Custody and access rights in the COVID-19 era
Law

Custody and access rights in the COVID-19 era


Custody and access rights in the COVID-19 era

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On March 13, the Quebec government declared a state of health emergency in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic and implemented various measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

Aware that the situation and the measures in place would raise questions for parents, the government has posted an information page on childcare exchanges during a pandemic.

He recalls in particular that parents should respect custody and access orders and their prior agreements as much as possible. In case of disagreement, they can go to a family mediator to encourage discussion and try to resolve the conflict or to Superior Court.

The basic principles

In Family law – 20474, the father requests that the mother’s access rights be suspended and replaced by technological contacts.

For judge Johanne April, the threat of COVID-19 is not in itself, in the absence of symptoms in the persons concerned, a sufficient reason requiring a modification of the status quo custody and access rights. However, she recalls that parents should respect the health and safety instructions in their respective environments and that it is possible that other arrangements may be required depending on the evolution of the state of health emergency.

In Family law – 20506, while the parties have exercised joint custody of their children since the end of 2018, it is the mother who refuses to let them go to their father because of his concerns related to COVID-19. She notably invokes the father’s work in a hospital environment.

Justice Marie-Josée Bédard indicates that the mere fact that one of the parents performs a job deemed to be an essential service is not sufficient, in the absence of infection or symptoms of the disease in the persons concerned, to suspend the arrangements for shared custody.

Finally, in Family law – 20515, the father refused to allow the mother to exercise her access rights, citing a lack of openness in the latter and a lack of information on the situation existing in her. Before the hearing, in light of the judgment of April J. and theOrder concerning measures to protect the population in the COVID-19 pandemic situation of the Minister of Health and Social Services, relating to measures to protect the health of the population in the current context, the father changes his mind.

Justice Suzanne Ouellet accuses the father of not having sought information about the mother’s situation and the measures taken there before taking justice into its own hands. It also recalls that, since the beginning of the crisis, judgments and orders have remained, except in emergencies. It considers it justified to grant a provision for costs of $ 700 to the mother.

The situation of the parent who resides in a shelter

On April 11, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Quebec, Me Sonia LeBel, announced the temporary suspension of custody and access rights to protect the health of people residing in shelters for victims of domestic violence.

In Family law – 20532, a judgment rendered before M’s announcemente LeBel, it is about the mother of a 4 year old child who takes refuge with it in a shelter because of a situation of domestic violence. The shelter where she is staying has established strict preventive rules to limit the spread of COVID-19, which are rules of social distancing and sanitary hygiene.

Justice Line Samoisette indicates that, although it is in the best interest of the child for him to have contact with his father, she cannot ignore the current exceptional context and the fact that the child and his mother are currently living in a shelter. If the child had to leave this place to see his father, he would be forced, when he returned, to wear a mask in community areas for 14 days, which would be too demanding for a 4-year-old child. It grants access by technological means to the father until the mother’s immediate departure from the shelter.

In Family law – 20547, a judgment released after the minister’s announcement, the mother of a 9-month-old child lives with him in a house for immigrant women, also due to domestic violence.

Justice Manon Lavoie ordered the temporary suspension of custody and access rights applicable and indicates that it is in the best interests of the child that technological contact is established. She further notes that these measures also take into account the young age of the child and the fact that he is breastfed and adds that a decision must be taken in accordance with the measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

To conclude, I will leave you with these words from Justice Ouellet:

“In this historic period of tumult and social upheaval, the Tribunal recalls that a communication efficient and transparent between parents makes sense. The interests of children dictate it “(Family law – 20515, para. 19, bold print is from the judge).

References

  • Family law – 20474 (C.S., 2020-03-27), 2020 QCCS 1051, SOQUIJ AZ-51680034, 2020EXP-928.
  • Family law – 20506 (C.S., 2020-04-03), 2020 QCCS 1125, SOQUIJ AZ-51681136.
  • Family law – 20515 (C.S., 2020-04-06), 2020 QCCS 1150, SOQUIJ AZ-51681855.
  • Family law – 20532 (C.S., 2020-04-09), 2020 QCCS 1192, SOQUIJ AZ-51682574.
  • Family law – 20547 (C.S., 2020-04-14), 2020 QCCS 1213, SOQUIJ AZ-51682720.

As of the date of broadcast, none of the decisions have been appealed.

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One Response on “Custody and Access Rights in the Age of COVID-19”

  1. Andre Audet says:

    Hello congratulations on your blog! The Federal and Provincial governments have helped a lot of people! But me who follows “welfare musician” [sur le B.S.par obligation]… Having BIG dificult to PAY MY RENT !!!! When will we help people who have BIG problems paying the rent ???

    Reply

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