Parenting Issues During The Covid Pandemic
Parenting after you separate from the other parent often causes conflict. Further, the difficulties in parenting increase dramatically for some due to the COVID-19 Virus. Covid parenting disputes arise from stress, fear and economic challenges which often cause ongoing issues to worsen. Many parents work through these challenges without help. Other require immediate help to protect their child, health and family. The Kahane Law Office family law lawyers in Calgary and Edmonton help families unable to effectively co-parent during these times.
Current State Of Courts For Covid Parenting Disputes
On March 15, 2020, Alberta Courts issued a Master Order which had the effect of postponing all family law matters to a date to be determined in the future, when courts re-open. This makes accessing the courts for Covid parenting disputes a challenge. The courts currently deal with some limited family law emergencies such as orders where a risk of violence or immediate harm to one of the parties or a child exists. In addition, they hear arguments for orders where risks of removal of a child from the jurisdiction arise and when people need Emergency Protection Orders and reviews.
If you lack a court order dealing with parenting, there are alternate dispute resolutions processes that you can access. Unfortunalty, these only work provided that both parents involved agree. Lawyer assisted settlement meetings, mediations and even arbitrations are continuing to take place using video conferencing platforms. If you require assistance exploring these options, call or email us today.
Urgent Covid Parenting Disputes
The courts still deal with Urgent orders relating to Covid parenting disputes. These include parenting time, contact, or communication with a child, that cannot reasonably be delayed. If you have an emergency parenting matter, you must apply for a hearing. A judge then reviews your materials who decides if he/she believes that your matter is urgent enough to proceed. Although it is early days for Alberta Courts in dealing with questions about parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic, Justice Jeffrey in the case of Hasham v. Kanji, 2020 ABQB 276 dated April 20, 2020, has provided us some guidance as to what will be considered an “urgent” parenting issue: in essence, there must be no other recourse available to parents, but to proceed with court. The expectation is that parents to try to negotiate and make concessions to accommodate the current health emergency.
Our lawyers help you prepare an application for an urgent hearing. We also help you understand the process and the evidence that you require for a successful court application.
Current Case Law Framework For Court Orders
There have been few reported cases in Alberta dealing with Covid parenting disputes and the COVID-19 virus when we authored this blog. However, courts here in Alberta, and in other jurisdictions, such as Ontario and British Columbia, follow a similar framework when dealing with parenting applications deemed urgent.
The case of Ribeiro v. Wright 2020 ONSC 1829, decide by Justice Pazaratz on March 24, 2020, has quickly become the standard approach to an application to deal with parenting issues during the pandemic. For example, the Court look at:
- A first and foremost consideration during the COVID-19 crisis remains the health, safety, and well being of children and families;
- The seriousness of the COVID-19 virus, and will require parents to follow the directives from government and public health officials. The courts expect parents to follow social distancing and to limit community interactions as much as possible and for as long as these continue to be the directives;
- An expectation that parents respect and comply with all parenting orders;
- How parents to work together, be flexible, be creative and to use common sense to keep their children healthy and safe; and lastly
- Children’s relationships with their parents will not be put “on hold” indefinitely. It is in children’s best interest to see their parent and it is not in their best interest to be separated physical from a parent.
However, as Justice Pazaratz comments not all parents are able or willing to follow the rules imposed by government officials. We see this sentiment proven by the reported cases in the media as they relate to Covid parenting disputes.
Court Expectations Of Parents
Courts expect that blended families ensure the sharing of information. This includes precautions taken for every family member that enters the household. For example, precautions for children from other relationships.
Mere suspicion, speculation and/or mistrust are not enough for a court. A parent bringing a court application needs to provide evidence that the other parent puts the family at undue risk. The expectation is that parents provide timely and complete information about their adherence to social distancing, and other health protocols. A parent who refuses to communicate reasonably and in good faith will face a difficult road in a court application of this nature. Failing to meet the above expectations most often lead to the Covid parenting disputes heard by the courts.
Alberta courts rule that a court application must preceed a parent dening parenting time currently set out in an order. In the most extreme of circumstances, a court may forgive a party breaching an order. These are extremely rare cases. For example, when a parent with a confirmed COVID 19 infection insists on face-to-face parenting time.
Hiring Family Lawyers To Deal With Covid Parenting Disputes
We encourage you to speak to one of our Calgary family lawyers or Edmonton family law lawyers before you make any decisions in relation to changing parenting time unilaterally. Avoid Covid parenting disputes turning into ongoing fights. Each family is different and faces different challenges, and our lawyers are experienced in navigating all kinds of family configurations.
Please reach out to us anytime in Calgary, Alberta at 403-225-8810 or Edmonton, Alberta 780-571-8463 toll-free at 1-877-225-8817, or email us directly here.