Dear Mrs Macaulay,
My husband and I are very interested in migrating to Canada. I had my daughter before I met my husband. She is now two years old; however, her biological father was hardly supporting her after her birth until he stopped when she was about 10 months old, even though we went to Family Court and he was ordered to pay for her maintenance. He still called to ask me about my personal life and hardly ever asked about our daughter. I got fed up with his behaviour and started to ignore his calls until that phone eventually stopped working and I lost most contact numbers, including his.
I haven't spoken to him in almost a year, but in my reading I found out that in order for me to leave Jamaica with her I would have to get a letter of consent from her biological father. Is this true? If it is, and if he refuses to give consent for me to leave with her, what are my options?
In order to ensure that you can take your daughter with you if and when you and your husband apply to migrate to Canada, you should apply for sole custody and care and control of your child. I suggest that you get an attorney-at-law to assist you with the application to ensure that you obtain your order as quickly as possible. It can be done in both the Supreme Court and the Family Court, but the process is likely to be completed more quickly in the Family Court.
Your attorney should ensure that your affidavit in support contains all the information necessary for your application to be granted without numerous adjournments. Make sure that you have a certified copy of your daughter's birth certificate when you go to the lawyer or go to the court for their assistance to file your application.
If you do not know where to find the biological father, then you will also have to apply for an order for substituted service by way of an advertisement in one of our daily newspapers on the number of days as ordered. The advertisement's pages must be kept with their name and dates at the top, with a notice filed in the court for use to prove service on the date of the hearing. In this way, your application can be heard on that date of hearing, completed, and the order made. All you will have to do after that is go to the court office to collect certified copies. You can personally request or have your lawyer ask for three such copies, as you should always have one in your possession, and you will have to submit one to the Canadian immigration office and keep one for any other official use.
With this order, you do not need to get the father's consent when you have sole custody of your child, because you then have the legal right to solely make all decisions about your child's life, her development, welfare, and where she lives that life.
I hope that I have assisted you with my answer. You must try to act on this as soon as you can so that your application can be filed and completed, enabling you to have the court-certified order in your hands. This will prove that you have the sole custody, care and control of your daughter.
Good luck and best wishes for a truly happy family life with your husband and daughter.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.