciding if they are fit to raise children.

The man is fighting to see his two boys ages 5 and 6 after they were seized from his ex-wife’s house last year. She was sent to hospital for treatment of a suspected overdose, he said.

Lost about 180 pounds

The man told CBC's The Current Tuesday he weighed 525 pounds at that time, but then lost about 180 pounds. He said he is still working hard to lose weight and is now 380 pounds.

"I haven't seen my youngest son since February of last year and I haven't seen my eldest son since September of last year," he said.

"I believe the weight was a determining factor in my custody case. They picked the one thing they could use as a quantitative number. I'm a fantastic father, I love my kids wholeheartedly."

The man said he was offered a gastric bypass surgery, paid for by taxpayers, which could have helped in his weight loss, but he refused.

"I wanted to do it on my own so I would respect the weight loss myself," he said.

The two boys remain under the protection of the Children's Aid Society.

'I almost ate myself to death'

The man said he understands their concerns if he was bed-ridden and unable to care for his children, but he said he is far from that. He also said he has stopped smoking marijuana.

He admitted he has become angry at children's welfare authorities for using his weight to keep the two boys under government supervision.

"I was in a terrible relationship and I ate and ate and ate. I was under so much stress; I almost ate myself to death. But that's not the case today," he said.

"I'm an able, intelligent adult that has a desire to take care of his kids. It is absolutely ridiculous that they're using my weight against me."