Recent COVID-19 case: denial of access
Robinson v Darrah 2020 O.J. No. 2016, Ontario Superior Court of Justice: The father brought a motion to have his access to the child resumed and for police assistance in ensuring compliance. The child has lived with the mother since the parties separated in mid 2015, when the child was a few months old. The mother was granted custody and the father gradually increasing access in early 2017, but the mother refused to allow the access to take place. In late 2018, the father received an order granting him two hours of supervised access twice a week, which was changed just before the pandemic struck to unsupervised access with the amount of time to gradually increase.
Both the mother, who has severe diabetes and a lung condition, and the child, who is susceptible to pneumonia as a result of being born prematurely, have serious health issues that place them at higher risk with respect to COVID-19, so the mother suspended access.
Justice Tobin found that the pandemic constituted a material change in circumstances and that the health situation of the mother and child meant there were increased risks. He also found that the mother had unilaterally suspended an access arrangement. The father, who lives alone, had taken steps, including self-isolation, to minimize exposure.
Justice Tobin determined that it was in the child’s best interests to resume access with the father, with some modifications, including suspension of the mid-week in-person access, because of the pandemic. He did not order police assistance.