A woman hits a cow bell with a drum stick as a part of the 7pm tribute to health-care workers outside the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. custody case highlights uncharted territory for split parents amid COVID-19

She’s a nurse, he operates a demolition company and both just want to keep their young son safe

A recent court decision involving a separated couple and their eight-year-old son is highlighting just one of the many difficult issues split B.C. families are facing during the ongoing pandemic – exacerbated when one of those parents is working on the front lines of COVID-19.

According to the court documents, the mom – named SR – is a licensed practical nurse, working at a hospital in B.C. on a casual basis. The father – referred to as MG – operates a demolition company.

The pair, both worried about limiting their son’s exposure to the novel coronavirus which has no cure or vaccine, took their concerns to a B.C. provincial court judge earlier this week.

Typically, the son stays with SR during the weekdays and with MG on the weekend. He was with MG for a week in March because SG was planning a trip to Mexico, which was later cancelled due to the travel restrictions. The son stayed with his father anyways.

READ MORE: Keeping their distance will help keep your kids healthy

Court documents show that SR had treated a patient who had COVID-19 on March 21, sparking concern by MG who wanted her to self-isolate for two weeks before seeing their son in person.

During this time, he offered for his new partner to bring the eight-year-old to SR’s apartment, where should could check in on him and visit from her second-floor balcony.

SR said she follows every precaution recommended while working, such as wearing hospital-issued scrubs, leaving her shoes and clothing at work and wiping down bag and showering as soon as she gets home.

But when the pair came to an agreement that their son would return to his mom’s care on March 28, SR requested a couple hours the next day to “do more research to feel 100 percent positive that she was making the best decision, as it was weighing on her so heavily.”

Part of those concerns were for transmitting the virus to her son, but also putting MG’s elderly parents at risk.

Meanwhile, MG said he has taken a number of steps to mitigate contracting the virus, including asking his employees to stay at home if they feel sick. He is the only person that visits the office from Monday to Friday. All of his employees “have agreed only to attend work and home, with one person in their home getting supplies while wearing protective gear.”

Limiting son’s exposure the biggest concern, parents agree

Both parents expressed that their biggest concern was keeping their son safe during the ongoing pandemic. SR said that if she had to chose between her son and her job, she would pick her son.

In her written decision, Judge Patricia Bond said the case was one with very little precedent to fall back on.

“There is very little case law on the considerations that should apply in assessing whether a parenting time regime should continue in circumstances of those service providers who continue to work with the public during the pandemic,” Bond wrote.

“These include everyone from clerks at the grocery store, to medical professionals working in clinics and hospitals, police officers, social workers, fire officials, paramedics, etc.”

But she also recognized that SR “is taking every conceivable step to mitigate that risk and has personally agonized over the possibility that she could infect another family member,” and that her son isn’t at elevated risk for seeing adverse impacts from the virus, like with the elderly or those who are immunocompromised.

Bond added that there is no need for SR to have to pick between her love for her son and her job – one that Bond called “a fundamentally important role” in the fight against COVID-19.

“The community expressed the importance of that role every evening at 7 p.m. as people cheer and shout their support,” she wrote.

In turn, Bond ruled that the pair’s son would be in SR’s custody for the next two weeks and that SR couldn’t work during this time. After that, SR and MG would have parenting time with their son on a rotating basis of seven days in SR’s care followed by four days at MG’s home. While the boy is in SR’s care, she cannot work, Bond said.

If either of the parents became at risk of contracting the virus, they should immediately contact the other to limit their son’s exposure.

Bond said her decision was “is in part a result of my confidence that both parties will do the right thing to protect their son as this situation continues to change.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusHealthcare

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More calls come in for Cullen’s removal as NDP candidate

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand Cullen’s removal. Ellis says, There’s no place in B.C. for racism

An election tussle has now erupted over the long-dismantled Skeena Cellulose pulp mill on Watson Island, shown here in a 2013 photo. (File photo The Northern View)
Wilkinson, Horgan tagged over pulp mill file and legal battle

Case dates back to attempt to re-open closed Skeena Celluose pulp mill

ANBT 2021 is still in the planning, Peter Haugan event organizer said on Oct. 13. In the 2020 ANBT, Hydaburg’s T.J. Young drives along the baseline against Prince Rupert’s Brady Johnston. Hydaburg would defeat P.R, but fell to New Aiyansh in the next round. (The Northern View file photo)
All Native Basketball Tournament 2021 still in the planning

“If we cannot run it with our fans, we cannot run the tournament” - Peter Haugan

BC Liberal Party candidate for the North Coast Roy Jones Jr. will hold virtual face-to-face meetings for North Coast communities on Oct. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
BC Liberal Candidate Roy Jones Jr, will meet constituents virtually

Face to face conversations will be held on Oct. 18 for North Coast communities

Steven Helin and Kayla Robinson lost everything they owned in a fire in Prince Rupert downtown core on Oct. 5 affecting three businesses and more than 10 rental units. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Aftermath of building fire

Flames of ruined hope

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Most Read