The coronavirus pandemic has upended just about every aspect of family life. With kids returning to school amid the threat of rolling shutdowns, it is understandable if divorced or separated parents are concerned about how the potential for school closures could impact their parenting schedules.
Obviously, almost no parent out there considered the possibility of a pandemic when making their shared parenting plan. Because parents are dealing with unprecedented circumstances, it’s important for parents to communicate with each other about changes in schedules. It’s also best to stay flexible and understanding with an ex-spouse.
Generally, court orders regarding parenting time and child custody aren’t affected by government orders, including executive orders from the governor directing businesses or schools to shut down. The Michigan Supreme Court has issued guidance telling parents to generally follow the schedules set forth by the school regardless of whether school is in-person, remote or some combination of the two.
This means continuing parenting time in accordance with the breaks and vacations in the school schedule as if there was no shutdown. Obviously, this may not always be possible if school shutdowns coincide with work shutdowns or working from home. In these cases, parents may need to come up with alternative arrangements, such as a temporary modification of their parenting schedule.
Parents can modify parenting time and visitation through a mutual agreement. Parents should both sign off on any modification and file the changes with the court to help ensure there are no misunderstandings down the road. This can save you a great deal of time, stress and money.
Keep in mind that modifying parenting time is not the same thing as modifying child support. Parents should be very careful about agreeing to any changes in child support without a court order. If the parent paying support is experiencing financial challenges due to the pandemic, the parent will need to ask the court for a modification and show a significant change in circumstances.
Child custody and parenting time matters can be stressful. Get peace of mind by working with an experienced Michigan family law lawyer. At Dawson Family Law, PLLC, we have over 40 years’ experience in all aspects of family law. Schedule your free consultation by calling 833-671-4445. You can also contact us online.