Posted by Paul Knudsen/March 18, 2020
There is no doubt that the coronavirus is turning everyone’s normal, day to day life on its head. This is true, not just locally, but internationally.
As family law attorneys, we’ve been receiving a number of phone calls / text messages / e-mails from clients asking how to deal with their parenting plan during this time. There is not an easy answer to this because this is not something anyone has experienced before. Sure, we’ve had some hurricane-related issues in the past, but that appears to be a drop in the bucket in terms of the duration of the effects.
What About Child Care with Kids Home?
One of the main questions that we’ve had, and that we’d anticipate getting more of, is what are parties supposed to do about child care with kids home for the foreseeable future? The best option for this concern is for both parents to pick up the phone and discuss options and come to a reasonable, levelheaded agreement.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of cases where that isn’t going to happen. So, this is going to come down to what your parenting plan says.
If it says that child care providers must be agreed upon, try to get an agreement on what you’re doing with the kids. If that provision isn’t in your parenting plan, then in theory, the party with parenting time can go ahead and line up any child care provider they want during their time.
How Are Costs Split?
How are costs split? See your parenting plan. If the parties are totally unable to agree on these issues, the Courts are still open, though not physically right now. So, you can file a motion and potentially get an expedited phone hearing to address the issues with the court.
What About Travel?
What about travel? It is spring break, after all. It looks like the courts are taking this situation very seriously (hence the physical court closures). As such, I’d find it likely that courts would want the parties to take any and all precautions with children. I think it’s likely reasonable for parties to keep kids from traveling right now. But keep in mind that communications between the parties should look like they’re attempting to work through this problem.
If a court looks at one party as though they’re trying to use this situation to merely interfere with time-sharing, I can imagine a situation wherein the interfering party would greatly regret their decision.
Remember to Keep a Level Head
Any time you’re communicating with your former spouse, remember anything you say / text can and will be used against you in court. Thus, always keep a level head. If it’s clear you’re not going to be able to get an agreement, that’s what we’re here for. We’re dealing with unprecedented times, and everyone is stressed. Do not let this stress control you and set you up for an ugly court hearing. Control your emotions and take the high road when attempting to resolve these issues. It will only help you and your children.
Use this time to try to work through problems with your ex instead of relying on the courts. With that said, the Courts are there for when people can’t reach decisions together. If you need help, give us a call.