Co-Parenting in Covid-19
Do I Have to Follow My Parenting Plan During The Stay Home Order?
If your parenting plan does not address how visitation will be managed in an international health crisis you are not alone. Single parents across Washington State have several questions about what Proclamation 20-25, also known as Stay Home-Stay Healthy, means for them. We are here to help you break down what that order, and subsequent Child Visitation Proclamation 20-33.
In an attempt to stem the spread of Covid-19, Stay Home-Stay Healthy directs residents to remain at home except to conduct or participate in essential activities, and/or for employment in essential business services. Proclamation 20-25 provides examples of essential activities and essential business activities, but unfortunately for families it did not expressly speak to parenting plans. There is language in section (1)(a)(3) that suggests that parenting plans should be followed (essential activities include transporting a family member, friend or their pet for essential activities), but it certainly provides for a broad range of interpretation.
Luckily, on March 26, 2020 the Governor issued Proclamation 20-33, which specifically addresses parenting plans. Under this Proclamation, Inslee made clear that the provisions of Stay Home – Stay Healthy were not intended to “prevent compliance with a private parenting plan.” Accordingly, it would seem that Inslee’s Stay Home – Stay Safe directives do not automatically put parenting plans on hold.
What if my child is at risk?
As with all rules, there may be some exceptions to following parenting plans during this crisis. If one parent has serious and legitimate concerns regarding potential exposure during visitation, and they have not been able to work it out with the other parent, it may be best to consult an attorney for guidance.
What happens if I don’t follow my parenting plans during the Stay Home order?
As of this writing, most county-level courts in Washington are still open, and cases are still being heard telephonically or without oral argument. Failure to comply with a parenting plan is something that may be addressed through legal action. Each case is different, and depending on the Court’s decision the offending party may be required to pay attorney’s fees, provide make-up parenting time to the other side, and be subject to other penalties as the court sees fit which can include jail time. If you or your ex has willfully violated a parenting plan for any reason, or are contemplating doing so, it may be time to seek counsel from an attorney.
These are difficult and confusing times. Hopefully, they will pass just as swiftly as they came upon us. In the meantime, we wish you and your loved ones health, safety and peace. If you have more questions about parenting during the crisis, please contact our office for an appointment.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided above is intended to be a general discussion of common Parenting Plan issues during the Stay Home-Stay Healthy order, and is not intended to be taken as specific legal advice that applies to your individual fact situation. Always seek legal counsel for advice on your unique case needs.