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Vancouver Family Law Blog

Children's issues: Parents who date after divorce

Most couples who divorce have children. Children's issues in British Columbia seem to be numerous when kids' parents are going through the divorce process or have gone through it. It takes a while for children to adjust to new situations, but what happens when one parent decides to start dating again after having divorced? How will this decision affect the children?

Life doesn't stop after a divorce. Many people make the decision to date after separating or divorcing in the hopes of finding a new life partner. It's a delicate area and one of which parents need to be extremely cautious when it comes to their children -- especially when they're younger and in their early teens. Introducing a romantic interest into the family mix can be challenging and daunting. In fact, experts say having a parent find a new partner can even be harder on them than the divorce was.

The Court System Must Adapt to the Covid-19 Crisis

On March 19th, the Supreme Court of British Columbia issued a Notice mandating that all regular court operations be suspended indefinitely and that all matters except those deemed urgent be adjourned generally. In other words, unless a matter is deemed urgent by the courts, it will not be allowed to be heard. It is fully understandable in an unprecedented crisis such as this that the courts, like all other facets of society, must adjust and adapt to comply with the distancing necessary to combat COVID-19. It is also fully understandable that, in the short term, there be disruptions to the regular operations of the court and that some hearings and trials be postponed. More than being simply understandable, it is necessary that the courts quickly adapt to the current circumstances and they once again provide British Columbians with the access to justice which is their constitutional right.

Urgent Court Applications amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 18, 2020, the B.C. Supreme Court issued a notice on its website providing that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Supreme Court courthouses are closed and all regular court operations are suspended, effective immediately. The B.C. Provincial Court issued a similar notice suspending all court operations on March 25, 2020.

While the courts have postponed all non-urgent hearings and conferences, they will hear urgent matters where children are involved, and applications to obtain or remove a protection order. The Supreme Court considers the following child-related matters to be urgent: issues relating to the safety of a child or parent due to risk of violence or immediate harm, issues relating to the risk of removal of a child from the jurisdiction, and issues relating to the well-being of a child. Henderson Heinrichs LLP is also taking the position that the list of urgent matters includes financial issues relating to a child's care and well-being. In addition, both the Supreme Court and the Provincial Court have the discretion to hear urgent matters other than those listed in the published notices.

Family law: The importance of grandparents, bonus grandparents

There is a common belief today that people who are considered to be family don't have to be related by blood. British Columbia family law says it is incumbent upon adults to do what is in the best interests of children and sometimes that may mean including people in their lives who are positive role models, although not biologically family -- like bonus grandparents, for instance. Divorce can be particularly difficult for kids who are likely being co-parented, so when caring people can step in for a bit, it may be a positive experience for everyone.

Grandparents -- whether biological, step-grandparents or pseudo-grandparents -- can play a vital role in children's lives. These individuals can focus on the needs of the children who may be going through tough times amid their parents' divorces. They can be in the moment with kids without taking the side of one parent over the other and children perceive that.

Shared Parenting during COVID - 19: Direction from the Courts

Many separated parents sharing parenting time with their children have been asking the same question: how does shared parenting work in light of the restrictions and recommendations for self-isolation and social distancing?

The Superior Court of Justice, Family Court released a decision on March 24, 2020 dealing with that exact question. In Ribeiro v. Wright, 2020 ONSC 1829 [Ribeiro], although Justice Pazaratz did not ultimately hear the matter, he did set out guidelines for parents to consider before making an application to the court to address COVID-19 concerns impacting a parenting arrangement, which can be summarized as follows:

Shared Parenting during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Shared parenting can be difficult in the best of times. The current climate of the COVID-19 virus pandemic and the self-isolation and social distancing measures in place will not make it any easier. Unfortunately, there are some parents who will attempt to capitalize on the COVID-19 pandemic to keep their children in their care and not release them to the other party, citing concerns for children being exposed to the virus. The only consideration that parents should have, whether during the pandemic or otherwise, is what is in the best interest of the children. The following are things to keep in mind when addressing parenting issues during the pandemic:

Understand your legal options. Make informed decisions. Contact the family law lawyers of Henderson Heinrichs LLP


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