In the best of times, co-parenting can be difficult for divorced or unmarried parents. In general, both mom and dad want what is best for their children, but even parents who get along can hit snags along the way.
On top of the usual challenges, the novel coronavirus outbreak has turned the lives of many Hoosier families upside down. From fears about sickness to taking care of loved ones to making ends meet, everyone is feeling the effects of this unprecedented pandemic in one way or another. And with Indiana now under a Stay at Home Order until April 20, 2020 (at the time of this writing), many parents have questions about how this order impacts custody and parenting time arrangements.
We rounded up some of the most common questions to shed some light on this ever-changing situation.
Does the Indiana Stay at Home Order change my custody or parenting time?
Simply put, no. Our state’s Stay at Home Order does not change your child custodial or parenting time agreements. The Indiana Supreme Court has clarified that existing custody and parenting time orders remain in place and should be followed. However, exceptions could arise if either parent feels a situation is no longer safe (more on that below).
Do school closings modify when I can see my kids?
No. Although school buildings are technically closed, classes are still in session with remote learning. Parents designated to have children on school days should still have the kids, whether they are physically at school or learning at home. And parents should still follow their school’s calendar as published at the start of the academic year for purposes of interpreting custody and parenting time orders, including school breaks, holidays, and summer vacation.
What if we need changes to custody or parenting time for safety reasons?
With anyone and everyone being susceptible to COVID-19, there are some situations where you may want to make changes to your custody and parenting time arrangements. For example, one parent may be ill or on the front lines in health care, or a child may be immunocompromised. Many different scenarios could warrant a change benefitting the children. If both parents agree that a temporary change is best, you can informally consent to any necessary changes in writing without filing an agreement with the court. A simple typed document signed by both parents stating the date, the temporary modification, and why the change is being made should suffice.
What if we don’t agree on a change, but I’m concerned about my child’s safety?
The health and safety of your children should always be at the forefront of your mind, especially in the midst of a health crisis. And sometimes, altering routines or modifying custody or parenting time just makes sense. If parents can’t agree about what is best for the kids, either parent may file an emergency petition with the court to modify custody or parenting time. If you believe you need an emergency modification, your best course of action is to contact a trusted family law attorney who can walk you through the process.
Navigating these new pandemic waters is uncharted territory and can feel stressful. And for parents, caring for your children can create unique challenges during these extraordinary circumstances. At BB&C, we’re here for you. Reach out to Kisti Good Risse at (765) 637-9173.
The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.