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Specialty tag(s): Child Custody

How Co-parenting is Affected if a Parent is Potentially Exposed to COVID-19?

Lindsey Obenhaus, Aimee Pingenot Key | April 16, 2020

This is an area where the Texas Supreme Court has not made any specific rulings or guidance for parents. However, individual counties have guidance and direction on exposure. In Dallas County, if a conservator has reason to believe that he/she has been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, that conservator shall notify the other conservator and they shall confer to discuss actions necessary to protect the child’s safety and wellbeing.  In making a decision whether visitation between a parent and a child shall continue, it is best to first confer with the health care provider, if possible, regarding your child and their potential exposure to the virus. If you decide that there is reasonable concern for your child’s safety and welfare making visitation impossible, a parent should employ electronic communication and visitation and also resume visitation as soon as possible after self isolation has ended. Additionally, parents should be prepared to offer and expect makeup time for any missed visitation.

Co-parenting is hard, even in the best of circumstances, and during this time, it is even harder. However, parents should try to be a team in this situation, even if it is difficult. This is not the time to keep a minute accounting of how many overnights the other parent has had or to argue that the current school closures should be treated like summer vacation. The most important priority today is to ensure the safety of your family and the public. Talk through concerns and be open to new arrangements.  Attorneys should encourage parents to keep detailed records, including contact with the other parent in writing (by text or email), explaining what concerns are about the current custody plan in light of exposure, and proposing a reasonable solution. While family law is often contentious, a child should have as much consistency and stability with visitation as possible.

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