Co-parenting can be challenging for parents who are divorced or are otherwise living apart, even under the most typical of circumstances. With the COVID-19 Pandemic thrown into the mix, many parents are facing new challenges in navigating their co-parenting responsibilities. While the courts are also struggling to keep up with various new issues presented by the COVID-19 Pandemic, there fortunately are some clear-cut guidelines when it comes to child custody and parenting time.


  1. Parenting Time Orders Remain in Full Force and Effect

COVID-19 does not change the rights and responsibilities established under a prior court order for custody or parenting time. If one parent is in a better position than the other to facilitate remote learning or to stay home with the children, you may want to consider asking the court to modify its prior order. In the alternative, if you have a good relationship with the other parent, you may be able to mutually agree to modify your parenting plan. Absent a modification, however, you must abide by the terms of your current parenting plan or custody order.


  1. What if the Other Parent Violates the Parenting Plan by Refusing to Return the Children After His or Her Parenting Time?

COVID-19 is not a reason to deny parenting time. Unless otherwise ordered, parents are presumed fit to make the day-to-day decisions regarding the children in their care, including social distancing and other safety-related requirements. Both parents should work together to facilitate parenting time in the children’s best interests. If a parent does not follow the schedule memorialized in your parenting plan or other court order, that parent could be found in contempt of court.


  1. Communication is Key

Perhaps the surest way to keep disagreements concerning parenting time out of the court is to maintain consistent communication with the other parent. You should be communicating about any potential exposure to the virus, any new school district policies or announcements, and what your back-up safety plan will be in the event someone in either house contracts the virus. You may want to establish what time of day and method of communication works best for both parents. As a rule of thumb, you will want to make sure your children are not within earshot during your conversations.


Still have questions? A family law attorney may be able to provide insight into other complex issues surrounding parenting time and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Contact Goosmann Law Firm today to schedule a consultation today!

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