This spring is like no other in history, as most businesses and all schools have shut down for the next few weeks to avoid further spread of the COVID-19 virus. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has ordered residents to stay at home, to avoid nonessential shopping and to not visit other family members unless there is an urgent need.
How should co-parents deal with this? Should they continue to share custody as they were before the governor’s order?
Placement schedules for your children are a court order and are not considered the same as voluntarily visiting family. Because Wisconsin residents can still travel, co-parents should continue to follow the court-ordered placement schedule. Unless someone in household or a co-parent is sick,experts from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and Association of Family and Conciliation Courts have reiterated this advice.
Health concerns and placement
If a child or a family member in a household is sick, then it is unwise to transport children from house to house. In such a case as this, safety, reasonableness, and common sense should prevail. It is likely that a court would not approve of a parent disobeying a court order when there is no illness in either household and when that parent is viewed as using the current crisis to change the placement schedule.
However, it also is likely that a court would approve of a parent disobeying a court order if there is a legitimate illness in either household.
As your child likely will be sharing time in both households in the coming weeks, you and your co-parent should be proactive about staying healthy. Agree to encourage lots of handwashing in your households, especially for your children after they use the bathroom and before they eat.
Stay current in the news to remain informed about other health measures you can take.
More than likely, your children will have questions about COVID-19 and may even have fears about its impact. Keep calm while you talk to them about this quarantine time, letting them know keeping a six-foot distance from others is the best way to stop the spread of the virus.
You also can share with them some fun new activities to do together at home, such as puzzles, games or virtual field trips. Further, you can take on a fun service project, such as creating cards for elderly residents in local nursing homes or to bring cheer to health care workers you know.
Remember that if you are a good example to your children, showing them the importance of handwashing and social distancing and finding ways to enjoy this downtime, they are more likely to do the same.