Now more than ever we understand that things can be difficult and confusing, both for you and your children. With stay-at-home orders in place and school being cancelled, determining how to follow a parenting plan can add stress to an already trying time. Ultimately maintaining consistency for your children will be key for their success and will help prevent unnecessary conflict between parents.
While the Courts have not made orders regarding how to parent during Covid-19, they have released guidelines to assist parents in navigating these times. Most importantly, the Court is expecting parents will follow all family law orders, including parenting plans, restraining orders, and child support orders.
It is expected that court-ordered parenting time will continue to occur as exchanges of children have been deemed essential. While children may already be out of school that does not mean parents automatically deviate from the school schedule or begin following the summer schedule, unless you have an agreement among yourselves. The Spokane Court has indicated parents should follow their children’s 2019-2020 school calendar to determine when the school schedule ends and summer schedule begins.
If you exchange your children at school or after school, communicate with the other parent to find a new agreed upon time and location. If there is no designated time in your parenting plan other than “after school” or “return to school” you may use the approximate time school is released or begins as your new exchange time.
If you feel the other parent is not adequately protecting your children during this pandemic, that in itself is not a basis to withhold parenting time absent an immediate threat to the health or safety of your children. Each parent is to use their best judgment, so long as they are not violating the law. If the circumstances rise to the level of your children’s immediate health or safety being in danger, the Court is permitting emergency motions to be heard. A family law lawyer can help you file and get these motions heard.
Child support must continue to be paid to the extent possible. If a parent is unable to meet their obligations, they may contact the Washington State Division of Child Support. It would also be helpful to contact the other parent to make them aware that a full support payment cannot be made so they can also plan accordingly. Parenting time cannot be withheld from a parent for their failure to pay support.
Facts may vary on a case by case basis so if you have any questions about how to follow your parenting plan, child support order or if you need assistance seeking protective orders or other emergency clarification from the Court, contact a Spokane family law attorney at Feltman Ewing today.
–Kiley Anderson, Attorney at Law