How Do the COVID-19 Restrictions Affect Parenting Time and Child Support?

COVID -19 is sending the world into a state of panic and distress, Indiana recently joined other States in releasing a Stay at Home Order. Are you wondering how this Order affects your Parenting Time and Child Support?

The State of Indiana released on Monday 23rd of 2020 a Stay at Home Order. The Order states for all Hoosiers to remain at home unless it is for an essential reason. “Essential Activities” are defined as activities for the purpose of: health and safety, necessary supplies and services, outdoor activities, certain types of work, to take care of others, healthcare and public operations, etc.

Section E, to take care of others, states: to care for a family member, friend, or pet in another household, and to transport family members, friends, or pets as allowed by this Executive Order. Meaning you are still allowed and encouraged to practice your parenting time as stated in your agreement.

Dealing With Social Distancing & Shared Custody

Are you worried for your child’s safety and want to practice social distancing? When practicing social distancing this does not mean keeping your child away from there other parent, you are still required under this executive order to allow your child to see the other parent. The harm to your child is no greater than taking your child to the store or going to the store yourself.  The idea behind the Executive Order is to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help end the state of distress the World is in. The world is scared, you are scared and your children are terrified. Children do not understand what is happening, they do not understand why all of sudden they are not allowed to go to school or why they are not able to see their friends or family.

One way to help ease your children’s mind is to help create a sense of normality. One way to do this is to keep the routine of your parenting time intact and the same as it was before COVID-19.

Are you worried about a child or a family/household member with an auto-immune disease? The Judges will be looking to the medical professionals for help with this answer.  However, if the child or someone in the other parent’s household is not compromised then the child should still travel to and from both parents’ households as stated in the order controlling your parenting time.

What happens if your child is exercising parenting time with the non-custodial parent and additional restrictions are put into place?

Depending on the language of any restrictions, the child ought to be returned home, if feasible.  However, if a parent misses parenting time they should be granted make up parenting time. Parents are encouraged to use technology and allow the child/children to have contact with the other parent. They are encouraged to use Facetime, Skype, any form of communication as it is in the best interest of the child to remain in contact with both households.

E-Learning is on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the kids are out of school on Tuesday and Thursday, what does that mean for our parenting time? You should not change your parenting time regardless of whether the kids have E-learning that day or not.

What happens if one parent works in the medical field or is a first-responder, can you hold your kid hostage from that spouse? No, it is still not in the best interest of the child to withhold them from the other parent based on their jobs. If the parent are in those fields and feel they have been exposed to COVID-19 or feel the child will not be safe with them, then they should offer their time to the other parent, and when they feel it is safe again with them the Parent in those professions should be offered make up time.

What happens to you if you have a child support order and loose your job and cannot make those payments right now?

The courts prefer you to file a Motion to Modify Child Support which would protect you when the madness of COVID-19 is over. If the other person in your parenting scenario tries to file contempt against you for not paying child support, the court is going to look at your specific financial situation.  If your job has been terminated or you have been laid off, and you do not have the funds to pay support, the courts will consider the situation that caused the inability to pay support. Some courts are interpreting the orders to say that child support may be tolled, meaning it is on hold.  This does not mean that you do not owe the duty of support, it just means that if you cannot pay due to this unprecedented situation, you may not be found in contempt.  If you have the funds and are not paying, you will still be liable for that support obligation, and the courts will likely hold you in contempt if you had the ability to pay.

The important thing to remember during this time is not to try to take advantage of the co-parent.  If the judges later discover you have taken advantage of this situation, they will likely not respond favorably.  This is a time that all parents need to step back and put themselves in the other parent’s shoes.  Exercising patience and grace is extremely important, and will serve your children well.

All families are different.  If you are questioning any of these issue or if you feel the co-parent in your life is trying to abuse the situation or if you are concerned with what is going on in your particular circumstances, you should reach out to an attorney to determine how we can help get your issues in front of a judge.  The courts are still issuing orders, and legal professionals are an essential business.  The courts want to help parties navigate these situations and provide guidance.

Contact Our Attorneys

This post is intended to provide general information on the basic concerns and questions regarding COVID-19, please contact the experienced attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC. at (317) 870-0019 or email us at info@banksbrower.com for a free initial consultation to determine how we can help.