Custody and Parenting Time in Light of the Covid-19

By Allison Fredrickson | Family & Divorce Law

Family law practitioners have been flooded with calls regarding custody and parenting time. Though there are already broad sweeping consequences associated with COVID-19, this will likely also add more strain to child custody disputes. Under Minnesota law, legal custody is awarded jointly in the majority of cases. That means that parents are tasked with making decisions for their children jointly on major issues such as medical, religion and schooling.

Possible Exposure to Coivd-19:

  • If they believe they have exposed to Covid-19, when was it and have they been with the child since exposure?
  • Is there an agreement already to limit contact with third parties and stay a “family unit”?
  • Who decides whether we need to self-quarantine or if a child does and whether the children should be present with the parent during quarantine?
  • How will it affect the child(ren) and can there be creative ways for there to be contact, especially for younger children who don’t understand?
  • Is one parent working in the health care field with a high risk of exposure?
  • Think about compensatory time and how that will be implemented for a parent who misses time.

Regular Schedule:

  • If they believe they have exposed to Covid-19, when was it and have they been with the child since exposure?
  • Is there an agreement already to limit contact with third parties and stay a “family unit”?
  • Who decides whether we need to self-quarantine or if a child does and whether the children should be present with the parent during quarantine?
  • How will it affect the child(ren) and can there be creative ways for there to be contact, especially for younger children who don’t understand?
  • Is one parent working in the health care field with a high risk of exposure?
  • Think about compensatory time and how that will be implemented for a parent who misses time.

The questions for these parents are very difficult. Parents should try everything they can to have conversations with their co-parent and resolve the issues in the best interest of their children. It is important not to use these times to take advantage of the chaos and withhold parenting time. Flexibility and understanding of the special circumstances we are presently facing is crucial.

If co-parents are unable to agree on any issue arising from changes due to Covid-19, family law practitioners are working with a small group of alternative dispute resolution professionals to see if they will be willing to be appointed on a short-term basis to make some of these decisions for co-parents who cannot agree on the issues.

Do you have questions about child custody, parental rights, or another family law issue? Call us to speak with a member of our team.


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