We are all on edge because of the coronavirus. Our daily lives have been disrupted, we aren’t sure what tomorrow may bring, and for many of us the nonstop news and social media coverage isn’t helping. Not only are we concerned for our own wellbeing, but the wellbeing of our children hangs in the balance with the constant risk of exposure to this virus.
People who share children with an ex-spouse or ex-partner may be worried about whether or not their children are in danger when they’re with the other parent. What if the other parent is not wearing a mask in public? What if they’re still gathering in groups and refuse to adhere to social distancing guidelines? Or even worse, what if they had or currently have Coronavirus? The whole situation is terrifying and has left many people asking us about what they can do in a situation like this. Can you outright deny your ex-spouse contact with your child?
What if you want to deny your ex-spouse contact?
If you want to deny contact for fear of exposing your child to the virus, you should first get in touch with your ex-spouse and see if you can come to some sort of agreement. After all, any responsible and level-headed parent would not want to be in physical contact with their child and risk getting them sick.
However, you should be willing to work out some sort of schedule where your child can at least Zoom or Facetime with the sick parent or talk to them on the phone on a regular basis while they are recovering… as long as it’s healthy and safe for the child to interact with that parent. Perhaps after your ex is better and receives confirmation from the doctor that everything is fine, you can resume your normal child custody schedule. The key here, is to take a reasonable approach to the situation, and not let your fear and panic drive your decision making.
But let’s say your ex is unwilling to talk to you and still wants to see your child. Then, it’s time to go to your family law attorney and ask them what to do. You should not take any steps without first consulting your attorney, because it could negatively affect your side of the arrangement. For instance, it could look like you were attempting to alienate your child from the other parent. The Court’s do not look kindly on those parents who unreasonably withhold contact.
What if you are the parent whose contact is being denied?
Again, we would assume that any responsible and level-headed parent would not want to be in physical contact with their child and risk getting them sick. But what if the risk is remote, and you are determined to exercise your contact with your child?
We encourage you to go to your family law attorney and ask them what to do. You should not take any steps without first consulting your attorney, because it could likewise negatively affect your side of the arrangement.
Apart from seeking legal advice, there are a number of other precautionary steps that you can take as well, namely:
1. Regular testing – being able to provide a negative test result to your ex-spouse prior to you exercising your contact will not only alleviate stress for all parties, but if you are dealing with a particularly difficult person, a negative test result is something they can’t argue with.
2. Decontaminate your home – if there has been a covid-19 scare in your home, there are several companies out there who provide decontamination fumigation services. This will ensure that your home is safe for your child.
3. Be mindful – be mindful of not only your ex-spouses’ feelings about the situation, but also your child’s feelings. There are several studies which indicate that children are experiencing an inordinate amount of stress during this time. They also feed off of the emotions which you are their parents are experiencing.4. Act responsibly – ensure that you observe all of the health protocols in place such as hand hygiene, wearing a mask, and social distancing. This will limit your exposure to the virus.
For direct answers to your specific personal questions, please contact us directly.
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Author – Jessica Gooding