As you may know, on March 19th the Nova Scotia Supreme Court adopted an essential service model. An essential service model means that only urgent and emergency matters were being heard by the court. The Court advised quickly that what qualified as an “urgent” or “emergency” matter did not include “unilateral interruptions of court-ordered parenting arrangements, disagreements as to a child’s activities while in the care of another parent, and interruptions in the payment of child or spousal support”. Essentially, the Court would not be an option for parents to dispute custody, their children’s schedules, or child support issues.
The expectation has been that parents will continue with their existing parenting schedule as best as possible. If parents had been in a shared parenting schedule prior to the pandemic, they are expected to do their best to maintain that schedule wherever possible. The best interests of the child are always tantamount, so making sure they maintain a positive relationship with both parents is key. If your specific circumstances mean that one parent will be taking on a primary care role in the short term, the child should have access to the other parent frequently via telephone, text message, skype or any other form of communication that make sense in your specific situation.
Of course, the added stress and uncertainty of living through a global pandemic means that parents that were already struggling with co-parenting are likely finding it even more difficult lately. Although the Courts are now accepting some motions by correspondence and are on track to hear some matters by teleconference in the coming weeks, those parents that are having difficulty might want to take steps more quickly to address concerns.
While the Courts do not look like it did prior to COVID-19, lawyers still have a host of tools to address concerns when parents are looking to resolve issues. It is worthwhile to discuss alternative dispute resolution options with your lawyer such as mediation, arbitration, and collaborative family law.
When parents are able to come to an agreeable resolution between themselves, that makes sense for them and their children, there is often an option to have their lawyers prepare the necessary documents to formalize the agreement. In cases where the Court’s approval is required, like when the agreement will act as an amendment to an existing court order, we are able to submit the amended documents to the court electronically for approval.
If you have any questions about your current parenting arrangement or how to amend it to accommodate the changes that have come from COVID-19 please feel free to reach out to DCL Law for a consultation.
By: Brennan LeJean, JD, Associate Lawyer
The information and materials found on this blog are provided for general information purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. Nothing contained on this blog is legal advice or constitutes a legal opinion. You should consult a lawyer before relying on any information contained herein.