No modification to the access rights of a parent in the absence of symptoms, decides a judge

The coronavirus pandemic is not a sufficient reason to modify a parent’s access rights, in the absence of any symptoms, ruled the Superior Court.
The Superior Court of Quebec had to rule on March 27 on the request for an order from a father who wanted the access rights of the mother of his three children to be exercised by technological means (FaceTime, Skype) during the pandemic.

Marc * and Sylvie * are in the process of divorce. On February 6, a judge gave the father custody of the three children, 6.10 and 12 years old. The mother has custody of her children two weekends out of three.

Due to the pandemic, the father requests the suspension of the mother’s access rights and suggests contacts by technological means two weekends out of three, Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday afternoons, for a period of one hour each time.

Marc argued in court that he must work telework. His wife, who has health problems, lives at home with her children during the crisis.

Sylvie currently lives with her two elderly parents.

In her sworn statement in court, Sylvie assured that she and her family members have no symptoms of COVID-19 and that there is no moving back and forth in their home.

“I do not wish to endanger the health of my children, of the applicant, of his spouse and of the latter’s children, I simply ask that the ordered accesses be respected and I am ready to put in place the appropriate sanitary measures”, writes Sylvie.

In her decision, Judge Johanne April noted that the current period of pandemic and confinement is causing great upheaval for children. “Parents must, in the exercise of their parental authority, avoid them as much as possible the harmful consequences of this situation and, above all, make sure that they are safe from the disease,” notes the judge. This is the greatest concern of the court. ”

Does Sylvie’s house pose dangers to the health and safety of children?

The judge came to the conclusion that no.

The mother is aware of sanitary and hygienic measures and does not want to put anyone in danger, neither at home nor at her ex-spouse’s. “The authorities, who are present daily in the media, while transparently exposing the ins and outs of the situation, are reassuring to the effect that when health and hygiene requirements are met, contact with uninfected people and who show no symptoms are possible, writes Judge April. However, vigilance and respect for everyone’s rights remain a priority. ”

The health emergency caused by COVID 19 is not in itself, in the absence of symptoms for the individuals concerned, a sufficient reason requiring a modification of the status quo, custody and access for children, concluded the judge. .

She adds that she “strongly” recommends that the parties respect the health and safety instructions in their respective environment.

“The Tribunal has no doubt that the parties are committed to the well-being of their children and that they will limit, as much as possible, the risks of their exposure to this enemy whom we are fighting together . ”

The judge also warns that given the constant evolution of the health emergency, it is possible that other modalities may be necessary in the future to adapt to the situation.

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