Can non-compliance with sanitary measures lead to the loss of custody of a child?

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A case involving a father from the Eastern Townships could set a precedent.

A judge in the district of Saint-François recently withdrawn custody of his child from a father who is showing himself against the wearing of a mask and health measures.

Although the judgment is based on a multitude of factors, the judge Claude Villeneuve explicitly underlined in its decision that “the Court cannot ignore the behavior of Mr. during the current pandemic”.

“Monsieur neglects and knowingly omits the wearing of a mask in public settings, even in the presence of the child, he allows himself to tell the latter that all those who respect this instruction are” caves “or” without genius ” , can we read in the judgment. In addition, he underlines that the message sent by the parent to his child is then that it is not important to respect the law or the health and safety of others, which prompts the Tribunal to question the abilities parenting of the father in matters of education and well-being of the child and consequently, the arrangements for custody. “

According to the lawyer Sebastien Gagnon, which represents the child, it is, to his knowledge, the “first judgment on the merits which treats this question with so much importance”.

“In the spring, there were several requests for a safeguard order (an urgent and temporary request),” he recalls. The courts were then positioned very clearly to the effect that the health rules should not have the effect of rendering unenforceable judgments in matters of custody. But here, what we understand, the issue of non-compliance with sanitary instructions can be one element among others. “

“This judgment can be seen as a warning to parents who would be tempted to involve, and I insist on this, to involve the child in activities which go against the decrees of public health” , adds Me Gagnon.

The lawyer recalls that “freedom of expression exists, we have the right to have certain opinions”.

However, the fact that the father was trying to enlist his son with his anti-sanitary measures visibly had a cold shower effect on the judge, he believes, making him doubt the parent’s abilities. to take good care of his child.

“He looked at this from the angle of parenting skills, the ability of a parent to teach respect for others, for the law,” says Me Gagnon.

“In determining child custody, the court has a very wide discretion,” he explains. In fact, he must try according to what is in the best interests of the child, and that breaks down into several sub-criteria. I think that this sub-criterion has just been added. “

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