Co-Parenting During COVID-19 Pandemic
Co-parenting During COVID-19 Pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic many parents have concerns about exchanging children between homes. What if someone in my co-parent’s house has the virus or was exposed to someone with the virus? If my child’s other parent still must go to work, won’t that increase my child’s chances of getting the virus? What if the other parent is not adhering to social distancing protocols or has poor hygiene? What if my child must travel by plane see their other parent? Each of these concerns may be valid.
Anytime there is a child safety issue co-parents need to communicate. Co-parenting communication should be respectful, civil and honest. Parents need to work together to resolve safety issues and should agree to make reasonable, temporary changes to their custody schedule as necessary. As with all co-parenting decisions, a child’s best interests should be paramount.
If parents cannot reach an agreement, then the terms of their court order would control. Yet, some parents may still refuse to follow the custody order. A parent who does so risks a court holding them in contempt. Maryland Courts are currently closed for non-essential business. But, parents can still file petitions for contempt and a judge can still issue an order for a parent to appear after the court reopens.
It is difficult to predict what a court might do in any particular case, but parents who act reasonably will likely have a better outcome. Parents are reasonable when they take only those steps necessary to protect their children from known threats. Parents are not reasonable when they use the COVID-19 pandemic as a sword to deny their co-parent time with their child. In Maryland, if a judge finds that a parent violated a court order without justification, that judge may award attorney’s fees against the offending parent. As always, you should consult a family law attorney before taking any action that may be contrary to your custody court order.