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If I believe my Ex is not complying with COVID-19 physical distancing protocols, or is unvaccinated, can I decide to keep them from seeing the child we have together?

The short answer is “probably not”, unless you can prove to the court that exposure to the other parent does not serve the child’s best interests – perhaps due to the child’s unique medical vulnerabilities that put him or her at-risk.

Early in the pandemic, there were some Ontario Family court decisions in which a parent’s failure or unwillingness to stick to government COVID-19 mandates (e.g. involving lockdown periods, or keeping to social “bubbles”) was one of the factors in the decision-making around parenting time.  However, those were decided on a case-by-case basis, and involved the court looking at the overall scenario to determine the particular child’s best interests.

Since then, courts have not seen fit to make any broad universal pronouncements in this area, around what separated and divorced parents must (or must not) do in their own households during parenting time, to protect children from being exposed to COVID-19.  Nor have there been any Ontario court decisions so far, in which a judge has focused on a parent’s unvaccinated status in order to deprive him or her of parenting time.

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