In consideration of our staff, their families and the families we serve, Insight Law will be implementing COVID-19 precautionary measures effective immediately. What does this mean:
We are currently available by Appointment Only.
- Most of our staff will be working from remote locations
- No one who is sick or who has been in contact with sick or travelling people will be allowed in the office
- Meetings will occur via phone or video chat service unless face-to-face meetings are essential
- If we do meet with you, we will be more likely to offer you Purell than a handshake
- Please follow all COVID-19 health guidelines, and be prepared to wear a mask and maintain 6ft/2m social distancing
- Before coming to our office, please contact us directly to book an appointment or meet you digitally instead
AHS and the Court system are monitoring the spread of the virus carefully and will advise if any disruption to court services will be mandated.
What are your hours?
Our current office hours are, 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM, however, we ask that all appointments or meetings be booked directly through us ahead of time so we can arrange to do them remotely if at all possible.
You can always reach us via phone at 780.758.1006 or e-mail at Info@insightlaw.ca.
We continue to offer all of our legal services, including: mediations, collaborative divorce/separation and other non-court options. Our office is equipped to hold as many meetings as possible digitally, and can help you with legal issues of any kind while being cautious of COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
Can we still meet?
Absolutely! We can meet digitally. Our firm has always been digitally connected – we can connect via e-mail, phone, text, and video chat.
Some in-person meetings will still be essential, including some real estate matters and wills & estates matters (mainly those pertaining to original document signings). We take appropriate precautions, maintain social distancing, and provide hand sanitizers. We even have some shields if we need to meet!
What about signing affidavits and filing court documents?
Currently, the Courts and Law Society of Alberta have granted temporary permission to verify ID and commission affidavits via video chat. This means we don’t need to meet in person to confirm identity or commission affidavits. Once we’ve done those things, we can still file documents at the courthouse and get your matter in the queue for a court date.
What about court?
The Court of Queen’s Bench and Provincial Court of Alberta have resumed operations with a new suite of digital filing and remote hearing technologies. This means that we can continue to book court dates, file documents, and appear before judges, most of the time using a webcam! Some hearings, particularly in provincial court, may require in person attendance with masks and social distancing, depending on the situation.
Due to COVID-19, the courts are experiencing delays in the filing of documents and scheduling of new matters. This means your case may take longer.
The courthouse has introduced a new family docket procedure which triages incoming matters and helps guide parties’ to resolution outside of court dates before being scheduled in the courts. Our office keeps up to date on all new procedures and forms, and can help you navigate these procedures.
They have also restricted access to the courthouse. To enter, you must be:
- a party involved in a matter being heard in court;
- a lawyer;
- a witness;
- a required interpreter, support person, or support worker;
- a member of accredited media;
- a person paying a fine, restitution, bail, or surety on behalf of the accused;
- a person filing court documents; or
- a person approved by a Judge or Justice of the Court.
Attendance at all courthouses will be refused to persons who have been advised to self-isolate by public health officials or their doctor, who are self-isolating as a result of travel or contact with individuals with COVID-19, and those who are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms.
How can I help my family during this time?
The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts has released a document HERE containing 7 guidelines for families with shared parenting arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What about parenting time?
While we understand the need to avoid social contact, it is generally expected that current parenting orders and agreements will be adhered to, with reasonable accommodations by all parties to ensure hygiene and social distancing. Pick-up spots may have to be modified as most indoor facilities are closed, and both families must follow recommended hygiene protocols. If arrangements must be altered because a parent or child is sick, a parent works in a high-risk field, or someone in the immediate family circle has returned from travelling, then try to find temporary alternatives such as digital parenting, including phone calls, video chats, texts, and online games. We have used Zoom to play games with family members online, and it’s pretty fun.
I’m concerned about a co-parent’s hygiene. What should I do?
While it is expected that both parents will, in the best interests of their children, follow COVID-19 health recommendations, if the other parent implements slightly different hygiene procedures during the pandemic, this is okay. Try to remain calm, understanding, and level-headed. Work with the other parent to understand what is acceptable in each home.
If you do believe the other party is endangering the children through negligence or willful exposure, contact us immediately. Please note that there must be specific evidence of negligence and refusal to follow safety protocols.
Should I cut off access to the other parent to protect my children?
It can be very scary to think of exposing your children to a virus for which there is no current vaccine or cure. But it is important to recognize that prior to this crisis, you trusted the other parent to care appropriately for your children. Disrupting children’s routines beyond what is necessary and then telling them that they can no longer see the other parent can have harmful effects on children. Absent neglect or serious negligence, a legal analysis of their best interests could favor them continuing to see both parents.
If you have to isolate because of travel or exposure, make best efforts to continue parenting time online. Parents who are inflexible or refusing to follow court-ordered parenting routines, to communicate, or follow hygiene guidelines may be judged negatively as the matter proceeds. Courts will consider all parties actions during the pandemic.
We can’t seem to agree on how to proceed. How can I avoid arguments?
This is a stressful time for all families. Try to stick to your previous routines and agreements as much as possible. If you cannot agree, and you are not immediately concerned about your children’s health and safety, contact us. Dispute resolution options such as mediation and arbitration are reasonable alternatives to going to court. They are also less expensive than litigation.
How will child support work? Am I or the other parent allowed to stop payments?
Unfortunately, the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) has determined that because the current pandemic impacts both payors and recipients alike, non-payment of child support is still unacceptable. Some amount of child support must still be paid each month, ideally the full amount.
That said, the MEP is offering temporary payment arrangements and temporary decreases in current payment arrangements to any payors who have lost income as a result of the pandemic. This includes losses due to COVID-19 diagnosis, job loss, reduction in work hours, orders to self-isolate, or needing to care for children home from school or daycare. If you are a payor of child support and feel you fit this criteria, contact your MEP Case Officer for assistance as soon as possible.
Helpful Links Related to COVID-19 and your family:
- Court of Queens Bench Alberta COVID-19 Information
- Court of Queens Bench Alberta COVID-19 FAQS
- Provincial Court of Alberta COVID-19 Information
- Family Mediation Services through the Alberta Government (Services are available dependent on income. Services are being offered through phone call, and are currently experiencing delays but are still available)
- Parenting During COVID-19
- COVID-19 Information for Kids Factsheet
- How to Talk to Your Child about Coronavirus
- 7 guidelines for families with shared parenting arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Childcare during COVID-19