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What Happens To Your Children If You Become Ill or Incapacitated During the Covid-19 Pandemic?

In a previous blog, we discussed parenting time issues that may arise during the Covid-19 pandemic and ways to deal with these unprecedented circumstances, including possible Court intervention. We know that until a Court states otherwise current parenting time Orders remain in effect and are enforceable. While many parents are arguing about whether or not parenting time exchanges should take place during the coronavirus pandemic, the question they should be asking themselves is “what will happen to my children if I become incapacitated or pass away during the pandemic?”

While you certainly do not want to think about the possibility of losing your life during this horrible time, the reality is that infection rates are not yet decreasing, and people of all ages are becoming very ill. When your children are involved, you want to make sure you have a plan in place to secure their well-being if something should happen to you during this time.

While this is an unprecedented time, we want to make sure you are prepared for the worst and that your children are protected. If you become ill or incapacitated and your children are left without a caregiver, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) may be called upon to take custody of your child. The Division will work to find appropriate family or friends to care for the children, but this could take time. Until the appropriate arrangements can be made, there is a risk that a child could be placed in foster care.

To avoid a heartbreaking situation from becoming even worse we recommend developing a plan for your children in case of an emergency. You can:

  1. Prepare Important Documents: Put together a folder with birth certificates, health insurance cards, social security cards, living wills and powers of attorney (if you have them).
  2. Make a list of caregivers: In case you become ill, make a list of trusted temporary guardians for your children. Write and sign a letter designating these people and stating your wishes.
  3. Share your plan: Send your plan to your family, friends, and healthcare providers, (pediatrician and primary care doctor) so that they know what to do if there is an emergency.
  4. Pack an emergency bag: Have a “just in case” bag packed with clothes, electronics, toys and medicine for your child in case they must be cared for by someone else. Hopefully you won’t need it, but it is always better to be prepared.

If you feel more comfortable having a legal document drawn up for temporary guardianship, our firm can help you prepare and execute a Power of Attorney for worst case scenarios. This document will allow you to name people that can act as a guardian for your child under specific conditions, in this case if you or the other parent becomes ill or incapacitated. The Power of Attorney will allow the guardian to care for the children and it can be changed or withdrawn at any time.

While we hope you and your family will not need any of the foregoing, contingency planning during these times is invaluable. If you have any questions regarding preparing a family plan during these times, please call our office for a free consultation at (732)377-3367. We hope you all stay safe and healthy during this time.

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