In a recent Quebec decision that made headlines, a father went to court asking that he be permitted to quarantine with his children following non-essential trips outside of Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Father Travels to Denmark to See Girlfriend During Pandemic
The parents lived together from September 2005 to June 2019. They have two children together, aged 14 and 12. The parents agreed to shared custody every other week.
Following the separation in 2019, the father met a woman who lives in Denmark.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the father visited the woman in Denmark on several occasions. His trips would vary in length from eight days to three weeks at a time. Upon his return from these trips, the mother would refuse to let him make up his lost parenting time with the children.
The father therefore went to court, asking that, immediately upon his return from his trips to Denmark, he be permitted to spend his quarantine period with his children. He submitted that he complied with all health regulations relating to people in quarantine. In addition, he argued that he posed little risk as he would quarantine in a hotel for three days and would obtain a negative COVID-19 test upon his return and again within 10 days thereafter. Further, he submitted that his situation was no worse than that of a health worker who returns daily to their family.
Court Rejects Father’s Requests
At the outset, the court noted that the father’s travels were non-essential and went against government recommendations, stating:
“Although this is not a case of essential travel, quite the contrary, the father made the deliberate choice not to follow the recommendations of the health authorities and the Canadian government during this difficult period when thousands of people are dying.”
The court then took particular issue with the father’s claim his situation was similar to that of a health care worker, stating:
“Health care workers do not have a choice. They care for infected patients day after day. Many of these patients are seriously ill because they have often been infected by careless travellers or people who disregarded government health guidelines and recommendations. There is no comparison here with health care workers.”
The court then held that it would be contrary to the interests of the children to have their schedules disrupted by a parent who was voluntarily quarantining himself upon return from a non-essential trip that ran contrary to government health directives. The court observed:
“Complaining about a lack of access to one’s children for weeks at a time because of personal choices contrary to the government’s instructions seems to run contrary to common sense. The court considers that, in the circumstances, the [father] is pleading his own turpitude.
It will be up to him to make choices. However, such choices will not be dictated to all the other members of his family.
If he is not present to exercise custody, because of his own will and his own turpitude, he cannot complain about it now.”
In the result, the court dismissed the father’s requests. It ordered that, should the father leave the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, he would be required to quarantine without the presence of his children upon his return and would not be permitted to make up his lost parenting time.
At Feigenbaum Law, our goal is to help you move forward following the breakdown of a relationship while retaining as much financial stability as possible and ensuring your children are provided for. Mark Feigenbaum is able to counsel his clients on all potential risks that may result from a family law dispute, not just those related strictly to the breakdown of a marriage. Contact Mark online or call him at (416) 777-8433 or toll-free at (877) 275-4792 to book a consultation.