To Be or Not to Be Vaccinated: Should A 13-Year-Old Child Of Separated Parents Be Ordered To Take The COVID-19 Vaccine?

November 24th, 2021 by

In a recent decision from Saskatoon’s Court of Queen’s Bench, the court dealt with whether a 13-year-old child of divorced parents should or should not be vaccinated.

Given the child’s age, her the father in this case requested that her name be confidential, the judge ruled in favor of that request.

The mother in this case, heavily opposed consenting to the daughter’s COVID-19 vaccination citing skepticism about the pandemic, and the unknown risks from the supposed dangerous and experimental vaccines. While the father believed it was his daughter’s best protection against the virus and that it overallsafe and effective.

Our very own founding lawyer Angela Princewill, commented on the outcome of the recent decision in a CTV news segment, which drew national attention across the country, as it sparked an interesting debate; Should a 13-year-old child or any child beordered to take the vaccine? and what sort of considerations does the court look at in making this decision?

The judge in this case, Justice Michael Megaw, heavily relied on the ‘best interest’ analysis when considering whether the vaccine was in the child’s best interest. In doing so, the judge considered the public health directives available, evidence from the child’s doctors, medical evidence, and evidence pertaining to the true views and preferences of the child.

Ultimately, Megaw considered the evidence put forth by both parties and ruled in favour of the father. In his judgement, he cited that it was ultimately in the best interest of the child to be protected against COVID-19. Megaw ordered that the father was able to proceed to get the child vaccinated, in consultation with the child’s doctor but without requiring the consent of the mother.

There have been a series of similar decisions in line with Megaw’s judgment, which make it clear that absent significant expert evidence to the contrary, it is presumptively in a child’s best interest to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This decision echoes the court’s sentiment that judges’ are unlikely to go against the recommendations of the government and public health authorities in deciding whether the vaccine is safe and effective.

To learn more about this decision, click here to watch the CTV news segment Divorced parents fight over daughter’s vaccine in court | CTV News

Listen to our podcast on this issue here: Episode 21: COVID Vaccine for Children – Family Law Perspective by AP Legal Zone (anchor.fm)

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyer services in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

GETTING MARRIED DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

February 11th, 2021 by

 

Getting married? CONGRATULATIONS! A wedding is always an exciting event that brings families and friends together. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has forced couples to either postpone their wedding indefinitely or make alternative plans. However, you may still be able to get married and enjoy the exciting journey ahead of you.

 

Despite the Ontario government’s stay-at-home order, weddings are an exemption for leaving home, within limits of course. To ensure your marriage is legally valid, Ontario’s Marriage Act requires that the couple must have the following:

  • a licence, 
  • an officiant and two witnesses, and 
  • the wedding must take place “in the presence of” the officiant and the witnesses. 

The main point to note here is that in order to have a valid marriage, whether it is conducted virtually or in person, ensure the witnesses and officiant are physically present. 

Despite COVID-19 causing gathering restrictions, the closure of banquet halls and event spaces, and prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants, there is still hope for you to have a little celebration! To help with the planning of your wedding during these unprecedented times, the City of Toronto has provided a guide that considers public health orders. 

Below are 6 points to note when planning your wedding during COVID-19:

1. If postponing the date or a virtual wedding is not an option, you can consider an outdoor ceremony, a tented reception, a smaller indoor wedding, or even a drive-in ceremony where guests remain in their vehicles. Vehicles must remain two metres apart and can only contain members of the same household.

2. During your planning stages continue to stay informed of pandemic issues, inquire about details and ask questions to the service providers you hire for your special event, review any contracts and insurance policies for your own protection, and be mindful of COVID-19 Guidelines for Indoor & Outdoor Events & Gatherings.

3. Limit the number of guests to the following based on the type of event:

Wedding religious service, rite, or ceremony Wedding reception / social gatherings associated with the wedding ceremony or religious service
Indoor 10 people or less, including officiant/staff  

None permitted*

(*Exception for members of a single household or one person from outside the household of a person that lives alone.)

 

Outdoor 10 people or less, including officiant/staff 5 people or less

 

4. Masks are mandatory; however, the couple may remove their masks during the wedding ceremony. At all other times, a mask must be worn when indoors and when physical distancing is difficult.

  • Keep guests informed of precautions you are taking and advise them of the mandatory requirement for them to wear masks prior to attending the event. 
  • Masks may be removed by performers when behind a physical barrier that has a window through which the music can be heard (e.g. singing or playing wind/brass instrument), or engaging in physical activity (e.g. dancing).
  • Children under two years of age, people with health issues that make wearing a mask difficult, and those who are unable to put on a mask without assistance are exempted from wearing a mask.

5. A wedding is not a wedding without music. However, singing, and musical wind instruments can project respiratory droplets further than two metres and are higher risk activities. Therefore, dancing, singing and the live performance of brass or wind instruments are prohibited where food is served. The good news is that you can use pre-recorded music or virtual performances. 

6. Finally, keep an attendance list for contact tracing and encourage your guests to download the COVID Alert app Opens in new window. If a guest becomes ill during the service/reception, ask them to go home and self-isolate.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers in Scarborough, Pickering, Markham, and Toronto. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Tips for self-isolating with an abusive partner

May 18th, 2020 by

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 in Toronto 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.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers in Toronto, Pickering, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

TIPS & TRICKS FOR PARENT’S & THEIR CHILDREN’S AT HOME LEARNING DURING COVID-19

April 24th, 2020 by
  1. 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 environments.
  2. Set up homework and learning-friendly area. Having a designated space for learning helps everyone to be more focused.
  3. Understand this will not be easy overnight. Work slowly and you will learn what learning strategies work and which ones are not as effective.
  4. Create a group chats 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 a similar situation when you need it.
  5. 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.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Law Lawyers in Pickering, Toronto, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

Covid-19 Parenting Arrangements, Urgent Motions & Recent Case Law

March 30th, 2020 by

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.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Law Firm in Toronto, Pickering, Markham, and Scarborough. You can call us at (905) 492-7662 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

COVID-19, Court Closures & Your Custody Order

March 26th, 2020 by

If there is one thing that Family Law Lawyers have learned 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:

  1. 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);
  2. 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;
  3. dire issues regarding the parties’ financial circumstances including for example the need for a non-depletion order;
  4. 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.

If you need any help with family law matters, contact AP Family Lawyers in Toronto, Pickering, Markham, and Scarborough.

Contact us today:

Telephone: 905-492-7662
Email: [email protected]
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