March 22, 2020 Stacey Mendelson 0 Comments

What happens to custody arrangements in the face of the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Experts are telling us to stay home with our kids, but if you have a shared custody arrangement, which home should house the children? This is really tricky because although you want to comply with the standing court orders, you also want your children to be as safe as possible. It gets even more complicated when the other parent is inflexible and will not agree to let the child stay at your home.

This is meant to be a general commentary and should not be taken as legal advice. If you have specific questions about your circumstances please reach out to your lawyer.

Quarantine modification to custody order

It seems reasonable to suggest that the government recommendations for the day trump (no pun intended?) the current court order. In other words, if there is a lock-down or quarantine in effect, the children stay put regardless of the shared parenting order. It would be wise to confirm this in writing to the other parent. This case applies if government restrictions prohibit custodial exchanges.

Self isolation modification to custody order

This get a bit more grey when there is a “shelter in place” or “self isolation” order. Here is where you do need to follow the current custody order, but you can make some practical requests.

  1. Send a message to the other parent indicating how you are complying with the isolation protocols in your home and ask if they are willing to do the same. This might look like not having other children over for playdates, and not going to public spaces.
  2. Clearly communicate in writing the daily routine that you have been following with regard to homeschooling, exercise and any academic remediation. Request that they do the same.
  3. Request that the child stay with you if the other parent is working outside the home.
  4.  Offer make up time in exchange for the child staying with you until things settle down.

If the other parent gets sick

Please let the other parent know that if he/she does become sick, to let you know immediately so that you can care for the children. You can offer make up time in exchange to encourage their compliance.

This is an unprecedented time and your children’s safety is of the utmost importance. Take care of your family and yourself. Stay safe and be an example of social responsibility to your kids.