When Exs Disagree About What Covid-19 Safety Standards Children Should Follow

When Exs Disagree About What Covid-19 Safety Standards Children Should Follow


As the coronavirus virus continues to impact the lives of Massachusetts residents, separated parents are facing many new and unprecedented challenges. While many authorities recommend that people stay at home except when performing certain essential activities, children must still move between households. In these situations, it’s common for people to have concerns about how their ex is handling their child’s wellbeing. As a result, it helps for parents to understand how to respond to this challenge.

Discussing Social Distancing Rules with the Other Parent

Unless a court issues an order stating otherwise, many parents in Massachusetts engaged in shared parenting of their child. If the parents have a shared custody arrangement, this means that the parents must consult with one another about substantial decisions for the child which includes issues like medical care and education. In situations where a family has a court order or a parenting plan, parents must follow the terms of these agreements.

If one parent feels uncomfortable about how the other parent is handling the COVID-19 pandemic, they should promptly discuss the matter with their former spouse so an agreement can be reached. Some parents discover that by having calm conversations about what social distancing guidelines the child should follow, the two can reach an agreement. After all, most parents have the child’s best in mind. It is also helpful to remember that many children are scared and uncomfortable about the coronavirus pandemic, and that seeing their parents fight only makes the child more uneasy.

How Massachusetts Courts Resolve COVID-19 Disagreements

When parents cannot agree about COVID-19 guidelines for a child, several possibilities might occur, which include:

  • If a parent has sole legal custody of the child, that parent will likely have the final say on the guidelines that the child follows. Even in these situations, however, the child’s other parent could petition the court to modify a custody order.
  • If the parents share joint legal custody of the child and cannot reach an agreement regarding coronavirus guidelines, there are several options with which the parents might be left. First, the parents might utilize a judge to resolve what is in the best interests of the child. Second, the parents might attempt mediation, which would still require the parents to agree. Third, the parents could pursue arbitration, during which a third party would review the evidence and help the parties come to a decision.
  • If a child is older, a judge might ask the child what type of precautions the child would like to take. The child’s position, however, will be only one of several factors that the judge will consider.

 Speak with an Experienced Western Massachusetts Family Law Attorney

While the coronavirus pandemic has created countless challenges, it is a good idea if you have questions about these situations to retain the assistance of a skilled attorney. Contact the family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Johnson, Sclafani & Moriarty to discuss your needs today.