It is of utmost important to ensure that families avoid getting infected and spreading the virus, but how does this affect parents exercising their court ordered parenting plans?
Chief Justice John Casey addressed this situation, by drafting an open letter regarding parenting on March 23, 2020. An excerpt regarding parenting orders:
“Parenting orders are not stayed during this period of time. In fact, it is important that children spend time with both of their parents and that each parent have the opportunity to engage in family activities, where provided for by court order. In cases where a parent must self-quarantine or is otherwise restricted from having contact with others, both parents should cooperate to allow for parenting time by video conference or telephone.” (source: https://www.mass.gov/news/open-letter-regarding-co-parenting-during-covid-19-from-chief-justice-john-d-casey)
With that being said, what happens when someone does not follow Justice Casey’s advice and decides to unilaterally make decisions for their child or children, without the input of the other parent?
The current situation does not give either parent license to unilaterally withhold their child from the other parent unless are there are serious and tangible health concerns. In fact, the withholding parent may be subject to a Complaint for Contempt being filed against them for keeping their child from the other parent. We urge parents to follow recommended guidelines and local restrictions to ensure their own, their children’s, and others’ safety; but if you have questions on how to best navigate your unique situation, feel free to give me a call to discuss a potential solution that may avoid a great deal of conflict and put your families safety first.