Parenting over the holidays in the age of Covid-19Dec 14 2021
Many of our usual traditions have been interrupted and changed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but for families going through separation or divorce, one of the biggest hurdles is yet to come. The holiday season is filled with annual traditions involving extended family and friends. Children are on a break from school and parents have time off work.
It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year but for parents that are divorced or separated, the holidays often mean splitting parenting time. For families where the children reside primarily with one parent for most of the year, the holidays may be one of the few times in the year where the children can see their other parent.
If you have an existing plan for parenting time, it is advisable to follow it if it is safe and possible to do so. This will allow your children to stay connected to both parents and provide them with normalcy and routine during these uncertain times.
If you are entering into an agreement or order that deals with parenting arrangements, make sure that in addition to setting a regular parenting schedule, your agreement includes provisions for the holidays and special events. You should ensure your agreement contains provisions regarding how time over the holidays will be divided. Remember that the agreement should be in writing and signed by both you and your ex-partner in the presence of witnesses.
If you already have an agreement or order, review the plan, and identify any potential issues early on, in order to make alternative arrangements if needed. You can negotiate with the other parent to amend the agreement. If the other parent is not agreeable you may need to apply in court to vary your parenting agreement or order.
Parenting time should be suspended if the child, a parent, or any member of either household has been in contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if someone has symptoms of COVID-19, is awaiting COVID-19 test results, or tests positive for COVID-19.
If parenting time needs to be changed or suspended, find other ways to keep connected to your children such as a telephone call or video call. Adjustments may also include an agreement for additional future parenting time with the child to make up for missed parenting time when the situation changes.
If disagreements arise you may need to apply to the court to vary the parenting agreement or order. This should be done well in advance of the holidays or special events. You must convince the court that it is in the best interests of your children to vary the existing agreement or order.
If you’re unable to have your existing agreement or order varied prior to the holidays, make plans to celebrate that holiday with your children during your regularly scheduled parenting time.
The court’s main concern during COVID-19 is to protect the health and wellbeing of children and families. To ensure the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, and everyone stays safe and healthy, follow these tips:
- Plan your parenting arrangements ahead of time
- Be reasonable and flexible with your parenting arrangements
- Don’t expose your children to COVID-19
- Comply with COVID-19 guidelines issued by B.C.’s public health officer
- If travelling, get proof of vaccination and travel authorizations in advance
If you feel official changes are needed to your parenting schedule or if your ex-spouse is refusing to honour the existing parenting schedule, you may have to go to court to solve the issue. If you need to vary an existing agreement or order or deal with any other family law issue, it’s a good idea to consult with a legal professional who has experience in family law.
Contact our office at 604.853.0774 to speak with a member of our Family Law team. It is important to raise these issues early as the courts have limited time over the holidays and many offices are closed. Our office will be closed from 12pm on December 24 until 8:00am on January 3rd.