Withholding Custody During COVID
There are continuing concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how best to protect yourself and your family. In families where the parents are no longer together, differing opinions on subjects such as school, playtime and visiting with friends or relatives can sometimes lead to the need for court intervention.
One option some parents are choosing is to withhold custody from the other parent if they do not believe the other parent is taking sufficient precautions. What if the other parent works in a hospital and is exposed to sick patients? What if the other parent is allowing other people into the home? What if the other parent does not believe in wearing masks? Is it OK to not allow the children to go back with the other parent if you are in disagreement with them?
Withholding custody, especially if there is a custody order in place, is not wise unless you truly believe the children are in danger. The guidelines from the state allow travel and custodial exchanged pursuant to a custody order, and, as always, parents are bound to follow the custody order or risk being found in contempt by the courts.
What can a parent do then? One option is to file a petition for emergency custody. These petitions should not be considered lightly. Unless a substantial harm to the child can be shown, the courts are generally not granting these petitions based on general COVID concerns. If it can be shown that a particular child is at great risk, and it can be shown specifically, it may be worth speaking with an experienced family law attorney to help decide the best way to proceed.
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