Covid-19 has brought forward new concerns and obstacles for many families. For parents who are separated and living in different cities while co-parenting, the essential travel restrictions in British Columbia have raised the question of whether parenting time visits should be suspended until the travel restrictions have been lifted.
The provincial regulations currently restrict British Columbia residents from having guests at their home or visiting other people’s homes. However, as an exception, the regulations provide that residents who live alone may have up to two guests in their home if the resident interacts with the guests regularly. Shared parenting falls within this exception.
Further, British Columbia has limited travel to essential travel only, defining essential travel as travel for work within your region and travel for medical appointments and hospital visits. If the child and/or parent must travel to facilitate parenting time, the issue becomes whether that is considered essential travel.
It is likely that a court will frown upon parents suspending parenting time on the basis that regular parenting is non-essential. Generally, for children parenting time is essential. Parents must use their best and reasonable efforts to uphold the parenting schedule and may travel safely and reasonably to do so.
A common arrangement for families on Vancouver Island is one parent residing on the Island and the other residing on the mainland, with the children traveling back and forth. In this situation, it is reasonable that the parenting time visits continue as BC Ferries has taken appropriate precautions and implemented Covid-19 safety protocols.
For co-parenting circumstances which would require a parent and/or a child to fly, travel outside of the province, or make it impossible to follow the recommended safety precautions, we recommend seeking legal advice to determine whether suspending parenting time visits is appropriate.
To schedule a consultation and learn more about this or other issues related to family law, please call our office at 250-591-1055.