Q: Can I be forced to take my parenting time during Covid?
My wife and I have quarantined since March at the advice of my wife's doctor. My child's mother agreed to keep the child 100% of the time until my wife's doctor feels there are adequate treatment options should my wife contract Covid. The child's mother now wishes to return to the 50/50 custody schedule ordered in the decree, and is filing contempt papers against me for failing to provide care. Can I be court-ordered to resume exchanges that will risk my wife's health?
Also, the decree states that neither parent owes the other child support. My wife and I make significantly less than the child's mother and we are both furloughed because of the pandemic. We have provided school clothes, toys, musical instruments, a tablet for school, and made several payments for child care. We've applied for child care assistance to cover half, but haven't received benefits yet. Can we be ordered to pay for half of the (full price) amount the mother was billed for the child care already received?
The Court may find you in contempt of the decree/custody schedule even with the doctor-prescribed quarantine. I would advise seeking counsel to represent your interests to the Court and describe the nuances of your current COVID-riddled situation. It is possible that a modification of the decree may also be sought by your child's mother if she is going to continue to have 100% custody -- this modification effort could include asking you to pay child support since your visitation/care has dwindled.
As for the child care expenses, this may prove to be a complicated issue since neither of you owe the other support in the decree. The deciding factor could hinge on who was to pay for child care in the decree, but based on your question I am guessing there is supposed to be a flat 50/50 split on the child care expenses? If so, then it is possible you may be ordered to pay half. I would also recommend seeking counsel to represent your interests on this issue.
Please feel free to reach out if you are interested in discussing in more detail.
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