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Child Access Battles During COVID-19 | A PI’s Perspective

As COVID-19 has rippled across Canadian borders, it has sent shockwaves through many homes, and as a result Canadian courts have been overwhelmed in the uptick in family law cases. The impacts of isolation, financial insecurity, and declining mental health over the past nine months of the pandemic have weighed heavily upon many families, and as a result, virus-related divorce and custody cases have become a common occurrence.

Along with this trend, courts across Canada are also making note of the sharp increase in parents raising concerns for their child’s wellbeing during the pandemic, and using this concern to limit the other parents’ access to their children. Due to limited resources, overwhelmed courts are making it clear that only cases with merit will be given attention.

Recognizing the need to have sound evidence to back up claims of unsafe conditions for their children, parents have been seeking the service of Private Investigators. Below we share three of the common child access battles that have arisen over the past year and highlight how Toronto’s leading Private Investigation Team can help you navigate these challenges to ensure the wellbeing of your children.

 

#1) Questioning Essential Worker Parents

Increasingly, parents have cited concerns over the exposure of their children to a parent who may be deemed an essential worker during the pandemic, and in many cases, there is little weight to back up these concerns. The majority of high-risk workplaces, including grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, and restaurants, are going above and beyond to ensure the safety of both customers and staff. Whether mandating the use of masks, erecting plexiglass screens, and ensuring frequent sanitization of all surfaces, many frontline workers are well protected from virus exposure just as well as any patient or customer. But, as Private Investigators know better than anyone, there are exceptions to every rule.

In these cases, a Private Investigator is able to perform discreet undercover surveillance to obtain video or high and photography evidence approving or disproving that the parent in question is following all safety protocols within their place of work to limit the spread of infection, and ensure the safety of their family members at home.

 

#2) Negligence in Following Public Health Guidelines

Some parents have approached courts as well as private investigation agencies with concerns of a spouse or ex-spouse violating isolation or social distancing protocols, putting the children at undue risk of exposure to COVID-19. Perhaps the parent in question has been seen in large groups or gatherings with out a mask, or is regularly meeting in-person with online dates, or is travelling but fails to complete the mandated two-week quarantine period upon arrival. Several subjects who have been under investigation have continued to frequent bars, exotic massage parlours or strip clubs throughout the pandemic period. While this behaviour may have been excusable less than a year ago, when you throw a highly contagious virus into the equation, failure to comply with public health guidelines can gravely impact the health of your children, as well as everyone within your “bubble”.

Using a combination of discreet private investigation, undercover surveillance, as well as GPS tracking unit,  a Private Investigator can track the whereabouts and movement of the parent, to secure evidence of behaviours and habits that may warrant restricted access to your children. Conversely, if you are a parent being unjustly accused of jeopardizing the safety of your children, we can collect the necessary evidence, including witness testimony, disproving these allegations, which will ensure that you maintain access to your children and your parental rights are protected.

 

 #3) Substance Abuse Concerns

As discussed in a recent blog post, substance abuse rates have skyrocketed since the onset of COVID-19. To quell the mounting stress, anxieties, and loss of control during such an unprecedented event, 25% of adults between the ages of 35-54 have reported increasing their intake of alcohol over the past eight months. In cases where excessive drinking leads illegal drug use, emotional or physical aggression, spousal abuse or any other behaviour that may put the safety of your child(ren) in question, don’t hesitate to seek the help you need.

Star Quality Private Investigations’ Team of Toronto Private Investigators have helped secure surveillance footage, photographic evidence, witness testimony, and other records that have helped families break free from what has become a dangerous or unstable environment for their children.

 

It’s important to remember that it takes extreme circumstances for a parent to lose full access to their children. Nicolas Bala, a family law professor at Queen’s University commented in a CTV News Story[1] that judges across Canada are trying their best to maintain visitation arrangements in place prior to the pandemic.

“Judges were saying there are risks for all of us, and as long as people are minimizing risks in a reasonable way, they’re going to continue to have parenting rights… Judges are explicitly saying, ‘Think about your children and the long-term relationship you’re both going to have.’”

Nicolas Bala, Queen’s University

This being said, if the safety of you, or your children is in question, act now. Particularly during a time when family law courts are already stretched thin, it is imperative that you are presenting professional, date and time stamped evidence of behaviours or incidents that have put your children at risk. For trusted guidance in navigating your child access or child custody case, reach out to Toronto’s Family Law Investigation Experts at Star Quality Private Investigations. We’re ready to help you get the answers you need, want, and deserve.

 

[1] COVID-19 custody battles present tricky challenge for overwhelmed courts | CTV News

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