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FEATURE ARTICLE

Can a judge prohibit a parent from consuming alcohol - even if the child is not in his care ?

In Ontario, the Children's Law Reform Act allows a judge to make orders that would be in a child's best interest such as "prohibiting a party or other person from engaging in specified conduct in the presence of the child or at any time when the person is responsible for the care of the child."

But in the Quebec case of D.V. v. E.W. [2013] Q.J. No. 15783, the Quebec Court of Appeal was faced with an appeal from a judgment which ordered the father to abstain from consuming alcohol at all times and to attend Alcoholics Anonymous. The father argued that "ordering him to abstain from drinking alcohol constituted a disproportionate constraint on his freedom to conduct his life as he saw fit in the absence of his children, whom he only saw a few days per month". He argued that this order amounted to "an undue restriction on his freedom that was not justified by the children's best interest."

At trial, the mother presented evidence of the father's history of alcohol dependency and that his license had been suspended for impaired driving. She felt that the father's consumption of alcohol...


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