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Sanctions for Hostile-Aggressive Parenting
- Symptoms of HAP

- Underlying causes of HAP

- Observable effects from
  exposure to HAP

- Severe HAP

- Addressing & dealing with HAP

- Role of the community

- Sanctions for HAP

- How to help

- HAP documentation (PDF)
Generally, it is recommend that the first level of such sanctions be an adjustment of the child’s parenting time to lesson the amount of time the child is being exposed to the behaviour of the parent who has been identified as being hostile-aggressive. Being exposed to the influence of a hostile-aggressive parent is not healthy for the child and so the child’s exposure to this negative influence must be lessened whenever circumstances permit. Lessening the amount of time that the child spends with the hostile-aggressive parent will also provide relief to the child and reassurance that the hostile-aggressive parent’s behaviour is wrong and will not be tolerated by others, especially the authorities.

Seldom will any parent want to have their parenting time significantly reduced, especially if it is to be less than the other parent’s time. Often, when faced with the choice of either improving their parenting behaviours or losing time, even the most hostile of parents will modify their behaviour powerful motivator to better parenting and must be used liberally where the other parent is capable of caring for the child a greater period of the time.

Where parents live close enough to each other to accommodate the child at the same school, parenting time should be moved to a 50% equal time share providing the HAP parent is not exhibiting too many of the behaviours considered in the “severe” category in which case, the HAP parent’s time may have to be reduced to less than 50%. Equal parenting time maintains equality and fairness between parents and for the child which will help to reduce conflict and also give the child a more time away from the HAP parent.

If simply reducing time with the hostile-aggressive parent does not serve to improve the situation then the hostile parent should be ordered to undergo psychological testing, cooperative parenting courses and if anger is a problem, anger management courses. Ordering the parent to provide community work or to make a financial contribution to a worthy cause in the community can also serve as an effective sanction as well as a positive motivator to change their behaviour.

If the simple sanctions listed above do not serve to bring about more reasonable parenting attitude/behaviours, then mental health problems should be suspected and the hostile-aggressive parent’s time with the child further reduced as part of a strategy to protect the child from further emotional harm. An analysis of the HAP behaviours listed in this document as well as the additional risk indicators should give some guidance as to parenting abilities of the parents. Parent’s who exhibit behaviours that fall into the category of “severe” may have mental heath problems and should be diagnosed by a competent mental health professional.

Circumstances which warrant removal of the custodial rights (sole or joint custody) and responsibilities of the primary guardianship of a Hostile-Aggressive Parent.

The rights of the child to have the equal protection and enjoyment of both parents must be regarded as one of the fundamental rights of the child. Parental rights and responsibilities automatically flow when the child’s rights are protected by the parents. Treating a child’s care and protection by both of his/her parents as a fundamental right requires the presumption of joint legal custody by both parents in reasonable situations. The right of a child to be raised and protected by two parents is fundamental and falls within the security interest of the child and under the equal protection of the law as defined under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

However, parental rights are neither absolute nor are they unlimited. Parental rights are not absolute in a sense in that they may be overridden by other considerations such as the presence of HAP behaviours shown to be harmful to the child. In a sense, parental rights are fiduciary rights in that the parent must exercise their parental rights and responsibilities in the best interest of the child.

In some cases, the parental rights and responsibilities of an HAP parent may have to be taken away completely and given conditionally on an interim or permanent basis to the parent who is identified as being the friendly or non HAP parent. The rights and responsibilities of the HAP parent must be taken away in situations where clear and convincing evidence exists to suggest that continued sole or joint legal custody of the child by the HAP parent may be harmful to the child or where the HAP parent is not fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to parent the child in a manner that is consistent to the child’s best interest. In situations where HAP is a serious problem between parents, it is important that the child be placed in an environment where the child is as free from the influence of HAP parenting as much as possible. Under such circumstances, the HAP parent would be considered as being an unfit parent and unable to carry out his/her fiduciary responsibilities to the child. In some cases where both parents may be considered as being unfit, custody of the child may have to be taken from both parents and given to other family members or to a child protection agency should extended family members not be able to provide interim care for the child.

The sole custodial rights and responsibilities of a parent or the primary guardianship of a parent should be removed on a conditional and limited basis when reasonable and probable evidence would support the following to be true:

  • The HAP parent has coached, attempted to coach or has used threats, intimidation or terror to make the child to provide false or misleading information to authorities.

  • The HAP parent has physically harmed the child or has failed to take adequate steps to protect the child from being physically abused by others while under his/her care.

  • The HAP parent has brazenly denied the other parent’s access to the child in violation to a valid court Order or signed agreement.

  • The HAP parent has threatened the child with the use of physical force beyond that considered reasonable as parental discipline.

  • The HAP parent has threatened or is planning to kidnap or to take the child out of the country, province or state against the reasonable wishes of the other parent or against the reasonable wishes of the child.

  • Reasonable evidence would indicate that the HAP parent may be preparing to relocate the child without the consent of the other parent and without evaluating all of the factors that would be considered in the best interest of the child

  • The child is showing the early signs of parental alienation syndrome.
  • The child has inflicting injuries upon himself/herself or has attempted injury to himself/herself and the influence of the HAP parents is suspected to be the cause of the child’s self destructive behaviour.

  • The child is expressing a fear for his/her physical or emotional safety while in the care of the HAP parent.

  • The HAP parent has exposed the child to dangerous or highly undesirable environment such as drugs, alcohol, criminal activity or domestic violence in the home and the potential exists for this environment to continue.

  • The child is expressing a strong desire to not live under the primary control of a parent and where reasonable evidence would suggest that the parent who the child does not want to live under the control of is engaging in HAP behaviours and/or other poor parenting practices and other forms of child maltreatment.

  • The child is expressing a strong desire to live with the parent considered to be the non HAP parent and current reasonable evidence would support this to be in the child’s best interest.