May 11, 2020

Should my child have visits with a parent if they are a front-line worker with COVID-19?

If I have an agreement with my ex that the kids go back and forth between us, how does this change if they are a front-line worker?

Can I stop access visits with a parent who works in healthcare?


The first approach is do not stop access. The next question is whether that person is doing all the recommended steps to keep themselves protected in their job and therefore protecting your children. Do not make any changes without the other parent’s consent or fully investigating the facts.

You can discuss your concerns with the other parent, but it is your child’s best interest to keep seeing both parents until you have evidence otherwise.

A parent who works in healthcare on the front-line will be well-aware of the COVID-19 protocols and has likely taken additional steps to minimize the risk.  Of course the other parent will be nervous if they are not the front-line worker and do not know the precautions being taken. You can ask the front-line parent what steps they are taking but you should not bring an urgent motion to a court to prevent a parent who works in healthcare from seeing their child unless the parent who is on the front-line is not taking the appropriate steps to protect themselves.

A court is likely to find that a child should have access visits with a parent even if they work in healthcare and could order costs against you.

Be reasonable, keep access going and communicate your concerns. You are co-parents and must remember this is a stressful time for everyone, including your child.

This is a particularly stressful time to work in healthcare. Front-line workers are under great pressure. Make it easier on yourself, your children and co-parent by showing compassion.

The courts have stated that a parent who stops access without the other parent’s consent during the current shutdown is likely to face legal repercussions in the future for this unreasonable behaviour. You must check out the facts first – do not jump to conclusions.

What if I am concerned the other parent is not physical distancing?

Communicate your concerns in writing to the other parent. Be clear. You cannot rely on a feeling. You must have evidence that the other parent is not following COVID-19 protocols and that this is creating an urgent health or safety risk for the child or yourself.

Take steps before resorting to stopping access visits or starting court.

If you or your child are part of a high-risk group, then advise the other parent about your concerns and ask what they are doing to keep everyone safe.

The court will only hear urgent motions and conferences on limited issues. You need to try everything you can to resolve without going to court. There is no guarantee a court will hear your matter even if you believe yours or your child’s health are at risk.

What steps do I take if I’m worried?

  • Try to contact and explain to the the other parent your worries
  • Let them know what you are doing for safety precautions
  • Ask them to follow the protocols, send them links to the local or provincial protocols
  • clearly ask them what they are doing for precautions
  • If they are not following protocols, gather evidence
  • If you or the child have a serious medical condition, contact your healthcare provider and ask them to provide written confirmation of the risk of not following COVID-19 protocols and the impact on yours or the child’s health
  • Provide that evidence to the other parent and again ask them to follow protocols

If the other parent does not begin following COVID-19 protocols, then contact a lawyer to confirm whether your issue is urgent and if court is necessary. You can book a consult with the Family Law Advisor at the top right of this page – or call the free line the provincial government has established to see if your case is a COVID-19 urgent situation.

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