As the COVID-19 virus crisis continues, residents throughout the United States are practicing social distancing. While it won’t eliminate the virus completely, it can help slow its spread, reduce strain on the medical system, and help doctors contain the illness that has already claimed thousands of lives.
There’s little debate: social distancing is one of the most important safety practices that all Americans should follow right now. However, what happens when parents wish to protect their children through social distancing, but they have a court-ordered custody agreement to follow?
Social Distancing & Massachusetts Custody Agreements
Currently, parents in Massachusetts who share custody of children must follow their agreements. If they don’t, they could be held in contempt. In a comment to WFXT, one frustrated mother expressed her concern about following a custody agreement during the COVID-19 crisis. “How do I morally send my child into this world when we’re being told the complete opposite?” she said.
The Essex County mother, who wished to remain anonymous, isn’t just concerned about her daughter contracting COVID-19; she’s worried about her bringing the virus home with her after visits to her father. “It’s upsetting that I’m being forced to be put in this situation where I have to put my family in harm’s way,” she said.
WFXT spoke to Attorney Andy Miller to find out how parents can work through this issue. He encouraged parents sharing custody to communicate their concerns to each other and try harder than ever to work together.
“These are—in effect—these are orders and they haven’t been suspended,” Miller commented. “Rather than just coming at it as ‘I don’t want you to see our child’ I would strongly encourage, ‘Can we have a discussion about this?’”
Currently, it’s crucial for parents to obey the terms of their child custody agreement. However, it’s also critical to communicate effectively and prioritize safety. During these uncertain times, the best we can do is work together and find a way to slow the spread of this dangerous disease.
Are Massachusetts Family Courts Open During the Coronavirus Crisis?
Currently, Massachusetts courts are frozen to typical business. They’re currently hearing only the most important cases in a limited capacity. As a result, courts will have a backlog in cases that will continue to cause a delay until long after they resume hearings as usual.
“We need to differentiate between hypothetical risk and real risk. The courts are not closed but they’re only hearing really significant emergencies,” Attorney Miller concluded.
If you have questions about your Massachusetts child custody order during the COVID-19 crisis or need help with any family law matter, call Miller Law Group, P.C. now at (508) 502-7002.