Co-Parenting with your former spouse or partner can be difficult even during the best of times. Co-Parenting during a world-wide pandemic can create a whole series of new issues for parents to have to address. Some of the issues include whether a parent or child faces health issues making them at-risk for COVID-19; whether one or both of the parents work in a field that puts them potentially in contact with COVID-19, such as medical care providers, grocery store employees, and first responders; and whether the stay-at-home order makes transporting a child to and from parenting time difficult or impossible.
Very few judicial districts have provided directives as to parenting time during this pandemic. One judicial district (not in the metro Denver area) issued an order that parents are to continue to exchange children per current parenting time orders UNLESS they would have to travel 50 miles or more for the exchange. In these situations, the order provides any missed parenting time must be made up within 35 days. It also provides that supervised parenting time must continue so long as the supervising center is open and a
While one judicial district’s order is not binding upon any other district court order, it provides some guidance that parenting time should continue unless the child would be required to travel a significant distance. However, a more practical and common concern is the health of a parent or child, especially if either is at-risk if they get sick from COVID-19 or a parent works in a job that puts them at risk for obtaining COVID -19. There is not an easy answer as to whether parenting time should be temporarily modified to protect everyone’s health.
Parents are required to follow the court’s parenting time orders unless doing so would place child in imminent physical or emotional danger. If a parent believes a child will be endangered, they are required to file a motion to restrict the other parent’s parenting time. Otherwise, the parent withholding parenting time could be sanctioned by the court for violating parenting time orders.
The best advice is if you are legitimately concerned about your health, your child’s health or that of another household member due to the current pandemic or stay-at-home orders, you should reach out to the other parent. There are creative ways to continue parenting time, including Zoom and Facetime, and make-up parenting time once this crisis is over. However, if you, the other parent, your child, or a household member contracts Covid-19, it is critical you seek the advice of your medical provider as to how you should proceed with parenting time and make the other parent aware of the provider’s recommendations to prevent the further spread of the disease.
Please feel free to contact us if you should have any questions about parenting time or any other family law matter.