Asked in Divorce, Family Law and Child Custody

Q: Can a separated spouse refuse to let a father see his child during corona?

All parties have been in quarantine and while the separated wife has their child starting tomorrow for her week on she has said the child won’t be allowed to return if he sees his girlfriend of over two years while the child is with her.

They currently have shared 50/50 custody. One week on. One week off

1 Lawyer Answer
Darren M. Shapiro
Darren M. Shapiro

A: Since I am a New York lawyer, and your question did not specify where you are located, this answer pertains only to child custody and parenting time (visitation) matters for which New York has jurisdiction. A child custody and parenting time order remains in effect unless and until it is modified. At the time I am writing this answer there is no shelter in place order in effect for New York. There is a 100% of the workforce must work from home except for "essential" businesses but that order should not effect parenting time schedules. Of course if the exercise of parenting time would put the child at imminent risk, such as the girlfriend has tested positive for the Coronavirus, then steps should be taken to protect the child which may include not allowing the visitation to happen and filing an emergency application to suspend the parenting time. Urgent and essential court proceedings are still being dealt with by the courts in New York. While the court will have discretion to determine what is urgent, the safety of children has always been of the utmost importance to the court. Likewise, a parent's right to see their children has always been held to be a fundamental right. The New York courts may very well decide that it is urgent to hear a case about a parent's right to see his or her child or to protect the child during this pandemic.

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