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Child Access Cases on the Rise During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Divorce more often than not is very ugly, however, it seems this pandemic has proved to show how much worse it can really get. This is why the courts deal with child custody and scheduled access, as some parents aren’t capable of making decisions for the well-being of the child and instead, act out with their emotions. As soon as the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, it seems all hell broke loose among divorced parents. How far should parents go to disrupt and get what they want, with regards to child access?

The Smith Investigation Agency has noticed a surplus of calls pertaining to surveilling parents due to child access limitations and in some cases no access whatsoever, over the course of this pandemic. Every divorce involving children has a child custody agreement in place. Technically parents should continue to follow this until they get in front of a judge, which won’t most likely happen unless they have actual proof of the other putting the kids in jeopardy. This is why private investigators in Toronto and Ottawa, for instance, get called so that we can perform surveillance to report and document any suspicious activities. These cases can go one of two ways. Either one parent is just being malicious or actually truthful and the suspicions are false. Regardless of outcome A or B, we’ll get to the bottom of it!

Unfortunately, it’s become quite common for one parent to believe that the other is simply just trying to punish the other by denying access to the kids, all while claiming it’s due to the pandemic. Because of this, lawyers and mediators are certainly overwhelmed by these conflicts and are doing their very best to coach clients to present the evidence, before any court escalation can take precedence. While courts are overwhelmed with this category, without proof, no case is considered an emergency and therefore will not be presented immediately in front of a judge. This means, “suspecting” your ex isn’t following the rules, does not warrant emergency. The majority of these no-proof cases are being backlogged, leading to police and Children’s Aid calls and are using up good resources for nonsense. To which, both teams can perform “wellness checks”, however beyond this, they can’t do much more in these uncertain times besides recommending parents to abide by the previous court order.

Every case we’ve heard so far since the pandemic has started off with one parent accusing another of not being respectful and not abiding by the need to social distance. In one example case, the client called in and said, “I know my ex-wife is galivanting around town and going to her boyfriends with my kids. I don’t know where that guy’s been?” At which time, our advice is retaining our investigative services by means of surveillance to confirm his suspicions. This is why business has certainly taken off in this category. In another example case, a parent alleged that her ex was claiming to have been exposed to COVID-19 in order to keep the kids for an extra two weeks. Lying about having this virus is simply distasteful but it looks like some are willing to do just about anything to keep their ex away, which is pretty sad for the kids.

At the end of the day, we all know parents should be co-parenting and making top decisions for the best interests of the kids, not their own. This is why surveillance can truly help an innocent parent in confirming whether or not, the opposing party is being truthful and furthermore can act as a “wellness check” to ensure everyone is abiding by public health guidelines. And if not, well then that is certainly something to escalate in front of a judge. The solution here is to hire the experts and get the proof you deserve!

If you are in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario or Nova Scotia and need to hire a private investigator, contact our team for a free consultation. We are open and operating from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team is operating safely and continues to offer services to those that need investigative services.

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