Custody and Timesharing Procedures during COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have received a lot of inquiries as to what parties should do to keep themselves and their children safe during these uncertain times. However, if you have a parenting plan where you share custody with another parent, this can often become more complicated. There is no rule book for something like this as this matter is unprecedented. However, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) created guidelines for parents who are divorced or separated and sharing custody during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read their full publication here.
In short, the AAML encourages parents to act in the best interest of their children and their health when making decisions regarding the parenting plan. Parenting plans don’t anticipate a pandemic. This means that parents must work together to make decisions as to how to protect the health and well-being of their children.
The AAML encourages parents to follow the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), state and local governments, and encourage hand washing and social distancing. Further, the AAML recommends trying to maintain a calm demeanor during this time period. News media and other sources may be alarming to young children, especially without further explanation. It is important to reassure children that everything will be okay moving forward and make alarmist comments around the children.
When it comes to the parenting plan, it is important to try and comply with the plan as much as possible. Even though schools are currently closed, the parties should attempt to maintain the normalcy of the parenting plan, to the extent possible. If there is a reason you believe that you should deviate from the parenting plan, it is important to consult with the other parent to see if he or she is in agreement with the deviation. If not, you may need to consult your attorney for further advice. If one parent is unable to see the child or children for an extended period of time, you should encourage as much virtual contact as possible through telephone, skype, facetime, or other video chat services.
Finally, it is important to communicate regarding the health and well-being of your children with the other parent. If you believe that you may have been exposed to the virus, consult with the other parent immediately to take the necessary precautions to prevent any further exposure. Of course, if the child is exhibiting any symptoms communicate that to the other parent as soon as possible.
Given the gravity of this pandemic, the health and well-being of everyone should be top of mind. When making any decisions regarding timesharing and custody of the minor children, make sure that you are doing what is in the best interest if the child to protect their health. Our office is working remotely during this time, but we are fully functional and able to answer questions as they arise. Should you or a loved one need any assistance, please do not hesitate to call us.