April 3, 2020
COVID-19 & THE COURTS
The courts continue to limit operations and court applications to those that are urgent. During this time, it appears that Judges are taking advantage of this and are given written reasons for judgment in matters that they adjudicated over prior to the court limiting its operations.
On 02 April 2020, the BC Supreme Court issued a practice directive regarding urgent applications to include “urgent” insolvency applications. Family law applications remain the same, and at this time, there still remains only 1 reported decision in any BC court although many decisions have been made, just not published. The BC Supreme Court is emphasizing online or electronic filing.
Ontario courts have reported a number of cases which may assist lawyers in determining how BC Judges may decide cases in similar circumstances, and what is, and is not, urgent.
Many of the family law cases coming before the courts are primarily parenting issues. This includes applications by parents being denied parenting time under an agreement or court order, concerns around COVID-19 and exposure to a child by the other parent, and return of a child within or outside the jurisdiction of BC. Some applications are being dismissed because Judges have found that the application lacks urgency.
There is only one reported case in the Ontario Superior Courts that deals with a non-child related matter which involved a party taking a significant amount of funds from the parties’ line of credit. Otherwise, it is mostly parenting matters in family law.
The courts continue to strongly encourage parties to work together, put their emotions aside, and act in the best interests of their children and for the greater good. Many separated parents are struggling to come to agreements and it becomes even more difficult with the added stress of the Pandemic, its impact and its uncertainty in everyone’s life.
However, limited access to the courts creates an opportunity for separated parents to figure out ways of dealing with conflict and disputes instead of running to the courts. If no resolution as between themselves, remote mediation is an option while this Pandemic continues. There is also arbitration.
Our lives are changing daily, and separated parents need to be flexible and fluid in how they approach co-parenting. Separated parents need to be on the same page more than ever. Take the opportunity to work together.
Practice Direction Link of BC Supreme Court: