Can a parent withhold a child from the other parent due to Coronavirus and SIP?
No. Coronavirus is not a reason to deny parenting time. The general consensus is that all court orders must still be followed absent a modification. In fact, the Bay Area SIP makes an exception for travel to comply with a court order. It may be easy to comply with the custody and visitation order, but different considerations come into play when the other parent lives out of state. Communication is key. It is important for both parents to discuss and consider the child’s health and safety in deciding whether to exercise their parental rights. If the parents cannot come to an agreement, then it is important to contact an attorney to determine if an emergency filing is warranted under your particular circumstances.
What if the other parent withholds my child from me due to Coronavirus?
It is important to communicate and understand the reason why the other parent is withholding the child from you. Does the other parent have valid concerns that you can address? Or is the other parent simply using the Coronavirus as an excuse to withhold your child? If it is the latter, and the other parent is represented by an attorney, you can reach out to his/her attorney to demand compliance with the custody and visitation order.
If the other parent is not represented or the attorney is refusing to ask his/her client to comply, you can call the police. The police may ask the other party to comply, or at the very least, make a police report. Although many courts are currently closed to filings, other than emergency and domestic violence restraining order requests, you can file a contempt action once the court reopens. If you do, the police report can be helpful. It is also important to document any communications with the other party because you will have to explain to the court why the other party’s actions are unreasonable.
How should parents treat holidays, vacations, school breaks now that schools will be closed for some time?
The regular schedule should be followed as if the child is still in school unless the parents agree otherwise.