What I want to talk to you about today, is what’s going on with the covid-19 pandemic and how it affects parenting plans. There may arise problems with denied visitation from the other parent when one parent is using COVID-19 as an excuse or a way to keep you from seeing or spending time with your child. Can they do that by law? No, absolutely not, they have to have a court order, and typically that court order says that the parties must adhere to all the terms of the agreement. Any court order that the judge issues must be followed unless there is a reason why the other parent does not want to follow that order. Take for example a parent gets sick with covid-19, now it makes sense that the other parent should not send the child to spend time with the sick parent right? that goes without saying,  it just should not happen and there are some legitimate safety concerns. What if the custodial parent is denying the other parent access because they think the other parent is being unsafe? You have to articulate especially with the other parent why you believe that whatever practices they are using to stay safe during the covid-19 crisis has caused you some concern, and you want to ask the other parent to do what you are doing to keep yourself and your family safe.

As a parent, you should probably know if the other parent has hand sanitizer, and if they are only going to the store on an as-needed basis and they are limiting contact with other people. Essentially if you have a feeling as the custodial parent, that the other parent isn’t taking the same steps as you are, if there's no reason why the other parent is not acting safely or is exposing themselves to unnecessary contact with people then yes it is probably worth a discussion with that parent to ask him or her “why is it that you're not wearing a mask when you're going out in public or not social distancing appropriately”. You just have to have an open line of communication with the other parents and make sure that they are in compliance with the governor's orders. You should not be skeptical of how other parents approach a Public Health crisis and how they keep themselves relatively safe, but you should ask reasonable questions and if those questions are answered to your reasonable satisfaction, then the child should spend time with the other parent.

Anthony Spratley
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Experienced Divorce, Child Custody, and Guardianship Lawyer Serving Albuquerque and Beyond
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