The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every single one of us. It puts everyone at high risk. If you have a parenting plan, it is important to carefully go through it. There might be clauses or parts that have something to do with the power to cancel or change visits. There might also be a part that says about what to do when a child or parent is sick. What if there are disagreements? What are the grounds for contempt? There are statements from Washington Governor Islee’s order that suggest that the State intends for most parenting plans to continue as before.
Soriano Law LLC continues to serve clients amidst the COVID-19 crisis. You may reach out to us via phone at (360) 249-6174 and (360) 742-2817. You may also send email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via facebook / twitter at @SorianoLawLLC
My Child At High Risk During COVID-19
During this health crisis, set your mind to always check if your child or someone in any of the parent’s homes are at high risk. We should understand if our children may be at higher risk than we already know. Follow government guidance and your healthcare provider’s advice about any potential risk dangers.
If there is actual risk to your child’s physical safety, you can go ahead and go to court and request for an emergency order.
Parenting Plan Disagreement During COVID-19
Disagreeing a lot? At first, it’s important to have a discussion on how your co-parent can feel about connecting with his/her children while they cannot see each other. If one feels strongly about his/her willingness to still find ways to talk or bond with the child, he/she may do so. You can reach agreement about your parenting plan without violating it. Some options include guaranteeing Zoom / Skype / Messenger / Facetime Calls, therefore being creative in exercising residential time remotely. Then, decide on make-up time when the pandemic is over.
Read here for parenting plan for unmarried couples
The big “however” is if you and the other parent cannot agree. This is difficult right now. When talking to the co-parent about changing arrangements, avoid making threats, attacks or accusing. Those tactics will just make it worse. It could cause the other person to withdraw and get defensive, making it even harder to reach an agreement. With both minds and hearts set on the child’s safety and welfare, an agreement is not a distant possibility Understanding and cooperation rather than fighting during this stressful time can go a long way.
- Disagreement constitutes an emergency, you may need to go to court.
- Disagreement DOES NOT constitute an emergency, check your parenting plan’s dispute resolution section. You’ll know if you need to go to court or can use a mediator or arbitrator in solving disagreements.
When Can Contempt Be Filed re Parenting Plan?
When one parent fails to follow a parenting plan, the other can usually ask the court to hold that parent in contempt. Even during this COVID 19 pandemic, such parenting plan should be followed. That is why it is emphasized above that even during these trying times, parents should find a way to connect to the child. When you file contempt, the court can try to remedy it. This often means that one parent gets make-up time with the child.
Another thing is, if you keep a child from a visit, you also risk being found in contempt. The rule is a parenting plan must still be followed even during this crisis. Refusal to follow could be a major problem. Though at this time, there is no official definition of what an “emergency case” is, if there are “emergency” cases used to keep a child from visiting parent. The court will only schedule a hearing on a motion for contempt if the court considers contempt for failure to follow a parenting plan an emergency. If the failure was knowing and willful, the parent can be found in contempt (must be noted that in this COVID pandemic, that may be hard to prove).
Refusing to Exercise Residential Time Due to COVID-19
Forcing a parent to see their child cannot be done. This doesn’t constitute an emergency, as the court would probably call it. It has no power to force a parent to exercise their residential time.
What To Do Re Parenting Plan During COVID-19
In Washington, Governor Inslee has ordered all custody / visitation in parenting plan should proceed as stated. During this COVID crisis, the best likely option is to try to work out some temporary adjustments to your plan with the other parent. If you are not able to come to an agreement on your own about how to do visitation safely during this period, consider hiring a mediator or arbitrator to help.
One can always seek an attorney’s help in worst situations. Being educated better on his or her rights is great. Call Soriano Law LLC now at (360) 249-6174. We are in Montesano (Grays Harbor County), but we also serve clients in Thurston County, Pacific County, Lewis County, Mason County, and Pierce County.
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