COVID-19 & Divorce Information Centre

Welcome to the COVID-19 and Divorce Information Centre. The team at Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers is working hard to create a useful resource to help anyone trying to navigate a divorce or family law dispute in Ontario, Canada during the pandemic.

COVID-19 & Divorce Resources

Explore our collection of COVID-19 and divorce resources below.


How COVID-19 Impacts Our Service

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Recent Family Law Decisions

  • B.C.J.B. v. E.-R.R.R., 2020 ONCJ 438: The court was asked to make a ruling on whether the father should be granted decision-making authority in connection with his child’s vaccinations, over the objections of the mother who had sole custody of the child in accordance with a prior parenting agreement. The child had never received any of the vaccines that other children in Ontario routinely received, and the father wanted him to be vaccinated now against COVID-19. The Court granted an Order providing the father with decision making authority about the child’s health, only as it related to administering existing publicly funded vaccinations. As the Covid-19 vaccine did not exist at the time, the Judge referred this matter, if it were still an issue when the vaccine was made available to the trial judge.
  • Chmiliar v. Chmiliar, 2001 ABQB 525: The Court ordered that vaccinations be given to the 10-year-old child over the objections of one of the parents, but was not ordered for the 13-year-old one, who was considered to be a “mature minor” who was capable of making her own medical decisions.
  • Tarkowski v. Lemieux, 2020 ONCJ 280: The parties were in Court related to sole custody of their six-year-old daughter. The issue of vaccinations arose, The Court noted that the mother had an erratic and unreliable approach to the issue of vaccinating, and held controversial and unproven beliefs. In the end, the court granted sole custody to the mother nonetheless, but gave the father specific decision-making authority over the vaccination decision. In this case, the court expressly included the future decision on whether to administer any available COVID-19 vaccine as part of the father’s mandate.
  • Zinati v. Spence, 2020 ONSC 5321: Father sought to have the child remain in at-home learning and mother sought to have the child return to in-class learning at school upon their reopening. The Court determined that it was in the child’s best interests to return to in-class learning when the school reopened in September 2020. The Court granted an Order requiring the child to be enrolled in in-class learning for the 2020-2021 school year.
  • O’Connor v. Duguay, 2020 ONSC 6138: Father sought to have the child’s primary residence changed to his address for the purpose of school enrollment and that the child should return to in-class learning for the 2020-2021 school year. Mother opposed the motion siting the child’s health issues.
  • McGrath v. McGrath, 2020 ONSC 5676: Mother sought an Order among many other times, for a change in school enrolment due to her recent move. Father sought an Order requiring the children to remain enrolled in in-class learning at the school they were currently enrolled at. The Court found that the mother’s evidence for a change in school district was insufficient and ordered that the children continue to attend school where they were presently enrolled until further Order or written agreement.
  • Chase v. Chase, 2020 ONSC 5083 (CanLII): Motion brought by the mother for sole decision-making ability for educational decisions with respect to the child. In particular, the mother sought an Order that the child shall attend school, in person, commencing at the beginning of the school year. Father opposed the motion and sought an Order that the child attend virtual at-home learning. The Court ordered that the child shall attend in-class learning commencing the beginning of the school year.
  • Joachim v. Joachim, 2020 ONSC 5355 (CanLII):Motion brought by the mother for sole decision-making ability for educational decisions with respect to the child. In particular, the mother sought an Order that the child shall attend school, virtually at home, commencing at the beginning of the school year. Father opposed the motion and sought an Order that the child attend in-class learning. The Court ordered that the child shall attend virtual classes at home for the 2020 fall semester.
  • Juergens v. Tackabury, 2020 ONSC 2852: Applicant brought an Urgent motion seeking to reinstate his access with the child. There was no active court matter between the parties at the time the Motion was brought. The Respondent did not contest the Applicant proceeding with a motion without an application. Motion proceeded. Order granted reinstating access, Applicant directed to file an application making a claim for the balance of the sought-after relief.
  • Cossu v. Simkins, 2020 ONSC 2801 – Child was placed into the care of the maternal aunt. The child’s mother made no attempt to arrange access with the child for six months. Parties were not able to come to an agreement. Mother brought a motion seeking an Urgent Case Conference prior to the First Appearance date. Motion was denied. Counsel for the parties were encouraged to speak and “try harder to fine a resolution.”
  • Reitzel v. Reitzel, 2020 ONSC 1977 – Initial claim for access, six months after separation. Not deemed urgent.
  • Eden v. Eden, SCJ Court File No: 171/19 – court finds the applicant’s actions on the facts in relation to COVID-19 protocols did not warrant an urgent change in the existing order.
  • E.M.B. v. M.F.B, 2020 ONSC 3171: Motion brought seeking leave to bring Urgent Motion to reinstate the Applicant’s access unilaterally suspended by the Respondent in light of COVID-19. Respondent brought cross-motion seeking in-person access be suspended as Applicant was not following proper procedures and child was considered to be “at-risk”. Applicant’s request deemed to be urgent and motion proceeded. Cross-motion was not permitted as the Applicant did not seek leave from the Court for same to proceed.
  • Brazeau v. Lejambe, 2020 ONSC 3117: Father brought an urgent motion compelling the mother to cooperate with court-ordered access, he further requested an order for police enforcement and make-up access time. Mother advised that children don’t want to attend father’s home and that the father’s home was unsafe. Orders granted to reinstate Father’s Access. Police Enforcement Order not granted.
  • Bartolini v. Hill, 2020 ONSC 2657 – Mother brought a motion seeking to reinstate her access to the child upon the paternal grandmother withholding in-person access since March Break due to COVID-19. Order granted to reinstate access.
  • Wallegham v. Spigelski, 2020 ONSC 2663 – Father brought a motion seeking to reinstate his in-person access with the child following the mother unilaterally suspending his in-person access due to COVID-19. Motion was deemed to be urgent and a timeline was set out for the service and filing of the Mother’s responding materials and the return of the motion.
  • Ahmadi v. Kalashi, 2020 ONSC 2047 – Mother withheld access to father relying on self-help remedies in light of COVID-19. Father brought motion to reinstate and expand access, and requesting a partial release of funds from proceeds of sale. Expanding access not considered to be Urgent. Regular access was ordered to be reinstated and partial release of sale proceeds granted.
  • Chin v. Omeally, 2020 ONSC 2029 – Parties had joint custody of child with father having regular access on alternate weekends and mid week visits. Mother suspended the father’s access in light of COVID-19 pandemic. Father brought motion seeking to reinstate his regular parenting time. Motion deemed urgent.
  • Chin v. Omeally, [2020] O.J. No. 1394 – Motion brought requesting Court make an order on urgent basis for the resumption of regular parenting time. Deemed urgent.
  • David v. Eby, 2020 ONSC 1876 – Parent unilaterally withholding children because of drug overdose in other parent’s home. Deemed urgent.
  • Derkach v. Soldatova, 2020 ONSC 1992 – Children, 6 and 12, refusing to attend access and parent not encouraging. Not deemed urgent.
  • Phipps v. Petts, 2020 ONSC 1999 – Grandparent unilaterally withholding children because he has issue with other parent’s partner’s behaviour. Deemed urgent.
  • Scharafanowicz v. DeMerchant, 2020 ONSC 1916 – Parent unilaterally withholding children because issue with other parent’s partner’s behaviour. Deemed urgent.
  • Chrisjohn v. Hillier, SCJ Court File No: F1098/18 – emergency motion to the court seeking police assistance order due to the respondent withholding access to the child out of fear of applicant lack of social distancing measures. The court found the respondent’s conduct in contravention to the existing order and therefore constituted the matter as urgent.
  • Le v. Norris, 2020 ONSC 1932 – The court ruled that although the reasons the applicant had for not obeying the existing order were not reasonable, albeit understandable in light of the COVID-19 situation. The court concluded that the parties should make very effort possible to adhere to any existing court orders in light of the circumstances.
  • Jackman v. Doyle, March 20, 2020 — Emergency motion granted. Dad attempts to change primary residence by withholding the children. Children ordered returned to mother “forthwith”. If necessary, Police are directed to enforce the order and deliver the children to the mother.
  • I.L. v. C.R., 2021 ONSC 590 – Following the mother’s month long Christmas vacation in Newfoundland with the parties’ teenage children, the mother refused to return stating that it was safer for the children’s mental and emotional health to remain in Newfoundland rather than return to Ontario since in-person schools were closed and they were forced to study remotely anyway. The Father sought to have the children return home to Ontario immediately. The Court adjourned the matter until February 12, 2021 when in-class learning in Ontario was scheduled to potentially resume in Ontario.
  • Burton v. Woods, 2020 ONCJ 158 – Enforcement of Custody and Access Order; Overholding. Deemed urgent.
  • J.W. v. C.H., 2020 BCPC 52 – Motion brought by the Applicant after the Respondent refused to return the child. The Applicant was given leave to bring her motion to require the Respondent to comply with the agreement and return the child.
  • Placha v. Bennett, 2020 ONCJ 164– Unilateral change of status quo (no order); Over holding; Return of child from out of Province. Deemed urgent.
  • Blythe v. Blythe 2020 ONSC 2871 – Parents had an existing temporary parenting Order in place giving the father access time with the two children on a specified schedule. Mother was concerned for children’s health and safety as father was an essential worker. In addition, mother and children lived with the mother’s elderly parents. The Court reduced the father’s access to daytime visits for limited periods of time in an outdoor setting.
  • Motion re: Douglas for Access — Motion for access arrangements to be restored denied by Triage Judge due to the request not being urgent or an emergency. Mother was withholding access due to Father being exposed to COVID-19 at work.
  • Elsaesser v. Rammeloo, 2020 ONSC 2025 – Motion brought by the mother when father refused to return the children to her as she was a nurse at a local hospital. Motion was deemed to be urgent and a timetable for the motion was set out for the motion to be heard on an expedited basis.
  • Sneyd v.Tumurtogoo, 2020 ONSC 2877: Father brought a motion seeking expanded access with the children and specified access, not involving the CAS. Previous Access Order required that it was to be supervised by the CAS. Prior to COVID-19, the CAS had advised that they did not feel their supervision was necessary and no longer wanted to be involved. Following the COVID-19 crisis, the CAS advised they were no longer able to supervise access which resulted in the Father losing his in-person access. Motion was deemed to be potentially Urgent and the parties were directed to serve and file further material.
  • Skuce v. Skuce, 2020 ONSC 1881 – Enforcement of supervised access per Minutes. Deemed urgent.
  • Tessier v. Rick, 2020 ONSC 1886 – Suspension of all in-person access because of COVID-19. Deemed urgent.
  • A.T. v. V.S., 2020 ONSC 4198 – The mother refused to allow the father in-person parenting time with the child beginning on May 8, 2020, after she learned that the father was gathering in large crowds to challenge the government and public health measures taken around the COVID-19 pandemic. The mother brought an urgent motion to the Court, asking for interim custody on the basis that the father was rejecting the seriousness of the pandemic. The Court granted the mother’s order on a temporary basis, ordering that the child primarily reside with her and granted her sole interim decision making authority for the children regarding health, medical care, schooling and extra-curricular activities.
  • Grossman v. Kline, 2020 ONSC 2714: Mother brought a motion suspending the father’s parenting time, or alternatively, an order that the father adhere to strict COVID-19 protocols. Mother is considered an “at-risk” individual. Motion was deemed urgent not in relation to COVID-19 but rather based on the Judge’s concerns about the parents actions and it’s affect on the child. Upon hearing the motion, it was dismissed.
  • Simcoe Muskoka CYFS v. JG, 2020 ONSC 1941 – Parent was seeking in person access where access in discretion of the Society and parent not complying with the existing supervision terms. Deemed urgent.
  • Burton v. Woods, 2020 ONCJ 158 – Enforcement of Custody and Access Order; Overholding. Deemed urgent.
  • Cooper v. Teneyck, 2020 CanLII 23789 – Suspension of all in-person access because of COVID-19; Police enforcement of Access. Not deemed urgent.
  • Zee v. Quon, SCJ Court File No: FS-16-412436 – court found the suspension of the applicant’s access to the child and that the respondent be retrained from contacting the applicant’s place of employment fit the urgency requirement.
  • Endorsement re: Ribeiro v Wright (COVID-19 Protocol) – Newly decision released from Justice Pazaratz regarding child visitation and social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Children’s Aid Society of the Region of Halton v. T.B, 2020 ONCJ 166 – Motion brought by mother to temporarily suspend father’s in-person access because of concerns father was not practicing proper social distancing methods. She advised that she and the children were exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and needed to self-quarantine. Motion was deemed to be urgent and set out a timeline for mother’s motion to be heard. Father’s in-person access was suspended on a temporary without prejudice basis.
  • Children’s Aid Society of Toronto v. T.F., 2020 ONCJ 169 – Motion brought by the CAS to make the mother’s access subject to its discretion and advised that their intention was to suspend all further in-person access until further notice. Motion was dismissed concluding that the Society was “relying solely on its blanket policy and presumptions” and provided “no specific evidence of behaviour by the mother that is inconsistent with government COVID-19 protocols.
  • Children’s Aid Society of Toronto v. S.S., 2020 ONCJ 170 – Motion brought by the CAS to determine whether the children should be placed into temporary care. Motion was granted based on that “the society cannot provide the level of supervision that it might otherwise have been able to provide” and that “as the schools and daycares are closed, there are no third parties that can oversee the well-being of children that are under the society’s supervision.”
  • Valentini v. Sweet, 2020 ONSC 3004: Maternal grandmother brought urgent motion for sole custody of her 15-year-old grandson due to her concerns for the child’s well-being in his mother’s care. Motion was not deemed Urgent but it was noted the issues were important and should be dealt with. Grandmother’s counsel was advised to address procedural considerations and schedule a Case Conference.
  • White v. Best, 2020 ONSC 2816 – Following the mother’s untimely passing, the CAS placed the parties’ child in the father’s care. Due to lack of cooperation from the maternal family, the father brought a motion for an immediate change in custody to make it easier for him to arrange medical appointments and obtain government documentation for the child. Motion granted on temporary basis.
  • Amirzada v. Alemy, 2020 ONSC 1979 – Mother brought urgent motion seeking temporary sole custody, primary residence of child, suspension of father’s in-person access and permission to travel to Vancouver, B.C. for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Motion seeking permission to travel dismissed. Parenting schedule for both parties set out.
  • Hitchcock v. Hitchcock Gillier, [2020] O.J. No. 1383 – Motion brought seeking a change to final order for sole custody of the child of the marriage. Deemed urgent based on Applicant’s materials; Court reserved right to reconsider upon submission of Respondent materials.
  • Hadley v. Hadley, 2020 ONSC 1927 – Motion brought seeking validation for service of materials via email, granting sole custody and primary residence and limiting mother’s supervised access. Interim sole custody not deemed to be urgent. Issues related to the child’s primary residence and whether the mother’s supervised access was deemed urgent and referred to the trial coordinator to assign a judge to hear the motion and set up a timeline for the mother to file her responding materials.
  • Murphy v. Connolly, 2020 ONSC 3047: Mother brought an urgent motion permitting her to move with the child an hour away from her current place of residence. Mother brought the motion without notice to the father. Motion was not deemed Urgent and Mother was advised to serve the father with her materials and schedule a Case Conference.
  • Hughes v. Hughes, 2020 ONSC 2821 – Father brought a Motion to Change seeking final decision making over the education plan of the parties’ 14-year-old daughter. Father resided in Napanee and Mother resided in Kingston. Motion was granted in Father’s favour in light of child’s preferences and report from the OCL.
  • S.W-P. v. S.P., 2020 ONSC 1913 – 12 year old ‘voting with his feet’. Deemed urgent.
  • LAF v. KVS, 2020 ONSC 1914 – the court ruled that the relocation of the child and the potential for prospective purchases of the respondent’s house and spreading COVID-19 did deem the matter urgent.
  • Onuoha v. Onuoha, 2020 ONSC 1815 – court found the matter not urgent at this time as the children are currently residing in Canada with the other parent and stressed this is not the time to move the children to another jurisdiction in light of the travel advisory guidelines.
  • Perkins v. Macierzynska, SCJ Court File No: FC-19-876 – court did not find on the evidence that the applicant had failed or was unable to adhere to COVID-19 protocol and stated the existing order should be upheld.
  • Motion re: Smith v. Sieger — New decision released from Justice Kaufman regarding COVID-19 and the repatriation of a child from the US where the child was receiving medical treatment.

1. Property

  • Abesteh v. Eagle, 2020 ONSC 2086 – Motion brought by husband seeking exclusive possession and a restraining order against his wife. Husband alleged that the wife was an alcoholic who was daily intoxicated and verbally abusive to himself and their younger child. Motion was deemed Urgent.
  • Theis v. Theis, 2020 ONSC 2001 – Release of matrimonial home funds held in trust. Not deemed urgent.
  • Guerin v Guerin, 2020 ONSC 2016 – Parties had a week-on/week-off nesting arrangement for three children. Due to COVID-19, the parties moved into the matrimonial home full-time. Mother had concern about the Father coming and going from the home. Mother brought a motion seeking interim exclusive possession of the matrimonial home and requiring the father to pay the mortgage in lieu of child support. Motion deemed not urgent in relation to the mother’s request that the father pay the mortgage. Motion deemed urgent in relation to exclusive possession and was granted. The Court advised that “the father’s contact with the children shall be reasonable and generous via video-chat or other electronic means. Leave was granted to the father to return the matter on or after April 17, 2020.
  • Hamad v. Al-Rewashdy, 2020 ONSC 2093 – The court severed the divorce from the corollary relief, and granted the divorce. As a result of the divorce, the parties’ home, which was solely owned by the wife, ceased to be a matrimonial home. When the former husband learned that the home was listed for sale, he brought a motion for certificate of pending litigation. The motion was deemed not urgent.

2. Depletion of Assets

3. Support

  • Bruni v. Daunheimer-Bruni, 2020 ONSC 2017 – Motion to Change to allow travel dispensing consent and increase child support. Not deemed urgent
  • Saperia v. Vlasiu, 2020 ONSC 1963 – the court (following a previous endorsement stating the matter was urgent) concluded that in the absence of any responding materials they were not in a position to assess whether the respondent’s request for interim child support does indeed fit the urgency requirement.
  • Scion v. White, 2020 ONSC 1915 – Court previously issues a “triage endorsement” which allowed access requests to proceed as potentially urgent, but financial and property issues were not at this time. Respondent continued to file emergency motions of which the court continued to not permit.
  • LBM v. MM, 2020 ONSC 1958 – the court was satisfied that the parenting and support motions brought by the Applicant and the anticipated cross-motion by the Respondent was urgent.

4. Family Business

  • Hrvoic v. Hrvoic, 2020 ONSC 1711 – commercial and family counsel participated in a case conference via telephone to discuss a non-urgent matter pertaining to applicant seeking the respondent to sell their shares in the family business to the applicant. Court deems underlying litigation not urgent and therefore makes no assessment of the merits of the motion for leave to appeal.

5. Family Responsibility Office

  • Young v. Sherwood, 2020 ONSC 2038 – The FRO served the support payor with a final notice to suspend their driver’s license. The payor brought a motion for a refraining order to stop his license being suspended. The Court does not have the jurisdiction to make a refraining order once a Final Notice to Suspend has been issued. As such, the Court found that the motion was not urgent.

6. Other

  • Semkiw v. Sutherland, 2020 ONSC 4088 – The mother brought an urgent motion seeking an Order permitting her to travel to Texas with the children siting that she wished to spend her residential summer time with the children in Texas. The Court ruled that it was not in the children’s best interests to partake in non-essential travel to Texas during the pandemic to be with their mother, since it would recklessly expose them to the risk of infection.
  • Yohannes v. Boni, 2020 ONSC 4756 – Father lives in France and has an Order for extended visitation and accommodation rights. He sought to have the parties’ daughter fly to France to visit him. Mother brought an urgent motion seeking a temporary without prejudice Order requiring the Father to exercise his parenting time in Toronto, Ontario so long as Canada has an advisory against all non-essential international travel. The Court ruled that it was not in the child’s best interests to permit her to travel to France to visit her father.
  • Bruni v. Daunheimer-Bruni, 2020 ONSC 2017 – Mother brought a Motion to Change seeking permission to travel without the father’s consent and increase in child support among other things. Motion to Change had not yet been issued and there was no proof of service. Matter was not deemed to be urgent. Mother was instructed to issue her Motion to Change and formally serve same. Thereafter, matter would be dealt with in the ordinary course.
  • Amirzada v. Alemy, 2020 ONSC 1979 – Mother brought urgent motion seeking temporary sole custody, primary residence of child, suspension of father’s in-person access and permission to travel to Vancouver, B.C. for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Motion seeking permission to travel dismissed. Parenting schedule for both parties set out.
  • Bruni v. Daunheimer-Bruni, 2020 ONSC 2017 – Motion to Change to allow travel dispensing consent and increase child support. Not deemed urgent
  • Johansson v Janssen, 2020 BCSC 469 – Mother took the children to Germany to renew her Canadian visitor Visa but return was unclear. Father brought urgent motion requiring the mother to return the children to B.C. once international restrictions related to COVID-19 were lifted. Mother claimed B.C. did not have jurisdiction as Father was living in Sweden and Mother was in Germany. Motion deemed not urgent as returning the children to B.C. would have no immediate practical consequences.
  • Amirzada v. Alemy, 2020 ONSC 1979 – Mother brought motion seeking an order permitting her to take the parties’ two year-old child to Vancouver for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Motion was deemed to be urgent but was dismissed as it was not deemed to be in the child’s best interest.

Unequal Division of Net Family Property

  • Serra v. Serra, 2009 ONCA 105 – The husband owned a textile business that was very profitable on the parties’ separation date. But by the time the trial arrived, the value of his shares in the company had suffered a very steep (and very likely permanent) drop, due entirely to market forces. The Appeal Court affirmed that in the face of this kind of market-driven negative change in the value of one spouse’s assets between separation and trial, it would be unconscionable to apply the equalization process in the usual way.

2. Sale of Family Property due to COVID-19

  • Dhaliwal v. Dhaliwal, 2020 ONSC 3971 – The father sought an order forcing the immediate sale of the matrimonial home as well as the parties’ condo that they had originally purchased jointly as an investment. The father worked as an optometrist and sited that due to the government mandates around COVID-19, he was unable to continue to pay the carrying costs for these properties. The judge made many observations; in the end made an Order that the matrimonial home and investment property be listed for sale forthwith.
  • Taylor v Boon 2020 ONSC 5521 – Following the father’s death and estate litigation with the mother, the paternal grandmother and aunt sought access to the parties’ nine-year-old daughter. This was a triable issue; however, the Court identified that the matter would not be able to be resolved at trial until at least 2022 duet o the backlog of cases arising from the pandemic. Under the circumstances the Court advised that the only realistic way to address the disagreements between the parties would be to manage the case through motions rather than waiting for trial.
  • Levin v. Levin, 2020 ONCA 675 – The Husband sought an appeal to reduce the amount of costs he was ordered to pay relying on the negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on his self-employment income. The Ontario Court of Appeal permitted a reduction of $1,585.00 in light of the appeal being heard in writing and not requiring an in-person attendance.
  • Mills v. Mills, 2020 ONSC 2008 – Trial scheduling. Not deemed urgent.

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