If you are having disagreements with your child’s other parent – you are not alone. Coparenting can be challenging at the best of times, and you are trying to coparent during a global pandemic, while historical events are happening seemingly every week, and so many are facing grief on top of economic uncertainty. Of course you are having disagreements – we are all stressed to the max.
If you have a court order providing for visitation and you have decided to withhold said visitation against the other party’s wishes – you are violating a court order. This is true, even during a pandemic. Governor Northam’s Executive Orders have made clear that individuals are allowed to leave their homes during a stay-at-home order for purposes of traveling to “facilitate child custody, visitation, or child care.”
With or without a court order – it is important to have a discussion with your child’s other parent regarding COVID-19 health precautions. Be sure both of you are aware of how COVID-19 spreads, and who in your household could be considered high-risk for this illness. If possible, the two of you should agree to basic safety measures, so there are clear expectations on both sides. You don’t need to have the same rules at each house, but an agreement on basic safety measures, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, can save a lot of headaches down the road.
If your child’s other parent is not taking common-sense safety precautions, and you believe they are behaving in a way that could put your child (and you) at risk for COVID-19 exposure, this can lead to big disagreements about many coparenting issues. If you have asked the other party to adhere to basic state-mandated safety precautions, and they have refused, you should consult an attorney.
When consulting an attorney, make sure the attorney is familiar with any current court closures and procedural modifications. One of the major issues during this pandemic is the ongoing potential lack of access to the courts – so make sure any attorney you choose is experienced in negotiation and mediation. Settling the issue outside of court may be the best option to meet your goals (and only option, if courts are shutdown). You and your attorney should consider the uncertainty of court access, the potential health risk of appearing in court during a pandemic, and, as always, the cost of litigation.
Contact the experienced family law attorneys at Strentz, Greene & Coleman, PLC to discuss a case strategy specifically tailored to your situation. We are here to guide you on this journey during these unprecedented times.
Leah T. Dubuisson, Associate Attorney