Decisions About a Child’s Return to School During the Public Health Emergency

1.    How are decisions about a child’s education made?

Both parents have parental authority unless they have been deprived of parental rights. There are two types of decisions: important decisions and everyday decisions.

Important decisions are those that concern the child’s health (e.g., medical care), choice of school, religion, etc. Parents must consult each other before making important decisions affecting their child’s life, regardless of the custody type. 

These decisions must be made by both parents. In case of a disagreement, the issue is decided by the court.

Everyday decisions are made by the parent with whom the child is staying that day. They include things like bedtime hours, food and participation in school activities.

Allowing a child to go back to school for the remainder of the year in the context of the pandemic is an important decision that must be made by both parents. 

It is an important decision given the health risks that can arise from the child continuing to see both parents in two different environments. For instance, fear of contagion can be warranted for a parent who has a pre-existing medical condition. Sending a child to school in this context could prevent a parent with a medical condition from exercising their custody rights.

Both parents must therefore agree on whether their child should return to school during the public health emergency.

2.    What if parents can’t agree on this issue?

Parents who can’t come to an agreement could seek the help of a family mediator.

For more information about mediation, mediation costs or to find a mediator, please visit the Family mediation - Negotiating a fair agreement page on the Ministère de la Justice’s website.

Alternatively, as with other issues relating to important decisions that fall under parental authority, the parents could take their disagreement to court.

3.    How can I get specific legal advice regarding my situation?

Citizens who have questions of a legal nature can consult online resources available on the website of the Ministère de la Justice or Éducaloi.

The Community Justice Centers can also be consulted for free information, support and referral services.
 
To reach a lawyer, it is possible to contact legal aid offices, childcare services in criminal matters or the directory of lawyers of the Barreau du Québec.

For free assistance services for victims, their relatives and witnesses to a crime, the Crime Victims Assistance Centres (CAVAC) can be contacted.

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