“I am concerned about my child's safety while participating in visitation during the Coronavirus crisis. What do I do?”
Over the last few weeks, we have received many calls from clients asking about whether they are required to comply with visitation orders. These clients are worried the other parent is not doing their part to protect their child. The short answer is that, in most instances, you are obligated to comply. In this blog, I will discuss why compliance is required, the exceptions to the rule, and what you can do if your situation reflects any of these exceptions.
- General Rule
The general rule is that a party must comply with all court orders. Courts determine child visitation arrangements with the child's best interests in mind and expect these arrangements to be followed by all parties involved (unless the court changes the arrangement later down the line). If a court determined either party was incapable of putting their child's best interests first during their visitation, they would not have awarded unsupervised visitation. By failing to comply, either party could face contempt of court charges which may result in jail time and/or a partial loss of custody or visitation time.
- are the exceptions?
There are many hypothetical situations that either party could utilize to prove the other party is not protecting the health and welfare of their child during the coronavirus pandemic.
These hypothetical situations may include:
- the child suffers from an autoimmune disorder and the other parent is not upholding social distancing
- the other parent does not take proper health and safety precautions before leaving the house
- the other parent continues to take the child to public places without a face covering
- You Can Do If Your Child Meets The General Rule Requirement
A court's main goal in child custody issues is to ensure the child is safe and well taken care of. We recommend using at least 1 of the following 3 steps:
- Have an open discussion with the other parent to discover the possibility of common ground. To achieve this, both parties must try to be sensible, reasonable, and open to compromise. For example, maybe you can suggest providing more time for summer break if the other parent allows you to keep the child for the entirety of spring break. Additionally, we recommend these discussions be recorded to show a judge.
- File a motion to modify visitation and request an emergency hearing in the juvenile and domestic relations court in your area. If the court grants this motion, they can modify or suspend the other parent's visitation until a full hearing can be held by the court.
- If your child is in immediate risk of harm, you should file a request for a Protective Order on behalf of your child.
- Your Child's Best Interests
As of the writing of this article, the courts are in recess (with the exception of holding bond hearings, arraignments, and emergency protective order hearings). The Law Office of Daniel J. Miller is more than capable of handling all of your family law issues.