The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people on a global scale, from China to Italy to the United States, as well as many other countries. This novel (new) coronavirus is highly contagious and results in respiratory illness that can range from mild to life-threatening. Those who have pre-existing medical conditions or who are over the age of 65 are reportedly at a higher risk of fatalities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is aggressively responding to the worldwide outbreak of the virus, with updates and guidelines for citizens to follow. Some of these directives include isolation or quarantine orders if someone tests positive for the virus. During this unsettling time, parents who are divorced may be worried how it will affect their parenting plans.
Illinois’ Response to Coronavirus
Here in Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker and his administration are committed to the health and safety of citizens across the state. In an effort to flatten the curve on the number of new cases, Pritzker issued a “stay at home” order that began March 21 and tentatively runs through April 7. This means that all “non-essential” businesses are closed, including schools, restaurants (dine-in service), bars, casinos, shopping malls, salons, and more. Students are doing online schooling and people who can work from home are doing so. Government offices, medical facilities, gas stations, and grocery stores are still open. Health and county officials are urging people everywhere to practice social distancing. This means keeping six feet away from others and refraining from large gatherings or traveling unless absolutely necessary.
Child-Related Issues Amidst the Outbreak
In an Illinois divorce, one parent is typically awarded the majority of the parental responsibilities (child custody). The non-custodial parent has designated parenting time (visitation), which is outlined in a parenting plan. This document is basically a schedule of when the children are with which parent. For example, some parents alternate weeks or weekends and holidays. However, what happens when the kids are off school for a prolonged period of time, such as during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Regardless of the schedule that has been put in place, the children may have to stay with the parent who is able to work from home. The other parent should be flexible and allow for a temporary change in the normal routine, especially if he or she has a job that requires him or her to still go into an office. This is a temporary situation, so both parents should work together to ease the anxiety the kids may be feeling during this disruption in routine.
Transporting children to/from parenting time is considered essential travel under the governor’s order. Therefore, parents should continue to follow their court-ordered visitation time unless a child or a parent is showing symptoms of the virus as described by the CDC. Keeping children safe during this health crisis should be both parents’ main priority. If one parent is infected with the virus, he or she should not be demanding parenting time as a precaution so as to avoid exposing anyone to the infection. Staying in touch via FaceTime or video conferencing apps can still allow everyone to “see” each other and alleviate some of the stress during this difficult time.
Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer
As a divorced parent, you may be wondering the best way to handle parenting time during this unprecedented time in our nation’s history. The seasoned law firm of Weiler & Lengle P.C. has guided thousands of clients through the legal process of getting a divorce and all the decisions that come with it. Our skilled Kane County child custody attorneys will safeguard your rights during the COVID-19 crisis and throughout the proceedings. To schedule a private consultation, call us today at 630-382-8050.