The Covid-19 pandemic has caused chaos throughout the United States; the economy is at a standstill, schools are closed, people are confined in their houses. Americans are having to deal with issues that have never been seen before, and one of these issues is navigating parenting plans throughout this time. Parenting plans are lengthy and complex, they contain provisions for parenting time, decision making, and child support – all of which have been profoundly impacted by Colorado’s Stay at Home Order. This article is intended to help you navigate your parenting plan in these trying and confusing times.
One of the most contentious issues when it comes to parenting plans is parenting time. Many people have been trying to use the stay at home order as a way to avoid exchanging the children.
But is this legal? The short answer is probably not.
Colorado’s Stay At Home Order states, “All individuals currently living within the State of Colorado are ordered to Stay at Home whenever possible. Individuals living in shared or outdoor spaces must at all times, to the greatest extent possible, comply with Social Distancing Requirements, and may leave their Residences only to perform or utilize Necessary Activities.” Fourth Updated Public Health Order 20-24 Implementing Stay At Home Requirements. The Order goes on to state, “For purposes of this Order, travel is necessary for any of the following purposes: […] (4) travel required by law enforcement or court order[.]”
Parenting plans that have been approved by the court are orders of the court, this means that parenting time exchanges are included in the necessary travel provision of the stay-at-home order.
In short, comply with the parenting plan unless someone in the household has tested positive for COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms. If you find yourself in the position where the parent of your child/ren are withholding them and are using the stay-at-home order as an excuse, document the days that are being missed and communication regarding the same. A motion to make up parenting time can be filed with the court, but please understand that due to the courts operating on a limited basis it may take some time for the court to act on the motion.
Another issue that has been arising due to the COVID-19 crisis is the issue with decision making. Generally speaking, most parenting plans have a clause in them concerning medical decision making. Many people feel that the other parent is not taking the crisis seriously enough, or on the flip side, is taking the issue too seriously. Decision making regarding medical decisions generally involves only invasive medical procedures/therapy. This means the Coronavirus issue is unchartered territory. Again, document all of the issues that you are having with the other parent, save all written communication and prepare to take it to court if necessary once the crisis is over.
Finally, there is the issue with Child Support. The economy is at a standstill meaning many people have lost their jobs, this does not change a standing child support order. If you have lost your job and cannot afford your child support payment you will need to motion the court to modify your child support order. The court will only accept this motion if there has been a 10% overall change in the amount of support that is owed. Until the court grants the motion to modify child support, your support payment will not change, and you will need to continue paying support.
Reading this article you may feel overwhelmed, and still a little lost. This is understandable, people are battling the issues with COVID-19 as they arise. If you are experiencing problems with your parenting plan due to Coronavirus, the best advice that I can give you is this, call a lawyer that is experienced in dealing with family law issues; they can provide a better analysis of your case and provide you with a light in these dark times.
All of the attorneys at Modern Family Law are ready and willing to help you with your case.
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