We find ourselves in an unprecedented time. Just a short while ago, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
While it originated in China, the virus has spread quickly throughout the globe. As of April 6, 2020, there are over one million confirmed cases worldwide.
To combat the rapid spread of the virus, scientists have recommended social distancing. U.S. states have declared a state of emergency. States have issued executive orders to their citizens to stay at home . Non-essential businesses, schools, and large public events have been canceled and closed.
Social Distancing and Co-Parenting
For those of you trying to co-parent with an ex-spouse, social distancing rules may make everyday life more taxing. You may be asking:
- How do these rules affect custody arrangements?
- Are your children stuck where they were when the governor’s order went into effect?
- How should you handle drop-off arrangements?
- What happens when you and your spouse disagree over how custody arrangements should be handled?
Does Shelter in Place Affect Custody Orders?
The short answer is no. The shelter in place order does not directly change your custody arrangement. Your children’s visitations with each parent should not change unless the judge changes it or you and your ex agree to a different plan.
If you do attempt to use COVID-19 as a reason to disobey the judge or withhold visitation, you could find yourself in contempt of court and receive sanctions for doing so.
Courts are not tolerating this behavior.
What Happens When I’m Concerned for the Health and Safety of My Child?
Social distancing plans can become complicated when children are going back and forth to different homes, especially in a contentious divorce situation.
One parent may not follow protocols the other parent would like to see and be distressed over the safety of themselves or their child. Or, both parents may feel distressed at having to move children back and forth.
What are the real risks for children and others, and what recourse do you have for real concerns?
Children and COVID-19
So little is known about how the virus acts over time, that many medical experts are declining to give too forceful of an opinion.
However, it does seem to be true that most children are fending off the virus very well and never in serious danger even if they contract it. Underlying conditions in people of any age can pose a greater risk.
For instance, patients with asthma are at a higher risk of becoming very ill from COVID-19, as are children and infants who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed.
If your child has cardiac, metabolic, or respiratory problems, he or she will be at a higher risk of complications from the virus.
However, the chances are good that if you are dealing with sick children already, you already know the risks. Children with these conditions are already at a higher risk of complications from any virus or disease.
Are you are concerned about an unnecessary risk posed by moving your child or children back and forth? Talk to your pediatrician to get a recommendation.
How to Work Through Disagreements
You and your ex-spouse may be great at agreeing on what is best for the children, but let’s face it, you got divorced for a reason.
What happens if you don’t agree or if one parent refuses to abide by medical advice?
What happens if one parent was exposed to COVID-19 through a co-worker or roommate?
If a parent tests positive for COVID-19, he or she will most likely have to self-quarantine or, in some cases, be hospitalized. In that event, in-person visits may be postponed, and daily phone calls or virtual visits be put in place instead.
It is easier for everyone involved if both parents can agree on a system together. You can see the most up-to-date information on court guidelines for Oakland County courts and Wayne County courts through their websites.
Michigan Family Law Attorney
If you can’t reach an agreement with your ex-spouse and you feel you have a legitimate concern about the health of your children or others involved because of your custody arrangements, contact my office for your free consultation.
We are here for you during this stressful time. If your child is truly in danger, reach out today.