Friday, July 10, 2009

Olympic medalist Laumann loses bid to move her children to London, Ont.

Silken Laumann

Silken Laumann

Photograph by: ., Vancouver Sun files

Three-time Olympic medalist Silken Laumann lost a bid in B.C. Supreme Court last month to move her two children from Victoria to London, Ont.

In a decision posted online on Monday, Justice Paul Pearlman ruled that the move would not be in the best interests of Laumann’s two children, ages nine and 12.

Laumann and the children’s father, Olympic gold-medalist rower John Wallace, live in Victoria and share joint custody of their children. According to Pearlman’s judgment, they were married in 1993, but separated in 2002. They divorced in 2005 after Wallace fathered a daughter with the nanny of one of their children.

The judge said since the divorce Laumann has had three serious romantic relationships. In 2007, she met David Patchell-Evans, who operates GoodLife Fitness, a London-based company employing 8,000 workers. The judge noted Patchell-Evans is “a man of considerable wealth. He owns a large home, farm acreage, and recreational property.”

Laumann and Patchell-Evans were recently engaged and had plans to marry next summer. Laumann asked the court for permission to move the children to London, Ont. to start a blended family with Patchell-Evans and his two children.

Patchell-Evans had offered Laumann a three-year contract with his company, paying $100,000 per year. The judge noted he was also prepared to offer Laumann’s ex-husband a job at one point.

Patchell-Evans told the court he was willing to sign a pre-nuptial agreement guaranteeing to pay for Laumann’s children to attend private school in London at least until the end of Grade 8, even if they broke up. He and Laumann also offered to pay for monthly flights so Wallace could visit his children in London.

Wallace told the court he would not be willing to relocate to London, and likely would not be able to fly out regularly because of work.

Laumann told the court that if it she was not allowed to move the children to London, she would stay in Victoria and “continue her relationship with Mr. Patchell-Evans as best she could.” She said she would reconsider her plans to marry if she lost the case.

In his decision, Pearlman noted “there is no easy answer.”

“What the children will lose if they move to Ontario is constant contact with a dedicated father who until now has had joint custody with Ms. Laumann and with whom they have spent about 40 per cent of their time,” he said in his decision.

Pearlman ruled it would not be in the best interests of the children to move with Laumann to London.

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