Ask a Lawyer with Iain Sneddon

February 2021

Ask a Lawyer on Country 104

Transcript

Announcer: Country 104. Number one for new country. 8:17 a.m. We are joined here by a partner from Cohen Highley, Iain Sneddon, for our “Ask a Lawyer” segment. Iain, thank you so much for coming on. I know it has been a while since we have had a chance to talk and to catch up. A lot of things have changed over the last little while. Kendra is back in the studio here. Some rule and regulation changes are happening as of today. There is a lot going on.
Iain Sneddon: There is a lot going on. A lot of changes. A lot of questions about a number of things, but COVID obviously is something that is new into the custody and access and parenting type aspects of family law. It has been different but there is a lot of case law out there to give us some guidance. I am not sure specifically what questions there are, but I am happy to answer anything. It does not have to be on that, but I know that I have been getting a lot of calls on a professional basis on that issue.
Announcer: Now, being a new parent, I am part of a couple of different mom groups online. There are a lot of parents that have unfortunately either split during COVID or just before COVID that are having trouble determining not only how to get custody rolling, but how to go about doing it with all the rules that there are.
Iain Sneddon: Getting into the Court system is very difficult right now. Almost everything is being heard via Zoom; there are some live trials going on, but not many. As far as what to do when parties separate, sometimes I will hear parents talk about their parental rights. For example, “I am the mother” or “I am the father”, whatever the case may be. The way our Court legislation addresses the issue is that the test is the best interest of the child. A Judge needs to take a child focused approach. So it may be in the best interest of mom or dad to do something, but if a Court decides it is not in the best interest of the child they will not do it. A lot of people are asking, “can I stop my child from going to my ex’s due to COVID?” As often in family law, it depends. My take on the way the case law has shaped up is essentially that you cannot deny a Court Order that states that the kids are to go. A Court Order is exactly that and Judges do not like it being ignored. If you have a situation where you have already separated, you had an arrangement where the children go back and forth on a set schedule and then COVID hit and you no longer think it is safe to send the children, Judges have assessed the safety of it and the things to look at are things like if COVID-19 protocols are being followed. If your ex is going to massive parties somewhere that is still seeing cases pop up or doing something that is potentially dangerous, then a Court would likely deny parenting time for the safety of the child or make sure that there are certain provisions in place. This is not a license just to deny parenting time with kids to the other parent however. It is all about the safety precautions that are being taken.
Announcer: Well, they have got you there.
Iain Sneddon: If they are taken well and they are followed, then a Court will say that the children need to go.
Announcer: Interesting. Now I know there’s a lot of parents out there that are probably like “okay, now I need to make some phone calls” [laughter]. If anyone wanted to call you Iain to get some more information or to narrow in on a certain part of family law, how would they get a hold of you during times like this?
Iain Sneddon: You can call the office. Most of us at Cohen Highley are working remotely, but when you call the office number it gets redirected to our reception. Our phone number is (519) 672-9330, or you could send an e-mail to sneddon@cohenhighley.com.
Announcer: There you have it. If you have a question for Iain, you can still text in right now at (519) 643-1039. Iain, we appreciate you coming on and I know that there are probably going to be a few more questions getting asked as more rules and regulations begin to change as the Government of Ontario starts to either lighten up or hammer down on certain rules. We appreciate you always coming on and answering those for us.
Iain Sneddon: It is my pleasure.

Author

Iain is a partner at Cohen Highley and head of the family law department. He is designated as a Certified Specialist in Family Law by the Law Society of Ontario. In addition to providing legal advice and attending Court on behalf of clients, Iain is also a trained mediator for family law issues. More →