By: Jaclyn Taylor
April 29, 2020
Amidst a global pandemic, we find ourselves living in a unique, uncertain, and unprecedented time. Schools are operating remotely, businesses are temporarily closed, and everyone is strongly encouraged not to exit the confines of their home. The courts within the Commonwealth of Kentucky are closed until at least May 31, 2020, with the exception of emergency matters. The many things currently going on in today’s society affects each person differently, however, if you are divorced and co-parenting under a court ordered custody arrangement and parenting schedule, there are many specific questions that may arise in trying to communicate about and physically exchange children.
Do my co-parent and I follow our current order for custody and parenting time?
Yes! The Supreme Court says that your current order controls unless a reasonable accommodation is required as a result of the extenuating circumstances caused by or related to COVID-19.
What happens if myself or my co-parent or someone in his or her household tests positive for COVID-19?
Parenting time is entirely suspended for that co-parent for a period of 14 days, however, the co-parent should be given liberal communication with the children during this time.
What happens if there are reasonable grounds to believe that myself, my co-parent, or someone in his or her household was exposed to COVID-19?
Parenting time is entirely suspended for that co-parent for a period of 14 days and the co-parent should be given liberal communication with the children during this time. However, it cannot be assumed that someone who is deemed an essential worker, such as a health care professional, has automatically been exposed to the virus due to the nature of their job. More specificity is needed prior to a change in your parenting schedule.
Is our parenting schedule affected if myself or my co-parent travels outside of the state for any reason?
Yes! Parenting time of the traveling party is entirely suspended for a period of 14 days with the opportunity for liberal communication with the children. However, the travel must have been to an area designated by the CDC as a Level 2 or 3 Travel Notice. There are limited exceptions for those traveling short distances for work or to help others.
My co-parent is an essential worker and is concerned that he or she will unduly expose our children to the virus if we exercise our current parenting schedule. May we agree on a different interim parenting schedule arrangement?
Yes! Feel free to alter your current parenting schedule so long as you both AGREE to do so, and the agreement is evidenced in WRITING in some shape or form. The basis for the agreement could be that one parent is an essential worker and fears exposing the children to the virus or that children are out of school and doing their work through a remote learning platform. Either way, both parties must be completely on board with changing the schedule.
Because the courts have not encountered a scenario remotely close to COVID-19, many questions remain unanswered, specifically in how the rules issued by the Kentucky Supreme Court apply to individual facts and circumstances. For more specific legal advice, please call (859) 322-5550 to set up a consultation. In the meantime, please try your best to stay safe at home.
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