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  • Michelle Kooy

Back to School?

In BC children are returning to school next week but this year there are many different options available to families. With so many unknowns, it is difficult for many families to make a decision. This is especially difficult in a shared parenting situation where parents may have very diverse opinions about a return to school. How to decide?

The courts across Canada have been clear during Covid-19 that parents should exhaust other tools to resolve Covid-19 related parenting disputes before heading to court. In a recent case in Ontario the Judge lamented that the parents "have delegated the authority to make the decision respecting their child's in-person versus online attendance at school to me, a judge who has never met the parents and who will likely never meet the child."

These are hard decisions. Parents know their children best and if there is any way for them to make a decision relating to their child’s health and safety they should do everything in their power to achieve that rather than leaving the decision to a stranger.

Now what? How do you decide?

  1. Start with a respectful and meaningful conversation – This will seem obvious to some people but many co-parents don’t make time or aren’t able to have a conversation about these types of issues. For people who struggle with these types of conversations it may help to have a neutral facilitator as part of the conversation (friend, family member, counselor, clergy member, etc.).

  2. Consider getting more information – Look in depth at the government websites and the school websites. Talk to the principal. Talk to your family doctor or health care provider. If appropriate, talk to your child. Wherever possible try and involve the other parent in this information gathering.

  3. If you still can’t decide, consider using an alternate dispute resolution process before moving on to litigation. There are many options such as the Collaborative process, mediation, arbitration, or the combo of mediation/arbitration. If are interested in learning about these processes, feel free to contact us.

This issue is a complex one with no one size fits all solution. Each family situation is unique and deserves appropriate attention to determine the right decision for the family unit as whole. If you are struggling with this issue, contact us today for a free consultation to discuss the options available to your family.

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