There is some confusion as to how the school closures caused by the Coronavirus/COVID 19 pandemic will affect parenting time.
Some parents are arguing that the parent who has parenting time or visitation during the spring break gets to keep the children until school restarts.
It would be very unwise to take this position, unless there is some other good reason that a temporary change in where the children stay is necessary because of the Coronavirus/COVID 19 pandemic.
Courts in several counties have made it clear that they expect parenting plans that reference school breaks, spring vacation periods, etc., to use the school calendars that were in effect prior to the recent school closures.
Refusing to return children from spring break parenting time just because school has not started again will likely be looked at with *significant* disfavor by the courts. It would likely be very unwise to seek to claim that the parent who had the children during spring break did not have to return the children. One thing no parent wants is to have the court decide that that parent took advantage of a situation, without good cause, and acted against the best interests of the child.
There may be, of course, good reasons to depart from the standard plan in this special time. Some of these reasons could include one of the parents being vulnerable, because of a compromised immune system, or a joint family situation where some other member of one household has a compromised immune system, or is over the age of 60.
Hopefully parents will be able to agree when there are special circumstances such as this. If the parents are not able to agree, however, hopefully the courts will be able to function sufficiently to address the issue, and hopefully the courts will take these factors into account in subsequent hearings once regular court operations resume.
For further discussion of this, please see other articles on this topic that have been or will be posted on this website.
Steven A. Heinrich
Divorce & Custody
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