Ontario SCJ Family Law Decisions on Urgency During COVID-19

Prepared by: Farzana Jiwani at Jiwani Law (farzana@jiwanilaw.ca) on April 23, 2020 

Since March 15, 2020 the Ontario Superior Court limited family law hearings to urgent matters in response to #COVID-19. I successfully argued an urgent motion on April 21, 2020 involving a custody matter for a deceased parent in Lam v. Chuang 2020 ONSC 2479. I’ve detailed out the decision below rendered April 22, 2020 along with two other cases that will offer guidance on urgent motions granted. 

CaseDateKey wordsSummary
Lam v. Chuang2020 ONSC 1888

2020 ONSC 2479
April 17, 2020
April 22, 2020
Full-decision making authority and primary residenceThe maternal grandparents live in Vietnam.  The Applicant Lam lives in Guelph, Ontario.  The Father lives in China.  The maternal grandparents and the Applicant Lam (family friend) brought an urgent motion on April 13, 2020 so that he could have full decision making authority over a ten year old girl whose mother passed away on March 22, 2020.  The girl’s mother had sole custody and the father had supervised access.  In the mother’s will, she outlined serious concerns about the father having full custody of the child.  On April 22, 2020, Faieta J. granted the Applicant Lam full decision making authority of the child.  The OCL stated that it may be appropriate to grant custody of the child to the Applicant Lam on a temporary basis as they recognized the immediate need for someone to have decision-making authority pending completion of the OCL’s work.
Jackman v. Doyle2020 ONSC 1875March 20, 2020Status quoUnilaterally alteredThe Father had never had access to the children, aged 5 and 3, without their nanny being present.  The Father told the Mother that he was going to take the children to a rental property for the week of March 15, 2020.  The Mother did not agree to such an arrangement and the Father removed the children from the Mother’s property without her consent.   It was found that the children’s status quo was unilaterally altered by the Father’s actions and it was in the children’s best interest to make an interim order returning the children to the Mother’s care and control at her property.  
Smith v. Sieger2020 ONSC 1681March 18, 2020Imminent closure of the borderThe Father requested an immediate return of the parties 16 year old son from the United States where he was enrolled in an educational program.  Kaufman J. stated that given the current health concerns facing all of us, the imminent closure of the border between Canada and the United States and the recommendations of our health professionals and Government authorities regarding Canadian citizens out of the country, the relief requested by the Applicant Father is granted in its entirety.  

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