January 13, 2022 | COVID-19

Unvaccinated Father’s Access Rights Suspended

At the forefront of all Quebec judgments is to maximize parenting time with both parents, so long as it is in the child’s best interest.
In this case, the mother exercised sole parenting time of the couple’s twelve-year-old child and the father had access rights which allowed him to exercise his parenting time every second weekend and one week during the winter holiday.

The father instituted proceedings before the Superior Court of Quebec, family division, requesting that he be granted one extra day with his child during the winter holiday period.
After the mother learned that that the child’s father was not vaccinated against COVID-19 and that he is a “conspiracy theorist” and is an “antivaxxer”, she asked the court to suspend the father’s access.

The father expressed to the court that he has reservations with respect to vaccines, but that he respects the health measures in place. Despite his statement, the mother provided evidence from the father’s Facebook page where he posted “antivaxx” content and expressed that he was opposed to the health measures. Based on the evidence provided by the mother, the court found the father to be a “conspiracy theorist” and did not believe that he had been respecting the public health measures in place and would not do so going forward.

Although the couples’ child is vaccinated against COVID-19, the mother’s concern rests with the fact that the father is not, and their child spends time between their two households. This was an additional factor considered by Justice Vaillancourt, j.s.c. who was concerned for the well-being of the mother’s two other children who are under the age of five and are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine.

Therefore, Justice Vaillancourt, j.s.c. suspended the father’s access rights and the decision is in effect until early February 2022, at which time the file will be back in court. During this time, if the father decides to get vaccinated, the court most probably will reinstate his access. If not, it is possible that his access would remain suspended.

Until now, where parents are in disagreement with respect to vaccinating their child(ren) against COVID-19, the courts have sided with the consenting parent, this judgment is a first in Quebec where a parent’s access rights are temporarily suspended as a result of the fact they chose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19.