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Calgary COVID-19  Parenting & Child Support

Calgary COVID-19  Parenting & Child Support disputes are on the rise given the financial and emotional stresses of the economy and the pandemic. Senior Calgary COVID-19  Parenting & Child Support lawyer, Peter Graburn gives you a handy summary of what you need to know about why child support and parenting time are both important.

After two months of the COVID-19 social and economic shut-down, Alberta (except for Calgary and Brooks) is starting to get back to business (cautiously): some retail and personal services (ie. barbers, doctors, dentists, etc.) are re-opening; cafes, restaurants, pubs, and bars can open (at 50% capacity); social distancing restrictions are being relaxed to groups of 15+ (while physical distancing restrictions will likely continue for some time). However, everyone is watching against a resurgence of the virus.

Calgary COVID-19  Parenting & Child Support 1 877 602 9900

The past few months have been difficult for many separated family ex-partners, whether regarding parenting or financially. Much has been written regarding co-parenting or the payment of child support during the COVID-19 shutdown.  However, there has not been much discussion or direction from the Courts regarding the relationship between co-parenting and the payment of child support during COVID-19.  Until recently. A new case explains Calgary COVID-19  Parenting & Child Support rules.

As previously indicated, the Courts have been clear regarding the rules (and what the Courts expect of separated parents) regarding co-parenting during COVID-19 (see ”Alberta COVID-19 Urgent Family Law Matters”) 

Calgary Child Parenting Time Rules

On March 24, 2020, the Ontario High Court of Justice set out a “COVID-19 Protocol” for decisions regarding co-parenting of children during COVID-19 restrictions [see Ribiero v. Wright (2020 ONSC 1829]. On April 24, 2020, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Graesser set out the Alberta version of these guidelines for co-parenting during COVID-19 restrictions [see SAS v. LMS (2020 ACQB 287)]. In a Supplemental Decision in SAS vs. LMS released on May 5, 2020 (see: SAS v LMS, 2020 ABQB 309), Justice Grasser addressed the issue of the payment of child support in that case.

As we have repeatedly advised in these articles, child support is a basic principle in family law – child support is the right of the child, and the obligation of both parents to pay (depending on their custodial and financial circumstances). But how does this relate to the issue of access to (ie. parenting time of) children – it is also a basic principle of family law that it is in the child’s best interest to have maximum contact with both parents. 

Calgary COVID-19  Parenting & Child Support
Peter Graburn, Calgary COVID-19  Parenting & Child Support lawyer at MacLean Law

Calgary COVID-19  Parenting & Child Support – New Rules Explained

So how do these two principles relate to each other, particularly during these days of COVID-19 restrictions?  Justice Graesser (at para’s 10 and 11 of his Supplemental Reasons) made this relationship entirely clear:

[10]           It appears that the child support issue was raised for the first time on May 1. That is unfortunate, because there is almost never a correlation between payment of child support and parenting time. Child support should not be withheld as a lever to obtain parenting time; withholding the children should not be used as a lever to obtain child support. And withholding child support should not be used as retaliation for a parent denying access.

[11]           None of those things are in the best interests of the children. Regular child support payments under a court order are required, and it is in children’s best interests to ensure that their financial needs are being met. Having the children see the other parent as directed in a court order is required, and is in the children’s best interests to maintain as good as possible a relationship with both parents.

Accordingly, what is the relationship between co-parenting and the payment of child support (whether during COVID-19 or generally)?  The answer is clear – both are required! These are difficult economic times in Alberta (even without COVID-19), but the obligation to pay child support under an existing Court (at least until that Order is changed to reflect the current financial situation) remains. Similarly, these are difficult times for co-parenting during COVID-19 restrictions: schools and daycares are closed; parks, playgrounds, and recreation facilities are closed; health concerns are serious. But the obligation to maintain co-parenting arrangements (except in true emergencies where there is an imminent risk to a child’s health or safety) also remains.

Best Calgary Family Lawyers Can Help You

These are unprecedented times: economies shut down; people encouraged to stay home; Courts suspended. They are also uncertain times. While the current COVID-19 restrictions are slowly being lifted and Provinces across Canada are implementing start-up plans, many restrictions will need to be maintained for a long time to try to prevent a second wave of the coronavirus (or other viruses) from taking hold.

In these uncertain times, sometimes we have to focus on the most basic principles of family law: encourage access to children; pay child support; follow Court Orders. Certainty is in everyone’s best interest. MacLean Law remains open to assist its clients to understand the basic (and more complicated!) principles of family law and to assist its clients to manage and resolve their family law disputes both during and after this difficult period of COVID-19 restrictions.

If you have a Calgary Child Parenting Time disagreement need help on Calgary COVID-19  Parenting & Child Support issues, reach out to us now across Alberta by calling us toll-free at 1 877 602 9900.