Health Guidelines, Child Safety and Parenting Rights
Our Toronto Custody Lawyers are getting many questions these days about the COVID-19 pandemic and the health guidelines they should follow during their parenting time with their children. Parties frequently have differing views in regards to the best way to parent a child after the breakdown of a relationship. Quite often differences in perspectives on parenting can exist without issue, where parties are free to choose distinct styles of parenting, which can both effectively work with a child. However, most recently the courts have clearly demonstrated that there is little room for variation when it comes to parents actively following the provincial and Health Canada guidelines in relation to the care of a child during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The Suspension of Access By Ignoring Health Guidelines
The recent case of Balbontin v Luwawa 2020 ONSC 1996 serves as a direct example of the high level of emphasis Ontario courts are placing on the following of provincial health and safety guidelines by parents during COVID-19. In this case, a mother with primary residence of a child, had for over a month requested that the father follow health guidelines, including not taking the child to public parks, practicing social distancing, and having the child use a facemask and gloves whenever leaving the home. Over the course of the month, the father continued to refuse her requests and failed to inform her of where he was taking the child during access. This would include actively taking the child to public parks against the wishes of the mother. When the mother directly provided latex gloves, sanitizer and masks for the chid, the father refused to actively use them. In response, the mother would bring an urgent motion for the suspension of the father’s access, which was granted by Justice Jarvis, on the basis that the father actively refused to work with the mother in order to ensure the safety of the child. Justice Jarvis emphasized that a parent must be able to communicate flexibly with the other parent in a way that guarantees the safety and wellbeing of a child at all times, with additional emphasis and care required by all parents during the current COVID-19 crisis.
At the present time, our firm is working with both existing and potential new clients to ensure that parties are able to flexibly navigate their parenting arrangements, while also protecting the rights of parents who have concerns related to the specific precautions or safety measures being taken by their separated spouses or partners. Our work is currently allowing for parents to continue exercising parenting time with their children in a way that is both safe and viable in the current and ever changing situation that we all face as a result of the spread of COVID-19. Our firm is here to assist you in regards to all of your needs, and can assist you in any negotiations you may need to resolve within your child custody and access disputes. Please call one of our Toronto Custody Lawyers and Toronto Family Lawyers today for a telephone consultation related to your matters.
Balbontin v Luwawa 2020 ONSC 1996
Written by Adam Jaffer, Articling Student at Separy Law PC.