Family Law 2022: Through the Rearview Mirror, Then On To Better Things
As we round out another truly indescribable past year, and plunge headlong into the uncertainty of the new one, it’s important to pause and reflect. Needless to say, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked economic devastation on a global scale. This of course trickles down to the individual level, where families struggle mightily to survive, to recalibrate, and to thrive under challenging circumstances.
Looking at the Blogs we’ve covered in 2021, they serve to animate some of the countless individual (and often-heartwrenching) stories that have had to play out before the Family Courts. More broadly, they bring to life the widespread tumult that the Family Justice system has weathered in the shadow of much graver worldwide challenges.
It’s clear from reading the year’s Blogs, that spousal and family relationships continue to fracture and break under the strain of the crisis. The Family Law system sees the fallout of this, in the form of an upsurge in the number of separation matters and divorce cases that come through the courts. This in turn sparks an increase in the number of parental disputes over things like who gets parenting time, and who has primary authority over decision-making – except they are played out against the background of new geographical challenges that arise inherently from parenting orders, and new restrictions on travel and in-person schooling for kids.
The Blogs have chronicled some of the unexpected and unforeseen legal frontiers that have arisen. Only two years ago, who’d have predicted that parents would be going to court for COVID-19-related orders – like choosing whether their child should attend in-person or remote schooling? Or whether one parent should be granted the right to vaccinate a child over the objections of the other? Or whether a parent’s new unvaccinated partner should be blocked from spending time with the kids? Or whether a parent’s refusal to get vaccinated might lead them to losing their right to parenting time or custody entirely?
Finding answers to these novel legal questions is not the only progress that the crisis has forcibly wrought. Who could have predicted that the once steadfastly paper-bound and staid Ontario Family Courts could finally be dragged into the modern era, becoming deft at dispensing justice through fully- or partly-remote means?
Yet much as we strain ourselves to find the “positives” of the past year, many of us had personal losses and disappointments as well.
As we look back over 2021, we know that nobody could have predicted or prevented the many twists and turns of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nobody truly knows what’s coming next. And, most importantly, nobody has a crystal ball to know when it will be fully, finally, and firmly at an end.
But what we do know, here at Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers, is that we are – and always will be – in it together with you, our cherished clients and readers.