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WHAT WILL THE NEW JERSEY FAMILY COURT CONSIDER WHEN GRANTING OR DENYING PARENTING TIME DURING COVID-19?

 

covid19Are you concerned about the safety of your child during parenting time?

During this more than troubling time, where it feels like there is no safe shelter from the Corona Virus, all parents are having extreme concerns about the safety of their children, and their other family members, when it comes to whether a child should be transferred between homes for court ordered parenting time.

If you are having any questions or concerns about exposing your child to the virus by way of permitting parenting time, or whether you have questions or concerns about not being permitted to have parenting time with your child because of the other parent’s claims of possible exposure, you are not alone.        The law is clear that the existence of the pandemic, in and of itself, is not grounds to suspend parenting time in New Jersey.  However, this does not mean that the courts will permit all parenting time in cases where a child’s exposure to the Corona Virus is higher than the average circumstance.  Every case with respect to parenting time that comes before the court will be taken on a case by case basis, depending on the facts of the case.

What do I do if I feel it is necessary to suspend parenting time because I am deeply concerned about my child’s exposure to the virus as a result of the specific circumstances surrounding my child’s  other parent?

While there are no definitive answers from the courts which apply to every case across the board, it is evident that the courts will examine the risks that the other parent poses to your child when determining if parenting time with that parent should continue. For example:

  • Was the other parent exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with the virus?
  • Has the parent recently traveled outside of the country?
  • Do you or the other parent or your child have a weakened immune system?
  • Do you or the other parent live with an elderly family member?
  • Does the other parent live with another family member who has been exposed to someone with the virus?

These questions, and many more, should be answered and will be considered by the court when determining whether to suspend, continue or perhaps modify the existing pre-COVID-19 parenting time.

What if you are a parent who is worried that your parenting time will be suspended as a result of the Corona (COVID-19) Virus?

As noted above, the current law is clear that the existence of the Corona virus (COVID-19) itself cannot be used to prohibit a parent from having court ordered parenting time.  Unfortunately, we have seen it repeatedly now in some contested cases where a parent inexcusably attempts to manipulate the widespread fear regarding the Corona Virus as a means to unjustly withhold parenting time from a parent without any just cause.

If there is a parent seeking to deny you parenting time based on a general, non-specific threat of exposure to your child, you want to be able to demonstrate that:  (i)  you have not come into contact with anyone exposed to the Corona virus; (ii) you have not traveled outside of the United States; and (iii) that you and your household and living arrangements ultimately pose no more threat to your child in terms of exposure to the Corona Virus than the other parent poses to your child.  Moreover, even if some modicum of exposure exists, you would want to demonstrate to the court that any minimal chance of exposure is far outweighed by the benefit of you and your child being able to continue parenting time during this pandemic.

Whether you find yourself in any of the above situations, or whether you simply have questions about what to do moving forward with respect to divorce, custody, or parenting time during this time of a national and global pandemic, we encourage you to seek the legal advice of the experienced custody and parenting time attorneys at Goldstein Law Group, LLC.   Please contact Mark Goldstein, Esq. or one of the other four experienced attorneys on our team here at Goldstein Law Group, at 732-967-6777 for a free pGOLDSTEIN-MARK-VLF15367P5_pprt_web-1-scaledhone or video conference to discuss your matter or, please  complete the form on this page to contact us by email.   Please stay safe!

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