Can I limit visitation during a pandemic?
Photo of Attorneys T. Noel Brooks and Jesse Baez walking outside.
Photo of T. Noel Brooks and Jesse Baez

Can I limit visitation during a pandemic?

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2020 | Family Law

You may find yourself wondering if there is anything you can do to limit the number of caregivers in your child’s life right now. With the COVID-19 emergency, we are now in unprecedented times. As cities and states adopt shelter-in-place orders, social distancing, and travel restrictions, our daily life is unrecognizable from what it was a month ago. Despite all of this, individuals still have to interact with their ex if they have minor children together. We’ve received the same question from multiple clients during this troubling time: can I limit or restrict visitation during this pandemic?

We often tell clients that if they are going to violate court-ordered visitation terms, they will need an extraordinary reason to justify his or her actions. Otherwise, they could potentially face jail, fines, and possibly increased visitation to the other parent or  a change in custody. With that being said, here are some guidelines for handling this type of situation:

1.      Talk to your ex: The first step if there are any concerns is to pick up the phone, send an e-mail or text, and discuss the issue with your ex-spouse. Court access during times of crisis can be limited, so your first course of action should be to co-parent. Remember to keep it civil, even if your ex is being difficult.

2.      Use common sense: Common sense goes a long way in a difficult situation. Is your child sick with a high fever or having any trouble breathing? If so, then obviously they may not be in a condition to travel back and forth. If you or someone in your ex’s family has been diagnosed with COVID-19, it’s probably best not to conduct a visitation exchange.

3.      Pay attention to local guidelines and orders: If there’s a local order that restricts or prohibits travel or leaving your home, a visitation exchange will probably not be possible.

4. To the best extent possible, make sure to follow court orders:
If there are no legal restrictions or health issues prohibiting visitation, follow the court order to the best extent possible. At some point this crisis will end, and you do not want to be accused of using the situation to deny visitation to the other side. Remember, it’s important for both parents to be active and involved in their children’s lives, especially during hard times.

For more information about any of the above, or for any family law, criminal law or personal injury matter, please contact the firm. Video-conferences are available through Facetime or Zoom.

This post is provided as an educational service and should not be construed as legal advice.  Readers in need of assistance with a legal matter should retain the services of competent counsel.