How Does The Pandemic Change Visitation?
We all know that visitation rights and times can be a confusing and sensitive topic, and that is without the added complications that come from being in a global pandemic. It is essential to keep in mind that this isn’t just new territory for parents, but the courts. Allow us to layout the guidelines given by courts thus far to help clarify any confusion.
First — The courts have released guidelines that state that regardless of the child’s school situation, the visitation right should be treated as though the child continued to attend school each day physically. To clarify, the schedule shouldn’t be seen as if it were a spring or summer break, even if the child is in a home-based learning program. This will remain true until the last day of the school year, as published by the school districts at the beginning of the year. It is also worth noting that the summer visitation schedule won’t be affected by changes in the education system.
For example, if a parent has visitation rights every Wednesday night during regular school days before Covid, they will still have the same visitation rights regardless if the child is attending school or doing some alternate form of education. If the visitation rights are based on the time school starts/ends, this will remain unaffected by the form of teaching the child participates in.
Second — It is the parent’s duty to notify each other if either they or the child are exposed to Covid 19. If the child and one parent are exposed to the virus, the courts have given the following direction: “(parents) shall confer to discuss actions necessary to protect the child’s safety and welfare, subject to the restrictions outlined in any municipal, county, or state emergency order.” Keep in mind that the visitation rights to their child have been deemed an essential activity. Therefore, one parent who works from home can’t interfere with the other parent’s visitation who works in the community based on the belief that it would be an unnecessary risk.
Third — The courts remind parents that they can alter the possession order via an agreement if they so desire. This is important due to the new challenges presented during this pandemic. One example may be better to share the responsibility of home-based learning or healthcare. If this is an option the parents wish to take, it is recommended that everything is agreed to in writing to avoid any confusion in the future.
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