Since the start of the COVID 19 Pandemic, the BC Courts had to address the impact of COVID-19 health orders on separated families with shared guardianship and parenting arrangement. Judges in BC have held that a pandemic generally does not prevent parents from following a parenting order or agreement.
In NJB v SF 2020 BCPC 53, the court held that all parenting arrangement must be in the best interest of the child.
The judge noted that some of the following factors should be considered before any changes are made to parenting arrangement due to COVID-19 health concerns:
- If a parent has had contact with an infected party, they should disclose this immediately to the other parent;
- If the parent is infected or even ill with symptoms or needed to be tested for Covid-19, they should not take the child;
- If the parent is in a home with older family members or friends or with individuals who are immune-compromised, the child should not be in that home.;
- There should be no play dates and the child should not be taken to family or social gatherings;
- If parenting time is to occur in a public place such as a community centre, a mall or a restaurant, then it should be suspended;
- If a supervisor is required and who is not the spouse of the parent and living in the home, then the parenting time should be suspended;
- If either parent or anyone in the household is in an Essential Service or still working with the public, eg. doctors, nurses, at a supermarket or pharmacy, flight attendant, etc.)
In NJB v SF 2020 BCPC 53, the father alleged that the mother would not obey the social distancing requirements and that the COVID-19 health orders would exacerbate her mental health. However, the court ultimately decided that it would require more than mere allegations that a parent will not follow social distancing or historical concerns of mental health before suspending a parent’s parenting time. Furthermore, the Judge held that specific examples and evidence needs to be demonstrated before suspending or changing parenting time with the child.
If you are experiencing conflict with your co-parent or you have any concerns for any other family lawyer matter, our team is here to assist you and provide you with advice for your specific situation