Existing Parenting Arrangements and the Impact of COVID-19

At the present time most Canadian’s are highly familiar with the concept of social distancing and self-isolation during the present COVID-19 crisis. One of the biggest current issues facing many parents within the family law context is how to deal with balancing the need to self-isolate and existing parenting arrangements and access time. Many parents are concerned that that they will not be able to see their children in person on the basis of COVID-19 and social distancing, which can lead to a frustrating and confusing situation for many. Our firm is here to assist in understanding exactly how to handle this current situation, and what actions may assist a party in ensuring that in person parenting time may continue despite the many changes that have been brought about due to COVID-19.

Social Isolation Not Familial Isolation  

At the present time the courts have firmly established that parenting time and social distancing are not mutually exclusive, and parties that are able to continue to exercise parenting time in a safe and healthy manner should continue to do so. What this importantly means is that where both parties are making active efforts to self-isolate, follow government health guidelines, and actively make efforts to limit the risk of COVID-19 spreading to both themselves and the children, then prior access arrangements should continue, as emphasized in the recent case of Ribeiro v Wright. However, where parties refuse to make efforts to protect children from COVID-19, such as in the recent case of Jackson v. Doyle, then the courts have determined that the suspension of in person access to children may occur. In that particular case, a father returned from vacation, failed to socially isolate, and then took the children from the mother’s care without her permission. The children became very ill soon after, and the courts found that the situation warranted the urgent return of the children to the mother. The key point here is that where both parents make efforts to protect the children from risk of COVID-19, then both parties will likely be able to continue to see the children as long as they can do so in a way that allows the children to remain safe.

At the present time our firm is working with both existing and potential new clients in regards to arranging for parenting time while allowing for parties to continue to engage in social distancing policies during COVID-19. Our work is currently allowing for parents to continue to engage in access to their children while allowing them to do so in a manner that is safe and sustainable in the current and ever changing environment 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 Family Lawyers and Toronto Custody Lawyers today for a telephone consultation related to your matters.

Written By:  Adam Jaffer, Articling Student at Separy Law PC