What happens if your ex-spouse has tested positive for coronavirus?
If the divorce process has begun or a divorce decree has been entered, and a parenting plan has been ordered from the court, both parents must follow the parenting plan and all other orders.
It is recommended that both parents try to follow the parenting plan to the best of their abilities. Still, understandably, if your ex-spouse does contract coronavirus, it may become necessary to deviate from the plan.
Hopefully, neither you nor your ex-spouse will be subjected to such a terrible experience. If you find yourself in this situation, try to work with your ex-spouse to come up with a temporary schedule to ensure that your children are safe.
The primary thing to remember is that there needs to be a good reason to stop following the court’s parenting orders. If you think that it is essential to withhold parenting time because your ex is infected, make sure to communicate your concerns and plans with your ex-spouse.
Understandably, if your ex-spouse is infected, you will not want your child to have visitation. However, if you stop that parenting time, the courts may still see the withholding of parenting time as a deliberate violation of the parenting orders. Thus, it is important to make sure that you do agree or if an agreement cannot be reached that you save your conversations with your ex-spouse documenting the reasons that parenting time has been withheld.
If your ex-spouse further disagrees with the modification of the parenting plan temporarily, it may become necessary to ask the court to restrict the other spouses’ parenting time. To limit a parent’s parenting time, the court requires the parent to show that the child is in imminent physical or emotional danger if he/she continues to spend time with the other parent.
However, if you are thinking about restricting your ex-spouse’s parenting time, try to remember that courts want both parents to continue to follow the previous parenting plan, so they will attempt to find an alternative solution unless the standard can be met.
Therefore, it is not enough to guess whether the other spouse has tested positive or worry that your ex-spouse may test positive because he/she has continued to work as a necessary employee. The situation needs to be serious.
In other words, it requires one parent to show that the child is in emotional or physical danger if the parenting time continues. Therefore, there needs to be something specific to meet this standard. Judges will not look kindly upon a very generalized concern for the child’s safety or general fear that the child got Coronavirus.
With this in mind, it is paramount to know that it is still unknown how a judge will rule and decide these issues during this time. Judges may differ when determining whether an infected parent may meet the endangerment standard to restrict the ex-spouse’s parenting time and may find that the uninfected spouse should not be withholding parenting time.
Suppose your ex-spouse has tested positive and want to prevent your child from spending time with the infected spouse. In that case, there are several factors that you may want to consider to make sure you are doing the right thing and, if necessary, to show a court how important it is to change the parenting time while your ex-spouse is recovering.
Although this is not an exclusive list, the following factors may be helpful to consider:
- Is there someone living with the infected parent who is at a greater risk to test positive?
- Is your child at a greater risk of testing positive?
- Has the child already been exposed to the parent who has tested positive?
- Has the child been exposed to other sources?
- Are there any grandparents or members of the vulnerable population living with either parent? If the child has been exposed to the parent with Covid-19, will the child potentially expose his/her grandmother if he comes back to your house?
- Does the exposed parent live in an area with a large outbreak?
- Does the exposed parent live in an area that has carefully followed social distancing requirements?
- Is the other parent too sick to care for the child?