By now almost everyone has been affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus) in one way or another. Whether you have been ordered to work from home, are practicing social distancing, or worse of all have been exposed to the virus, these are unprecedented times in our society.
During a time where everyone is trying to keep their distance and keep their loved ones safe, parties that have been divorced or that are going through a divorce may be unsure how their custody and parenting time schedules come into play. With school closures in place and normal day to day life coming to a halt, parents may be questioning what their obligations are in regards to continuing the schedule they had in place prior to this crisis.
While the governor has declared a State of Emergency, there has been no Order put in place nullifying or relaxing prior Court Orders, including custody and parenting time Orders. Nor has a shelter in place order been put into effect in New Jersey. It is understandable that parents are worried about the coronavirus and are doing everything they can to keep themselves and their children safe. Divorced or soon to be divorced parents must understand that the other parent still has a right to see their child. If neither parent has been exposed to the virus and both are taking the precautions recommended by the CDC and WHO there should be no reason why parenting time cannot continue. If one of you has been exposed to the virus, then we would encourage you to work towards a resolution together in how to proceed with keeping the child in contact (virtually, by phone, etc.) with the exposed parent while they quarantine or receive treatment. The most important thing parents can do is to keep lines of communication open. As things have been changing almost daily you must try to work together and be flexible with one another.
Keep in mind that if one of you refuses to comply with your Court Order based on unfounded concerns or as a way to purposely interfere with the other parent’s ability to see the child / children, there may be legal ramifications for the same down the line once things normalize. We encourage you to really focus on the well being of the children. These are certainly unfamiliar circumstances to all involved. If everyone remains rash, we can work through it.
Try to use this time as a chance to co-parent and illustrate for your children that both of you can work together during difficult times. If you are being denied visitation or are worried about complying with same, because of a possible risk imposed by the other parent please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.
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