Child Visitation and Parenting Time During the Pandemic

Mace Greenfield Child Related Issues

I am hearing of many stories of children being withheld from the other parent during the Coronavirus. Many people hearing about this are agreeing with it to protect the children and keep their best interests primary. This sounds good in theory, but this argument utterly fails.

Clearly if you work in a highly exposed essential field, such as a hospital, urgent care center, first responder, and so on, you should avoid the elderly and stay away from your children. Many such parents in intact households are even going as far as to sleep in their cars to avoid exposing their families. Thus, the non-primary parent who is in this situation occupationally, should voluntarily forgo visitation. But this also applies to the parent the children primarily resides with as well, not just the other parent. In this case, the primary parent should have immediately had the children go live temporarily with the other parent. But, I have yet to hear of such stories, though I am sure it has occurred. We tend to only hear about the problems, not the successes.

Examples of the stories I have been hearing are as follows: a primary parent who is remarried to a spouse whose employment is high risk, but refuses to let the other parent see the children who works from home and has little exposure; a parent refusing to allow the other parent to order out pizza, has her sister grocery shops for her who then came down with the virus (and if you think about it, hot delivered food from a pizzeria has probably been touched by less hands than grocery store food on the shelf). I can go on endlessly, but won’t. I think you get the idea.

The down side is that visitation violations are not considered an essential court emergency to be heard or addressed now. However, the New York State coordinating judge for matrimonial cases has stated that though such violations cannot be dealt with now, they will be dealt with when this is over. I understand that some of these cases have been telephone conferenced by the Courts, and absent situations as found above due to occupation, the Courts have sternly told the primary parent’s attorney that the Court order is a Court order! Remember, a Court order is a Court order and cannot be violated absent stipulation of all parties and/or permission of the Court.