Can We Make Temporary Changes to Parenting Time During COVID-19?

Posted on in Child Custody and Visitation

Parenting plan modifications during the coronavirus pandemicThe coronavirus pandemic has thrown nearly everyone’s lives into disarray. While most people have had to cope with difficulties related to stay-at-home orders, changing work schedules, or unemployment, many of these adjustments have been particularly hard for parents due to school closures and the need to care for children while working from home. If you are a divorced parent, you might be struggling to balance your responsibilities while also following your court-ordered parenting time schedule, and you may be wondering whether you can make temporary changes to your parenting arrangements to address your needs during this difficult time. 

Temporary Modifications to Parenting Agreements

In most cases, you are allowed to modify your parenting plan temporarily, as long as you and the other parent agree on the changes that you plan to make. Ideally, you’ll want to work together with your ex-spouse and make reasonable accommodations to meet each other’s needs. For instance, if you are working from home while your ex is required to go into the office, you may agree that your kids will stay with you during the day, even if this would not normally be part of your scheduled parenting time.

Even though you’re encouraged to cooperate with your ex during this time and find ways you can make changes that will meet each other’s needs, it’s a good idea to keep a record of your communications and make sure you have a written agreement in place for the temporary modifications you will be making. This can help you avoid problems if disputes arise in the future, and you will be able to show that you acted reasonably and did your best to find solutions that work for everyone.

One other thing to keep in mind is that you’ll want to make sure it is clear that any agreement you make is meant to be temporary. This can help you avoid legal issues when you are ready to resume your normal parenting time schedule. However, if you find that the temporary arrangements you make will need to be a long-term or permanent solution, you can take steps to pursue a modification of your parenting agreement.

What if I’m Worried About My Kids’ Safety?

In some cases, you may be concerned that your children will be at risk of illness or injury while they are in the care of the other parent. This can be especially true during the pandemic, including in situations where a parent has become infected with COVID-19 or when they are at risk of exposure while working or completing daily activities.

If your ex has contracted COVID-19, or if you believe that your children may be at risk of infection, you may be able to work with them to make temporary changes to your parenting agreement until they have recovered or taken steps to prevent infection. However, if your ex has refused to take the proper safety measures or is otherwise acting in a way that puts your children at risk, you may need to take legal action to address these concerns. 

If necessary, you can file an emergency motion with the court to require the other parent to comply with safety requirements. If your ex still refuses to take the proper measures to protect your children’s safety, you may be able to ask that they be held in contempt of court, and you can request permanent changes to child custody and parenting time to address these concerns.

Whether you are looking to make temporary adjustments to your parenting plan or put more permanent modifications in place, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney. Your lawyer can make sure you understand your rights and help you identify any issues that may lead to problems in the future, and if necessary, they can provide you with representation in court to ensure that your children’s best interests will be protected.


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