October 2010 Law Column
Etienne Ruel, lawyer
In a recent case, the Honourable Yvan Godin, S.C.J., had to rule on a petition filed by a 14-year-old seeking to modify his parents’ custody agreement. The teenager asked to be placed in the sole custody of his mother instead of the shared custody he had been in for the past three years.
The teenager’s mother chose not to petition the Court for sole custody in order to avoid allegations of parental alienation, and the child therefore testified in court and requested the change himself.
The law and caselaw stipulate that a minor must be represented by his/her guardian when exercising his/her access rights. Only in exceptional cases are minors authorized to seek remedy themselves.
The Court interviewed the teenager and concluded that he possessed a certain intellectual maturity, clearly understood the consequences of his legal action and demonstrated the ability to make his own decisions, since he had met with his lawyer four times and consistently expressed his wish to modify the agreement.
In light of the evidence that was presented and the singular nature of the case, the Court authorized the teenager to seek recourse himself to assert his rights and ask that custody be awarded to his mother. The Court was of the opinion that it was in the teenager’s interest to allow him to seek recourse, seeing as he was directly impacted by the custody agreement.
The decision was certainly an exceptional one. We are convinced, however, that it will become a judicial precedent for all family law practitioners who, to ensure that their clients are not falsely accused of urging their children to live with them, will now recommend that minors initiate proceedings to realize their interests.
Particular attention should be paid to transactions between family members and those involving a company and its controlling shareholders since certain tax mechanisms could lead to negative consequences for these taxpayers.
Unfortunately, insults and defamation have been running rampant in recent years, especially in light of the sense of impunity of certain online contributors who hide behind anonymity or an online persona to slander and discredit their victims.
In January, the Conservative government amended the family support program by increasing the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) and abolishing the child tax credit for children under the age of 18. The UCCB now provides $160 per month per child under the age of six and $60 per month per child between the ages of 6 and 18. However, since the UCCB is a taxable benefit (except for families that earn less than $20 000 annually), much of the amount will be paid back as income tax.
September 13, 2015
On Sunday, September 13th, the PFD team took part in the 16th edition of the Vélo à notre santé fundraising activity to benefit the Fondation de l'Hôpital régional de Saint-Jérôme.
From September 25 to 27, PFD's municipal and environmental law group will be at the Salon des affaires municipales and take part in the annual convention of the Fédération québécoise des municipalités.
On May 1st, André Morin, Étienne-Louis Morin, Jean-Philippe Desabrais and I attended the gala held by the Regroupement des gens d'affaires de Boisbriand (RGAB). We are proud to announce that Prévost Fortin d'Aoust earned the Création ou maintien d'emploi sur le territoire de la ville de Boisbriand award in recognition of the firm's efforts to create and maintain employment in Boisbriand. An honourable mention went to our fourth-floor neighbour Univesta, which was the runner-up in the category.