Do I Have To Follow My Timesharing Order During The COVID 19 Outbreak In South Florida?
Both parents are expected to do the best they can to honor the current parenting plan they have in place. The overriding consideration for any time-sharing arrangements is what is in the best interest of the child or children, and both parents are expected to make that happen. If there is a specific circumstance where the time-sharing plan needs to be changed, and it’s best for the children, then the parents need to do their best to agree to those changes or modifications.
Should Parents Record Any Sort Of Temporary Arrangements Or Agreements In Writing? Do We Need To Have Any Of This Signed By The Court If We’re Making Adjustments Due To The Outbreak?
It is best practice to record any agreements made by parents in writing. This can be by text, e-mail, or any other form of written correspondence, including a piece of paper that both parties sign. Depending on how well the parents get along, it’s generally not necessary for a temporary change to be recorded with the court. However, if the parents are in a high-conflict situation where it’s very difficult for them to agree to things, they may need to either record their temporary change with the court or go to the court to seek help in resolving the conflict for the time-sharing plan.
If The Other Parent And I Generally Meet In Public Places For Our Parenting Time Exchange, And Those Public Places Are Now Closed, How Do We Adjust The Location, Drop Off Or Exchange?
Regardless of how you exchange your children, the court is always going to look for both parents to do what’s in the best interests of the child. If your current location for exchange is inaccessible or closed for any reason, then the two of you need to agree on an alternate location. Again, if you can’t resolve that issue, you have to go to court for the resolution. But if you are not agreeing on something as simple as an exchange point, you are not going to be viewed favorably by the judge when you fight about that.
What Is The Current Status Of The Courts If Petitions Need To Be Filed?
Courts are open and they are functioning in a new way. The courthouse itself is closed to the public, including lawyers. However, most hearings are continuing by video conference, and an additional amount of time is set aside for them. In many cases, these video conference hearings are actually easier because nobody needs to travel to the courthouse, find parking, or have a reason for being late. Of course, there are new considerations and concerns like the strength of your internet connection and background noise, but as far as accessibility to the court in general, it is the same or better than it used to be.
What If I Make A Temporary Timesharing Agreement With The Other Parent And Then They Complain That I Violated The Order?
It’s always best for the two parents to write their agreement down, whether it’s on paper, email, text message, or any other written format. The court will always evaluate whether the parents did what was in the best interests of the child. Therefore, it depends on how the order was violated. If there was a minor change, and a parent has a reasonable explanation for that change, the court may not punish the parent.
What If My Child Is In A High-Risk Category For COVID 19 And I’m Concerned About Exposure During The Other Parent’s Time With Him Or Her?
Parents are continuously expected to do what’s best for the child. If there is a legitimate reason the child should not be with the other parent or should not go back and forth between the two parents, then both parents should work together to ensure that the child’s health is protected. In general, the courts are expecting parents to continue to follow their parenting plan. It is possible to make temporary adjustments so that the number of exchanges is reduced. A child might spend a longer time with one parent and then longer time with the other parent instead of following a schedule where they are going back and forth every other day. Everything should be done in the best interest of the child. It is very unlikely that the court is going to determine one parent should be completely excluded from time sharing with their child because of COVID 19 concerns.
Does Parenting Time Continue If One Of The Parents Tests Positive For COVID 19?
If a parent tests positive for COVID 19, then they should act in their child’s best interest and not be around the child until they test negative for the virus. Parents need to do whatever they can to protect their children. Instead of in-person visits, the parent can arrange a videoconference call such as Facetime, Zoom, or other options. It is still important that both parents work to maintain the parent-child relationship. Getting sick will never mean that you are going to lose custody of your child. The court wants both parents to have frequent and continuing relationships with the children. Depending on how long you are isolated, you can make arrangements either with the parent or through the court to get makeup time for any length of time that you were not with the child.
Will I Still Have Supervised Timesharing During The COVID 19 Outbreak?
Supervised time depends on what your agreement or court order says. If you have a supervisor that is willing and able to continue supervising the time-sharing, whether it’s an alternate family member or a paid supervisor, as long as all of the participants in the supervised visitation follow the appropriate guidelines like social distancing, wearing masks, and going to clean spaces, then supervised time sharing can continue during this pandemic without any interruptions. It just depends on who’s doing the supervising and whether the proper procedures can be followed.
Will There Be Makeup Timesharing Later For Any Missed Time During The COVID 19 Situation?
Parents should work to minimize the exchanges of the child, minimize the back and forth and if, in fact, one parent who normally has more time sharing ends up with less time sharing, the first goal would be for the parents to agree on some makeup time sharing after the virus or pandemic has passed. Worst case scenario, the parents can go to court and the parent who was denied or missed timesharing can request makeup time sharing from the court. The court is always going to expect both parents to act in the best interests of the child and to share the child.
How Do We Put Temporary Modifications To Custody Orders In Place Due To The COVID 19 Situation When The Courts Aren’t Open?
The first method would be for the parents to write the agreement on a piece of paper and both sign it. Alternatively, they can exchange emails and have a confirming email, or do the same with text messages. The important thing is to have the agreement in some form of written format. The courts are in fact open and agreements, if appropriate, can be filed with the court if there is a real dispute. You can obtain a video conference hearing and speak to the judge about resolving the dispute.
As The Parents, What Happens If We Can’t Agree To A Safe Plan For Visitation Or Timesharing During The COVID Crisis? What Can We Do?
The courts are open for videoconference hearings, so you can actually file a motion letting the judge know that the two of you cannot agree on how to handle the time-sharing. It’s going to take some time, but you will get a hearing date, where the judge will make a determination on how your timesharing will be handled. The judge is going to expect both parents to do what is in the best interest of the child and is going to expect that both parents are going to make every effort to reach a compromise without seeking court intervention. If the judge determines that a parent was being unreasonable in the pre-court attempts to compromise, that parent could face consequences, such as less time with the child.
My Ex-Spouse Works In A High-Risk Job, And I Don’t Want My Child Potentially Exposed To The COVID 19 Virus. Can I Stop Timesharing For The Time Being?
It is both parents’ obligation to do what is in the best interest of the child. If one of the parents works in a high-risk field and they are taking all appropriate precautions, getting tested, and being clean, then their time sharing should continue. The court is going to expect that the parents will work together and if the high-risk parent is willing to agree to take less or no time for a temporary amount of time, then hopefully that high-risk parent will get makeup time that both parents can agree on. But regardless of what profession either of the parents is in, the courts are expecting the current time-sharing plan to continue and for the parents to do everything in the best interest of the child. If there is any reasonable cause for either parent to be tested, then they should pursue the test without any insistence from the other parent.
If One Or Both Parents Refuse To Properly Co-Parent During This Health Crisis, How Might It Impact Pending Or Future Custody Matters?
Any misbehavior on either parent’s part will be looked at by the court when time sharing is adjusted, or when makeup time is requested. In general, the overriding factor in all time-sharing disputes is what is in the best interest of the child, and the parent who is favored is the parent who has made the most efforts to ensure that the other parent gets the time sharing that they’re entitled to. So if you are the obstructionist or the unreasonable party, you can be penalized by the judge for your misbehavior.
What Should Good Co-Parenting Relationships Look Like During The COVID 19 Crisis?
Parents should be in frequent communication with each other about the well-being of the child or children. Parents should obviously disclose if either of them believes they have been exposed to COVID 19. If either parent gets a positive test, they should tell the other parent immediately and make arrangements for the child to stay with the parent who has not tested positive. The most important key to a good parenting relationship is communication, and doing what is in the best interest of the child. As long as the parents are communicating openly and honestly, then everything should move forward smoothly.
Where Can The Parents Get Help Reaching An Agreement On Changes To Parenting Time Or Other Custody Matters?
First, you should speak to your co-parent and attempt to work something out between the two of you. If that is not possible, one or both of you should seek legal counsel to help to mediate or guide you towards a mutual agreement. You can reach out to a family lawyer, who can help you negotiate a parenting plan or a temporary change. Finally, if none of that works, you can go to court and the judge will decide for you.
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