Courts are currently closed and not scheduling regular lists, except urgent situations. While many of our clients are able to manage without the court’s input, it seems that family law litigants are nonetheless bringing urgent motions caused by the following: reduction or termination in access due to COVID-19.
It is remarkable that we already have a number of reported decisions with respect to the same. One such decision is Le v Norris, whereas the court determined that the COVID-19 crisis is not “an excuse for non-compliance with a child custody and access order.” The court went on to determine that the police should enforce the access order, recognizing equally the importance of following the COVID-19 guidelines:
“Physical distancing measures must be respected. The parties must do whatever they can to ensure that neither of them nor the child, C., contracts COVID-19. Every precautionary measure recommended by governments and health authorities in Ontario and Canada must be taken by both parties and, with their help, by C. Neither party shall do anything that will expose him/herself or C. to an increased risk of contracting the virus.”
Similarly, in Ribeiro v Wright (decided by Mr. Justice Pazaratz), the Court was clear to indicate that the mere existence of COVID-19 will not automatically result in suspension of in-person parenting time and raising COVID-19 considerations will also not necessarily result in an urgent hearing.
Every family law litigant should follow the decision of Mr. Justice Pazaratz, who is well known among the family law community for his truism, plain language, and candour:
Every member of this community is struggling with similar, overwhelming COVID-19 multiple times each day.
a. The disruption of our lives is anxiety producing for everyone.
b. It is even more confusing for children who may have a difficult time understanding.
c. In scary times, children need all of the adults in their lives to behave in a cooperative, responsible and mature manner.
d. Vulnerable children need reassurance that everything is going to be ok. It’s up to the adults to provide that reassurance.
e. Right now, families need more cooperation. And less litigation.
*The above is written by Soica Law Professional Corporation and not intended as legal advice.