Stuck Inside for Coronavirus? How to Keep Up with Visitation Schedules
As COVID-19 continues to ravage America, parents throughout the country are doing their best to look after the health and well-being of their children. This is hard enough to do for parents who still live as a couple. It is a more serious challenge for parents who are divorced. The social distancing and shelter-in-place orders that have been issued in various states make it hard for divorced couples to co-parent effectively.
The first thing that should be noted is that in normal times (pre COVID-19), courts have made it clear that violating custody court-sanctioned custody arrangements and withholding visitation were tolerated. These actions, absent a viable reason, are still not tolerated. Those in violation are subject to sanctions, including a contempt of court citation.
However, just as in normal times, i.e., if a parent appears for visitation in an intoxicated state, in these times, if a parent does not appear to be practicing social distancing and demands to exercise in person visitation rights, you may have valid concerns about the health of your child. In this case, you need to contact Garden City family attorneys for advice before taking unilateral action.
How do lawyers advise clients when our access to non-essential courtrooms are virtually non-existent for the time being? First and foremost, act as if your actions will be scrutinized by the Court as soon as it becomes available. Keep in mind at all times that a (if not the most) significant factor in determining custody is which parent is most likely to provide access and promote a positive relationship with the other parent.
When the dust clears, the Court will look at (and children will remember) how their parents cooperated with one another during this time. If practical, parties should adhere to their current visitation schedules. In the case of a parent who has a high risk job (such as a health care professional), both parents should agree that it is in the best interests of the children that strict hygiene protocols be observed before coming near the child the children. In certain cases, the parties should also consider the following alternatives to in-person visitation:
-Scheduling daily virtual visits through FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype
-Doing daily phone calls so that your child hears your voice
-Sending regular text messages
The Garden City family attorneys at Fass & Greenberg can help you sort through custody issues during the COVID-19 crisis. You should contact Fass & Greenberg if you need assistance and advice.