As family law lawyers, we recently have been getting a lot of questions about parenting time during the COVID-19 quarantine. Many state’s courts and judges have issued orders about how parents should conduct themselves with regard to their parenting plans. There is currently no such order from any court in Nebraska.
Always Fall Back on What is in the Children’s Best Interest
We think it’s is important to start the conversation by remembering that a parenting plan is part of a court order. Also, all parenting plans that have been approved by a judge are deemed to be in the children’s best interests. It is important to mention that parents are always free to deviate from their parenting plan if they both agree to another schedule. The parenting plan serves as a fall back schedule for parents to rely on.
Citing the fear of exposure to the COVID-19 virus, many parents are refusing to follow their court ordered parenting plans. They are using the virus to keep their children from the other parent. At Hightower Reff Law, we advise that all parents stick to their plans unless one of the parents or someone in the household has tested positive for COVID-19, if anyone in the household has traveled to an area with a CDC level 2 or 3 travel health notice https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html or if someone in the household has been informed that they have had contact with COVID-19.
Work Together for Your Children’s Needs
We would advise parents to try to work together if they want to alter their parenting plans to meet the needs of their children during this time. With children staying home from school and more parents working from home, it may seem logical to change the schedule somewhat.
Any parent who refuses to follow a court ordered parenting plan, could be found in contempt of court. The judge then has the ability to order make up parenting time for the parent who missed time with their children. The judge also has the ability to award attorney’s to be paid by the parent in contempt. Our advice is that judges will not look favorably on parents who choose to take advantage of the situation we are all in to manipulate the parenting time in their favor over the other parent.
This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.