Denial of Parenting Time in the Time of COVID 19
When Michigan’s Governor issued an order to stay home, some parents understood that to mean children should stay put at one parent’s house, not transferring the children between the parents households for parenting time. In response, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an order clearly reminding parents that all court orders for a child’s custody, parenting time, and support are still in force, only a new court order can change that, so parents should continue to follow their court order. However, parents should also follow government orders that restrict travel and should cooperate with each other to follow those restrictions while keeping the child’s access to both parents as close to the normal arrangement as possible. If a child’s safety such as exposing the child to Corona Virus is an issue, parents should work together to do what is best for the child keeping in mind that children might also be nervous about current events and need to feel safe and reassured by both parents. If it is necessary to share parental responsibilities in ways different than the court order provides, parents should discuss and agree to a temporary change in parenting time or make-up parenting time. If parents are not able to agree between themselves how to do this, their court order continues to control what they should do, and Courts are still open for filing and hearing of Emergency Motions. Courts hearing these emergency motions have indicated that denying parenting time simply out of fear of the child being exposed to the virus, when the children or parent is not exhibiting symptoms of Corona virus, is not acceptable. If symptoms are present, the ill should be quarantined and the parent missing out on parenting time should still be offered liberal contact with the child through phone or video conferencing, as well as extended make-up parenting time as soon as practical. The Courts urge parents not to strain the court system but rather cooperate with each other, encourage and facilitate each child’s relationship with the other parent in a manner that is safe and in the child’s best interest. If you are having problems with your co-parent, contact Sterling Law for a free phone consult or an in-person consult (called Case Evaluation) for a flat fee of $95.
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