Managing custody of a child can be challenging at the best of times. Add a global pandemic into the mix, and everything suddenly becomes much more complicated.
As a parent sharing custody of a child, you’re sure to be wondering how you should be managing custody during the quarantine period, to uphold each parties’ custody obligations and entitlements, and, more importantly, the interests of your child. All while ensuring adhering to the official quarantine guidelines. We have put together a ‘quarantine how-to guide,’ based on best-practice recommendations issued by The Superior Court of California County of San Mateo, to help parents sharing custody of a child to navigate the COVID-19 quarantine period. Download the Family Law Memo from the Supervising Judge at the San Mateo Court.
Uphold Existing Custody Arrangements
First and foremost, try to uphold scheduled custody arrangements as much as it is possible. COVID-19 alone is not a reason to deny either party from their scheduled parenting time. However, if due to COVID-19 related issues, things don’t work out as planned or parenting time is missed, try your best to work together to find a suitable alternative arrangement.
Unless you are prohibited from communicating, you are encouraged to maintain open lines of communication with each other. The purpose is to share what precautionary measures you are taking to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to discuss the risk of exposure within your households. For example, if you have a person who has recently returned from overseas living in your home, you should immediately notify the other parent of this.
Travel to conduct exchanges for custody of a child is an “essential activity” permitted by executive orders issued by the governor and local health directors. Therefore, exchanges should be carried out as usual, but always according to the official CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Consider whether your existing exchange point complies with CDC’s policies, and if not, consider choosing a different location to conduct the exchange.
Some Specific Questions You May Be Asking
Below are some quick answers to specific quarantine-related questions you may have that relate to your particular arrangement for custody of a child.
- What if one of us lives in a different state or outside the 9 Bay Area Counties? In this scenario, you may need to re-consider whether travel to complete exchanges is advisable or whether it to reschedule instead. Try to co-operate and come to a solution that is both in line with official guidelines and the interests of your child.
- What if one of us, or someone in either of our households, has flu-like symptoms or may have been exposed to COVID-19? The affected parent should notify the other immediately, and both parents should seek professional medical advice as to how to deal with the situation. The medical advice may be to temporarily suspend exchanges until there is no longer a risk of COVID-19 spread.
- My parenting plan states that my parenting time must occur in a public place. Does the restriction on gatherings prevent me from having my scheduled parenting time? If no public spaces or recreation areas remain open in your area, then your parenting time may need to be conducted via phone or video call.
- My parenting time must be supervised. What happens if there is no supervision provider? In this situation, the parties should work together to try and uphold scheduled parenting time, which may mean finding an alternative supervisor or conducting parenting time via phone or video call.
We hope this how-to guide helps you to effectively manage sharing custody of a child during the COVID-19 quarantine period. If you have questions, we are here to help. Give us a call today: 650.261.9791