Parenting During COVID-19 FAQ

We understand this is an unusual time in our history.  We are writing FAQ’s as we receive questions.  Please keep those questions coming in and we will do our best to respond.  This article  that may help you as well.  Remember that we are all in this together, so please try to be patient with one another and work together as much as you can.

What happens if the other parent works or lives in a high risk (of infection) workplace?

Our Chief Justice has spoken to this issue to remind us that parenting time is not suspended during COVID-19.  If the other parent works in a high risk environment, communication is key.  Keep in touch with that parent to see if s/he has been exposed to the virus, has symptoms, etc. in order to assess whether parenting time is safe.  If you determine together that parenting time should not happen, make sure to re-schedule that time later, have extra parent communication during the absence (phone, facetime, etc.) and do all that you can to have that parent as present as possible during the absence.

What are my rights if the other parent refuses to allow me to see my child?

Currently the Court is closed to all matters other than very specific emergencies.  A contempt filed for refusal of parenting time would not fall into that category.  Therefore, all matters filed now, or later, regarding these matters will be processed and heard after May 1.  First, communicate with the other parent.  Second, try to re-schedule at another time.  Third, request additional contact via phone, email, facetime, etc. (dependent on age of child).  Fourth, consider involving an attorney to mediate the issue and see whether an agreement can be made regarding parenting time.  Finally, if all these method fail, keep track of all communications, refusals, etc. for a contempt action when court resumes.

What if we have to go to court and the courts are closed?

All matters scheduled between closure and May 1 will automatically be taken off the list and later, rescheduled.  You will receive a notice that states your matter is re-scheduled but no date will be assigned until the court resumes.   Until you are assigned  a new hearing date, do not go to the court.

If your matter is an “emergency,” which is specifically defined currently by a new Standing Order, you can appropriately file and present to the Court. Note that for now, the court is closed to the public.  All filings must be hand-delivered outside the building and considered by the Judge within.  If an order is more, or a hearing is granted, the court will then issue the appropriate documentation (as the party waits outside the building).  If you find yourself in an emergency situation, contact counsel to navigate this process.  For more information on this process, click here: https://www.mass.gov/probate-and-family-court-rules/probate-and-family-court-standing-order-2-20-court-operations-under

 

My ex works in a high risk workplace in the medical field.  I do NOT work in a high risk field.  I do not travel and I work in an office with only 3 people.  I know work at home.  However, my ex refuses to allow our child to stay with me during this time and says she would rather our daughter stay with his sister.  How do I fight this?

Your ex’s sister is not part of this equation and thus, this is not a viable option.  Our Chief Justice has spoken to this issue to remind us that parenting time is not suspended during COVID-19.   That said, if the other parent works in a high risk environment, that alone will not necessarily mandate suspension of parenting time.  If s/he is exposed to the virus, or has symptoms, you should discuss alternate parenting time until his/her good health is assured. Communication is key.  Keep in touch with that parent to see if s/he has been exposed to the virus, has symptoms, etc. in order to assess whether parenting time is safe.  If you determine together that parenting time is unsafe, make sure to re-schedule that time later, have extra parent communication during the absence (phone, facetime, etc.) and do all that you can to have that parent as present as possible during the absence.  If the other party will not agree to your demand that the children stay with you, you cannot use “self-help” by refusing parenting time.  Instead, consider involving an attorney to mediate the issue and see whether an agreement can be made regarding parenting time.

I cannot work during this time.  What do I do about child support? Alimony?

All orders remain in full force and effect.  Do your best to pay support as ordered.  Communicate with the other party 1) so that s/he is aware of the issue 2) to work together on solutions 3) to discuss re-payment of support later when work resumes 4) to discuss ways to cut costs together at this time.  File for relief from the Court (but understand that these matters will not be addressed until the court re-opens in May).

 

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