Chances are that if you have a parenting plan, it takes into account summer vacations, holidays, and work schedules, but it may not provide direction on how to handle visitation rights during a pandemic. We are in unprecedented times, and with that comes new challenges and a chance for out-of-the-box solutions. Here are some things to consider when it comes child custody and visitation rights during COVID-19.
The Parenting Plan You Have Still Applies
The Maryland Judiciary has released a statement that is specific to visitation rights during COVID-19 and requires that all court orders for child custody, child access, visitation, and child custody remain in effect as they were initially ordered before the pandemic. While school is not in session at the moment, the school time parenting plan should still be followed until the time summer vacation would normally begin. The court system has mentioned that if custodians of the children can jointly agree on adjusting the parenting plan, then they can do so without court approval. Also, if a child’s physical or emotional safety is in jeopardy, the court will still be hearing emergency cases.
Why You May Need to Adjust Visitation Rights
- According to Maryland Statute §9–102, grandparents can be allowed visitation rights. However, grandparents are an older generation who are more at risk when it comes to COVID-19. It would be wise to avoid unnecessary personal interactions with them. Alternatives might be having that same visitation time set aside for a phone call or video chat with the grandparents.
- The visitation rights are for supervised visitation or monitored exchange visitation. Both of these programs are meant to protect the child if the non-custodial parent struggles with anger issues, drug problems, inappropriate sexual behavior, or is otherwise trying to improve their parenting skills. Given the stress levels many people are facing during this time, it is wise to evaluate whether or not you think your child is safe without the extra protection of a supervised visit or monitored exchange. Alternatives might be to skip the current visitations with an agreement for more time with the child once the community opens back or to have the custodial parent stay for the duration of the visitation to ensure the child’s safety.
- Another reason to adjust visitation rights is if one party is working an essential job that exposes them to COVID-19. All child custody, parenting plans, and visitation rights are meant to have the child’s best interests in mind. It may not be wise to put the child or one side of the family at risk for getting sick simply to follow visitation rights that were decided prior to the pandemic. However, with the children home from schools, expanding a non-custodial parent’s visitation rights may help with childcare.
Our Family Law Legal Team is Here to Help You
If you are unsure about how to handle your visitation rights during COVID-19 or you are running into disagreements it may be time to seek advice from a Maryland family law attorney. The legal team at Frame & Frame will listen to your family’s situation and help take the weight off your shoulders, during you through this unusual time. Contact us at 410-255-0373 to set up a consultation today.