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August 24th 2020 Radio
Episode Transcript

Marie: Good morning Montreal! Made it through the weekend and here we are were going to be all better for it at the end of this day. We’re going to speak with our professionals who share their knowledge. We give you the tools, we want to empower you especially during these difficult times to make the right decisions. And I am thrilled – family lawyer and just fabulous person who for some reason has this inherent way of understanding what happens in family law, Maitre Sheri Spunt and we’re going to talk about what’s on everybody’s mind regarding children at school age. I got so many questions from many of you so it all works out. We have a lawyer on the phone. We’re going to put the questions to her and see what happens. Mes amours, si vous avez des questions en particulier, nous avons notre avocate, Maitre Sheri Spunt qui va débuter bientôt pi on parle les droits que les parents y ont et quand un couple est divorcé, séparé pi ils ne sont pas d’accords sur est-ce que les enfants devront retourner à l’école, ça cause assez de stresse dans une famille mais coté légale c’est qu’est ce qu’on veut partager avec vous donc I’m not going to waste any more time, I’m just going to introduce this fabulous young woman Maitre Spunt welcome to the show on this Monday august 24.

Sheri: good morning how are you its nice to be back.

Marie: Ya it’s nice to hear you again! There’s something about feeling safer when we have a lawyer helping listeners make decisions. 

Sheri: well I’m glad I can help

Marie: all is good ma’am? Your family, everybody safe? 

Sheri: thank goodness everyone is well. Preparing for the school year.

Marie: you are are yah?

Sheri: we are

Marie: can I start by asking you, you know, what discussion you and your spouse had and what helped you decide the children will be going back

Sheri: yes so we have three children, one is going into grade one, and he is starting back august 31 and the other two children are still in daycare. I have sent my children to summer camp this summer and daycare. Upon arrival, everyone’s temperature was taken, there is a checklist of questions, does anybody have any symptoms, has anybody come into contact with anybody who has had symptoms. There are children that they have sent home if they had a runny nose or were not well. There’s a very strict protocol for going back to school as well. For my son who is going into grade 1, there’s a full list. So for example, if there’s a runny nose the child can’t come to school, they have to wait at least 24h as long as there’s not another symptom that developed, if there are other symptoms they do have to be swabbed. There’s specific rules for siblings. So the conversations that my husband and I had were based on the recommendations that were put in place, the rules that were put in place and the specific institutions that were dealing with and how we felt that they were handling the situation. And I find that they have been very thorough, we’ve been getting emails very frequently with what the protocol is so for example, at my sons school he does have to wear a mask during the day except for when he’s at his desk. So there’s obviously going to be a learning curve for everyone but I think that, at least the schools and daycares that I’ve been dealing with, they’re trying to be very very precautious and maybe as time goes on, things might be lifted  in terms of the mask wearing. But I think our children have become very sensitized in terms of the whole process and my kids are the ones who when they walk out the door ask me “do we have our masks”. So the kids are resilient, they’re very adaptable and I think that’s really where kids need to be. Kids need to be at school and socializing with their friends and having the interaction of their teacher. Its really, I think, the safest place for them in terms of their development

Marie: I just want to add something to that. Im pretty sure the kids are resilient and everything has shown up to now that the under 10 especially are the ones the least affected but some of them have been affected seriously. It hasn’t been a complete 100% easy ride for under 10-year olds that might get it. I think what’s scaring many including the teachers, professors, school bus drivers, and the parents and grandparents is when that child comes home. Its been proven that they carry huge amounts of the virus in the nose and in the respiratory areas and even though they’re not suffering from it, they may shed beyond belief and yes very contagious for people around them. So how do we navigate that part

Sheri: so im obviously going to say I chose the lawyer route, I I’m not a doctor I can’t speak to that, but what I can talk about is from a rational perspective, every family has to make the decision f what works for them. So it’s the same process that we make when we make any decision for our children, we have to weigh the pros and cons. And do the cons outweigh the pros or vice versa. And so I think a lot of families, one of the biggest challenges are going to be faced with are restricting access to, for example, the grandparents. That’s part of the advisory.

Marie: or if the mom for example I know a case where the mom is being treated for cancer right now

Sheri: well so that’s different. That we need to talk about as a separate issue. This we will get into with respect to the courts. So basically, what the government has said with respect to the return to school and a lot of parents were hoping that the school would give online plans to their children because the parents didn’t feel comfortable. We’ve also been seeing it a lot in courts, parents coming to court and saying my ex-husband wants the kids to go back to school and I don’t or vice versa. Now the courts position on that has been, our legislator and our government has decided, that its safe for our kids to go back to school except the families like you’re talking about, if one of the parents is compromised or if they live with the grandparents that’s compromised or the child themselves has a medical issue that they’re compromised. In those situations, whether it be public school or private school, they’re making the accommodations with the children to be able to have the programming remotely from home. 

Marie: Maitre I just want to ask, if a sibling is compromised then it makes sense that his brothers and sisters get that exempt note, right?

Sheri: exactly yes

Marie: and they would be allowed to join the online teaching?

Sheri: in theory yes

Marie: what if there’s no online teaching? I mean is it a law? Do they have to provide it? And that’s a question someone asked me on the weekend they said oh Marie so they passed a bill, schools now must provide online teaching? I said that’s a very good question let me ask the lawyer tomorrow 

Sheri: so my understanding, and there’s changes literally every day with this, and the same way that we saw in the spring, we were sprung this whole new thing and I have to tell you from my perspective I was very impressed with how quickly the school adapted to this new normal and got on zoom and the curriculum. So they have had the summer to prepare and for example, we were getting emails from the public school board and the private schools that were saying we’ve been working and developing the programming all summer. So they’re supposed to. If for example a school is not capable of doing that for whatever reason, I’m not really sure what that would be, the government would have t make other accommodations for them. Now the parents that want their kids to stay home and there is not medical specific issues other than the concern of Covid, would have to go through the same process as parents who made the decision when the child was of young age that they wanted them to be homeschooled. They would have to go through that same process of approval for home schooling, have to show a plan d’éducation, have to show all the steps that they’re taking, what type of education they’re going to be offering, what’s the structure of the day so that would be a very similar process to parents who have opted from the start for school age homeschooling.

Marie: alright here’s a great question, divorced couple, husband doing well, no big financial worries, mother gets good compensation from the children, will not send the children to school, refuses, especially when she heard that in Quebec they’re not going to cut the classes. And I have a story here we can look at it later, it says bigger class could mean up to 5 times the infections. This is a study that was done by mathematicians who are now urging educators to use mixed approaches. Sharon Kurke does this piece, it was in Saturdays national post and man does it make a lot of sense. They’re even giving examples from a study they followed in a class of 30 here’s how many people got infected and here’s what happened with the domini effect there and in classes of 10-15 like in Ontario where they’re doing hybrid classes and they’re cutting them in half, much less contagion, which kind of begs the question, why isn’t going with that, I mean it’s been proven, it’s a fact, the smaller the classes the better. So there was a time they were discussing this and then they just abruptly stopped and came out and told media. personally, I don’t have kids but I would be a little worried if they had gone back at 30-35 a class, so my question is mother does not want to risk it especially since Quebec will not make the classes smaller, and she found, because there’s a lot of experts now that are offering assistance in home schooling, there’s even retired teachers that are available to be hired at least at the beginning so moms can get used to what home schooling is. Homeschooling is completely different than online, where the school allows you to join

Sheri: right

Marie: do they need a lawyer? I mean she just wants the husband to pay directly the teacher that came out of retirement, that she wants to hire for her children and the neighbors, because they play together and they know they’re safe, to come homeschool. These two families are going to share the cost. She wants to call you to say, can you please convince my husband that its okay and can he help me pay for the homeschooling

Sheri: and these two are still married?

Marie: no, divorced

Sheri: in a scenario like that, there would need to be a court order because a decision about school, whether it be choosing which school, whether it be choosing French stream, English stream of school or whether to opt to homeschool your children, that’s a decision of parental authority. Both parents have parental authority from the second the child is born. It doesn’t matter who has the physical custody of the child. So a lot of people are under the misconception that if the child lives with them, and only sees the other parent every other weekend, then they can make all the decisions with respect to the child. That is incorrect. So both parents unless there’s been a proceeding that’s been taken that’s called a déchéance d’autorité parentale, which is when there’s a rupture of parental authority that’s in the most extreme cases, so I would say the majority of the Quebec population both parents have parental authority which means they both have to decide together and consent to the choice of school, the modalities of school, homeschooling or not. So let’s say the father is not on board and the mother is, the only way to make a decision on that would be to have a court order. In general, unless there’s something specific in that case, the courts are really saying, our government has decided that it is safe for our children to go back to school unless there is something specific and you can prove that its not in the child’s best interest, that particular child’s best interest, not to return to school. I would think most probably that it would be ruled the other way but I don’t know. And again the courts are maybe going to start to see a lot of that. But the mother can’t just unilaterally make that decision. Now, if she does, the father can then go and take a motion to court to say my child is supposed to be attending school and the mother made this unilateral decision and he can ask the court for an order to make the child go back to school. So it really takes both parents to come to an agreement. So I would suggest those two sit down, have a meeting together, come to the meeting with a pro and con list and discuss it together and why one feels so passionately over the other.

Marie: alright I’m just going to read something here ma’am and then id appreciate your comment. “many people may infect only one person or even no one but in some cases you have a so called super spreader who infects a huge number of people. In Ontario masks are required for children in grades 4 to 12 only. In the model, sometimes the teacher was the first to get infected but usually it was the student because there are more of them. They bring it in somehow and we model what happens, where they spread it, in their household and where they spread it in school. Still its not clear just how efficient children are at spreading the virus that causes Covid 19. The science doesn’t agree. And most schools have been closed for much of 2020. School is going to accelerate the spread of the virus if its already in the community, said Montreal cardiologist and epidemiologist Dr. Chris Labos. This is the same thing that happened when we reopened stores and restaurants. School reopening is not going to create more viruses, but its going ot make it easier for the virus to spread, he said. It’s very possible you will see cases. For children, the 15 children to 2 teachers ratio was universally the worst across all possible scenarios. Child care should be operating on a 7 or 8 kids only per room model Bauche said. Siblings should also be grouped together if they go to daycare. So your two should be together based on this scientist.

Sheri: yes which they will be

Marie: okay, co-authors of the study including Brendan Phillips, a PHD candidate at Waterloo’s department of applied mathematics, Dylan brown, an assistant professor, department of psychology and Madhur Annand, a professor at the university of Guelph. The number of infections increase rapidly with the number of children in a primary school classroom or before and after daycare programs according to the model. As you double the class size, from 8 to 15, from 15 to 30, the number of cases and also the lost student days of instruction not only double each time they triple or quadruple or quintuple said Bauche, a professor of mathematics. The losses accelerate as you go to larger and larger classes. Policymakers planning for elementary school classes sizes of 30 kids or more need to immediately reconfigure their school opening plans and switch to hybrid models of part in person and part online. So my question based on all that and what we’ve been saying because I just got the question in from a listener, how can the government tell us the schools are safe when this is new, we don’t know really and every other schools that open, because I did a story on Friday in Berlin, 41 schools got huge contagion, teachers, students, everybody, they’re all in quarantine now. How can we say its safe Maitre? 

Sheri: listen again, I’m not a doctor, I really would anticipate this to be something that’s evolving with time in terms of the new stories coming out in different countries who are returning back to school, right, and we should be lending and borrowing from our neighboring provinces or countries or even on the other side of the world to see what they’ve been doing and what’s been working. The only thing I can think about from the public-school system would be that there’s a lack of resources of teachers, of personnel, that’s the only reason I could think of that they wouldn’t make that initiative to have the smaller classrooms. So I really do think that’s its going to be a play as we  go type of thing and I know it sounds risky and its scary for a lot of people and again that’s when we really have to weigh the pros and cons and I mean I can tell you that I was working from home with my three children for those six months and its very challenging. Not only is it challenging on the parents, were fine we can manage, but for the kids really. In terms of their development and their learning and their socialization. Their whole world has become Covid. My older son says I wish I just had a time machine just to go forward in time to be able to know when it’s going to end. I just need to know when its going to end. And that’s a 6-year-old. And every adult wishes they had the answer to that question

Marie: wow. Ya the kids, again, its not so much the kids themselves that are under 10 because we saw that they’re actually the least affected, is that age group but its where they carry it to, who they go to, and that’s what we saw in Germany I think it was 23 staff that got ill. They’re all in quarantine and a few hundred kids. In Georgia it was over 1000 students and several of the staff. I don’t know. If somebody whose divorced, the mother cannot live with the concept of the kids going to a class of 30 or more and coming home every day, if she gets a letter from a psychologist about the anxiety, can she come and see you and go to the courts and put her trust in the courts so they can calm down and decide if they’re going to continue with home schooling?

Sheri: well listen, were happy to see anybody and to consult with parents who have specific concerns and if there is something whether it be mental health as one of the concerns or whether it be medical or something else then forsure we would book a consultation with that client and work through it and see if there’s anything that can be done. Now what we wouldn’t do is say well let’s try if we think that’s there’s absolutely zero chance, right. Our goal is not to waste anybody’s time or money right so it would really have to be that somebody has a motivated reason other than everybody’s concern right, because every parent I think is walking around with a nice little bag of anxiety, worried about what’s going to be, what’s it going to look like, what’s it going to look like for everybody and I think that the only thing that we can really do as parents and educators is to really be implementing health and safety with the kids to make them understand how important it is, not to share food, not to really touch each other or any of that, to wash their hand s really well

Marie: I have another interesting question, Maitre, the school that this listener apparently is sending the children are supposed to go to is going to have a full class, there will be no distancing, even though there was discussion of that months ago, they don’t have to wear masks in class, they through that idea out the window also . one art teacher I was reading on the weekend, she has to see around 380 kids during the week because she’s an art teacher that goes to different classes. So, there were a lot of questions about that. So, this person wants to know if there’s no distancing in the school, can a parent ask the court to send the child to a school that does have distancing and cut the classes?

Sheri: well again that’s going to be something that, I’m not saying anything is impossible. This is the time now, more than ever, that parents have to speak up. I could be the first to admit that I’m a quiet parent. That might be hard for you to believe. But I try and usually fly under the radar, I don’t want too much attention on my sons, I want them to just do their thing and not ask for any special favors. Now is the time where parents have to speak up. If they walk into the daycare, and there’s someone not wearing a mask, you can say why are you not wearing a mask. And I ask that. And I would never say that before but now is the time. We have to be activists for our children, we have to be activists for ourselves. Now yes of course, the government has made the recommendations and this is how it has to be and so on but you can still say and voice your opinion with what you’re comfortable and not. Because if there’s 20 parents who aren’t comfortable with whether it be the size of the classroom or that there isn’t distancing going on in the hallways or so on, then that should be spoken about and it should be raised in the appropriate manner and I would suggest by an email or speak to other parents about it but parents have to come together to try and make sure that everyone is comfortable and I’m not going to say that that’s going to solve all problems but if everyone’s echoing the same thing maybe something that hasn’t been considered. For example, just to add on that, my sons school now they’re going to be eating lunch in their classrooms so they’re going to be just with their class so that effort has to be made at every school that recess or playground time really should be limited to that small group and again maybe it’s something they haven’t thought about so itf a parent has a great idea, I encourage you to bring it to the school or to the parent committee because we all need to work together, the parents, the educators, the  principals need to work together to make sure that everybody is as safe as they can be with the resources that they have and be creative and come up with solutions that make everybody a little bit comfortable and more safe

Marie: moving along with Maitre Sheri Spunt, the question was, if a mother that has custody of the children decides not to send them back to school and tries to do some homeschooling or is finding another way, where the family will feel more comfortable, the kids obviously must have picked up on her anxiety and are not thrilled about going back and the father sawt hat, can he go to court and say listen my wife is not handling this very well and I’m worried about my kids because they’re showing anxiety also, I would like to claim full custody until this is over or for the next 2 years or whatever, can someone do that Maitre?

Sheri: so in family law, its always changing everything is evolving, so let’s say there was a judgment that was rendered 2 years ago, that decision that was rendered then was what was in the best interest of the child then. What was in the child’s best interest 2 years ago might not be the case today and let’s say that is the scenario that you’re talking about that the mother or father is faced with a lot of anxiety about Covid, having been in quarantine for 6 months, is projecting that onto the child or children, that the children are not doing well in consequence, that the mother is refusing to take the children to school and has not done the necessary process to get home school approval, then that parent can bring an application to the court and say listen, on a temporary basis that they’re asking for sole custody of the children in order to be able to take them to school because maybe the other parent is just not able to because their anxiety is so debilitating and maybe they’re too afraid to take them to school or to the building or whatever that may be  and the other parent would ask the court for a court order that there would be a change in custody based on the change in circumstance. So that is the key threshold for modification of custody, there has to be a change of circumstance. Something has to change from the last time the last order was rendered. And if that change impacts the best interest of the child, then that is certainly a motion that will be heard by the court and the judge will decide what is in those children’s best interest.

Marie: what if a child does come home sick, nobody knows, no fever, our children even though they’re carrying tons of it, it might not show. They come home, they make the parent sick.  The parent gets very very sick. What obligations do you have to the other parent? Should the other parent be advised?

Sheri: 100% and that’s the other thing that people need to do. Everybody needs to be transparent across the board with the schools, if there’s a playdate for example with friends, everyone needs to know whether it be a sniffle or a runny nose, everyone should be able to make their own decisions and in order to make an enlightened decision you have to know all the factors. So that’s a very important point in terms of shared custody or even access on the weekend, if let’s say someone falls sick, the other parent or the child, the other parent should be advised and be given the option, look this is where things are at, and it certainly should not be held against the other parent, fast forward six months, oh they didn’t even entertain their access and now they’re asking for more, because a lot of parents get feisty so really everybody has to tell everybody what’s happening. And if you’re sick, you know you shouldn’t be going into public places, if you’re sick you shouldn’t be seeing other people’s children or other people. So people have to be really mindful of that. We had a scenario like that a few weekends ago. We were supposed to do a social distance outdoor play and almost right before we were leaving I realized two of my kids had a runny nose and we cancelled , we informed the other couple , the other parents and we cancelled the day because this is not the time to play around with those things.

Marie: alright ya that’s hopefully if you can pick up symptoms early. So let’s say that happens, mom gets very sick but she wants to keep the kids. I guess when you find out the kids are sick the school tells them not to come in, right?

Sheri: yes exactly, everyone is supposed to follow a similar protocol, I understand that some schools are stricter than others, but absolutely the children shouldn’t be going to school or any extracurricular activities

Marie: a listener wants me to ask you, the most important word that came out of this whole Covid thing is distancing. If distancing is the most secure way and you know your classroom is not doing it, tell me don’t have a legal argument, come on man

Sheri: well I think the nuance there and I’m not going to argue that this is all great or a failproof plan, all of this presents risks, I would just say my understanding in terms of what they keep saying about the distancing  is that the children don’t have to distance , it depends on what ag e they are but I would argue that the teachers should be keeping their distance  from the children 

Marie: I agree

Sheri: but that’s not always possible so for example at the daycare, they warned me you know when we’re doing the diaper changes, my children are out of diapers we kicked that in the butt mid Covid, but the thing is they said for diaper changes obviously we can’t socially distance from the child . of course, at that point they’re wearing a mask anyways, they’re wearing gloves, everybody has to wash their hands, but school aged children, there’s not really a reason why the teachers can’t to the best of their ability be socially distant when they’re teaching at the front of the classroom. And so I think that onus kind of becomes on each teacher to really go out of their way, to maybe put the papers on the desk before the children come in the classroom and if they’re going to collect the papers its once the children leave the classroom. People just have to be really quick clever and smart about how they’re going to navigate the classroom differently than how they did before. Even in summer camp everybody had to bring their own crayons, glue sticks, scissors so already that was limiting how much touching and exchange between the kids so those thoughts have to be at the forefront for everyone even when they’re just walking around

Marie: ya I saw some models where on every desk, but the models I’ve been seeing they’re distanced, the desks are apart, and then I saw one in Quebec and the desks are all stuck together again and I’m like, why. Common man, we need a petition or what, a million people to sign to just ask can you just distance the desks

Sheri: like I’m saying the parents for those schools have to be very vocal if that’s the case they have to say they’re not comfortable with that and not okay with that and that the desks should be separated.

Marie: cuz I gotta tell you, this is an article regarding Europe, Europe is bringing back its borders, why? Because of Covid 19 numbers. So come on man, were putting up borders, we stopped travel Canada-US borders, and we can’t keep distance between the desks. Just at the beginning. Maybe you’re right, maybe we can pack em in like sardines what do I know I’m no doctor either, I’m just going by some of the science I trust here. And distancing seems to be the key word

Sheri: and that’s the thing too and obviously it’s been frustrating throughout the process when we should just be applying the principles, don’t reinvent the wheel. If we’re seeing other countries who have done stuff before us and it hasn’t gone the way that they’ve planned let’s learn from their mistakes and let’s take a note from that book and make the difference and make the change. So I don’t know if its an ego thing, I don’t understand it because I watch the news like you and I say okay we’ve seen the stats happen so what are we going to do to make sure that doesn’t happen here. So it seems like maybe the uptake isn’t as it should be but that takes conversation like were having now and that takes conversation and voicing opinions constantly and with school and the school boards and with the administration because maybe not everybody has the answers but a few minds are better than 1 2 3 so everybody needs to be working together. There shouldn’t be a thing about ego, there shouldn’t be a thing about that’s your decision or my decision or this decision was made, it should be, wow that’s a great idea lets implement that

Marie: for example, speaking of young people, the province found that 3279 people between the ages of 10 and 19 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus to date. Among those cases, 31 people needed to be hospitalized including 6 who are in intensive care. So, when someone says to me well ya young people it doesn’t affect as many. Look I have a son and a daughter and they were in that age group at one time, now they’re grown adults, I wouldn’t want me children to be one of the 6, to be in intensive care, would you Maitre?

Sheri: no of course not, I mean one of our lawyers lost a cousin to Covid 19 who was 33, there’s a lot of young people walking around thinking they’re invincible and they don’t have to wear masks and all these things and its problems like that too that propagate it and spread it and we’re all at risk but we all have to be smart and we all have to follow all the rules to a t and we all have to weigh our risks and what we want to do and what were comfortable and not, obviously its more complicated for divorced and separated couples because you know they’re often in certain things not on the same page so they have to come to a consensus there and everyone has to do what’s right for them but it’s a very complicated time

Marie: Maitre another question, separated couple, divorced, with 4 kids. Can you change without going to court the conditions of custody like can mom take two and dad take two during this Covid?

Sheri: so on an amicable basis, parents can make modifications to judgments. The only thing there is that they’re not enforceable. So let’s say mom and dad are friendly now and they said okay there’s a worldwide pandemic let’s put our war on hold or end it all together, fantastic, and they can make those modifications together. However if there’s no judgment in writing, to that effect that’s been homologated and filed with the courts, if for example dad then gets upset that mom has a new boyfriend or vice versa or whatever it is, one of them is having a bad day or didn’t like one of the text messages that the other parent sent them, and they change their mind and they’re like no I’m not on board anymore with this new change it is not enforceable in any way, the custody. So usually when we have custody judgments or orders its to make it that its enforceable and both parties understand that they have to be respected or they can bring in law enforcement to help deal with that situation

Marie: so can they call you first if the other spouse is willing to do a temporary change in custody?

Sheri: yes so what I would recommend is we would see them we would find out what their goals are, what does the new custody arrangement look like, we would draft a consent agreement that they would both sign and we would file it in court to be homologated so everybody’s on the same page and there could be provisions in there that could say they could re-evaluate once the pandemic is over or that within x amount of months, they’re going to resume their previous schedule so definitely I would recommend there be something in writing that they both sign, everybody is on the same page, and they go forward that way, not that it can be changing any moment if the other parent decides that they want to retract on that

Marie: if the kids come home and mom or whoever has the kids could be dad, but mom gets Covid and gets very sick and ends up in the hospital, what happens to the kids?

Sheri: well then the father would have the first option for the kids then they would obviously be at risk to being exposed themselves but they would go to the other parent and then that household would be very careful and cautious, that parent shouldn’t then be going into work for example anymore and everyone should be quarantine for 14 days and tested

Marie: what if the other parent doesn’t want to, they live in fear of this Covid 

Sheri: well that’s a problem. Then we would usually go to aunts and uncles, grandparents, maternal or paternal

Marie: because you know grandparents would die for their grandchildren, they would take them in a minute

Sheri: ya but that’s risky too right s o I hope that families are not in those situations but there’s always an option whether there be extended families or not and then worst case scenario really is the foster care situation

Marie: if that situation occurs, I highly recommend go for some legal guidance

Sheri: yes absolutely to figure out what to do and about the placement and so on but hopefully there’s family friends or someone where the children can be at least on a temporary basis

Marie: what if that happens and dad would take the kids but dad lives in another country, how can they swing that

Sheri: they would need written authorization from the mother that she consents for the children to travel and then wherever they’re going they would have to follow those recommendations and guidelines of that country but they would need written authorization from the mother because any time a parent crosses the border, whether you’re actually married or together, you’re supposed to always have a letter from the other parent that you consent to the travel and the border guards have discretion to ask for it or not.

Marie: Maitre you are aware that Julius grey has already taken up a case arguing the constitution regarding kids…parents are saying listen we don’t have an underlying reason why our kids can’t go to school except that we don’t want them to, we are not ready to embrace the risk factor even though you’re trying to make that risk factor as low as possible, we can’t, I’m not sleeping nights anymore, whatever, so we want to keep our kids home we want them to follow the online. Well if you don’t have a doctor’s note excusing you for children, you’re not welcome on the online program. Come on!

Sheri: ya it’s a challenge and its problematic

Marie: so if I speak to my ex and he tells me oh well where I’m living they would be going to this school board and its much better here. Can they call the lawyer and change all the conditions right away so the kids can move over there?

Sheri: sure if everybody agrees ya and the school has room yes

Marie: your phone number ma’am, 438-383, 5458

And if you’re involved and your husband isn’t a Canadian citizen or the wife isn’t, and you’re having discrepancies and it plays a lot on immigration law or rights of the other party, you’re still equipped ma’am with an immigration expert?

Sheri: absolutely and Maitre Arrais is very busy these days because were having lots of cases where were experiencing the challenges of the immigration of the family, complications with sponsorship etc. so were really trying to take care of everything now that the government is kind of more backed up and running and dealing with these applications so if you do have deadlines up and coming, you definitely have to get that done sooner than later because you never know what the next  chapter is going to be and you need to make sure that your papers don’t expire

Marie: quelqu’un qui n’est pas canadien encore qui est en train de travailler sur papiers, sont français de France je vais prendre une exemple, il veut poursuivre présentement des changements à l’école ou leurs enfants y’irons, can they still speak up even though they’re not legally accepted yes

Sheri: yes

Marie : ils sont capables de s’exprimer quand même

Sheri: oui and I think ça va devenir comme la majorité comme si tout le monde est de la même opinion et ont les mêmes réserves, il faut que quelqu’un prend ça en compte

Marie: alright so parents speak up, if you feel a certain way and there’s enough parents together and they feel that way, I agree it’s the school’s job to cater to these parents

Sheri: yes power of numbers, if we all do that then there’s going to be those daily meetings and how can we do this better, and how can we make things difference, and bringing this to the higher and higher up, this is all new for everybody but everybody has to keep having the conversation, keep talking and keep working together

Marie: and your little guy, he’s in grade 1?

Sheri: yes going into grade 1

Marie: look, somebody said to me look the private schools are doing it better. I’m not going to lie, my daughter went to ECS, I think her biggest class was 9 people, big difference

Sheri: well that makes a difference 100% 

Marie: anyways, and even then, when someone asks me just like our old prime minister when he was asked last week have you decided yet if you’re sending your kids back, he said no were still discussing it with Sophie. At least he was honest.

Sheri: listen again, some people might not find it a popular decision that were sending our 3 children back but everybody has to do what’s right for them, what feels right for them and for their families and then if it’s not right then you have to get on it and start making the necessary applications and getting approvals for home-schooling and all of that sooner rather than later

Marie: I think Maitre because you seem very confident about the bubble, what we tell people is when you create a bubble, like here at work there’s 5 of us, we know, I live alone, another one of us lives with her dad he’s 93 and we all work to protect that man because we know him, so we protect each other, I have 2 young kids, jess went on vacation we asked her monitor yourself see if you have fever, did you cross anyone who had it so we keep it up and talked about, everyone protect your bubble

Sheri: everyone has to be transparent with everyone and let everybody know what all the factors are right because everybody has a different level of comfort. I hadn’t gone to a grocery store for five and a half months, I still actually haven’t been into a grocery store. No really everybody has a different level of comfort and my opinion at the time was if I don’t have to go in somewhere there’s another way for me to get my groceries or amazon or whatever it is, that’s what I did. Online banking and all of that stuff, why risk it if I can mitigate where I’m going. So it’s the same thing with schools, the same thing with families the same thing with playdates all that stuff, everyone has their different level of comfort so that being said you have to make sure that the people you are around and that are trusting you, that you are transparent and everybody knows what’s happening

Marie: and that you do the same for them

Sheri: exactly

Marie: ya I think that’s going t be the way were going to navigate this safely

Sheri: honesty is the best policy right

Marie: aw Maitre if that was true we wouldn’t need courts and judges

Sheri: well sometimes people can be honest and they don’t agree right

Marie: that’s true. And by the way, are there any cases being done in real time in court or is it all by screens still

Sheri: so were back, I’m back physically in court on Wednesday, my partner has been a few times, one of our other attorneys Me Etingin was in youth court last week, it’ll be my first time Wednesday physically, because we’ve been doing online

Marie: with a mask?

Sheri: with a mask, there’s plexiglass in between les greffiers and the judge and the lawyers, limited amount of people in the elevator, I think its max 2 at a time, sanitizer stations everywhere, so they have really taken it at the courthouse I would say really really seriously

Marie: well bravo

Sheri: so that’ll be my first experience, we can talk on Monday what that was like but yaw eve been making it work, we’ve been making the court online work, we’ve been making consults work, but you know I said to one of our lawyers last week, to talk to a client through a screen who is sharing the most vulnerable moments of their life, I can’t like pass a box of Kleenex through the screen, you’re meeting somebody for the first time someone who is talking to you about the most devastating moments of their life, its very challenging, we’ve done it we’ve managed, but the office is reopening now for fall and we have every lawyer in their own office, and everyone has their own entrance and we’ve converted to all plastic chairs to be able to wipe them down, and sanitizer everywhere and everyone has their own sponge to wash their own glasses so we’ve really, there’s ways that you can do it to make it was safe as possible and everyone has to wear masks

Marie: I gotta confess, I haven’t been out since mid-march to, I went to one restaurant and walked in when we came out of quarantine in June and you saw the reality of the tables separated, of bar stools being x’d off, you know anyways but the food was great and everyone adapts, the chef had his gloves and his mask but last week an associate said ok Marie we wanted to talk, long story short I said I have to go to a bar, and I said I can’t do this anymore I need to go feel normal and sit at a bar dude and we went not far from here, walked in, ordered a double mojito and man did it calm me down

Sheri: omg stay home I’ll send you a shipment from the SAQ

Marie: But I gotta tell you I understand now how young people feel and how you forget everything when you have that second drink. All of a sudden, you’re invincible

Sheri: one of our lawyers got married this summer she said after everyone had their second drink you start to become a little bit looser and you forget about all these rules and regulations that have been embedded and it makes sense

Marie: and its funny it always happens on that second drink you see. Ladies and gentleman you know bizarre times, make sure, get the right information and don’t make any moves unless you’re sure, if ever we need processionals to guide us, it is now. So fait pas de votre taille, vous voulez faire un changement, appelez maitre Spunt 438-383-5458, ladies and gentlemen just follow the advice of the experts, lets them handle anything you want to affront, something you’re not feeling okay with, we just need that legal mind. Family law and immigration 438-383-5458.and if you do get sick remember you still have rights