Family

Child-abduction cases can drag on for months, years

By Kirsten McMahon, AdvocateDaily.com Managing Editor

In order to curb delays in child-abduction cases, Toronto family lawyer Michael Stangarone tells The Globe and Mail these matters should be consistently flagged and expedited in family courts.

Stangarone makes his comments in connection with a Globe special report on international child abductions.

“Time is of the essence in international child-abduction cases. The Hague Convention recommends they be dealt with within six weeks; applications made in Canada in 2015 were resolved, on average, in 129 days — roughly 12 weeks over target,” the article states.

“A list of proposals presented to the government 20 years ago, aimed at expediting these cases, seems to have fallen through the cracks. The process remains riddled by delays and a reluctance on the part of the government to pull out all diplomatic stops when the course of justice is being perverted. These failures can prove catastrophic,” it continues.

Stangarone, partner with MacDonald & Partners LLP, has handled many child-abduction cases including international ones, and tells the Globe it can take a month or longer to have a motion heard in an Ontario court and has watched cases that should be settled in one sitting turn into multi-day trials.

Delays in foreign courts are trickier, he says.

The Hague Convention compels member states to provide an explanation for proceedings that extend beyond six weeks, but as cases drag on weeks, months or years, Stangarone says the Canadian government has a responsibility to work its diplomatic channels.

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