Child Access Must Continue in the Midst of the Covid-19 Crisis

 In Family Law

2020 ONSC 1829 (CanLII –  Ribeiro v Wright)

In a ruling that may surprise some, but not all, Justice A. Pazaratz, of the Ontario Supreme Court, ruled that CV concerns or not, the virus is no reason to deny child access. Citing the potential for confusion to children, that children need “all” adults in their lives, that cooperation was needed, a Father was still entitled to child access despite the Mother’s concerns.

“While the mother’s concerns about COVID-19 are well-founded, I am not satisfied that she has established a failure, inability or refusal by the father to adhere to appropriate COVID-19 protocols in the future.

27 Every member of this community is struggling with similar, overwhelming COVID-19 issues 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.

28 I would urge both parents in this case to renew their efforts to address vitally important health and safety issues for their child in a more conciliatory and productive manner.

29 My denial of authorization to proceed with an urgent motion is without prejudice to the issue being returned to court if more serious and specific COVID-19 problems arise. Any future motion would again have to be reviewed by the Triage Judge. However, I hope that both parents will understand the limitations of the family court process at this critical time.

30 None of us have ever experienced anything like this. We are all going to have to try a bit harder – for the sake of our children”

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