On March 17, 2020, the Province of Ontario declared a state of emergency to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Although the declared state of emergency in Ontario ended on July 24, 2020, certain orders made under the province’s COVID-19 emergency legislation continue, for one year.
We continue to work at the office to serve client needs.
The only change in operations is that for health and safety reasons, in person meetings are currently suspended. For now, all attendances are taking place virtually.
COVID-19 caused the suspension of regular Court operations.
Initially, the Court heard only urgent and pressing matters. Effective June 26, 2020, the requirement to demonstrate that a matter is urgent and/or pressing no longer applies. The matters that are being scheduled and the process for arranging attendances is specific to each jurisdiction. Thus far, trials are not being scheduled in the Central East region.
Attendances presumptively take place by videoconference. Certain Court centres will allow in-person attendances, if required (as determined by the Court). If a lawyer or party is not comfortable with an in-person attendance due to COVID-19 concerns, the hearing will proceed virtually.
During this temporary suspension of regular operations, the Court has called upon the cooperation of counsel and parties to engage in every effort to resolve matters.
A tremendous backlog is anticipated in the Court. Many issues cannot wait. Mediation fills the gap, whether for a single issue or for all. Early dates are available.
Implications for Separated Spouses
The consequences of COVID-19, including their significance and duration, are unknown and cannot be anticipated. Many people will suffer financially, which will be relevant to issues such as property, income, child support and spousal support. Necessary changes in housing may affect parenting plans. Some people will suffer intimate partner violence, and will not have adequate access to justice. Short cuts may be taken in negotiation processes, which may undermine the integrity of agreements entered into at this time.
Maxine M. Kerr has written and presented extensively to family law professionals on the implications of COVID-19, from both a financial and a parenting perspective. Maxine would be pleased to apply that knowledge to your circumstances.