The novel coronavirus pandemic has brought with it a variety of new challenges for families, and parents are finding themselves scrambling to adjust to having the children at home while maintaining work life and home life. However, for divorced parents who are sharing their children between two homes, a whole new set of challenges has arisen. With orders to stay at home in place expanded throughout the state of Florida, the ability to maintain their regular timesharing schedule has become a concern to many parents.
Many divorced couples who share time with their children have asked what they should be doing. Should they continue to split time between homes or keep their children sheltered in one place? Are they ignoring orders to stay at home if they continue to follow the guidelines of their Parenting Plan or timesharing agreement? Can there be legal ramifications based upon their decision?
Although this can be a very confusing predicament, Board Certified Attorney Abigail Beebe advises the best thing for parents to do is:
- Try to maintain the same co-parenting schedule they had before COVID-19 turned everyone’s worlds upside down.
- Because the stay at home order does not apply to timesharing or parenting plans, unless you have proof of a careless/reckless situation, the timesharing requires travel by air or across state lines, which has been restricted, or if one parent is sick, you should put the needs of the children first and maintain their normalcy to the best of your ability.
- As long as everyone in the family is healthy, being safe and comfortable moving forward, it is best to stick with the agreement as best as possible.
- Keep in mind that when this is over, the courts are going to be open and operating, with some continuing to operate now. Therefore, be prepared for a situation in which one parent might be entitled to makeup time or subject to some form of sanction or contempt.
- Due to the unprecedented nature of this pandemic, the outcome- post COVI19 is a complete unknown, but just keep in mind in any decisions you make regarding your children, their best interests, safety and well-being is of utmost concern.