Parents Timesharing Children During Quarantine
The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing home quarantine have caused a lot of confusion for parents surrounding the sharing of custody. Some parents have not returned children to the other parent out of fear of being infected with the coronavirus. Others are arguing that they cannot return the children to the other parent because of Governor Lee's stay-at-home orders. Still, some are adamant that they will keep the children indefinitely. If you have questions about these issues or are experiencing difficulty with your children's other parent, a skilled Murfreesboro family law attorney can help.
What Does Tennessee Law Say?
Unfortunately, there are no Tennessee statutes that specifically address what should happen with parenting time during a pandemic or quarantine. Along with the rest of the nation, this state is experiencing unprecedented times. If you do not already have emergency or contingency plans written into your parenting plan to address something of this magnitude, you are legally mandated to continue to follow your normal parenting and custody orders.
Courts all over the country and the 16th Judicial Court in Tennessee that oversees civil family issues have issued orders stating that parents must still follow their usual child custody arrangements, even during quarantine, or spring break, or while the kids are not returning to school.
Parents Should be Flexible
For your children's sake, if there has ever been a time to be flexible with your custody agreement, it is now. Parents should be reasonable and willing to work with the other parent for both making up parenting time and being flexible moving forward. Keep in mind that to protect yourself, any agreements you make together should be put on paper and signed by both of you.
If one parent becomes ill or has been exposed to the coronavirus, the other parent should make reasonable accommodations to help them connect with the children. This could involve phone calls, Facetime, Zoom, Facebook video chat, or WhatsApp. Remember that many children are also feeling anxious and unsure of all that is going on. Seeing you fighting with their other parent can make this time worse for them.
With one or both parents now potentially working from home, it may also be wise to consider modifying your parenting plan to accommodate what works best for both of you and the children. As long as both of you agree, and it is in writing, you are allowed to modify your plan. Just remember that making modifications is not a relinquishment of any parental rights. When in doubt about modifying your agreement or giving up some of your parenting time during quarantine, be sure to reach out to a knowledgeable Murfreesboro family law attorney.
Need Help Navigating Timesharing of Your Children During this Unprecedented Time? Call an Experienced Murfreesboro Family Law Lawyer
At Dotson & Taylor, we have spent over four decades advocating for our clients and helping them resolve their legal issues successfully. Whether you have questions and need help with a COVID-19 related parenting issue or something else, we are here for you. Schedule a free case consultation with a Murfreesboro family law lawyer today. Call 615-890-1982 or use our secure online request form.