With the looming threat of the Coronavirus in Florida, divorced co-parents may find themselves in a situation where they have to rethink their child’s time-sharing schedule. While child time-sharing plans sometimes make provisions for times of emergency, most do not take virus outbreaks into account and may be difficult to navigate.
Unless your child time-sharing plan makes specific arrangements for times like these, it is likely that you will be legally required to continue with the plan as usual. However, this may not be the safest arrangement for you or your child or your child’s other parent.
While you are still (and, hopefully, remain) healthy, now is the time to address issues in your child’s time-sharing schedule. If you share parental responsibilities with your ex, here are some steps you can take to navigate the situation and keep your child safe from COVID-19.
1. Review The Parenting Plan and Time-sharing Schedule
If you divorced with children you most likely had a Parenting Plan and time-sharing schedule approved by the court. The Parenting Plan will probably not address emergency disease outbreaks or natural disasters. At most, it will provide orders on how to approach child custody in the event of school closures. However, these orders are probably not enough to keep your kids at home.
Review the exact wording of your existing orders, as it may address situations where one parent is ill and unable to care for the child. If the other parent falls ill and tests positive for COVID-19, you may be able to rely on your current orders. You can also review it to see if it addresses natural disasters. This may give you a better idea of how to handle custody during disease outbreaks.
Even if your orders outline what to do in emergency events, it is best to discuss it with the other parent to make sure you are both on the same page.
If you need help understanding the wording of your existing parenting plan or think the wording is vague, contact the attorneys at The Aguilera Law Center, P.A.
2. Discuss Your Concerns With Your Ex
If your child time-sharing plan doesn’t make concessions for periods of emergency, call your ex and discuss your concerns. You may find that your ex is just as concerned about it as you are and are willing to work out temporary arrangements with you.
Though existing orders do not change in times of emergency unless otherwise stated, you may be able to find other ways to handle it with your ex. Is your ex willing to spend time with your child at your house? Are they willing to Facetime instead? Are you both willing to let the kids spend an extra week or two with your ex to make up for the lost time until the virus wanes?
If you can come to an agreement, make sure to get the agreement in writing and show it to your lawyer. This temporary agreement should cover you for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
If you discuss your concerns with your ex and they refuse to change the schedule, you may be tempted to keep your child at home and not let them see your ex. However, disregarding your child custody orders could put you in hot water, legally-speaking. If you are having issues coming to an agreement with your ex, contact your attorney to see if there is any legal recourse you can take.
3. Contact Your Family Law Attorney
Whether or not you are able to come to an agreement with your child’s other parent privately, you should contact your Miami Family Law Attorney. Even if you have an agreement in writing, you will want to let your attorney know and make sure that everything looks good.
In the event that you cannot come to an agreement with your ex, your attorney will be able to look at your unique situation and suggest other courses of action, including whether or not you should file for an emergency hearing.
If you have any questions or concerns about your own child custody situation during the COVID-19 outbreak, please feel free to contact the attorneys at The Aguilera Law Center, P.A. We will remain open, whether in-person or remotely, to help answer your questions during this difficult time. Call (305) 255-FIRM or contact us online.
This page will be updated as more information becomes available during the COVID-19 outbreak.