As the novel coronavirus COVID-19 creates chaos and disruption across the globe, it may hit even closer to home if there are implications for your child custody and visitation arrangement with parenting time from a distance. When one parent experiences symptoms, was exposed, or for other reasons cannot stick to the court’s order, the lives of parents and children are thrown into disarray. It’s true that the New York State Unified Court system remains open via virtual operations, but the April 6, 2020 press release indicates that courts will be focusing on matters involving emergency and essential services. As such, it’s not realistic to think you can bring every dispute regarding parenting time before a judge.
Instead, parents should focus on ways they can handle parenting time from a distance – which requires some effort for both. A New York child custody and visitation attorney can facilitate the process, but consider some helpful tips.
Tips for Non-Custodial Parents: The parent who has visitation rights will feel the biggest impact from a disruption of parenting time. You cherish these moments with your child, so the idea of giving them up is disappointing – even though it’s for the best. You might consider some ideas to overcome the challenges of not being there in person, such as:
- Find a suitable solution for virtual parenting time. Those same solutions that allow companies to conduct business remotely via video conference are ideal for exercising your visitation rights. Examples include Skype, Instagram, and – relative newcomer to the scene – the Zoom mobile application.
- Plan Ahead: Since you can’t take a walk, ride bikes, or enjoy in-person play time, you’ll need to think in advance about activities that will engage your child. There are plenty of online games and interactive fun, and even virtual puzzles you can complete together.
- Be Flexible: You may need to be more fluid in your approach to visitation while the COVID-19 pandemic affects your relationship with your child. Whenever possible, you should be willing to accommodate changes in scheduling.
Factors Custodial Parent Should Consider: Your concerns are understandable if your child’s other parent could create a risk of exposure to COVID-19. At the same time, you must comply with New York child custody and visitation orders to the best of your abilities. With in-person visitation being out of the question, you can facilitate parenting time by:
- Sticking to the Schedule: You need to make sure your child is ready and available for virtual communications, so mark off time for visitation.
- Assisting with Technology: Your child will rely on your efforts with video conferencing, meaning you’ll need to handle the set up. Allow for 5-10 minutes in advance to ensure all equipment is functioning properly.
- Help with Parenting Time Activities: If possible, communicate with your child’s other parent regarding the plans for visitation time. Suggest activities or games that coordinate with home schooling and e-learning and provide materials if your child will be working on homework during parenting time.
Flexibility should also be a focus for you as a custodial parent. Only essential and emergency issues are appropriate to take to court, so try to be understanding and find ways you can accommodate visitation.
Get Additional Guidance from a New York Child Custody and Visitation Lawyer
If you’d like more information and tips on how to make parenting time work during the COVID-19 crisis, please contact The Mandel Law Firm. We know the importance of complying with custody and visitation orders, so we can walk you through the relevant issues that impact us all in uncertain times. Reach out to our Manhattan office today by calling (646) 770-3868 or visit us online to set up a consultation.