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.
Since it was passed on June 5, 2014, the Act respecting end-of-life care has been the subject of extensive media focus and much debate. In Québec, the courts were recently called upon to consider the constitutionality of certain articles set out in the Act. And in a ruling in February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a decision in a British Columbia case on the constitutionality of the prohibitions pertaining to physician-assisted death in the Criminal Code. In light of these developments, it is important to take stock of the distance covered thus far.
The new Code of Civil Procedure, which came into effect on January 1, 2016, undertakes a sweeping reform of the justice system and brings private and voluntary conflict resolution processes to the fore. In fact, the Code significantly amends the rules surrounding family mediation.
We are very pleased to announce that Me Yvan Biron has joined the PFD team. Me Biron has nearly 30 years' experience in environmental law, energy law and expropriation. Within the course of his practice, he has taken part in several major environmental authorization processes and led complex inspections and investigations. For the past few years, he has taught in the master's program of the Centre universitaire de formation en environnement et en développement durable at Université de Sherbrooke. Recognized by his peers, Me Biron is among the 2016 Best Lawyers in Canada in environmental law and was profiled in the 2014 Canadian Legal LEXPERT® Directory in the environmental field.
We are very pleased to announce that Me Alexandra Azab joined the firm in January. She specializes in business law and civil and commercial litigation and will practice at our offices in Town of Mount Royal. Me Azab holds a bachelor of laws from the University of Ottawa (2012) and graduated on the dean's honour list. She also earned a doctor of law in North American Common Law from Université de Montréal (2015). She was called to the Québec Bar in 2015 and will become a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2016.
We are very pleased to announce that Ms. Amélie Dupras, Mr. Shane Goldman and Mr. François-Alexandre Guay have successfully completed the Bar admission course at the École du Barreau. They joined PFD in Saint-Jérôme as articling students this year. We welcome them to the team!