How does COVID-19 affect my parenting plan? The Novel Coronavirus has drastically altered our daily lives. Many divorced or separated parents are wondering how their parenting plan for minor children will be affected. This concern has become more profound since Washington State recently announced the closure of all K-12 public schools for the rest of the 2020 school year.
Limited family law matters are currently being heard by Spokane County Superior Court judges. Basically, it’s emergency situations only and it’s up to a judge to decide whether an issue is an emergency. As a general rule disputes about a parenting plan are not emergency issues. Hearings involving true emergencies, such as absconding with a child or issues involving safety and welfare of children, can still be conducted telephonically.
Spokane County Superior Court has issued several guidelines and emergency orders pertaining COVID-19 and some are specific to family law cases. These guidelines make it clear that court ordered parenting time must be followed and permitted when possible. One parent being worried about the risk of coronavirus at the other parent’s house, even if one parent works in the medical field, is not legally sufficient to refuse visitation.
We’ve also heard questions about whether a parenting plan’s summer schedule should be immediately followed now that school has been cancelled. Spokane County’s answer to this is no. Often summer schedules allow for more liberal visitation for non-primary parents. The court’s guidelines clearly state that the visitation schedule for the normal 2019-2020 school year will remain in place until the date summer break would normally start. The summer visitation schedule will then start on the normal start date for summer break.
It’s always best to try to work with the other parent to resolve parenting issues outside of court. This is a challenging time, but also an opportunity to come up with unique solutions that work for you and your children. If you need assistance obtaining court orders or have questions about representation, then contact Cooney Law Offices today.