Court blocks request from Quebec father to quarantine his children after visiting girlfriend in Europe
MONTREAL – A Quebec father who left to visit his new girlfriend abroad in the midst of a pandemic will not be able to spend his quarantine with his children on his return and disrupt their schedule, a judge has just ruled.
The man has joint custody of his two children every two weeks.
He met a woman, who lives in Europe, after their separation and visited her several times since the start of the COVID-19 health crisis, for periods ranging from eight days to three weeks.
Initially, Superior Court judge Bernard Synnott stressed that these were not “essential trips” and that the father had chosen to take these trips even though the Canadian government had advised against them.
The father asked the court, on his return to the country, to spend the rest of his quarantine with his two children in compliance with health instructions. He will have already spent three days in isolation in a hotel and will have been tested, he assured the court.
For him, the situation is no worse than that of a health worker who returns to his family every day, Judge Synnott reported in his ruling at the end of April, a statement that raised eyebrows.
“Such a comparison with essential workers is confusing and wordless,” wrote Justice Synnott. “He is deliberately choosing to contravene the Government of Canada’s clear recommendations. Healthcare workers have no choice.”
The father complains that their mother refuses to take back the time he lost without his children, “because he chose to go visit his friend” in Europe, the judge said.
In other words, he would like the mother to adapt to accommodate the father without consulting her. He would therefore dictate the on-call schedule according to his travels.
For the judge, the answer was simple “no”.
Although the court is generally open to accommodation, it is of the opinion that the limits have been reached here.
In Justice Synnott’s opinion, it would be against the best interests of the children for their schedules to be disrupted by a parent voluntarily quarantining themselves after returning from a non-essential trip and contrary to the instructions of the Canadian government.
It’s up to the parent to make choices, but those choices won’t be dictated to all other family members, the judge ruled. He or she will miss out on great opportunities to see their children, and that is on his or her own decision.
– This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 5, 2021.