May 18th, 2020 by Angela Princewill
April 24th, 2020 by Angela Princewill
A major concern during the pandemic is for those individuals who are stuck in the house with an abusive partner. Below are some tips and tricks to help keep you safe (in no particular order).
1. Talk to a family law lawyer: Depending on your circumstances, a family law lawyer can assess if bringing an Emergency Motion is the best move for you to protect your safety and also go over a safety plan with you.
2. Web History: Frequently clear your search history if you are searching for ways to stay safe or resources in the event your partner gets a hold of your browser or cell phone and checks your history.
3. Callers: Clear your caller history so that your partner cannot track who you have been calling for information and support to avoid them stalking you and/or figuring out your plan if you are making changes to stay safe in the home or escape.
4. Avoid common rooms: Do your best to avoid going into common rooms in the home such as the kitchen or bathroom. These rooms have items that can be used to harm you and there is also usually only 1 exit that your partner could block you from using to escape.
5. Have a buddy: Make a friend or neighbour aware of your circumstances so that they can check up on you by calling or texting you everyday. If they do not hear from you, they know to contact police if they think something has happened.
6. Escape bag: Prepare items for an emergency escape if you need. This includes important identity documents such as your passport, personal information/documents, clothes, granola bars, valuables, cash etc.
7. Keep a safe room: Find a safe room in your house where you can run and hide in if you need. Go as far as trying to set up the room so that once you are inside you can block your partner from entering by either locking it or moving furniture to block to door.
8. Clothing: Avoid wearing clothing that could be used as a weapon such as neck scarves or dangling earrings.
9. Police: Call the police if your safety is at risk.
10. (For women) Contact a Women’s Shelter: If you need to leave and you have no where to go, contact your nearest women’s shelter. They can also provide you with a support to make an emergency exit and safety plan based on your circumstances.
March 30th, 2020 by Angela Princewill
- Create a schedule. This will help keep the child(ren) and you to a consistent routine. Trick— stimulate a similar schedule as if the children were actually in school. Of course, being flexible to account for the different environment.
- Set up homework and learning-friendly area. Having a designated space for learning helps everyone to be more focused.
- Understand this will not be easy overnight. Work slowly and you will learn what learning strategies work and which ones are not as effective.
- Create a group chat with other parents from the children’s school. This will ensure you have to support and guidance from the school community and other parents in the similar situation for when you need it.
- Most importantly KEEP CALM. No one expects you to know all the answers, it is important to give yourself a break and that it is normal to feel overwhelmed.
March 26th, 2020 by Angela Princewill
To all of the parents who are currently trying to manoeuvre Covid-19 and parenting arrangements with the other parent – this is for you!
The Ontario Court of Justice and Superior Court of Justice announced on March 16, 2020 that they will only be accepting URGENT matters for their family law departments. The pressing question that everyone has is – Is my matter urgent?
While your parenting issues are pressing and urgent to you, the courts may not see it that way. We are currently in a unique and unprecedented time. What does that mean? It means that the courts do not have all of the answers right now and everything is going on a case-by-case basis.
What is truly urgent is going to be judged against a high threshold to use the limited court resources for a decision.
On March 24, 2020, Justice Pazaratz of the Hamilton Superior Court of Justice, endorsed a Motion decision that we can rely on to decide if a case is truly urgent to be heard by the courts. (Ribeiro v. Wright, Superior Court of Justice, Family Court – Hamilton)
In this case, the Mother brought an Urgent Motion to prevent the parties 9-year-old son from attending the Father’s home in light of Covid-19 and concerns that she and her family are practising social distancing and self-isolation and that she has concerns the Father is not. The parties have joint custody of the child pursuant to a Final Order from 2012 with primary residence to the Mother. There is a current outstanding Motion to expand parenting time to the Father.
What is noteworthy of Justice Pazaratz’ Endorsement is that he takes the time to outline what is an urgent parenting matter for the courts attention during this time and provides guidance for litigants and parents. This is no surprise as Justice Pazaratz is usually very detailed in his decisions with making strong statements to illustrate his decisions. This case is no exception.
What are some takeaways from the case?
- There is a presumption that existing parenting arrangements, whether and order, consent, agreement etc., should be respected and complied with in the best interests of the child;
- These are extraordinary times and parents are understandably confused and worried about what to do.
- This is uncharted territory for our court system and that we all have to work together to promote both the physical and emotional well-being of our children;
- A blanket policy that children should never leave their primary residence – even to visit the other parent – is inconsistent with a comprehensive analysis of the best interests of the children;
- Modifications, flexibility, creativity and common sense are all required by everyone right now to carry out parenting arrangements as best as possible;
- In some cases, custodial or access parents may have to forego their times with a child for reasons such as recent travel, personal illness, exposure to illness etc.;
- In some cases, a parent’s personal risk factors through employment or associations may require controls with respect to direct contact with the child;
- In some cases, a parent’s reckless lifestyle or behaviour in the face of Covid-19 which raises serious concerns about failing to take expected precautions, such as social-distancing, will have zero tolerance;
- Each case has its own unique circumstances and arrangement modifications.
If you need to bring an Urgent Motion for parenting issues in light of Covid-19, it would be expected of you to try everything else before you do. It is also important that you outline examples of behaviour or specific evidence against the other parent which are inconsistent with Covid-19 Protocol and the risk to the child.
All in all, this is something new for everyone. We all need to use our best efforts to and prior to taking that step to stop existing parenting arrangements, take a step back and think about how to make it the best possible in these circumstances, if possible.
March 26th, 2020 by Angela Princewill
When in December 2019 Dr Li Wenliang alerted his colleagues of a virus he thought looked like the other coronaviruses (e.g. Sars) it is unlikely that even he would have predicted the circumstances that the world has found itself in today. Sadly, the doctor passed away early last month after he contracted the disease, while treating patients in Wuhan, China. We have now come to call the novel Coronavirus Disease, “COVID-19”. On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (“WHO”) characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. Two weeks later, with the number of confirmed cases and deaths from the disease increasing in various parts of the world, governments and their agencies and the public are now using technology to engage in business operations while maintaining responsible social distancing.
The government of Canada has provided the public with resources to help combat COVID-19 at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html
As of March 23, 2020, 6:00 p.m. EDT the official confirmed number of COVID-19 in Canada was 1,646, after 107,147 people having been tested. We know that we must do our part to reduce the likelihood that our healthcare system becomes overwhelmed with too many new cases all at once. As such there have been several areas of legal practice that has changed or been delayed until further notice. The province of Ontario has made certain declarations of which our clients should therefore be aware.
All family trials previously scheduled between Friday March 20, 2020 and Friday May 29, 2020 are suspended, subject to a judge seized with a continuing matter ordering otherwise.
All non-urgent matters, including trials, are adjourned for 8-12 weeks. Details of the new schedules would be provided at a later date.
All onsite family mediation and information services are being suspended until further notice. Where possible these services may be offered remotely, including online or by phone.
Canada is currently denying boarding to most foreign nationals, on flights to Canada coming from all countries. Only Canadian citizens, Canadian permanent residents, or their immediate family members, who show none of the symptoms of COVID-19 will be allowed to board, and all travellers will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry into Canada.
Travel across the Canada–US border Canada is temporarily restricted for all non-essential travel across, including by Canadian citizens, permanent residents wishing to return to Canada.
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (“IRB”) front offices are closed until further notice. All in-person hearings and mediations, except detention reviews are postponed until after May 3, 2020.
The processing times for all applications to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) may experience disruptions caused by the COVID-19.
Given that the Succession Law Reform Act which governs how a Will has to be executed in order to be valid requires that the testator and witnesses be “in the presence of” each other, while signing the document, we will not be having any virtual estate planning appointments. This requirement has been held to mean that all parties are in the same room at the time of signing. We are not in a position to witness the signatures virtually.
We are however able to set up remote video consultations with potential Estate Planning clients.
Our lawyers would be in touch with our clients that have matters scheduled during this relevant period. Client meetings with our lawyers remain available via telephone and other online tools.
#APLawyers #RedefiningThePracticeOfLaw #FamilyLaw #ImmigrationLaw #EstatePlanning #AloneTogether #RemoteWorking #SocialDistancing #FlattenTheCurve #TeleWork #EndCOVID19
If there is one thing that Family Law Lawyers have learnt during this COVID-19 pandemic, it is that there is so much we do not know about how to navigate the justice system with all these rapid changes caused by this pandemic.
Let’s take one example. The Superior Court of Justice suspended ALL scheduled hearings indefinitely, starting March 17, 2020. The courts, however, will continue to hear urgent matters during this emergency period, including:
- requests for urgent relief relating to the safety of a child or parent (e.g., a restraining order, other restrictions on contact between the parties or a party and a child, or exclusive possession of the home);
- urgent issues that must be determined relating to the well-being of a child including essential medical decisions or issues relating to the wrongful removal or retention of a child;
- dire issues regarding the parties’ financial circumstances including for example the need for a non-depletion order;
- in a child protection case, all urgent or statutorily mandated events including the initial hearing after a child has been brought to a place of safety, and any other urgent motions or hearings.
What then can be done in a situation where a custodial parent denies access visits to the access parent? Is this a wrongful retention of a child so that the issue can be heard at this time? It is certainly not related to the child or parent’s safety. But really, is it wrongful retention?
If it isn’t, as is most likely the case, is the access parent powerless to do anything during this emergency period?
Thankfully, if a parent failed to return a child after March Break as provided in a court order, it clearly would be a case of wrongful retention. But is it? Couldn’t that party just argue that the government extended the March break and so they really are not violating the order?
What if a parent has concerns about the hygiene conditions at the other parent’s home and refuses to allow the child to visit the home, thereby blocking that parenting time with the child? It is urgent because it surely relates to the safety of the child at this time – Right? Well…. could be wrong.
As with everything COVID-19, we seem to be left with more questions than answers but be not dismayed. At AP Lawyers, we are following the developments closely, asking questions, and getting answers where possible (frankly, the authorities are still trying to figure most of it out).
What you can always count on is our creativity in getting solutions and that matters now, more than ever. We remain open to serve you via Video Conference, Skype, Telephone, Email, and Live Chat.
Contact us today:
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