27 Apr Child Custody and Support Requirements During COVID-19
Canadian courts are performing in very limited capacities due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s especially important for parents to be aware of their responsibilities both in regards to financial support and custody rights, and to be flexible and willing to compromise during these times.
Child Custody and Support Requirements During COVID-19
Parents who have lost their job due to COVID-19 or who are working from home with reduced hours have more than likely felt the financial burden of the pandemic. For many parents, this financial struggle has caused problems in keeping up with child support payments. Since many courts have either shut down or transitioned to online emergency services, cases such as child support payments aren’t a high priority. However, despite financial concerns, lawyers recommend keeping up with regular support payments as required, rather than fall into arrears. To soften the financial blow, many recommend signing up for government financial relief in order to continue with payments.
Whether you are separated, divorced, or in a common-law relationship, the amount of child support you pay to your former partner is calculated based on your income alone, and not your current partner’s.
How Does Child Custody Work During a Pandemic?
Parenting through COVID-19 has been a major adjustment for most families. Not only are kids out of school, but they’re also now distance learning which involves a lot of hands-on support from parents who may not feel qualified for the job. In addition, households are encouraged to stay inside their homes as much as possible to stop the spread. Public parks, restaurants, theatres, and all non-essential businesses have either closed or have switched to an online-only model. Since each person is supposed to be limiting exposure through physical distancing, many parents have asked the question, “Do I still need to abide by child custody terms during a pandemic?” Here’s what you need to know:
- Existing Child Custody Arrangements Still Stand
Since courts are operating in a limited capacity due to COVID-19, the Ontario Superior Court released a statement outlining that pre-existing custody arrangements must be upheld during the pandemic. This may mean making alternate arrangements to transportation, exchange locations or supervision of children to ensure social distancing practices are followed.
- Disagreements Between Co-Parents
COVID-19 has brought about many more issues between parents who may be worried the other parent isn’t taking the necessary precautions when it comes to social distancing. Here’s what the Ontario Superior Court has to say about the matter:
However, the document goes on to say: “In some cases, a parent’s lifestyle or behaviour in the face of COVID-19 (for example, failing to comply with social distancing; or failing to take reasonable health-precautions) may raise sufficient concerns about a parental judgment that direct parent-child contact will have to be reconsidered. There will be zero tolerance for any parent who recklessly exposes a child (or members of the child’s household) to any COVID-19 risk”.
3. A Parent Who Must Self-Isolate
In step-families, where multiple parents and children have visitation rights, mitigating the risk of exposure to COVID-19 must be communicated to all parties so that each parent is on the same page when it comes to physical distancing. And, when a parent needs to self-isolate for 14 days due to possible exposure or illness, that parent, or parents who have had contact with the child may need to forego their time with the child until their quarantine period is over.
Further Information on Custody & Parenting During Covid19
At Stewart Esten Law Firm, we are dedicated to providing information and support to families who have questions and concerns regarding family law matters. During this unprecedented time, we are operating in a reduced capacity, but are still able to converse with clients and offer support.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding family law in Barrie, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to help in any way possible.