The 2020 holiday season will certainly feel different than it has in previous years. Families across Alberta are adjusting traditional holiday plans to account for the new COVID-19 measures enacted by the Provincial Government.
On November 24, 2020, a Public Health Order from the Government of Alberta declared restrictions on private residences and social gatherings to curb the upward trend of new COVID-19 infections (the “Public Health Order”). These measures include restrictions on indoor social gatherings, at-home learning for Children in grades 7-12, and restrictions on religious services.
For many families, questions have been raised regarding section 3 of the Public Health Order regarding restrictions on private residences. Section 3 states, “a person who resides in a private residence must not permit a person who does not normally reside in that residence to enter or remain in the residence.” As the Public Health Order stands right now, parents with an existing co-parenting arrangement are not prevented from exercising parenting time with their children.
In addition, the Government has accounted for parenting circumstances where the children do not “ordinarily reside” with both parents. Such cases include parents who do not have extended overnight parenting time but who exercise parenting time through shorter visits during the week. As stated in section 4 of the Public Health Order,
4. Section 3 of this Order does not prevent a person from entering the private residence of another person for any of the following purposes:
(a) to provide health care, personal care or housekeeping services;
(b) for a visit between a child and a parent or guardian who does not normally reside with that child;
(c) to receive or provide child care;
(d) to provide tutoring or other educational; instruction;
(e) to perform construction, renovations, repairs or maintenance;
(f) to deliver items;
(g) to provide real estate or moving services;
(h) to provide social or protective services;
(i) to respond to an emergency.
Subsection 4(b) and (c) above provide exceptions to the private residence restrictions outlined in section 3 of the Public Health Order. These exceptions allow non-custodial parents to exercise parenting “visits” and provide childcare as needed.
While this Public Health Order remains in place for three weeks, it is possible that the Government enacts further public health measures to further contain the virus. For this reason, it is important that parents understand what their rights and obligations are. To prepare for the uncertainty that lies ahead, parents should communicate how the winter holiday arrangement will work and how they plan to resolve their disputes if conflict does arise.
At Family Central Law Office LLP, you can rely upon the legal advice of an experienced family lawyer to provide sound legal advice on your parenting matter. Please contact us today for a free consultation with our family lawyers on your matter by calling our office at 587-392-7970 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by clicking on our consultation page.