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Many parents ask what to do about exchanges and visitation. The rule is that the original custody schedule governs. If you have concerns, here is a list of questions that may be asked of you and which are fair questions to ask the other parent during this emergency situation.
1. Have you or any member of your household been exposed to the COVID-19 virus?
- If yes, give information about source of exposure and date of exposure & your treatment & follow-up plans & timeframe
2. Have any of your household members been ill with symptoms that coincide with COVID-19 symptoms? (fever, cough, shortness of breath; see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html)
- If yes, when?
- Was that person tested for flu or COVID-19?
3. What is the parent’s work schedule now?
4. Is the parent working outside of the home?
- If yes:
What measures is the workplace taking to limit exposure? (Example: alternating shifts to decrease number of employees present at one time, social distancing regulations, cleaning all surfaces after hours, etc.)
What contact does the parent have with the public?
5. If the parent is able to work from home,
- How long will they be able to work remotely?
- What time does the parent have available to supervise the children and assist with remote learning?
6. Answer the above questions for anyone in the household who usually works outside the home.
7. Do any members of your household have any health conditions that place them in a high risk category (example: compromised immune system, chronic lung disease or asthma, over 65; see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/people-at-higher-risk.html)?
8. What procedures do you have within your home to limit exposure? (Example: sheltering in place, absolute quarantine, etc.)
9. What steps do you take to clean and disinfect your home?
If you are going to ask these questions, you should be prepared to answer them yourself.
As courthouses continue to close and hearings are continued 30 days or more, we are seeing escalation in bad behavior by some separated and divorced parents, including denial of visitation and distortions or outright false statements about decisions and parenting time. Here are some tips for making it through this period:
1. Your custody order's provisions for holiday visitation, such as spring break, are governed by the calendar as originally issued, NOT by extensions beyond that calendar due to the pandemic and quarantine provisions.
2. Healthy and safe behavior is the top priority. If you have been diagnosed with or had direct contact within the past two weeks with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or if you have apparent symptoms, or if you have been asked to self-quarantine, FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS. Do not press for parenting time or visitation and expose anyone.
3. If you have a parenting coordinator in your case, involve them in any dispute concerning your children or the custody order. If you do not have a parenting coordinator and cannot work through the issues, you may consider asking for a parenting coordinator to be appointed in your case to hear both sides and make recommendations.
4. Stay in contact with your attorney. Your attorney can assist with negotiation and facilitating parenting time and compliance with other orders. We have special access to judges in emergency situations when a child is in harm's way.
5. Follow the orders even when the other parent is behaving badly. Do not act in kind.