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CUSTODY AND ACCESS - Access - Conditions

Monday, July 20, 2020 @ 9:34 AM  


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Motion by the applicant father for a return to pre-pandemic access as well as for additional access. The parties married in October 2011 and separated in July 2016. There were two children of the marriage, ages 6 and 4. In December 2019, a temporary order was issued, addressing access to both children. The order stipulated that the father would have supervised access with the oldest child on Mondays and Thursdays, supervised by Brayden Supervision Services (BSS). The order also stipulated that the father would have unsupervised access with the youngest child on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Pursuant to the order, the parties were to engage in reunification therapy. Since mid-March, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the father did not have in-person access with the children. As BSS was not providing services at this point in the pandemic, there was no independent supervisor available to supervise the older child’s access. The father submitted that his mother could act as the supervisor for access. The mother wanted to have in-person access cancelled during the pandemic.

HELD: Motion allowed in part. The pandemic ought not to result in a widespread suspension by one parent of access with another parent. This motion was urgent. The oldest child had a fragile relationship with his father. Introducing a supervisor who was an immediate member of the father’s family ran a serious risk of interfering with the redevelopment of the child’s relationship with the father. The father’s request to resume either supervised or unsupervised access with the oldest child was denied at this point. The issue was to be revisited if BSS began to provide access supervision services again. The father’s COVID-19 protocols appeared to be sufficient. It was difficult to see how there was any significant additional risk to the youngest child by participating in access. However, the father’s access visits with the youngest child were limited to Saturdays. Reunification counselling was to proceed as promptly as possible.

Smyrnios v. Aliferis, [2020] O.J. No. 2550, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, W.M. LeMay J., June 8, 2020. Digest No. TLD-July202020001