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As we’ve discussed in a number of blogs over the past ten weeks, COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on the legal system, with all but the most urgent matters being put on hold for the time being. That said, urgent matters do arise, and Gelman & Associates’ very own Irina Davis recently appeared remotely before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in order to help her client respond to her former partner’s request for changes in access during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A separation and allegations of assault

The mother and father were married on July 23, 2016. They separated in November 2018, but the father was charged with assaulting the mother and failing to comply with an undertaking in December 2018 and February 2019 respectively. Meanwhile, their only child was born in May 2019.

Seeking an increase in access

The father brought the motion, alleging it was urgent, because the mother had thwarted his attempts to build a relationship with the child. He also said it was urgent to increase access. Prior to the hearing, the couple had entered into Minutes of Settlement which provided him with access three times per week for three hours at a time. In the motion, he sought to increase the length of daily visits until a later date (in the decision, the date was listed as May 1, 2020) where overnight visits on Saturday/Sunday were requested.

Behaviour contradicts bail conditions

The father is awaiting trial for his charges in late 2018 and early 2019. He is currently out on bail. His bail conditions stipulate that his access with the child take place at his parents’ home. He is currently living in the parties’ matrimonial home with three others, including his new partner. The mother has an apartment, which is where the exchanges of access occur.

Despite the bail order, the father has been taking the child to the matrimonial home during his access periods. The court had asked the father to provide an affidavit containing information about the people who live with him in the matrimonial home. However, he failed to do so, citing privacy concerns.

The court was critical of his decision to omit details about his roommates, writing “these people live in the matrimonial home and as such the co-owner mother has the right to know who is living there and more importantly when access takes place at the matrimonial home these are people who are present in the home during that time. Information as to their identity and background is crucial.

The judge did not agree that the matter was urgent. The court also cited a March 24 decision from the court stating that in most situations “there should be a presumption that existing parenting arrangements and scheduled should continue…”

The court dismissed the father’s request before reminding both of the parents that they are accusing each other of being controlling and vindictive, but should instead be focusing on an arrangement that would benefit the child’s best interests.

At Gelman Law, we understand that everyone is experiencing a difficult time under the current circumstances. We are remaining 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. Call us at (844) 769-0737 or 1-844-769-0737 or contact us online if you have a family law matter you need help with.

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