TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Navigating child custody can already be a tough and confusing process for parents, but now there is even more stress.
Co-parenting during the coronavirus outbreak is uncharted territory for families across Southern Arizona.
The KOLD NEWS 13 Fact Finders team received a number of emails asking about custody orders and planned exchanges that all went back to one main question: Will anything keep me from driving my child to his or her other guardian if we share custody?
The answer is no — at least right now.
The Arizona Superior Court of Pima County urges parents to follow existing parenting plans as closely as possible. According to guidelines, parents must comply with any existing parenting time orders unless they agree otherwise, or until the orders are modified.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is not generally a reason to deny parenting time.”
Currently, there are no executive orders that limit travel for parenting time exchanges, so you will not be stopped for doing so. However, if those exchanges are usually scheduled for public parks or restaurants, you want to remember there may be restrictions for access.
Experts say it is best to try to work with your child’s other guardian and compromise with an agreement that has a few slight adjustments.
“Another key piece that’s helping parents reach agreement, especially when parenting time is going 100-percent to one is an agreement on make-up time for the other parent. So, parents who have equal time, a parent is taking 100-percent of it, they are agreeing that ‘ok, when things normalize, the parent that is having less time will get more time than usual in the summer. Will get spring or fall break next year.’ This is some of the things parents are investigating,” said Michael Aurit, a professional mediator and professor at Arizona State University.
According to the Pima County Family Court guidelines, parents should consider agreeing to modify existing order temporarily including whether to suspend parenting time for a period of 14 day for any person who:
- Tests positive for COVID-19 or shares a household with someone tests positive.
- Has been advised by governmental officials that the parent, or someone the parents shares a household, has been exposed to COVID-19.
- Has traveled internationally within the last 14 days, consistent with the CDC’s Global COVID-19 Pandemic Notice.
The Court is available to hear essential matters, including entering new orders in emergency situations. If both parents cannot decide on a revised parenting time plan, and one of you believes an adjustment is necessary, you may consider filing a request for a temporary modification with the Court under Rule 48, ARFLP.
- Switch schedules to limit travel time.
- Have one parent act as “teacher” while the other works, if only one parent is deemed essential.
- Use Facetime and Skype for more one-on-one time.
- Stay structured and positive.
- Keep calm and manage stress.
You can submit a question for the KOLD News 13 Fact Finders here.