COVID-19 triggers a flood of court decisions due to alienated parents arguing if someone puts children at risk of infection | Instant News

The court temporarily canceled access rights for some, but said strong evidence of the risk of infection was needed and allowed health workers to look after their children

This is called nesting, and is a refreshing constructive solution for divided families. Children live full time in their homes, while separated parents take turns living with them.

But on March 31st, an Ontario judge’s orders that a Ottawa mother who was compromised by immunity was given exclusively to her marital residence, citing the increased risk of COVID-19 and the alleged father’s arrogant approach to social distance.

Parents actually have shared the house since the lockdown began. But the father “leaves the house constantly and returns without advising where he went or not washing his hands when he returns,” Judge Adriana Doyle temporarily threw him out.

The ruling is part of an extraordinary new branch of Canadian family law, a flood of novel disputes about child custody and access released by the coronavirus pandemic.

The opposite court, mostly closed, has issued dozens of decisions because mothers and fathers tried to terminate their former partner’s access during their home stay because they were worried that children might become infected.

Parents are of the opinion that another caregiver is a health care professional, not keeping enough isolated or traveling with children without the need. The result is a unique and growing case legal entity.

In difficult and confusing times, children need love, guidance, and emotional support from both parents, now more than ever

“This is a brave new era for family law lawyers and parents,” said Russ Alexander, a Toronto lawyer. “Dealing with the problem of separation and difficult access at any time. Difficulty increases during a pandemic. Everyone is overloaded by the news cycle. Our health protocols evolve and change every day, sometimes every hour. “

Sam Rollans, a Edmonton family law practitioner, said each of the eight lawyers he worked with had two or three cases in which parents had or threatened to withhold access because of COVID-19. One of his files was the first to produce a coronavirus ruling in Alberta.

“New decisions about childcare, child access and childcare time are fast and furious,” Vancouver lawyer Lorne MacLean said in a statement. the latest blog post.

“This is uncharted territory for our court system,” noted the Ontario ruling.

The judge has restricted some parents’ access to their children, while in other cases there is no good reason to change the visit or detention ordered by the court, including when one guardian is a nurse or doctor.

The dispute underlines a few exceptions to the isolation protocol of living at home in Canada: children from fragmented families who move back and forth between houses.

But the judges have so far insisted that previous orders governing joint custody or access rights must be obeyed unless there is a compelling reason to fear COVID-19 contamination.

Dealing with problems of separation and difficult access at any time

“The overall policy that children should not leave their primary place of residence – even visit their other parents – is not in accordance with … the best interests of the child,” said Judge Alex Pazaratz Hamilton, Ontario, in rejecting a mother’s request to stop her husband’s access to children. He suspected he was not enough to maintain social distance.

“In difficult and confusing times, children need love, guidance, and emotional support from both parents, now more than ever.”

That approach has extended to situations where one parent works in health care.

A father in Kitchener, Ontario, requested that his children, aged six and seven, live with him during the pandemic because their mother was a nurse at a local hospital. One of the children, the mother said, told her “nurses and doctors are dying mothers. Your mask is not working. You will make us sick and we can die. “

But a judge rejected the man’s motion, saying that while the mother might be at high risk, she was trained to deal with it.

The court in SM took the same position when a father in the province asked to keep his children away from their mother, a nurse who had helped care for COVID-19 patients. The woman “is fulfilling a fundamentally important role as a health worker at this critical time,” The judge noted.

The situation can be complicated, children moving between homes with mixed families, interacting with stepbrothers who do the same thing, said Alexander.

Asked about real violations of social distance, Dr. Vinita Dubey, a Toronto partner health worker, said joint care during COVID-19 presented “a unique challenge.”

But instead of recommending stopping the transfer of children between homes, the public health office suggests parents take strict hygiene preventive measures such as cleaning the touched surface, and staying at least two meters away when handing over children, he said in a statement.

However, in some situations, the court temporarily stopped the movement.

One case in Quebec involved parents who tested positive for COVID-19 and temporarily had no access to children, said Awatif Lakhdar, a Montreal family law specialist.

We must find a kind of balance “between children’s fears and the best interests of children, he said, adding that the court had largely succeeded in doing so.

When a father brought his children from Toronto to a house in Whistler, BC, in early April – after telling his ex-wife they would live in the city and use two air flights each way – a judge acted violently. He ordered that future access only occurred in the area, and that he did not carry children on planes or other public transport.

“There should be no tolerance for parents who carelessly expose children to the risk of COVID-19,” wrote Justice Lene Madsen.

Meanwhile, with most of the courthouse closed, these cases formed a unique brand of lawyers. Hearings usually consist of long-distance conferences, and no video access. “You realize how much you depend on reading rooms, and you don’t have them,” said Annie Kenet, a Toronto family law practitioner.

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