Separated and divorced parents are facing a range of new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has announced stay-at-home orders to contain the spread of the virus, but many parenting plans require that children move between two households.
As parents deal with new issues like online schooling, there are also concerns about the safety of children while traveling, in childcare, or at an ex’s home. Parents may be conflicted about how to adhere to a parenting plan and shelter in place orders at the same time as well as making decisions in the best interests of their children.
Know Your Parenting Plan
These are unprecedented times, and parents are understandably concerned. But, what if one parent is taking more precautions than another? Maybe your ex isn’t following social distancing guidelines or lives with an essential worker. If you want to limit or stop visitation temporarily, this isn’t always a simple matter.
In Washington State, the Governor’s office advises that parents should aim to stick to the terms of their existing parenting plans as closely as possible. This is the perfect time to pull out your plan and read it again carefully.
Does the plan give one parent the power to change or cancel visits? Does it specify what you should do if a parent or child is sick? If your plan isn’t this specific, you can speak to the other parent about your concerns and request a temporary change in your arrangement. Perhaps, one parent can visit with the children on Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime, and make up in-person visits when the danger of infection passes.
Many parents are subject to supervised visitation with their children for a variety of reasons. However, this ongoing pandemic might make those visits more difficult. In some cases, you can have a substitute supervisor sign an Oath of Supervisor agreement.
But you shouldn’t just pick anyone to supervise visits if the reason for supervised visitation is the fear of sexual or physical abuse of the child. If this is your situation, you need to put the safety and wellbeing of your child first and not agree to the visitation. You may need to file a motion with the court to protect your rights.
Your Legal Rights During COVID-19
As the coronavirus continues to spread, we’ll no doubt see more disputes between parents surrounding custody and visitation. For example, one parent can’t be forced to see their child, particularly if they are making this decision because of COVID-19.
If your child’s other parent is keeping you from exercising your residential time as specified in the parenting plan, you have legal rights. You can ask the court to hold them in contempt. But, as the courts aren’t currently open except for emergencies, legal remedies may take some time.
If your ex or someone in their home is infected with COVID-19, you have a legal right to know this information. All parents are responsible for health care decisions when a child is in their custody and care, so possible exposure to COVID-19 is vital information.
Let Our Tacoma Child Custody Attorneys Help You During COVID-19
This is a stressful time, and the best way for parents to get through this is to try to come to mutual agreements about how they can best protect their children. Even when you believe that your actions are justified, the courts might see it differently, and it’s always a good idea to get legal counsel before moving forward.
At AB Law, our child custody and family law attorneys understand the issues that parents are facing during this unprecedented time. We continue to work remotely and are available to help you keep your loved ones safe. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.