Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, courts have had to consider parties’ requests to hear motions and decide whether a matter meets the “urgency test” (set out below) on a case-by-case basis. In a recent decision, an Ontario court considered whether a mother’s motion met this test in the context of a more recent notice to the profession expanding the range of matters that qualify as “pressing.”
The parties were separated and had two children. The children resided with the mother.
In September 2019, a temporary order was made dealing with in-person access by the father to the children (“the temporary order”).
The father subsequently had his pleadings struck and failed to comply with a costs award in the mother’s favour.
More recently, the mother swore an affidavit, which indicated that the father had been charged with criminal harassment and breaching a restraining order. Furthermore, a letter from the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) outlined serious concerns about the father, and the CAS indicated that it had decided to remain engaged with the family as a result of the father’s lack of cooperation.
The mother brought an urgent motion without notice to the father for an order varying the temporary order. She claimed that she was concerned about the father’s irrational, erratic and non-compliant behaviour, and that the notice of motion might make his behaviour worse.
In finding that the mother’s motion met the urgency test, the court considered the Notice to the Profession, dated March 15, 2020, as revised on April 2 and May 5, 2020 (“the Notice”). As we have noted in previous blog posts, the Notice outlines what may be considered urgent:
The court then considered the Central East Region Notice to the Profession (“the CER Notice”), effective May 19, 2020, which expanded the range of matters permitted under the Notice to include matters qualifying as “pressing.” The general outline for the requisite test is as follows:
In this case, given the mother’s evidence and the CAS letter, the motion met the urgency test. The court decided that a temporary order should issue suspending the father’s in-person access to the children, but that he should be given an opportunity to respond.
Only matters that qualify as “urgent” are being heard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have questions about your rights, it is best to speak with a lawyer. At Gelman & Associates, we understand that this is an uncertain and stressful time. We remain open to help our clients, but are taking precautions to keep safety paramount. While we may not be able to meet in our office, our lawyers are fully prepared to continue to offer all of our legal services paperless and conduct important meetings using digital technology. Our goal is to always empower clients to make informed decisions about their future.
In order to be available to clients and prospective clients, our phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Call us at 1-844-769-0737, or contact us online if you have a family law matter you need help with.
© 2020 by Gelman & Associates Family Law Lawyers. All rights reserved. Website designed and managed by Umbrella Legal Marketing