Beyond any of our expectations, we have all been dealing with various forms of the covid virus, including the Delta variant and the Omicron variant for almost two years. Fortunately, children are less likely to become seriously ill from the most recent Omicron variant, many parents, especially with those under five or those that do not or cannot get vaccinated continue to have struggles related to exposures, quarantines and co-parenting.
Hopefully, as the experts learn more about covid, we are able to take better precautions, reduce the risk of spread and better and more quickly combat covid when exposure or symptoms are present.
If you are concerned about a covid exposure, covid symptoms or the need to quarantine, what steps should you take as you deal with custody expectations or working within the parameters of your parenting plan?
Generally, the first step, when possible is to rule out covid through testing. There are still non-covid viruses, flus and other illnesses that are going around. However, if your child is exhibiting several of the symptoms of covid, you should hurry them to the doctor and get testing completed. Of course, throughout this process you should keep the other parent apprized of your concerns based on the parameters of your parenting plan. Also, remember that in some situations your child may test negative to covid and then upon a re-test even 24 hours later, he or she will test positive. Beyond that, if your child is ill, regardless of whether they have covid or not, should you deny parenting time? Again, this is a case by case situation, but the mere fact that your child is ill will not be grounds for you to deny parenting time. If there are other factors or concerns, you should carefully discuss these issues with your knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney. While some parents may communicate and elect to allow the child to quarantine with the already-exposed parent and then agree to make-up parenting time at a later time, if the other parent will not agree to this plan, you will generally need to allow the other parent to proceed with his or her scheduled parenting time even though it exposes him or her to the possibility of contracting covid.
Of course, if your child is experiencing the severe symptoms, as with any severe illness, you and the other parent should coordinate taking your child to an urgent care, hospital or other facility. Although you shouldn’t be alarmist, given the seriousness of the covid virus and how rapidly the symptoms can quickly worsen, if you reach the point of concern, you should work together to make sure your child has the health care that he or she needs. The good news is that according to a recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AA)) only approximately 0.1% of all child-related cases resulted in hospitalization for children.
Most importantly, at a time when your child is ill, both parents need to come together to focus on the needs and best interests of the child. Your child being ill is not the time to get into unnecessary custody disputes. If you are facing a difficult situation with your child’s health and need some guidance about how you should address your responsibilities as a co-parent or under a parenting plan, call Pingel Family Law today at (816) 208-8130 to schedule a consultation so we can educate you on our experiences with the court in addressing covid-related needs of children.