Managing Custody and Placement Orders During COVID-19
People’s daily lives are changing rapidly as COVID-19 spreads across the globe. Schools and non-essential businesses are closed. Parents are working from home, while trying to homeschool their children. Social distancing rules and regulations are in effect, and social gatherings are temporarily limited. There is a substantial amount of uncertainty in the world as to how long all of this will last.
Our “new normal” is ever-changing and new co-parenting issues exist: “Do I have to send my child to his father’s/mother’s house for parenting time?” “What if my child’s mother/father won’t return the child after parenting time?” “Can I stop sending our child on visitation?” “Will I be in violation of, or, how do I enforce, my parenting time order?”
Parents are looking for guidance as to how to navigate their custody and placement orders during these unprecedented times. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has provided the following guidelines to assist parents with this dilemma: https://cdn.ymaws.com/aaml.org/resource/resmgr/newsletter/2020/03_2020/aaml-afcc-covid19-guidelines.pdf
In addition to referencing the AAML guidelines, parents should be assessing their children’s risk to contracting COVID-19 and determine the best plan of action. The Court expects parents to work together for the best interest of their children, especially during these unprecedented times.
Parents should be having open and honest discussions with the other parent about their concerns: “Should the children stay with one parent?” “Will there be make-up time?” “Should the vacation be cancelled?” “Can we use Skype or FaceTime to continue contact with both parents?” “Can we mutually agree to modify our exchanges temporarily to reduce risk?” If a parent is an essential worker, “What precautions has their employer and they as the employee taken to reduce their risk of being exposed to the virus?”
In addition to having conversations about a plan of action, parents should continue to stay up to date on the latest recommendations from the World Health Organization and CDC.
Parents should not be using this pandemic to drive a wedge between the children and the other parent. All custody and placement orders remain in effect. Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home Order” deems “travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement” essential travel. (https://evers.wi.gov/Documents/COVID19/EMO12-SaferAtHome.pdf)
Failure to follow your Court custody and placement order has consequences which should be taken seriously.
If you cannot reach an agreement with the other parent regarding your custody and placement orders, you should consult with Attorney Heather L. Nelson to determine if you should file an action Racine, Kenosha, or Walworth County Court.
Heather L. Nelson Law, S.C. is available to assist you during this COVID-19 pandemic. Schedule your free phone consultation today.