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Child Access and Custody During COVID-19

Compromise, compromise, compromise. Sharing children during divorce or separation calls for it. Now more than ever.

Sharing Your Kids in a Pandemic

An Ontario Supreme Court Justice recently ruled parents have to act responsibly during COVID-19. The pandemic doesn’t suspend parents’ obligations. Instead, parents need to problem solve before going to court. With court resources stretched thin, an urgent, emergency hearing on child custody or access isn’t guaranteed. Simply failing to pick up the kids as scheduled (or threatening to) or arbitrarily suspending access are no reason to go to court.

If Your Spouse is Being Unreasonable

Child custody and access orders are meant to be followed. The courts have ruled COVID-19 is no exception. You may think your ex-spouse is being reckless, showing up to visit the kids and potentially exposing you and them to the coronavirus. But can you prove it? Especially if he calls the police to complain or takes you to court?

Four Things to Know About the Courts

During the pandemic, Ontario courts are dealing with parenting issues case by case. Four things to know: 

  1. You need specific evidence or examples of behaviour showing COVID-19 protocols, such as social distancing, weren’t followed.
  2. If you are responding, you must show specifically and with “absolute assurance” that you will meet COVID-19 safety measures. No letting the kids play group sports.
  3. Your child sharing plan must address every aspect of COVID-19. Judges are looking out for your children’s best interests.
  4. With social distancing commonplace, most public places are closed. Show how you will cope with this. 

Stay Home If You Can

Since travelling anywhere can be risky right now, spending time in your own backyard may work best. Is going to the park or out of province really essential? Staying two metres apart on beaches or bike trails can be tricky.    

Is it Worth the Stress?

Hey custodial parent, struggling over access is stressful for your children too. Ultimately, judges have your children’s best interests at heart. Unless your ex-spouse has coronavirus symptoms or is quarantined, you probably don’t have an excuse to restrict their access. Do you really need to take your grievances to court or could you find another way?

Talking it Over First

Before you consider family court, at least make a “good faith” effort to talk things over. Creative solutions demonstrate you are putting the children first. 

If Isolation is Necessary

Although it is traumatic, the pandemic will not go on forever. Substitute phone or video calls and email if your ex-spouse is out of country or isolated due to illness. That helps your children accept that sometimes compromise is the best solution. Because when you think of it, being positive keeps everyone healthier.

Book an Appointment Today

Call Axess Law, your flat fee Ontario lawyers, for answers to your child custody or access questions. You can make an appointment at 1-647-479-0118 or use our online booking form. We want you and your children to be safe. You can call us 7 days a week and consult by phone, email or video.

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