Even with stay-at-home orders in place due to COVID-19, divorced parents in IL need to follow their agreed-upon custody agreements and court orders, yet there may be times when custody arrangements need adjustment due to the pandemic and the risk it creates. Understanding their rights and obligations even in these unusual times will help parents make wise choices as they protect their parenting relationship and their children’s health.
Following Parent Plans
During the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, parents are still required to follow their parenting agreements. Driving children to the other parent’s home or a meeting place is considered essential travel and is not subject to the stay-at-home rules. Parents who typically have their parenting time in a public place, like a park or restaurant, that is closed still need their parenting time, but may need to find alternative meeting locations during the closures. Some will need the help of their divorce lawyers to find a place to meet.
Protect Parenting Rights and Health
During the COVID-19 pandemic, parents have to find a balance between protecting parenting rights and protecting a child’s health. If one of the parents is sick, for example, the parents should work out an agreement that allows the child to stay in the other parent’s home until the illness has passed. If one parent is at high risk due to being a front-line worker, the other parent may wish to request temporary changes to the custody agreement. Keeping lines of communication with the other parent and any divorce lawyers in the case will help.
Dealing with Closed Courts
One problem parents have faced during the pandemic is the closure of Illinois courts for all but emergency measures. This has created problems when a parent wishes a change to the custody arrangement in light of the pandemic. One option some parents have chosen is to do mediation through divorce lawyers offering a virtual mediation service. This helps parents work out their concerns and demands in a safe environment, with the help of a neutral mediator, when the courts are not available.
Learning to Compromise
While some parents may want a different custody arrangement in light of the pandemic, they are also learning to compromise and work together more to create mutually beneficial agreements. The global issues surrounding the coronavirus crisis have caused many people to perform introspection, and parents realize that if they got sick, they would need their child’s other parent to help.