Many people have been contacting my company looking for a family lawyer, desperate to see their kids during the COVID-19 breakout. I run Clearway Law, an online lawyer referral network.
It seems that many people’s ex-spouses have realized that since the courts are shut down, it was a good time for them to make their move and take their kids away.
Without parents being able to get a court order prohibiting their child from leaving the country, each day many children are disappearing from Canada forever. According to Missing Kids, Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba have the most parental child abduction reports.
Losing Your Children Due to COVID-19
Family lawyers would usually respond to this for their clients by filing something in the courts. The goal would be to get a court order to return the children. But now that everything is shut, what do parents do now?
COVID-19 has created massive uncertainty, which is something that lawyers hate. Courts are shut down, and no one knows how long it will last.
The Courts Are Shut Due To Virus
When a parent takes a child to another country, there is always the risk that the child won’t return. It is hard to enforce court orders received in Canada in other countries. The only hope is to receive an order quickly and send it to the Canadian border services. They can intercept the parent at the border and turn them around.
A few weeks ago, very few people in Canada took the risk of the virus seriously. It was only when Tom Hanks and the Trudeau family got sick that many Canadians started to panic. People started to do research and saw that countries were brought to their knees by the virus.
Things quickly went from people not caring about the virus to people panicking. Suddenly toilet paper, hand soap, and pasta were impossible to find in stores throughout Canada. The government had to plead with people to stop filling their houses with supplies.
Judges Are Not Available
While the courts were still open, there were many applications by one parent trying to prevent the other parent from taking the child outside of the country. Most of the judges thought it was just a parent being paranoid.
Most of the judges quickly dismissed the applications and the parents were free to take the child outside of Canada.
Those children that left Canada would have to stay at home for 14 days without seeing their other parents upon return.
We have received many angry phone calls seeing if there is a way that a skilled lawyer could speed up the 14 day wait. The answer at this point is no.
If the courts were open now, I’m not so sure that those judges would make that same decision to let the child leave. The judge would likely side with the parent that was being overly causation, instead of being careless.
Canadians Don’t Have To Listen
The Canadian government has pleaded with Canadians to stay home. It’s important to note that Canadian and Chinese governments are very different.
The Canadian government can request that people stay home, the Chinese government can force people to stay home. Chinese people know better than to anger their government.
Lawyers Are Worrying About Themselves During COVID-19
Many law firms are worried about dealing with their own legal and operational issues and are just trying to survive. If a lawyer is worried about how to make their own ends meet, they likely will not be in a good position to assist clients.
Things are getting worse quickly in the legal industry. Clio (a legal software company) just announced a $1 million dollar fund to keep law firms afloat as long as the COVID-19 goes on.
This will allow lawyers to focus on helping their clients, instead of worrying about how to make their rent payments.
The CEO of Clio, Jack Newton posted on his website “As part of our disaster relief program, Clio has committed $1 million to help law firms navigate the difficulties that lie ahead.”
As you can see in the video below, many courts in North America have made the decision to close.
Author: Alistair Vigier is the CEO of ClearWay Law