Legal Articles

When Your Co-Parent Is an Essential Worker

Custody and COVID-19

These are difficult times for everyone, but for divorced and blended families there are particular and unique challenges. Many of these challenges center around custody.

In a time when travel is discouraged and transportation—by plane, train, or public transit—is limited and fraught with worry, moving children between households, especially across great distances, is difficult.

Also, there are concerns about safety. When the other parent lives in another state where social distancing restrictions are much laxer, it may create anxiety about children’s safety. After all, there is much still unknown about this virus, but there is growing evidence that children can suffer a delayed inflammatory response to coronavirus infection. Moreover, even if a child recovers quickly, there is a risk for a child passing the disease onto a diabetic parent, immunocompromised sibling, or fragile grandparent.

Complicating factors is when the other custodial parent is an essential worker, whether a doctor, nurse, public safety officer, or grocery store worker. Again, while the virus remains mysterious, scientists generally agree that front-line workers are at a higher risk for exposure to the virus. There is also a significantly increased risk for front-line workers to bring home COVID-19 to their families.

Searching for Solutions

The first step if you have concerns is to speak with your co-parent. It may be that he or she is also feeling uncomfortable having the children at home during this period of heightened risk, or is concerned about leaving the kids unattended while schools are closed and essential-work shifts are longer than ever. Hopefully you can reach an agreement together and then, as always, get it in writing and send it to your attorneys to file with the courts when they reopen. Revisit this agreement as the crisis continues to determine when and how the modified custody agreement should end.

If you cannot reach an agreement, then it may be necessary to contact your attorney. While courts are closed in Massachusetts through June, judges and magistrates may be contacted on an emergency basis. Attorneys are still able to file petitions to modify custody for review once courts reopen.

An Attorney Has the Answers

These are difficult times with many factors that parents need to consider to keep their kids safe. If you have questions about your parenting agreement or concerns about the risk involved in keeping your schedule, call our office today to discuss the best options for your unique situation.

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