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This article was published 10/3/2009 (4574 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TORONTO - An 18-year-old is trying to convince the courts he's the best person to care for his two younger brothers and wants his feuding parents to pay for the siblings' new life together.
But first a judge must decide if the Mississauga, Ont., teen even deserves a say in the custody case, and whether or not he is actually working as an agent for father, as his mother alleges.
The boy is being brainwashed by his father, who has conspired to pit his children against their mother in a custody battle that dates back to 1999, when the parents of the kids - now aged 18, 14 and 12 - separated, the mother alleges.
Names of the family members cannot be reported by order of the court.
The two younger siblings were placed in the custody of the Children's Aid Society late last year and were ordered to undergo a controversial form of therapy for children allegedly alienated from one parent by the other. They were later diagnosed as potentially suicidal.
The teen, who lives with his father, claims his voice has never been heard during the process and has filed an affidavit in court seeking status in the case and, ultimately, custody of his brothers.
A judge is expected to rule on that motion in late April.
"My brothers have ended up being committed in a hospital against their wishes, committed to live somewhere where they do not want to live, exposed to psychiatrists, who have attempted to carry out experimental therapy with them at the risk of severe harm to them," he states in the affidavit.
"And if their lawyer will not do anything to stop this, I believe I have the right as their brother to be as concerned about them as each of my parents."
His affidavit states the teen would like full custody of the boys while living with his father, or barring that, would find another place to live with his brothers. He said he would also ensure that both parents are allowed to visit their sons.
"I don't think this will be as complicated as everyone appears to believe," the teen submitted to court.
But the mother's lawyer, Marvin Kurz, has told court the teen is acting on behalf of his father's interests and is fighting against his involvement in the custody fight.
He also said some of the claims being made about being exposed to "experimental therapy" are overblown rhetoric.
He said the court-ordered counselling for alienated children, which some have called deprogramming, is not an extreme form of therapy as some of its detractors have made it out to be.
"There's no drugs involved, no restraints involved, despite all the rhetoric involved it's more like taking a kid to summer school," he said in an interview.
"When kids are so alienated that their minds are closed and they think they know everything (it helps) to make them recognize that there are two sides to every story and the notion being that ultimately when you know that, you're able to make up your own mind."
He said the kids never even underwent the therapy so complaints of being forced to endure it aren't accurate.
"They got there and they weren't willing or ready to do that - no armed guards held them down, nobody put (truth serum) in their arms.
"They said, 'Look, if you're not ready to do this we're not going to bother."'
In an affidavit filed in court by the teen's mother, she said he is not fit to act as a parent and said he should be living his own life and going to school.
"There is no air of reality to the notion that (he) can independently plan for his siblings at this time," the affidavit states.
"That is no criticism of him. As an 18-year-old who has been through so much, he should not be expected to take on a parental role."
But the teenager says he hasn't given up on furthering his education and has simply put it on hold.
"I am choosing right now to work part-time, I am choosing right now not to continue with my schooling. I am not the only 18-year-old who has decided to take a year off before considering other options," he wrote in his affidavit.
"My concerns are not as to who is right or wrong between my parents, but how to bring back some sanity to our family, which I believe I can do in my own right."