A father was planning a vacation with his son and some family members when the Court stepped in and put an end to their proposed vacation plans. The father planned to rent a cottage for a week and have 7 family members attend, which complied with the Province’s 10-person social bubble rule.
Despite this, the boy’s mother filed an urgent motion to have the vacation plans cancelled due to the risk of exposure to the virus. The father argued that his ex-wife had interfered with the previous 3 years vacation plans, and that this was just another form of this interference.
The boy’s mother argued 4 points as to why the proposed vacation should be disallowed by the court:
- 7 family members from three different parts of the province is not safe;
- A recent COVID-19 outbreak in Windsor-Essex added to the risk;
- It would be impossible for the family to social distance and properly disinfect; and
- Her own health would be compromised because she has a medical condition that makes her high risk for COVID-19.
Justice Summers of the Superior Court of Justice ruled in the mother’s favor, saying that the vacation would be against the child’s best interests. The judge noted shortcomings of the father’s plan, and the lack of information about the family’s social contacts during the pandemic. The court had no way to accurately assess the extent of the social circle.
Justice Summers concluded that while this vacation could have occurred without issue before COVID-19, the virus has changed society rapidly and the current health risk outweighs the benefit of a one-week vacation.
Courts have had to make rapid changes to their operations as well as the factors they consider when granting vacation or access to a child. As more of these cases continue to arise, the caselaw will develop to provide a reliable precedent that parents can use assess their proposed plans. Until that time, the courts will continue to deal with these issues on a case-by-case basis, factoring in public health advisories and often airing on the side of caution.