Parents who have separated face the challenge of protecting their child during COVID-19, while also trying to facilitate visitation. Custodial parents may have safety concerns about their child when they are with the other parent, or the non-custodial parent, especially if that parent is an essential worker and could be exposed to COVID-19. The issue is whether the custodial parent genuinely has safety concerns or is trying to prevent the non-custodial parent from seeing the child.

For example, there is a family court custody case pending in the Bronx where the parents alternate visitation every week, and the child is about two years old. One week the child is in New York with the father, and the other week the child is in Connecticut with the mother. The mother filed an order to show cause saying that the paternal grandmother is a health care worker, and since the child has a heart condition, the child is at risk. The paternal grandmother has not been working since the start of the pandemic, and despite the father telling the mother this, the mother still went ahead and filed an order to show cause. The judge rendered a decision after receiving the order to show cause from the mother, the opposition by the father, and the reply papers from the mother. The judge said visitation will continue where the parents will alternate weeks, and the parents will wear masks and gloves to facilitate the visits. 

Every case is different, and if there are any orders in place regarding custody or visitation, then one should speak with an attorney before denying visitation to the non-custodial parent. Parents should try their best to comply with all orders. If the child has any health concerns, then the parents can try to work out an alternate schedule where the other parent might have visitation on a daily basis with the child via some sort of electronic means like Skype, FaceTime, or any other application the parties agree to, or there can be make up visitation time later on.

Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY divorce and family court attorney. He has over 36 years of legal experience and offers free consultations. You may reach Mr. Lutzky’s office at 718-514-6619. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he is also offering video consultations. For more legal resources related to the pandemic, click here.