Q: What impact does COVID-19 have on parenting children for separated parents?
A: This is a very important question given the health concerns surrounding COVID-19 and the concerns about what’s most precious, your children. The courts have responded to a number of cases that have come before it on this very issue. The court has held that generally “there should be a presumption that existing parenting arrangements and schedules should continue”, and that parents “should not presume that the existence of the COVID-19 crisis will automatically result in a suspension of in-person parenting time”. Instead, case-specific facts must be brought forward to support a request to change circumstances relating to children. Certainly, children are not to be exposed to unreasonable risk, but COVID-19 is not in and of itself a basis for changing or denying a parent’s time with his or her child. The court has affirmed that, even in this unprecedented time, “[t]he overriding principle of the child’s best interests remains”. Most, if not all of these matters have come before the court on an urgent basis, particularly as the courts are closed except to urgent or emergency matters. The courts have provided us with guidance in terms of what constitutes urgent in these special circumstances. If you think you have a situation that needs to be addressed, please contact us for a free consultation as we do a lot of family/divorce law. Our offices remain open to help clients as lawyers have been deemed an essential service, although we are conducting business remotely, including videoconferencing. Be healthy and safe one and all.