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CUSTODY AND ACCESS - Best interests of child - Child’s religious or educational training

Friday, April 30, 2021 @ 6:19 AM  

Lexis Advance® Quicklaw®
Application by the father for an order that the child attend Robert Hopkins Public School and that he attend in person now. The parties married in July 2010 and separated in October 2018. They had one child, born in November 2015. Since December 2018, the child alternated residences every Monday. The father currently worked part time online from home. The respondent mother worked for the federal Department of Justice as a paralegal. She was currently working from home. In May 2020, the parties agreed that the child would attend Manor Park Elementary School. On Aug. 24, 2020, without any notice to the father, the mother registered the child to attend Knoxdale Public School near her new home. The mother sought an order that the child remain now and as of September 2021 at Knoxdale. She proposed that the child continue to attend kindergarten online until the COVID-19 situation was under control and the child was able to go to the bathroom by himself. The father took the position that the child should attend school in person because he would benefit from interacting with other children and it would help him develop self-regulation and his interpersonal skills. The father did not believe that the child was benefiting from online classes.

HELD: Application allowed in part. Neither party had the right to make a unilateral decision regarding the best interests of the child. The mother acted unilaterally without the consent or knowledge of the father. Both schools were appropriate places of learning for the child. It was in the child’s best interests to continue at the current program at Knoxdale and then, starting in September 2021, attend Robert Hopkins. COVID-19 was still a significant risk to all Canadians. The child had a history of respiratory infections and was at risk if he contracted the virus. There was an unacceptable risk of harm to the child if he were to return to school in person at this time. Furthermore, waiting until September 2021 to be in class would give the child more time to be trained by his parents to address his incontinence issue. The child was to complete his French immersion senior kindergarten program online at Knoxville Public School until June 2021. As of September 2021, the child was to attend Robert Hopkins Public School in person. 

Moussaoui v. Harkouken, [2021] O.J. No. 1364, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, M.P. Shelston J., March 17, 2021. Digest No. TLD-April262021009