No custody or timesharing order anticipates a pandemic. The current situation we all find our selves in is unique. The court and families have no past experience to draw from for this unprecedented situation. If possible, the best approach would be for parties to communicate and attempt to work together to make decisions as to how to protect the health and well-being of their children and families. To help provide some guidance and direction, the Supreme Court of Kentucky has issued an order regarding custody and timesharing during this period.
On March 6, 2020, Governor Beshear entered Executive Order 2020-215. Which declared Kentucky to be in a state of emergency. In response to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Multiple sources, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Federal and State governments, are recommending social distancing as much as possible. And for people to voluntarily quarantine in their homes as much as possible during this time. Which creates a problem for families with shared parenting time. Many parents are now wondering how they should proceed during this period regarding timesharing or visitation with their child’s other parent.
The Supreme Court of Kentucky has issued an order providing some guidance to families under a court ordered custody or parenting schedule on March 27th, 2020. You can find the order by following this link. The Supreme Court of Kentucky states that existing court orders will control, except that some reasonable accommodations shall be made to account for extenuating circumstances related to COVID-19. And provides what circumstances will suspend current parenting time orders as follows:
Specifically, the existing court order shall be considered temporarily modified to suspend parenting time for a period of 14 days for any person who:
- Tests positive for COVID-19 or shares a household with someone who tests positive for COVID-19;
- Has been advised that he or she, or someone with whom he or she shares a household, has possibly been exposed to COVID-19; or
- Has, within the last 14 days, traveled to any area with a CDC Level 2 or 3 Travel Health Notice.
The order goes on to require that any person experiencing the any of the listed issues has a responsibility to notify the other party(ies) as soon as they are aware of the issue.
That the person whose parenting time is suspended shall receive liberal communication with the children via a manner not likely to expose the children to potential illness, i.e. phone, video chat, video call, text or email.
This order does not limit parties ability to alter a custody or parenting time schedule by agreement in any way or for Court to modify their own orders on an emergency basis or otherwise.
This exemption to timesharing is effective until Friday, April 24, 2020 or until further orders of the Court.
This means it is important to try to comply with your current timesharing schedule as much as possible, unless you fall within one of the above exemptions. Even though schools are closed, parties should attempt to maintain normalcy regarding the children’s schedule to the extent possible.
If there is a specific reason you believe a deviation from the current schedule is warranted, it is important to consult with the other party to see if they are in agreement. Disagreements between parties may required you to consult with an attorney for further advice.
If one parent is unable to exercise time with the child(ren) it is important to encourage as much contact as possible through telephone, video chat or call, text or some other electronic manner of communication. It is not beneficial for a child to abruptly stop contact with another parent for an expended period of time, so whatever contact is possible and still maintain the health of the parties involved is recommended.