Separated or divorced parents who have co-parenting arrangements in place may be wondering whether access is to continue “as usual” during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the recent decision of Ribeiro v. Wright, Justice Pazaratz confirmed that the presumption is that access is generally expected to continue pursuant to an existing Order or written agreement. In some cases, modifications may be required in order to meet COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Situations that may require a modification to, or a departure from, the current arrangements may include the following: where a parent is under a requirement to self-isolate, parental risk factors such as employment, and lifestyle or social behaviours such as a refusal to respect social distancing protocols. Even in situations where access can and should continue “as usual”, the parties may need to consider changing the location of access exchanges (for example from a shopping center to a direct at home drop off) or changing transportation arrangements.
The expectation is that parents and families act reasonably in the face of this crisis and attempt problem solving and cooperation prior to engaging the court system when access issues arise.
If you have any questions about your family law matter or whether a COVID-19 related change to your parenting arrangements may be required, you can arrange a consultation with one of our family law lawyers by calling: 519-621-7260.