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Parenting Through the COVID-19 Pandemic in Arizona

Posted On March 1, 2021 In Child Support

With life resuming a somewhat more normal course in Arizona, many separated and divorced parents have questions regarding how to co-parent at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Without stay-at-home orders in place, children are back at school and seeing their friends.  Social distancing and hygiene are now playing significant roles for parents who live separately and share children.

For many months during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents had little to no guidance regarding parenting time and visitation schedules.  In an effort to help provide clarity, The Superior Court in Maricopa County issued Family Court Guidelines for Parenting Time of Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic (The Guidelines).  This is an aid to parents for complying with parenting time guidelines during Arizona’s numerous school closures, executive orders, and other logistical challenges.

Guidelines for Parenting Time of Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Maricopa County Superior Court’s Family Court Guidelines for Parenting Time of Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic is for parents who can manage their COVID-19 schedules without disruptive or harmful behavior that requires court intervention to protect the best interest of the parents’ children. 

The following are some of the critical points under The Guidelines:  

  • Parents must comply with any existing parenting time orders unless they agree otherwise or until the orders are modified;
  • COVID-19 is not generally a reason to deny parenting time; and
  • Parents being on the road for the purpose of transporting children under a parenting plan does not violate Arizona Executive Order 2020-18.

The Guidelines also address the following:

  • Spring break, summer break, vacation time, and holidays;
  • What to do in the event a family member is positive for COVID-19;
  • Managing parenting time in public places;
  • Supervised parenting time; and
  • Parenting time exchanges to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Parents should play an active role in creating their own alternative child custody arrangements when practical and are encouraged to do so.  Family courts have a great deal of discretion when making child custody decisions; however, parents know their children and themselves best.

Do Not Deny Court-Ordered Visitation

Although there may be concerns about your co-parent’s home during COVID-19, do not deny court-ordered visitation.  No parent should willfully violate a court order and expose themselves to a contempt citation and sanctions.  Not only will your current actions potentially be before a family court judge for later review, but your child is also watching.  

Your child will remember how you and your co-parent conducted yourselves throughout COVID-19.  Putting your differences aside and working to create the best environment possible for your children during the COVID-19 pandemic teaches your children valuable family and life lessons. 

If you have concerns about your co-parent you wish to address with an experienced Chandler divorce attorney, contact Wilson-Goodman, PLLC.  We can help you obtain temporary child custody orders in emergency situations as well as modify child custody orders where circumstances permit.  Discuss your case with a skilled family law professional today.