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I’m worried about COVID-19 and don’t want to send my child for an access visit to my partner. What can I do?

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I’m worried about COVID-19 and don’t want to send my child for an access visit to my partner. What can I do?
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I’m worried about COVID-19 and don’t want to send my child for an access visit to my partner. What can I do?
Reviewed: 
March 27, 2020
Answer

Unless you and your child are under quarantine or must self-isolate, you must follow court orders or agreements about access. At this time, there’s no law that says you or your child can’t leave your home. So, in most cases, you’re expected to follow your court order or agreement.

You may need to make small changes to your order or agreement because of COVID-19. You and your partner can agree to make these changes. For example, your agreement may say you have to meet in a public place. Or your court order may say something that you’re not able to do now, for example, meet in a fast-food restaurant that’s closed because of COVID-19.

The National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) has developed sample clauses and a sample parenting agreement dealing with social distancing that may be helpful when talking to your partner.

If you don’t have a court order or agreement, you are expected to follow your child’s routine as much as possible. This means your child can continue to see both parents if that is what would normally happen.

COVID-19 should not be used as an excuse not to follow the current parenting schedule unless there is a good reason to believe it would put your child’s safety at risk. If you want to stop access, you need specific evidence or examples of behaviour or plans that do not follow COVID-19 recommendations. For example, if the other parent has recently returned to Canada but is not following the rule that they must self-isolate for 14 days.

If you and the other parent can’t agree, one of you might have to go to court.

Since March 16, 2020, Ontario family courts are only open for urgent matters. Access to a child may be an urgent matter. Each court decides how they will hear urgent cases and what qualifies as an urgent matter. Contact the court in your area to find out what process they’re following for urgent matters. For example, they may hear motions and case conferences by telephone or video conference.

If the court hears your case, it will listen to what you and your partner say and look at the evidence. It will then decide based on which solution is in the best interests of the child.

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