Parenting Schedules in the Light of COVID-19 Pandemic

March 24th, 2020 by
parenting schedules covid-19

The world is facing unprecedented circumstances and because of these unprecedented circumstances, there are new questions that have never been asked before.  One such question that we have been asked is “What about my parenting schedule?”  

How are parenting schedules affected?

If you are divorced or have a parenting schedule with the other parent to whom you were never married, you likely have a Court-Ordered parenting schedule, whether it is in the format of a final Parenting Agreement/Allocation Judgment or in the form of a temporary Order from the Court while the litigation remains pending.  The question becomes what happens to that schedule in this ever-changing time.  

We have been provided some guidance in the expectations.  First off, the Governor of Illinois when issuing the “Stay at Home” Order made it clear that transportation necessary to obey a court order, including parenting exchanges, is permitted.  Additionally, several Courts in Illinois have individually issued guidelines regarding their expectations of parents during this time.  The general consensus is that the parenting agreement or parenting orders should be followed during this time, except in specific cases.  

A Court Order should be followed unless there is a serious endangerment to your child.  Even under serious endangerment circumstances, the Order should only be temporarily disregarded until you can petition the Court for modification or temporary change to the Order.  Given that the outbreak situation has been unfolding rapidly, parents did not have time to seek court intervention regarding these matters. 

At this time, parenting schedules should be followed unless you or your child falls under one of the special restriction categories imposed by the federal or your state government.  Until the time comes, if it does, where there is a complete quarantine except for emergencies, parties should continue to provide the other parent with parenting time so long as it is safe to do so.   This is a time in which parents need to be open and honest with each other more than ever.  Parents need to be able to make informed decisions regarding not only medical treatment if necessary, but decisions regarding public outings that are not restricted.  For example, parents might have different views on the level of ‘social distancing’ necessary to protect your child.  These issues are complex and not easily addressed by the Court, especially as courthouses limit their operations for public safety.  The general consensus is that parenting schedules should continue unless there is a unique circumstance that is not the general concern surrounding this unprecedented pandemic.  

Adapting to COVID-19

If you or your child are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, you should not be traveling or exchanging that child to the other parent, potentially exposing the other to the virus.  In the event that quarantine is necessary due to exposure, please encourage the relationship with the other parent by allowing FaceTime, Skype, phone, or other contact methods.  Remember that one of the factors the Courts use to determine a future parenting schedule is a parent’s willingness and ability to foster the relationship between the child and the other parent.  If the difficult decision must be made to not exchange your child with the other parent, exercise good faith in providing the non-exercising parent as much access as you can.  

This should be the general rule, however, everyone’s situation is unique and there might be other determining factors regarding whether you should adhere to the parenting schedule. 

We’re Here To Help

If your situation is one of those unique situations, and you are not sure how a Court would view your circumstances, we at Sterk Family Law Group remain available to answer your questions through a free consultation via phone or at a distance to ensure everyone’s safety in this time.  Contact us via phone at 815-600-8950 or via email at info@sterkfamilylaw.com

STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY DURING THIS TIME.  

This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.

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