Q: I have residential custody of my child who is 13 1/2 yrs old. His father and friend live 1 hr away.
Concerned about him going there for spring break I have Diabetes type 1. Hypertension and stage 1 kidney disease. He won’t tell me where he and his friend have been. There is no verbal communication. how do I handle this during this pandemic.
Thank you for your question. We are seeing this same issue again and again, and we understand that there is increased anxiety all around for people who are co-parenting in these difficult times.
In general the courts are not considering "what if" scenarios, they are enforcing existing parenting time orders absent a real, credible threat, such as a person who has tested positive. That being said, every case is different. You should consult with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible to have your situation assessed.
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The first and most important question is how often does the father see your son and how often does he have your son on an overnight basis ( in the past 12 months)? If I was sitting as a judge, trying to figure out how to balance legitimate health concerns against the other parents right to be with his child, I would start the conversation by getting an understanding of how often your son is with his father and at the same time, I would want to know if there have been any claims against you by the father of an interference with his parenting time sessions. I raise the later issue since you made it a point to let me know that the father has someone else in his life and as a judge, I would want to know if your health issues are as serious as you suggest or are you trying to use a health issue to prevent the father from being with his son. You may not like the concerns I just voiced, but I can assure you that these are the concerns that a judge has and he needs assurance that your health issues are legitimate and that you are not simply trying to prevent the father from being with his son. Presuming that your health issues are legitimate and that there is no claim of interference by you ( prior to this pandemic), then we move to whether there is a legitimate reason for you to be concerned about the fathers social distancing efforts/ safety measures during this time. If there are legitimate concerns that he has now satisfied, then the court would need to discuss alternate arrangements for contact between your son and his father.
With the information above as a backdrop, my suggestion is that you send your ex an email politely suggesting that you have concerns about him having your son because of the severity of your health issues and that you would like to work this out peacefully. I would then tell him that you are concerned about his quarantining efforts and ask him to give you assurances as to what measures he has taken to protect himself, his household and how he will protect your son while he is with him ( and so that your son does not come back and give you the virus). Be polite and not judgmental. This is not where you want to piss him off or create a war. Tell him that you want to work with him but are afraid and that you are asking him to understand your fears. Let him know also that you will work with him on alternatives and be prepared to bite your lip and offer him extended time in the summer, holidays, etc to get him to agree not to take him now. Good luck. As a fall back, you can always suggest that you and he retain a family law attorney to assist the 2 of you to mediate this issue to avoid a war or an emergent application to a court.
Brian Clifford Freeman agrees with this answer
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