The COVID-19 Pandemic has created a unique set of circumstances for us all, and especially for those who are co-parenting. In the midst of quarantining and Shelter-In-Place orders, it is important to understand how co-parenting is affected. It is COMPLETELY normal for co-parents to have questions and concerns about how to handle exchanging children and addressing parenting time during these unprecedented times.
Yu Family Law is here to help! We are addressing many of the common questions surrounding co-parenting through the COVID-19 pandemic and are available via phone or email to answer any additional questions you may have!
Is your Ex/Co-Parent considered “essential”?
YES! After the initial Shelter-in-Place Order, the Governor entered a second Order on April 3, 2020 regarding exchanging Children that indicates that parenting time exchanges are required per your Custody and Parenting Plans already in place. The Executive Order specifies that the Shelter-in-Place Orders do NOT serve as a defense to withhold your children.
See below for a brief history and summary of the relevant Orders and mandates in place with links to find copies of the Orders.
Do we exchange the children during COVID-19?
YES! Unless there is a very good reason not to.
Your children have two homes and should be able to shelter in place at both homes.
What is considered a “very good reason” not to exchange the children?
Call Yu Family Law and let’s talk about it. There are several potential “very good” reasons not to exchange the children, HOWEVER – very few factors stand in isolation and, in law, “it (always) depends.”
- A parent or someone in their household is not following social distancing principles;
- A parent or someone in their household is in the medical field and has to go into work;
- You live with someone who is particularly at risk;
- The methods involved with exchanging your Child are too risky like flying or other public transportation required (I do not even like Uber/Lyft right now)
Do NOT take it upon yourself to decide if you have a “very good” reason to withhold your children from your co-parent. Each situation is different, and we highly encourage you to seek legal advice that pertains to your specific situation. If you do not allow parenting time to proceed as stated in your Court Order, you are in fact acting in violation of a Court Order and it is extremely important that you talk to Emily about this!
What if we cannot exchange the Children?
Discuss make-up time and be fair. Agree to the idea of it now and agree to amicably and cooperatively address the details later. Trying to figure out how the make-up time will look now and when it will happen is a futile task until things simmer down. This is the time for you and your co-parent to agree to work together and figure it out. If you have agreed not to exchange your children and to have make-up time, be prepared that the make-up time should be the same number of days missed as much as possible.
How do I co-parent during COVID-19?
Peacefully, patiently and with kindness. If communication and co-parenting was difficult prior to COVID-19, I send love and prayers to you because I know it is particularly challenging now. In your moments of frustration, try to remember that everyone is a stressed version of themselves right now and show grace to yourself and your co-parent. Remember, last time/next time, it was you who was stressed and about to say something crazy! Refer to my Emotional Tool Kit blog and find things to help. If nothing else, count to 10 (not just 3, and note that some things may make you count to 50+)
What should I do next?
If you have not done so already, stop and talk now about how COVID-19 is impacting routines and practices in both of your homes. There is a lot to discuss and these can be tough conversations, particularly for a family with communication challenges already.
Secure a third party or mediator if necessary. The conversations are important enough to warrant one! Emily is a Mediator and is available to help your family navigate these communication challenges. You can call us to schedule a mediation anytime, or, call me and let’s discuss how you can handle that conversation.
We highly encourage you to follow the CDC guidelines – found Here. Remember that we are learning more every day and things will change. Bookmark the page now and make sure to refer back to it often.
Contact Yu Family Law!
If you are concerned that you must withhold the children (possibly because your ex/co-parent or others in their household are being exposed), or your ex/co-parent is withholding them and using this Order and COVID-19 as the reason, call Yu Family Law and let’s discuss your options. To contact Yu Family Law or schedule a consultation, visit our Contact Information page.
History and Orders in Place
For reference, we have also included a brief history on the timeline of the Governor’s Orders, as well as links to county-specific Orders. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Yu Family Law should you need any additional COVID-19 co-parenting resources!
- On March 14, 2020 the State of Georgia declared a public health emergency due to the Coronavirus, COVID-19. Schools begin to close temporarily.
- Two weeks later, on April 2, 2020, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued a temporary Shelter-in-Place Order to remain in your home until April 13, 2020. here.
- The next day, on April 3, 2020, Governor Kemp expanded upon the Executive Order , found here, and specifically stated that all previous Court Orders and obligations, including custodial arrangements, be followed.
- Note – many of the Georgia Superior Courts have released Judicial Orders for their counties that indicate that parenting time should continue to occur and should follow a school calendar even though school is not in session now.
County-Specific Orders for the Metro Atlanta area