By: Leslie Barrows
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How Can We Parent at Home Under Stay-at-Home Orders?
Divorce Attorneys Helping Parents Who Ask, How Can We Parent at Home Under Stay-at-Home Orders?
Southlake divorce attorney, Leslie Barrows, and her team of attorneys, paralegals, and staff at the Barrows Firm in Southlake understand how challenging it is to parent a child during or after a divorce and or custody case during stay-at-home orders. Parenting a child during a global pandemic outbreak is another matter. From questions and arguments about visitation exchange for possession to battles over how the stimulus checks are used, people can resist the temptation to take the frustration out on their former spouse.
If your possession time is affected, later we can always make adjustments. Leslie Barrows reminds us that our court orders are necessary when we cannot otherwise adjust on our own. The time one parent missed can be made up later, maybe after the end of the stay-at-home orders when there is more going on.
Do your best to co-parent well, and communicate well. Exchange information and expectations about health, safety, and protective measures. Talk about the masks, gloves, and restrictions reasonably and let your children feel safe and let them know this will pass and it is not the end of the world.
Psychology Today article – Talking to Kids About Coronavirus
What Does Your Possession Schedule Say? Follow it First
When the State and County Stay-at-Home orders were issued, and while schools were extending spring break before closing their doors for longer, there was much confusion among parents. Some co-parents immediately had disagreements about what the extension to spring break meant to their possession time. There was so much confusion that the State Attorney General issued an Emergency Order on possession and access schedules during COVID-19. clarifying that parents were ordered to use the original school calendar to interpret their possession schedules just as if the schools had not been closed.
We spend time and resources negotiating customized parenting plans and possession schedules because we have busy lives and complex calendars. A good co-parent will be flexible and work with the other when one needs a favor. An extra day or weekend here and there should be fine and not upset anything. The goodwill you build with your former spouse can be an important factor in a healthy co-parenting relationship because one day the favor asked might be your own.
Need an enforcement or modification case? Call us at the Barrows Firm (817) 481-1583. Read our article, Child Support Modification, and COVID-19 Coronavirus.
Visitation Exchanges for Possession Time During Coronavirus Stay-at-Home Orders
Travel between pick and drop off locations is essential, and is the expected performance of your duties in your court order, in most cases, your final divorce decree including your possession schedule. Despite concerns about the Stay-at-Home orders, most co-parents understood that they are allowed to leave and drive the children to their destination for visitation with the other parent.
Remember that everyone is inconvenienced in some way during the Stay-at-Home time. You might be an essential-deemed worker still traveling, or you may be instructed to work from home. Worse, you might be laid off or out of work because of the shutdown situation. The more we all work together the better we will be on the other side of this outbreak.
What if You or Your Child Gets Sick or Tests Positive for COVID-19
Kids Health article – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: What to Do if Your Child Is Sick
Call your doctor or healthcare provider first. Second, call your divorce attorney if you have questions about your order regarding parenting rights and duties when it comes to healthcare. Common sense and precautions are important during any regular flu season and especially during a more challenging outbreak such as COVID-19 Coronavirus. If you or your son or daughter gets sick, is tested for, and has the Coronavirus, you should receive instructions from your doctor and county health department officials with instructions on what to do to properly quarantine.
If quarantine is necessary, both co-parents should make an effort to work well with the other in the best interests of the child, other children, and everyone else involved. If necessary, courts may be asked to enter Emergency Temporary Restraining orders or use other options to protect a child and a family when the child or a family member is sick, testing positive for COVID-19 Coronavirus.
Are You Concerned About Your Child’s Safety During Coronavirus Pandemic Precautions?
Call your lawyer before you engage in self-help or call 911 because your child tells you they were not required to wear a mask, gloves, and face shield while riding in the other parent’s vehicle. Recommendations by government agencies are not the same as orders issued in your divorce or custody case. Judges are very busy right now, with essential matters and all the liability involved in holding court in person and online using Zoom.
Sometimes it is a better idea to make a record of that with which you have a problem. Later, in an enforcement or modification case, your notes may help demonstrate patterns of questionable behavior. That said, if you believe your child is in actual and immediate harm or the threat of harm, call your lawyer and if necessary call the police.
Are You Violating the Stay-at-Home Orders? Don’t Post That on Facebook.
You don’t need to be a lawyer or creative problem solver to make the argument that certain activities fall within the essential exceptions to the order to stay at home and shelter in place until the state and counties order those preventative measures are no longer necessary to flatten the curve of infection and slow the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus.
If you have determined that taking the kids out to the walking path, park, or lake, be aware that their other parent might not like the idea. And if you are posting it on social media, your honest and simple activity can get turned into the story of a passive-aggressive narcissist rule breaker, one your lawyer anticipates hearing about when you or the opposing counsel calls.
While we have not heard many cases of big busts or law enforcement cracking down on people out for “exercise” but if something does happen, as a kid gets injured, the spotlight and much worse consequences could be on your hands.