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Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and COVID-19

By Nottage and Ward on June 30, 2020

As COVID-19 spreads more and more, we have all naturally become concerned for our family and loved ones. This hold especially true for parents, who must now contend with having to work for financially support their children, while also having to do their best to provide adequate homeschooling while both public and private schools are closed.

The Stay At Home orders can make the allocation of parental responsibilities difficult and confusing to navigate for separated parents to navigate. What does your parenting time schedule look like now? What if your child’s other parent lives somewhere that is unsafe due to COVID-19? How do school closings impact parenting schedules?

We at Nottage and Ward, LLP understand that these are frightening times. You shouldn’t have to worry about finding answers to your many questions while also fighting to keep your child safe and healthy. That is why we’ve decided to help you tackle some of the biggest parental responsibility questions that may have come up due to COVID-19.

Closed Schools

Currently, all Illinois schools have been closed due to COVID-19. Parental responsibility orders often hinge on school schedules. For example, one parent may have the child on school nights, while the other will have them during weekends. This can help give the child a level of stability and ensure that at least one parent will always have the supplies the child needs to complete homework and school projects. In the case of school shutdowns, however, things can become confusing.

If you are supposed to have your child on school days, and your former partner has them on all non-school days, but school is not in session, what do you do? Well, you should treat any normal school day as just that, a school day. If your child would, under normal circumstances, be heading to school, then you should continue to exert your parental responsibilities during that day.

In the case of days that are not weekends, but that the child would not normally be at school, such as national holidays or spring/summer breaks, then you should continue to follow your agreed-upon schedule or rotation regarding holidays.

When Two Parents Struggle to Communicate

Divorces do not always end amicably. Tensions can run high and you and your former spouse may walk away from the relationship unable to communicate calmly. While this already presents problems when it comes to parental responsibilities, it can make the stresses of parenting during a pandemic all the worse.

Transporting your child to your former spouse’s home can be frightening, especially if they live near or in an area with a high number of COVID-19 cases. While we would normally recommend having a conversation with your former spouse about the allocation of parental responsibilities and coming to an agreement that you both feel would allow your child to feel safe, we understand that this may not be possible for those with poor or aggressive relationships with their former spouses.

If you feel that your current allocation of parental custody orders put your child’s life at risk, but your former spouse refuses to listen to your concerns or even have a calm, rational discussion about the issue, then you should contact an experienced family law attorney who can help you figure out what your next options may be.

Emergency Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Orders

Should you be in a position where transporting your child to your former partner’s home is dangerous and puts your child at risk, you may seek emergency allocation of parental responsibilities. While you should seek approval from your former partner first, if they are refusing to cooperate, a court can change your parental responsibilities in order to ensure the health of your child.

This may mean that your child stays with one parent full time but must still have appointments to talk with the other parent via phone or video call. This will make sure that even such a difficult and stressful time your child will be given a sense of stability and will be able to have both parents available for support.

If you need a Chicago child custody attorney to help you navigate the choppy waters that COVID-19 has left us all in, call Nottage and Ward, LLP at (312) 332-2915. We’re available to answer any questions and listen to your concerns. Even during a pandemic, we are here to help.

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