Top 5 Dos and Don’ts for Divorced Couples with Children During Coronavirus / Covid-19 Crisis
Family courts in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach have been shut down at least since March 16, 2020. So where does that leave you if you are divorced with children and have a court order that requires your children to travel between two different homes ?
- Co-parent-If you are a divorced parent with children, odds are you are in a Florida county that required you to attend a parenting course. In that course you would have learned that you need to attempt to communicate with your former spouse about your children. Never has this advice been more important than now. Individuals are reacting differently to the threat of Covid-19. Some people are taking it very seriously while others are rafting up together on sandbars. Florida more than most states has experience with disasters disrupting timesharing schedules through hurricanes. Now we face a unique challenge a highly contagious disease. Parents should attempt to communicate with each other and come up with a cohesive plan that is in the children’s best interest and execute that plan.
- Continue to Pay Your Support Obligations-while courts may be closed now, they will not be closed forever and your support obligations remain regardless of the Covid-19 virus.
- Timeshare Suspended by One Parent-If you refuse to turn over your child to the other parent during this pandemic in violation of existing orders, you could be facing contempt charges. This is a new situation and outcomes of contempt will depend upon the wording of your orders and the Judge’s attitude to the Covid-19/coronavirus and whether you violated an existing court order willfully and in flagrant disregard of your obligations without a justification. A defense to the willful violation could be that the other parent is putting the child in danger. However, facing contempt allegations is serious and a violator could face attorney’s fees, fines and possibly loss of timeshare in the future.
- If you have the child or children and they get sick, you should immediately call the other parent. If it is an emergency your court order dictates what you can do.
- Be Proactive-if there is a valid reason for withholding your child or you cannot pay your support, notify the court by filing a motion or petition for modification. Get in front of the violation and assert the reasons for withholding timeshare or support.