Judge offers harsh criticism to mother for name change
A Sydney judge has ruled that a Cape Breton mother’s conduct was “devious, manipulative and indefensible” in changing her young’s son last name without his father’s permission.
Justice Theresa Forgeron, of the Supreme Court Family Division, said the Sydney mother arranged to forge the signature of the child’s father on the application to change the name.
“In summary, the mother knew that the father would not consent to changing the child’s surname. The mother therefore took matters into her own hands and sent a forged document to Vital Statistics,” said Forgeron, in a decision released this week.
“The mother was strategic and manipulative throughout. The father’s signature on the consent is forged,” said the judge.
The Cape Breton Post will not identify the parties involved by name in a bid to protect the identity of the eight-year-old child.
The Vital Statistics division of Service Nova Scotia is responsible for registration of all vital events of birth, death, marriage, stillbirth and domestic partnership occurring in Nova Scotia.
Forgeron stopped short of determining it was the mother who forged the signature. The judge said only that the mother arranged to have the signature forged.
According to the decision, when the child was born, he was registered with the surname of his biological father.
Two months after his birth, the mother began a new relationship with another man that she has since married.
Forgeron ruled that the mother changed the son’s name in 2012 in order to elevate her husband’s status as the boy’s father.
In testimony before the court, the biological father said he would never have agreed to have his name removed from his son and that the move was an attempt to undermine his position as the boy’s father.
In filing the application for the name change, the mother also included a witness signature claiming the individual saw the father sign the consent.
However, in court testimony, the witness categorically denied watching the father sign the application. Further, the witness said she never even met the father prior to testifying in court.
The mother testified the witness is incorrect and confused.
Forgeron said the mother was not truthful in her court testimony and not credible.
In referring to a number of legal cases in her decision, Forgeron cited that a surname is evidence of the biological tie between a child and parent and affirms meaningful participation in a child’s life. Further, she said, a surname is a symbol of filiation.
In a reaching a decision, Forgeron ordered the child is to have a hyphenated surname featuring the names of his stepfather (first) and his biological father (last).
The judge also ordered the mother pay the father $1,000 in court costs.