Vacation Journey With Your Youngsters Throughout The Pandemic Might Have an effect on Your Custody Case | Fox Rothschild LLP
In general, unless your specific court order prevents out-of-state travel or has other restrictions, either parent can choose to travel on vacation even during the pandemic, whether or not the other parent agrees. However, violations of state travel laws, CDC and state quarantine guidelines, and judicial visiting regulations could potentially affect a custody case. Personal problems can also arise when one parent feels safe traveling by air or international travel and the other parent prefers to stay home and isolate themselves.
The holidays are generally stressful and difficult for children whose parents are separated – the pandemic is not making this holiday season any easier. Many people have not seen their extended families in several months due to the pandemic, and many families are desperately interested in holding traditional, albeit socially distant, gatherings to make the vacation feel more normal. However, more and more states continue to restrict social gatherings and travel restrictions as the holiday season approaches. Public data shows that infections often arise from family gatherings and house parties. Indoor gatherings are considered one of the highest risk activities by the CDC. Despite these statistics, many parents are choosing to travel in the upcoming holiday season, which may have an impact on custody plans.
If you plan to travel with your children on vacation, the main thing to check is that there are quarantine restrictions. For example, if your extended family lives in a state that requires two weeks of quarantine, you likely cannot travel to that state without breaking state law or your court order unless your parental leave allows you two weeks of possession Their children. Even if your state law allows you to travel without additional restrictions, you should test yourself and your children before and after your trip to reduce the risk of family members inadvertently being exposed to the virus. Regardless of your political or personal thoughts about restrictions related to COVID-19, following government guidelines while traveling and attending events during the vacation can minimize or reduce the potential impact on your custody arrangement. As long as a parent follows state guidelines for COVID-19 restrictions, most judges will not change custody decisions to prevent a parent from traveling with the children. Also note that the Texas Supreme Court has orders that in part say the current custody decisions will remain in place even during COVID-19 restrictions.
Several customers have asked if they can travel to visit a family if a family member tests positive for COVID-19 but the two-week quarantine will be over by Thanksgiving or other upcoming holidays. According to CDC guidelines, the person can resume normal activities after the two-week quarantine. Therefore, travel is still technically appropriate in these circumstances. Note that last minute plans can change if other family members are positive on the home test and the quarantine period is extended. Remain vigilant, careful, and do everything in your power to keep yourself, your children, your family, and other parents healthy.
If you are traveling on vacation and are infected with the virus, do not use this as an excuse to keep your child away from the other parent. You need to let the other parent know about the illness, and if the other parent wants to enforce the custody decisions, you need to let the child go to visit. While there are some circumstances in which withholding a child is a justifiable act, you take a risk by not following a court order if you do not let the children go during their court-ordered visiting hours. The risk is that the other parent / legal guardian will file an enforcement motion and you will be despised in court. Alternatively, if the other parent tested positive for the virus after traveling and wants to force a visit, you should try to reach an agreement to make up for the missed visit after that parent has gone through quarantine and / or no longer has symptoms.
While everyone should take extra precautions this year to protect themselves and their families, parents who are involved in conflicting relationships need to be extra careful in their decisions this holiday season. Regardless of your situation, remember that 2020 has been a difficult year for all of us and try not to use COVID-19 or the choices made by the other parents to prevent the children from seeing both parents over the holidays.