Mobility During a Pandemic?
Mobility or the ability to move with a child or the relocation of children to new households or locations during COVID-19 is a serious legal issue, which can create a situation of extreme gravity and importance during the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. While in ideal circumstances, children would be able to remain at their current locations until the end of the current global crisis, for many families this is simply not an option, due to circumstances beyond their control. The genuine question that emerges from this scenario is how can parents navigate the issues of mobility and relocation in a climate that actively demands that families avoid non-essential travel and leaving the home? Our law firm is here to help.
Mobility, Relocation and Urgency
In a joint custody scenario (meaning where both parents make decisions related to the child’s welfare together and jointly) a separated parent most often cannot relocate with a child of the relationship without the written consent of the other. This often creates a scenario that is ripe for tension, which is only exacerbated by the current pandemic. Within this context the courts have specifically been dealing with matters related to mobility and relocation where the nature of circumstances makes the issue pressing or urgent. In the context of a global crisis, the court’s specifically require a strong reason and basis as to why children would need to relocate at a time when non-essential travel is prohibited, and have demonstrated a clear reluctance to allow such mobility unless under specific circumstances. The recent case of Smith v. Sieger ONSC 1681 involved parents with joint custody of a child. The Applicant had originally consented to the child living in Utah for education purposes, but brought an urgent motion for the return of the child in response to the announcement of the planned closure of the Canada / U.S Boarder. The court in this case determined the issue in accordance with the best interests of the Child, and immediately ordered provision of consents by both parties to remove the child from Utah and return him to Canada. Challengingly, most mobility disputes between parties do not provide for such an obvious and necessary course of action, and the vast majority of mobility disputes will fail to meet the basis of pressing or urgent matters, which is required to allow parties to have rapid court intervention. As a result, the vast majority of cases related to disagreements involving mobility or the relocation of a child will require more intricate and finessed solutions, such as direct and ongoing negotiations between counsel.
At the present time, our firm is working with both existing and potential new clients to ensure that parents who must relocate their children are able to do so within the current climate, in a way that is safe, practical, and in accordance with the law, while also actively defending the rights of parents who wish to have their children remain in place, in order to ensure their best interests and safety in light of ongoing health concerns and an uncertain future. Our work is currently allowing for parents to relocate their children in a way that is both justifiable and feasible 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 mobility or relocation disputes. Please call one of our Child Custody Lawyers Toronto for a consultation related to your matters.
Smith v Sieger 2020 ONSC 1681 – FC-06-24514-00
Written by Adam Jaffer, Articling Student at Separy Law PC.