Mother alleges father breached social circle rules by exposing children to new partner

Children’s grandfather’s asthma places him at increased risk of harm, mother contends in ONSC case

Mother alleges father breached social circle rules by exposing children to new partner

A father’s act of introducing his children to his new girlfriend and her family without the mother’s consent violated the provincial government’s COVID-19-related guidelines, an Ontario court has said.

In Marino Belen v. Marino, 2020 ONSC 6124, the respondent mother filed a motion for parenting and child support, while the applicant father filed a cross-motion for parenting. The parties, who separated in January 2019, have two children who have primarily resided with the mother since the father’s departure from the matrimonial home.

The mother contended that the father breached Ontario’s guidelines on social circles when he introduced the children to his girlfriend and her two children. The mother said she was particularly concerned because she and the children have been in regular contact with the children’s grandparents, who experience an increased risk of harm. The maternal grandfather suffers from severe asthma and rheumatoid arthritis and recently underwent cancer treatments. A note from the grandfather’s doctor states that he is at “a very high risk of a bad outcome” if he is infected with COVID-19.

The father countered that he, his girlfriend and her two children have adhered to Ontario’s social circle guidelines and that the mother is simply trying to stop him from meeting his partner. He argued that he did not want to reveal his girlfriend’s identifying information because the mother has been experiencing anxiety and panic attacks since finding out about the new relationship and may potentially use the information to stalk the girlfriend and perform other intrusive actions.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice said that the father had indeed breached the third step of the provincial government’s social circle guidelines, requiring everyone’s agreement that they will join the social circle, when he did not ask for the mother’s consent before introducing their children to his girlfriend and her children, nor provide identifying information such as his girlfriend’s name to the mother. The court also acknowledged that the father’s concerns regarding the mother may be meritorious.

As for the mother’s concerns about the maternal grandparents, the court found that she did not establish that she or her children reside with them and did not explain why they could not interact with the grandparents using technological means such as Skype or video-call.

The court ordered that the social circle, which can include a maximum of 10 people, would consist of the mother, the father, the two children, the maternal grandparents, the father’s girlfriend and her two children. The father and mother should ensure that the members of this social circle would continuously comply with COVID-19-related public health guidelines.

The court also declared that the mother would have primary care responsibilities over the children, with decision-making jointly exercised by the mother and the father. Either party can file an urgent motion if they have a dispute over a major decision affecting the children’s best interest. The father was then ordered to pay monthly child support based on his imputed annual income of $245,000.

The court’s order also included directions as to the expansion of the children’s time with their father and the parties’ depositing of their passports with their lawyers.

“As restrictions in many parts of the country have loosened, parents may not agree on the best way to protect the health of their children,”  a NULaw blog on the case stated. In light of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic it is natural that there will be increased stress levels among family members, the blog noted.

Recent articles & video

Bennett Jones appears in seven commercial list cases this past week

SCC hearings tackle Charter rights to vote and to trial within reasonable time

SCC confirms manslaughter convictions in case about proper jury instructions on causation

Law firm associate attrition continues to decline, NALP Foundation study shows

How systemizing law firm work allocation enhances diversity efforts and overcomes affinity bias

Dentons advises Saturn on $600 million acquisition of Saskatchewan oil assets

Most Read Articles

Ontario Court of Appeal upholds anesthesiologist’s liability in severe birth complications case

BC Supreme Court rules vehicle owner and driver liable for 2011 Chilliwack collision

Petition to remove estate executor does not amount to ‘reprehensible conduct:’ BC Supreme Court

Top 20 personal injury law firms for 2024 revealed by Canadian Lawyer