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

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

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Office vacancy rates are rising in Greater Victoria while the supply of industrial land is shrinking. (Black Press Media File)
Report finds supply of industrial land in Greater Victoria shrinking

Office vacancy rates in Greater Victoria continue to rise

Central Saanich has received funding for a new multi-use pathway that promises to improve access to Butchart Gardens. (Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich receives grant for multi-use pathway to Butchart Gardens

Province funds entirety of $322,800 project through economic recovery grant program

February 17, 2021 - Kaelyn (L) and Costin Campbell are Goldstream News Gazette 2021 Local Heroes.
Pint-sized duo inspires others to be green

Costin and Kaelyn Campbell are this year’s Environmental Heroes

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic oportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from BC Ferries staff

After Dasher made a dash, staff in Comox found her and got her home safe

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Most Read