The coronavirus pandemic is not just impacting grocery stores and group gatherings. It may also be affecting parental responsibilities (child custody) among divorced parents. On March 16, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker declared a state-of-emergency decree in response to COVID-19. As a result of the declaration, all schools in Illinois are closed until further notice, leaving parents unsure of what they need to do to provide care for their children. Most divorce orders outline when children will stay with each parent if schools are not in session. However, those orders are based on pre-arranged off-days and holiday schedules, not unplanned notices based on a national health crisis. To ensure that your parental rights are protected while addressing your children’s health and safety, you should consult with a family law attorney to determine how to proceed.
Top Priorities Amidst the Crisis
Although it is easy to panic at a time like this, parents will want to do their best to protect their children’s best interests. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Keeping your children safe during this uncertain time should be your number one priority. If at all possible, work with your child’s other parent to maintain cooperation and order, even if that results in one parent having less parenting time for the time being.
- Continue to comply with court orders while practicing social distancing and isolation. Health and government officials have urged citizens to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and to remain six feet apart when together. Parents should be sure to inform each other about any treatment children receive and follow their court-ordered parenting plan regarding decision-making responsibilities for children’s medical care.
- Avoid taking advantage of one another by refusing to pick up or drop off kids for the other parent’s parenting time or completely denying the other parent his or her parenting time. This will only make matters worse, and it could lead to further legal issues once things return to normal.
- Get creative. Share information with one another via telephone calls, text messages, email, Google Docs, or FaceTime, and be sure to keep the lines of communication open.
- In the event the child is “stuck” at one parent’s home in a quarantine situation, avoid getting upset. The rapidly changing facts and proclamations surrounding coronavirus can make it difficult to determine the best way to proceed, and parents will want to work together to ensure that children are safe and healthy.
- If one parent has tested positive for COVID-19, he or she should not exercise his or her right to parenting time for the time being. Although children are not at high risk of contracting this virus, parents should not take any chances of exposing them to the infection.
Contact a Lombard, IL Divorce Attorney
If you and your child’s other parent are unsure how to proceed with sharing parenting time and parental responsibilities during the COVID-19 outbreak, we are here to help. Contact a dedicated DuPage County child custody lawyer from A. Traub & Associates. We can help you work out any child-related issues you may be experiencing. Call our office today at 630-426-0196 to schedule a confidential consultation via telephone conference.