NAVIGATING CHILD CUSTODY PLANS WITH CORONAVIRUS
This is a time like nothing most of us have had to live through. I am pretty sure that parents that share custody have a lot of questions about how they can ensure that each parent gets to spend time with the children while everyone is isolating at home.
First of all, if there is anything that is in your parenting plan that conflicts with a law or order by a mayor, county executive or governor it is not going to be valid. If your child has symptoms or had direct contact with someone with Coronavirus or tested positive, they need to isolate in one home for the prescribed amount of time.
So what if your child is fine and had no contact?
It is still probably not a great idea for a child to go back and forth because now you are mixing up the germs from two houses and with anyone that the inhabitants of either house comes in contact with. If you and the other parent still decide to share custody (if they are young I understand you may need a break) you should discuss the following with the other parent:
- Possible change of the custody plan. Try to eliminate the amount of times that the kids go back and forth. There is no school in session in Missouri so you could alternate weeks instead of exchanging custody every 2 or 3 days.
- Stay at home rules. If one of you has a strict stay in the house policy while the other is letting the kids play with their friends and letting friends come over, that pretty much ruins anything that the “stay in the house” parent hopes to accomplish. That would require that the kids spend all of this time at one house or the other.
- School. Schools are closed and kids are doing school online. In some situations parents are needed to “home school” as well. Make sure that you are up to speed on this so when they are with you they don’t fall behind. Also, their books and devices will have to travel back and forth.
- Who works from home now. If one parent has one of the essential jobs and the kids have to be in daycare during the day, it seems to make sense that they stay with the working from home parent so they don’t bring home germs from daycare.
- Who works in healthcare. If you or the other parent works in a job in which there is contact with sick people, it may be prudent to the kids in the other house so the health care worker doesn’t pass anything on.
In these stressful times it will be very important that you maintain contact with your kids as much as you can. Relax any controls on communication between parents and kids and use Facetime and other video chatting.
In the event that the kids end up with the other parent, for whatever reason, and you can’t get them back, you may need to just suck it up until the end of this. It is doubtful that any police department is going to go to a house to enforce a custody order right now. Judges are going to feel a duty to worry more about the health of the public than your custody rights and the courts are basically closed right now anyway. However, if at the end of this situation (and yes it will end) you still can’t get your kids, and maybe some makeup time, then you will want to contact an attorney and file a Family Access Motion.