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Crazy About COVID-19 – Placha v. Bennett (2020 ONCJ 164)

Mandeep Dhillon

Associate

Tel:       403.692.5209
Email:  mdhillon@vogel-llp.ca

In these unprecedented and uncertain times, the family courts are faced with the challenge of which matters are urgent enough to be heard and what, if any, impact the Coronavirus has on parenting issues. In the matter of Placha v. Bennett these two issues were discussed and determined by the Honourable Justice Pugsley. The parties are the parents of a 9-year old child of which the Mother was the primary caregiver; the parties never formalized their parenting arrangement by either agreement or court Order and as such the Father had a sporadic and complicated access history. In early 2020, the Father has requested that he be permitted to travel with the child to Newfoundland and Labrador during the March school break and the Mother obliged. However, due to the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Ontario extended the March school break by two weeks. During this time, the parties discussed when the child would be returned but an agreement was not reached and the Father failed to return the child. The Mother brought a motion to compel the Father to return the child to her care. The Honourable Justice Pugsley found that the Mother’s motion was urgent and ordered the Father to return the child to Ontario immediately:

“The [father] may have good intentions to protect his child from exposure to the virus but such intentions cannot be used by him to unilaterally change the custody of the child from the mother to the father, nor unilaterally change her province of residence. The [mother] can be trusted to protect the child from exposure to the virus during the return of the child to her proper home in Ontario.”

2020-04-13T12:59:30-06:00April 16th, 2020|

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