On April 24, 2020, Governor Whitmer extended the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, and she may do so again. Without a clear end in sight and without knowing how the new normal will look, questions continue to arise regarding custody and parenting time. One of the most common questions is whether parents are required to follow their existing parenting time orders. The Michigan Supreme Court issued a statement reminding parents that all court orders regarding custody, parenting time and child support are still in force, and parents should continue to follow their court order.
While the COVID-19 outbreak is not an excuse for denying parenting time, there may be situations that will necessitate parents to set aside their differences and work together to reach an agreement regarding what is best for their children and the safety for their families. If someone in either parent’s household has been diagnosed and/or exposed to the virus, parents are urged to work together to make alternative arrangements to safeguard all involved. One option could be for parents to mutually agree, in writing, to a temporary modification to their current schedule with a provision that once the Stay-Home, Stay Safe Order is lifted and parenting time resumes, the parent who missed parenting time is provided with make-up time. Be specific and state what the make-up time will consist of as this may help you and the other parent reach an agreement more easily, especially in cases where parents have more difficulty co-parenting.
If you have a situation in which you or someone in your household is in a high-risk category for COVID-19, or if you believe the other parent or someone in that parent’s household has been exposed and you cannot reach an agreement with the other parent , you should seek legal advice or file an emergency motion. Remember, parents are required to follow court orders, but parents also have a responsibility to keep their children safe.
If you need to help with a custody or parenting time situation, please contact me at 248-647-7900.