What Can Parents Do When a Co-Parent or Household Member Is Diagnosed With COVID-19?
My Co-Parent or a member of their household has been diagnosed with COVID-19. My Co-Parent still requests to exercise parenting time. I do not want my child(ren) exposed! What can I do?
While the current Stay at Home Order issued by Governor Polis permits parenting time exchanges to occur as contemplated by your parenting schedule, that does not mean it is reasonable to do so in every case.
Colorado Courts have begun dealing with this issue on a case-by-case basis, and each jurisdiction may be handling it differently. The Court’s priority is likely to be the safety of your child(ren) during this time, but they will also try to balance both parents’ legal rights to parent their child(ren).
The guidance received by Courts in Colorado, thus far, has been that parents should comply with their parenting schedule and a parent who decides not to abide by their schedule could be found to be in violation of their Orders and could face legal sanctions.
However, if a Co-Parent or a member of their household has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you may have a legal basis to temporarily deviate from your parenting schedule until the risk that COVID-19 can be transmitted to your child(ren) has been abated.
You are encouraged to refer to your parenting schedule and check for a provision stating what should happen in an emergency situation such as this, to avoid parental conflict. If there is no provision that addresses the issue, you are also encouraged to do your best to communicate with your Co-Parent about the risks to your children and your requested deviation from the schedule, before pursuing legal action.
If communicating with your Co-Parent is unsuccessful, then you have the option to file an emergency motion to request permission from the Court to deviate from the parenting schedule on a temporary basis.
The motions process can be confusing and each jurisdiction in Colorado may be handling the procedure differently. We would always encourage you to confer with an attorney before filing, to ensure you are following the proper procedures, and to maximize your potential for success.
The bottom line is that every judicial officer is different and there can be conflicting Orders coming from different Courts. Therefore, to minimize the risk a parent could face legal sanctions for withholding parenting time, even with a COVID-19 diagnosis, parents are always encouraged to obtain the consent of the Co-Parent or the Court’s permission, before deviating from the schedule.
If you have questions regarding parenting time and COVID-19 anywhere in Colorado, The Harris Law Firm is here to help. Contact us to speak with a lawyer.