Parenting during COVID-19

Provincial Court
Supreme Court
COVID-19 Parenting

Follow your existing parenting plan during COVID-19

It’s in your child’s best interests to follow your existing plan for parenting time if it’s safe and possible to do so. Following the existing plan gives children some normality and routine in uncertain times and helps keep them connected to both their parents.

If it’s not safe

Parenting time should be suspended if the child, a parent, or any member of either household:

  • has been in contact with a person known to have COVID-19
  • is ill with symptoms of COVID-19, is waiting for COVID-19 test results, or tests positive for COVID-19

If it’s not possible

Parenting time should be changed or suspended if it:

  • normally happens in a public place that is currently closed, such as a community centre, mall, or restaurant
  • must be supervised and the supervisor is someone who doesn’t live in the parent’s home

Try to reach a solution together

If you need to change or suspend parenting time, discuss other ways of keeping your child connected with both parents, such as with frequent phone or video calls. You might also consider arranging to make up for missed parenting time when the situation changes.

If you both agree on how to deal with parenting time, it is helpful to put your agreement in writing (though you don’t have to). You can adapt these Template Social Distancing Clauses for Parents or these Possible COVID-19 clauses to suit your situation.

The court’s top priority during COVID-19 is to protect the health and wellbeing of children and families. Families must do their part to keep everyone safe and healthy, including the following:
  • Everyone in each household must follow health precautions.
  • Parents must not expose their child to the virus risk.
  • Parents need to act responsibly, use common sense, communicate, and try problem-solving before going to court.

You can’t deny the other parent their parenting time just because they or a member of their household is a frontline or essential service worker. 

If you, the other parent, or anyone in either household is in an essential service job or works with the public — such as a doctor, nurse, supermarket or pharmacy worker, postal or delivery worker, and many more — you and the other parent should discuss the situation and decide together whether to change your parenting time arrangements.

Your decision should consider your child’s best interests and factors such as:

  • what the essential or frontline worker’s work duties are;
  • what each parent's exposure to the risk of contracting the virus is;
  • what preventative measures both parents and other members of their households are taking to lower their risk of exposure to COVID­-19; and
  • whether the child, either parent, or anyone in the household is it at higher risk of experiencing more severe consequences of the virus.
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The court’s top priority during COVID-19 is to protect the health and wellbeing of children and families. Families must do their part to keep everyone safe and healthy, including the following:
  • Everyone in each household must follow health precautions.
  • Parents must not expose their child to the virus risk.
  • Parents need to act responsibly, use common sense, communicate, and try problem-solving before going to court.

People over age 70, people with chronic health conditions, and people with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

If anyone in either parent’s household is at higher risk, parents should discuss their specific situations and make a decision about parenting time that is in the child’s best interests. Generally, it is not in a child’s best interests to follow a parenting order or agreement that increases the risk of COVID-19 to the child, their parents, other household members, or the community.

Canadians are being asked to travel only if it’s essential, especially to communities with limited supplies, healthcare equipment, and resources.

Courts are likely to consider travel within BC to follow a parenting plan as essential travel, as long as it doesn’t put the child, either parent or their household, or the community at increased risk for COVID-19.

  • Driving in a personal vehicle within British Columbia is not restricted at this time.
  • If you travel on BC Ferries, you will have a health check before you board. If you drive on to the ferry, you might be able to stay in your vehicle for the whole trip. You must wear a mask in the terminal and all areas of the ferry, including the outside decks.
  • If you travel by bus or airplane, you will have a health check before you get on board and wear a mask while on board.

Find the latest information about COVID-19 (including travel restrictions) online:

The court’s top priority during COVID-19 is to protect the health and wellbeing of children and families. Families must do their part to keep everyone safe and healthy, including the following:
  • Everyone in each household must follow health precautions.
  • Parents must not expose their child to the virus risk.
  • Parents need to act responsibly, use common sense, communicate, and try problem-solving before going to court.

If the other parent is not following the government's COVID-19 health protocols, they are not acting in their child’s best interests. You can try to change your parenting arrangements.

Your first step should be to tell the other parent about your concerns (by phone, email, or text, for example). If you need help doing this, you can contact a Family Justice Counsellor or a mediator.

If you can't agree about how to change your parenting arrangements and you have an issue of immediate concern, you can apply to have an urgent hearing about the issue in court. The court expects:

  • the parent applying to provide specific evidence or examples of the other parent not following COVID-19 protocols;
  • the parent replying to the application to provide specific reassurance that all protocols will be complied with; and,
  • both parents to provide realistic proposed schedules for parenting time addressing all virus considerations, among other things.

This information can be provided in an affidavit, at the hearing, or both.

Videos

This 7-minute video is for people wondering if they should go to court during COVID-19. Includes information about parenting time.
Keep your family safe and healthy

The court’s top priority during COVID-19 is to protect the health and wellbeing of children and families. Parents must do their part to keep everyone safe and healthy, including the following:

  • Everyone in each household must follow health precautions.
  • Parents must not expose their child to the virus risk.
  • Parents need to act responsibly, use common sense, communicate, and try problem-solving before going to court.

Coping with Separation during COVID-19

Cover of the publication "Coping with Separation during COVID-19"

Our publication describes the emotional aspects of separating from your spouse during the pandemic and suggests ways you and your children can cope. An extensive list of where to find support services is also included.