By Wendie Murstein, Esq.
Parents may be wondering if there are any specific rules of shared custody while following stay-at-home orders? It is important to remember there are no specific rules for what to do with regard to parenting plans in times of a pandemic. The courts have advised that parenting plans are to follow the status quo so long as parents are able to.
This makes it difficult when parents live out of state or if one parent is a doctor or nurse, for example, and are exposed to the pandemic; in cases such as those, the exposed parent should make the other party aware.
It becomes difficult when one party is not social distancing and hasn’t informed the other. In such cases where one party may be exposed, or showing symptoms, the rule of thumb is that the other parent should keep the children so as to prevent their exposure. Ideally, the exposed parent would be allowed make-up time in the future.
There are parents, unfortunately, who have taken it upon themselves to withhold parenting time simply because they don’t trust their ex-spouses (no surprise on trust issues given the parents are divorced); in cases such as those, the courts will hear those cases, and, for the most part, the withholding parent is ordered to allow the other’s parenting time with the idea that every parent has their children’s best interests at the forefront. In the rare situation, we have heard of parents social distancing and living together in one home for the benefit of the children.