Russell Alexander featured in Canadian Lawyer Magazine: Court orders parents to take child “terrified” of COVID-19 to counselling

Judge admonishes parents for not utilizing dispute resolution clause in divorce order

An Ontario court has treated the issue of a child’s return to a COVID-19 hotspot, when the child was suffering from pandemic-related anxiety, as a mental health issue that called for the parents to take the child to counselling.

In I.L. v. C.R., 2021 ONSC 590, the applicant father and respondent mother, both lawyers, had three teenaged children, aged 18, 16 and 13. The parents separated in September 2015 and obtained a divorce order in October 2018 that settled their parenting issues. The children primarily resided with their mother in Hamilton, Ontario and stayed with their father, who rented accommodation in Hamilton, at regular times during the week. The order provided that a professional would facilitate and mediate the resolution of any remaining parenting issues.

The children spent Christmas holidays in Newfoundland with their mother each year. In November 2020 the mother told the father that she wanted to take a longer trip, to compensate for the time the mother and children would need to be in quarantine after arrival in Newfoundland. The mother and children then left for Newfoundland on Dec. 7, 2020, but failed to return on the agreed date of Jan. 7, which prompted the father to file a motion to bring back the children to Ontario.

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