Are you a parent who has lost your child to a spouse during the Pandemic, due to not having a court order in place. Some people may think that their child has been ‘kidnapped’ by their ex-partner, but in fact, without a current court order stating the custody and access regime for the parties, your local Police are not able to get involved and it is not considered ‘kidnapping’. This is because you cannot ‘kidnap’ your own child if there is no court order in place stating the custody and access to said child.
During COVID-19, we have seen more child kidnapping cases in Simcoe County than ever before. Parents believe that because we are in an emergency state, that the Orders they have in place no longer apply. This is false. Any current Order, including Court Orders for custody / decision-making and access/ parenting-time are still in full force and effect. The Courts are hearing matters that are urgent in nature, including those where children are taken and not returned to the parent having custody or residency.
Recently, our family law Lawyer, Nicole Meringolo dealt with a matter where a child went with Parent A for access in another Province and was not returned when due. Parent B contacted our office in a panicked state as the airline stated the return flight was cancelled and when they contacted Parent A, they stated they were not returning the child, despite the current court order. Parent A had even gone as far as applying for the child’s Government ID in the new Province and even enrolling the child in school there as well. This matter involved acting quickly and bringing an Urgent Motion to be heard in the Barrie Ontario Superior Court of Justice and Nicole was able to achieve an Order that the child be returned to Barrie, Ontario immediately, at Parent A’s sole expense.
Not only are we seeing parents take children and refuse to return them, but Parents have also been keeping children from the other parent for access time, stating ‘COVID-19’ restrictions, lockdowns, stay-at-home order, basically any excuse they can think of to withhold access from the other parent. This is inappropriate and not in the child(ren)’s best interests. The Courts will not tolerate a parent withholding access and using COVID-19 as a scapegoat. You must continue to follow court orders, despite the Government’s restrictions on COVID-19. The only time it would be acceptable to withhold access is if a parent tests positive for COVID-19 symptoms or has come in close contact with someone positive for COVID-19, then you would not want the children exposed to that parent until they’re cleared.
If you are a parent in a situation similar to the ones above, please do not hesitate to contact our office to book a consultation with Nicole Meringolo, one of Barrie’s trusted family lawyers also providing services as a Portuguese speaking lawyer in Bradford, Innisfil, Barrie, Collingwood, Bracebridge, and Orillia, Ontario.