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Protecting fathers’ rights to parenting time during the COVID-19 pandemicUPDATE: As of March 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to affect people throughout the United States. While vaccines are being rolled out, the majority of people have not yet been vaccinated, and people are still taking steps to protect the safety of themselves and their family members, including staying at home when possible and wearing masks and following social distancing practices while in public. In many cases where parents are divorcing or divorced, families have settled into routines that allow children to spend reasonable amounts of time with both parents while ensuring that everyone's health and safety is protected.

However, some parents have encountered legal issues related to disputes over child custody during the pandemic. These parents will want to understand that most states have issued orders stating that parents should follow existing child custody arrangements whenever possible, and parents continue to have the right to reasonable parenting time with their children. While some state courts are still operating at limited capacity for in-person hearings, most courts will hear emergency matters, which may include cases involving a parent's violation of their court-ordered child custody agreements. Even if a case cannot be heard in person, many courts are also providing virtual hearings held using videoconferencing tools, ensuring that parents can address child-related issues quickly and effectively. If you need to address unreasonable actions by your ex-spouse or co-parent, or if you believe changes to your parenting agreement are needed to protect your children's safety, you will want to work with a child custody attorney to ensure that these matters are resolved properly during the COVID-19 crisis.


COVID-19 has affected the lives of just about everyone in the United States. Even if you or members of your family have not been personally affected by a coronavirus infection, you will still need to deal with school closures, shelter-in-place orders, and social distancing restrictions. This can all be stressful enough, especially if government-mandated business closures have affected your ability to work, but matters may become even worse if you are involved in a child custody dispute during this time. In these cases, you will want to be sure to understand how to protect your rights and the legal measures you can take to address these issues.

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parenting agreement divorce order enforcement lawyerGetting through the divorce process definitely isn’t easy, but once you’ve signed the final divorce papers, you’ll probably breathe a sigh of relief and be ready to move on to better things. Unfortunately, if you’re a parent, the end of your divorce may not be the end of the problems with your former partner. Since the two of you will need to maintain contact and work together as co-parents to your kids, you may encounter new disagreements regarding parenting issues. If these disputes involve your ex’s refusal to follow the terms of your parenting agreement, you may be unsure of how to proceed, but you should know that you can take steps to enforce the terms of your divorce decree.

Options for Post-Divorce Enforcement

Before taking any drastic action, you may want to contact your ex-spouse to discuss your concerns. In some cases, a violation of your parenting agreement may have occurred because of a misunderstanding or miscommunication, and you may be able to work things out between the two of you and avoid these types of problems in the future. If either of you believes that modifications to your parenting plan are necessary, you may be able to use mediation to come to an agreement regarding changes to issues such as child custody or parenting time.

If, however, your ex has violated your parenting agreement on purpose, attempts to reach a peaceful resolution to the situation may not be helpful. Your ex may be committing parental alienation by trying to limit your time with your children, or acting out of spite and attempting to make your life as difficult as possible. In these cases, you may need to take legal action and ask the court to require your ex to comply with your parenting plan. If you can show that your ex purposely tried to interfere with your parenting time, you may be able to make the case for consequences including parenting time restrictions. Repeated violations could result in your ex being held in contempt of court, which could result in penalties such as fines or even time in prison.

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Interference with parenting time after divorce

As a divorced dad, your time with your kids is precious. While you were once a constant presence in their lives, this usually isn’t possible following divorce, because they will be dividing their time between you and their mom. Adjusting to new parenting schedules can sometimes be difficult, but once you have settled in to your post-divorce lives, you can get used to the new arrangements and make the most of the time you have together. Whether you and your ex share equal custody or not, your time with your kids will be limited, and you’ll want to make sure to address anything that would limit or take away that time. If your ex has deliberately withheld parenting time or otherwise interfered with your visitation, you should take immediate action to protect your parental rights and avoid causing harm to your children.

Interference With Parenting Time Is Illegal in Most Cases

Unfortunately, your relationship with your ex might not be especially rosy after your divorce. The two of you are likely still feeling the emotional fallout of your breakup, and even if you have done your best to put this conflict behind you, disputes may still flare up, leading either of you to attempt to hurt the other. One way ex-spouses may try to inflict harm is by refusing to allow their former partner to see their kids or otherwise interfering with their parenting time. 

While withholding of parenting time is sometimes overt, with one parent stating that the other parent is not allowed to see or spend time with the kids, interference with visitation is often much more subtle. Your ex may regularly be late when dropping off your kids, or she may invite herself along on outings with your children. She may regularly schedule children’s activities or appointments during your parenting time, or she may constantly be calling them or attempting to monitor your whereabouts and what you are doing. Regardless of how it happens, interference with parenting time is not acceptable, and you may need to take legal action to address it.

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