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Families & Children

Updated:
May 27, 2020

When you work with the ministry on your child’s plan of care, there are different stages in the process. Whether you’re participating in mediation, scheduling a family case conference, or waiting for a court hearing, the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis could affect your next steps. Most operations of the Provincial Court of British Columbia are suspended at all locations until at least May 16, 2020. You should have received a notification about your new court date.

If you’re scheduled for a child protection case conference, your child has been removed and you have a date for a court hearing, you aren’t sure whether you’re at a hearing or conference stage, or if you need help with your case, the Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC legal questions has information that can help. If you think your matter is urgent, you can fill out an application for an urgent hearing and then email or mail it to your local registry, or fax to fax filing registries.

If you still have questions, contact aboriginal@lss.bc.ca

Updated:
May 27, 2020

First Nation youth won't age out of care during the COVID-19 crisis. The federal government announced it will cover the costs for First Nations child and family services agencies to continue to support youth who are in the on-reserve system. To inquire further, visit the Aborigial Legal Aid in BC questions page

Updated:
May 27, 2020

During the pandemic, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) has said in-person visits are suspended and replaced by virtual visits. You can ask to maintain connections with your children in caregivers’ homes by phone and Skype visits. You may have exceptional circumstances that require in-person visits. Please see the MCFD bulletin for more details. To inquire further, visit the Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC questions page

Updated:
May 27, 2020

The Provincial Court will now accept unsworn or unconfirmed affidavits as part of your request to have an urgent family application. Be very careful that your affidavit is true and accurate as you would with a sworn affidavit, as the judge will likely ask you to swear the contents of the affidavit are true if you get a hearing. See the Provincial Court’s Announcement for more details.

Updated:
May 27, 2020

You can still apply for a protection order.The procedure is a little different because of COVID-19. Learn more about Peace Bonds and Family Law Protection Orders.

Both the BC Supreme Court and BC Provincial Court are only hearing matters they determine are “urgent”. If you or your child needs protection from a family member, you can apply to have your matter heard on an urgent basis. If a judge determines your matter is urgent, you will have a hearing by telephone. If you or your children are in immediate danger, call 911.

How to apply

Provincial Court: Complete this Urgent Application Form and then send it to your local registry by email, phone or mail to the applicable local court registry; or by fax to fax filing registries (see GEN 01 Practice Direction). 

Supreme Court: Apply online using this Request for Urgent Hearing Form.

See the BC Family Justice’s COVID -19 Legal Questions and the Legal Services Society’s Q & A - Family Violence for more information and direction.

BC family duty counsel is providing service over the phone. To find contact information in your area see HERE.

For more information, see: 

Updated:
May 27, 2020

If you, your child, or the other parent must be in self-isolation, a court is likely to agree that a child should stay where they are until the need for self-isolation has passed. Otherwise, in general, you must follow court orders for parenting time unless it would increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 for the child, their parents, other members of their household, or the community. LSS has provided updated guidance for when children should not go to their other parent as of April 16, 2020. See Legal Services Society COVID-19 Q & A for Parenting.

It is best that you and the other parent work out a solution together. Consider these guidelines for separated parents sharing custody during COVID-19 and see if you can come up with an arrangement that works. If you need help coming up with an arrangement, you can work with Family Justice Counsellors over the phone or online platforms. 

For more resources, Hannah DeJong, a family lawyer with Boughton Law, created COVID-19 Family Law Resources (BC), which includes general information and resources.

Updated:
May 27, 2020

Essential workers can request childcare for children under 12 years old. Go HERE for more information and to apply.

COVID-19 essential workers who live or work in Vancouver can request a referral through the Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre. Go to their website for more details on how to qualify.

Updated:
May 27, 2020

Families who receive the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will receive an extra $300 per child. There is no need to reapply if you are already receiving the benefit. This will be delivered at the same time you would normally receive the CCB. For a full list of Federal benefits go to the Federal Economic Response Plan.

BC Families eligible to receive MCFD Children and Youth with Special Needs (CYSN) Family Support Services prior to March 30, 2020 are eligible to request emergency relief funding. Families eligible to receive CYSN Family Support Services can call their CYSN Worker.

 

Updated:
May 27, 2020

This is a challenging issue.  The Legal Services Society states that if you and your child are required to self-isolate, the courts are likely to agree that the child should stay with you until your period of self-isolation is over. Otherwise, you must follow the court order. 

It is best if you and your co-parent work out an agreement during this time. There are free mediation and coaching services through LSS. Legal aid and duty counsel are currently available by phone only. The courts are currently only taking urgent application by phone, including urgent matters regarding parenting time. 

For more information, and for help with your family law matter, go to the Parenting Q & A on the BC Family Law website or see Family Justice Services COVID-19 Legal Questions. Hannah DeJong, a family lawyer with Boughton Law, created COVID-19 Family Law Resources (BC), which includes general information and resources.The federal government has also provided Parenting during COVID-19 resources. 

This video discusses parenting time issues during COVID-19: COVID-19 and Family.

Updated:
May 27, 2020

Agreements and court orders relating to child and spousal support continue to apply. The terms of an agreement or order are not automatically changed or paused because of the current Coronavirus situation. If someone stops or reduces support payments, the amount owing will accrue as arrears until the agreement or the court order is changed. 

Under normal circumstances, if you lost your job you could simply apply to the courts to vary your support order. Currently, however, the courts are only accepting urgent applications and they may not consider temporary support orders urgent. The best thing to do is to try to work out a temporary agreement with the other party. The federal government has also provided Parenting during COVID-19 resources.

If you cannot agree on your own, you can enlist the help of mediators or other professionals who can help you come to a temporary agreement. Mediate BC has a new program for people dealing with conflict resulting from quarantine or isolation. Family Justice Services will continue to provide a full range of services to citizens through telephone and other virtual service options until further notice. Services include dispute resolution. See the Family Law LSS Q & A -Support for more information and for more resources.

If you are registered with FMEP you are still responsible for making payments. If you can no longer make full payments it is important that you contact your case manager as soon as possible. You can do so by signing into your web account and sending a web message. See FMEP’s March 19, 2020 notice for more information.

Updated:
May 27, 2020

Right now, courts are only hearing matters they consider to be urgent. However  the BC Provincial Court is working on expanding the types of matters that can be heard while ensuring that public health is protected. As part of their COVID-19 recovery plan, BC Provincial Court has begun moving forward by:

  • holding mandatory pre-trial conferences for most adult and youth criminal trials and preliminary inquiries, as well as for family and small claims trials;
  • making telephone sentencing hearings available for some non-urgent, out-of-custody matters; and
  • resuming family and small claims case conferences.

It is always best if you and the other party can work out the issue on your own. If that is not possible, there are professionals who can help you work out the issues. 

Mediate BC has a new program for people dealing with conflict resulting from quarantine or isolation. 

Family Justice Services will continue to provide a full range of services to citizens through telephone and other virtual service options until further notice. Services include dispute resolution. 

If you cannot agree and the matter is urgent, you can apply to the Provincial Court to have your matter heard by phone. A judge will first determine whether your matter is urgent and then your application will be heard by phone. For more information, see the Provincial Court’s Notice to the Profession and Public for guidance on how to make the application. See the Family Law BC website for family law resources and help during the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis.

Updated:
May 27, 2020

If you or your children are in immediate danger, call 911, or call your community police. You can also call VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808. You can search BC Housing for a list of shelters near you. Battered Women Support Services is still operating during the crisis and can talk to you by phone (604-687-1867 or toll-free at 1-855-687-1868), text (604-652-1867) or email (intake@bwss.org) to provide emotional support and help you make safety plans. 

Legal Aid and Duty Counsel are still available by phone. You can find their contact information and other family law resources here.

The Provincial Court and Supreme Court will still hear urgent applications, particularly where the application involves personal safety. See the Provincial Court’s Notice to the Professions and Public and the Supreme Court’s  Notice to the Professions and Public for instructions on how to make an urgent application. Click here for all BC Supreme Court updates.

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