“…parents who use the current pandemic as a tactic to deny parenting time to the other parent, without any other further justification for doing so, are not acting in the child’s best interest. Parents who attempt to create fear in the mind of a child by suggesting that the child is at risk by being in the care of the other parent, without any objective justification for doing so are also not acting in the child’s best interests. Such parents who take this approach risk jeopardizing their own position for maintaining whatever parental responsibilities they enjoy.”
- Requests for urgent relief relating to the safety of a child or parent;
- Requests to obtain or set aside protection orders, or urgent orders involving parenting time, contact with a child or communication between parties;
- Urgent issues that must be determined relating to the well-being of a child including essential medical decisions or issues relating to relocation, non-removal, wrongful removal or retention of a child;
- Applications to suspend, change or cancel any order for imprisonment or committal pursuant to the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act;
- In a child protection case, all urgent matters, including applications for supervision orders and for extension of time, and any other urgent motions or hearings; and
- Urgent cases where irreparable harm will occur if the application is not heard.
Judge Skilnick was tasked with determining whether the mother’s application was “urgent.” The mother claimed urgency on two grounds:
- The father’s refusal to return the child; and
- The father lives in a home with his mother, who performs elder care in a care home.
Judge Skilnick provided some helpful guidance for parents applying for an urgent hearing:
- Details of the denial should be provided, such as (1) when were you entitled to pick up the child, (2) how was the refusal to comply with the order communicated, and (3) what, if any, reason was given for the refusal to comply with the order.
- There must be some form of objective medical evidence to support a denial of parenting time. The lay opinion of a parent is not enough. He goes on to say “…the mere possibility that a person in someone’s home may have been in contact with someone carrying the virus is not a valid reason for denial of parenting time.”
Should there be no medical evidence and the parent is denying parenting time out of spite and for personal advantage, they risk “losing parental responsibilities as a consequence for non-compliance.”
The mother’s application for an urgent hearing was denied, but she was permitted to reapply if the father continued to deny parenting time after reviewing the judgment.
NOTE: THIS INFORMATION IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE, AND YOU SHOULD NOT RELY ON IT AS SUCH. TO ENSURE YOUR INTERESTS ARE PROTECTED, FORMALLY SEEK THE ADVICE OF A LAWYER.
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