The decision in Le v. Norris elucidates what the Court expects when it asks parties to adhere to existing court orders during the COVID-19 crisis. This is another case in which a parent unilaterally varied the existing parenting schedule, which prompted the other parent to bring a motion seeking a return to the specified access schedule.
The parties have a three year-old child and both live in the city of Oakville. The child resides primarily with the mother and the father has regular court-ordered visits with the child twice per week, as per the Order of Justice Kurz dated December 5, 2019.
The father brought a motion seeking a remedy for the mother’s alleged breach of the existing order. In her responding materials, the mother admitted that she was not complying with the existing order, but she explained that this was due to several reasons, including the father’s harassing behavior, her not having the opportunity to vary the existing order, and her anxieties regarding the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The Court found that while the mother’s concerns are understandable and relatable, they do not provide sufficient justification to deviate from the existing order, especially given the fact that there was not enough evidence of the father’s allegedly harassing behavior. Although the mother was intending to vary the existing order, any delay in commencing such proceedings would be the mother’s responsibility and would not be a reason to suspend the current parenting arrangement.
The Court explained that the mother’s concerns can be addressed through responsible adherence to the existing court order. “Responsible adherence” means following physical distancing protocols, taking every precautionary measure as advised by governments and health authorities, and not doing anything that would expose a parent or the child to an increased risk of contracting the coronavirus. Based on this analysis, access was ordered to continue pursuant to the existing order.
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