Updated on March 30, 2020:
With events brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, parents need to consider the inevitable impact on parenting arrangements and support. Physical distancing measures and government directives have affected access to justice in unprecedented ways.
Alberta courts are currently only hearing family law matters of great urgency, involving violence, potential violence and serious property damage. Access to our courts for all other family law disputes is suspended until further notice. This means that most issues arising out of parenting disagreements or disputes about support cannot be scheduled for a Court hearing.
Parents must consider how to safely manage co-parenting arrangements, balanced with the importance of maintaining consistent family relationships for their children. Many individuals are also experiencing work and income loss, seriously impacting both their need for or their ability to pay support.
This post will be updated with information to assist parents with these issues. Posts do not appear in any particular order:
- Co-Parenting Arrangements: This recent decision out the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario provides the Court’s thoughtful perspectives on balancing the need to protect children’s health, with maintaining co-parenting time and important familial relationships: Robeiro_v._Wright_2020canlii23204
- Child Support: These two articles discuss the issue of child support in light of Covid-19 and the reality of parent’s currently limited access to our Courts: The_Lawyers_Daily_articles_re_support_and_Covid_19
- Conflict Resolution Options: Where parents cannot agree on a parenting or support issue, and so long as access to our Courts is so restricted, parents need to consider their remaining options that exist to resolve their disputes. Such options include negotiating a temporary resolution directly with the other parent, negotiating with the help of family counsel, attending mediation, or, attending in a mediation / arbitration process. With physical distancing measures in place, parents should also be aware that such discussions will probably happen “remotely” using teleconferencing technologies. Not having access to Courts does not mean that all these important issues must remain “on hold” until the Courts re-open for regular hearings. In reality, parents who take unfair advantage of the current Court restrictions to frustrate or impede resolution of reasonable concerns could be faced with accountability consequences once the Courts return to normal. Now, more than ever, parents have an obligation to act in good faith to resolve disputes independently of our Courts in a timely and reasonable way. Call us at 403-270-7200 ext: 201 to discuss your options.