Unified Family Court and COVID-19 Agreements

Why failing to take COVID-19 precautions seriously can lead to possible expulsion from the family household. 

We know we should be integrating social distancing, face masks and gloves into our day to day activity, but what happens if a family member decides to do otherwise. Recently a divorced family living together for the protection of their children has been put in a similar predicament.

On March 31, the case was heard before Justice Adriana Doyle of the Ottawa Superior Court of Justice family division. This issue included an isolated couple who executed a “settling” course of action where their kids (ages 17,13, and 11) will stay in the marital home while adults rotated on an alternate weekly basis. 

Due to COVID-19, the two guardians ended up staying in the home with the children. Two of the children have asthma and the mother is on long term disability with medical problems including lupus, Sjorgren’s syndrome, fibromyalgia and asthma. The mother has an undermined resistant framework and her family doctor guided her to self isolate as much as possible and avoid contact with others. 

The mother became worried as to whether or not the dad was following the COVID-19 pre-cautions and once he returned home he would decline to discuss his whereabouts. The father disagreed and insisted that he was following all COVID-19 protocols and also practiced social distancing with his girlfriend.

On an urgent basis, the mother sought an order for exclusive possession of the marital home which would bar the dad’s entrance to the premises and furthermore fundamentally sway their recently agreed parenting arrangement. 

Recognizing dad’s evasiveness and refusal to detail his whereabouts, Justice Doyle justified a request for possession by the mother considering the COVID-19 concerns. Specifically, Justice Doyle commented that “although the father is not obliged to provide all details of his whereabouts, his lack of response and, at times, misleading information of where he has been placed undue stress on the mother and places her health at risk.”

Justice Doyle also took issue with the father’s failure to provide sufficient details and explanations for his numerous absences from the matrimonial home and his girlfriend has not provided evidence that she followed the COVID-19 measures.

Justice Doyle’s choice clarifies that it is of principal significance for parents to make all strides and precautionary measures they can to ensure the soundness of the children’s health. It is an integral component for separated parents to share information. 

Confronted with a troublesome family circumstance with no place to turn? Our legal advisors at Epstein and Associates can help! Call us now for a free 30-minute consultation.