With the advent of vaccination passports, family lawyers in Toronto may be wondering what effect, if any, these new passports may have on family law disputes. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges for family courts. During COVID-19, family lawyers have seen disputes involving in-person or remote learning for children, social distancing, whether or not to vaccinate their children, and various other disputes involving the best interests of the children. To date, the trend seems to be that the courts have followed government directives in considering what is in the child’s best interests. After all, our family courts can do whatever is deemed in the child’s best interests, regardless of the parents’ conduct.
Another issue that may come up in the future, is whether a parent has an obligation to get vaccinated because it would be in the best interests of the children. Of course, a court cannot force a parent to get vaccinated. However, a court can limit a parent’s decision-making powers or parenting time with the children. In a previous blog, I discussed the case of Burrell v. Burrell, in which the father believed the pandemic was a hoax and as a result, the mother brought a motion for temporary custody of the children and won. The court opined that although the father is entitled to his opinion, the best interests of the children should not be subordinated to the father’s behaviour.
Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has brought new issues for parents and their family law cases. Some parents have resorted to not following existing agreements and using COVID-19 as the rationale. However, it is always best to consult a family law lawyer or custody lawyer in Toronto before making any major decisions about your current case.