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How a parent might lose parental authority


Divorce lawyer, Family law, Tax litigation

Susan from Laval asked us the following:

My son’s father has not seen him in the last five years and my son is now 7 years old. My ex has, of his own accord, decided not to be involved in our son’s life. Seeing his non-implication in our son’s life, I have not been able to travel out of the country or obtain a passport for my son. What are my options to be able to make these decisions alone, without the father’s approval?

The Civil Code of Quebec provides, in article 606 the following: 

“The court may, for a grave reason and in the interest of the child, on the application of any interested person, declare the father, the mother or either of them, or a third person on whom parental authority may have been conferred, to be deprived of such authority.
Where such a measure is not required by the situation but action is nevertheless necessary, the court may declare, instead, the withdrawal of an attribute of parental authority or of its exercise. A direct application for withdrawal may also be made to the court.”

One of the serious reasons that have been established by the Courts is due to the abandonment of the child.

The mere absence of a parent over a long period of time cannot, by itself, constitute grounds for depriving the parent of his or her parental authority. In order for the court to remove a parent’s parental authority, this absence must be voluntary and the facts must demonstrate that there is a complete abandonment of and disinterest in the child. For example, the parent does not visit with the child, nor communicate verbally or in writing with the child.

In general, the period of abandonment must be usually 5 years or more. A parent can also lose their parental authority for other motives including: physical abuse of the child; alcoholism; endangering the child's life; etc.

The Court will take into account, in particular, the personal facts of the parent, his personality, his efforts to maintain a relationship with his child and the events that prevented him from seeing his child.

Therefore, if you are wondering whether you can make such an application or if it is too early to do so, it would be to your advantage to consult a lawyer to have your situation assessed in order to make the right decisions for your child.

Gianina Fuschini, Attorney-at-Law
Alepin Gauthier Avocats inc.

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