Do I send my kids to the other parent’s house during the pandemic? This is one of the most common questions arising during the Stay At Home mandate. The reasons why a parent will ask are many including:

How do I know the other parent is practicing proper social distancing?

How do I know if they are cleaning everything they bring in the house?

How do I know the other parent is not incubating the virus without symptoms?

I have elderly parents living with me and can’t take a chance my children bring home the virus.

I have immune deficiencies and can’t take a chance the children bring home the virus.

The other parent is a first responder or health care professional or is still working in an “essential business”.

While I have not yet seen a New York written decision on this subject, the general guidelines are that Parenting Orders/Agreements should be followed absent a specific real threat. While no attorney can decipher whether the other parent poses a transmission threat, the courts expect parents to use good judgment. If visitation is denied, at a minimum there should be Facetime, Skype or Zoom time for the child and the parent without supervision unless the child is too young. Phone calls should be freely permitted.

A New York Judge wrote an article stating that if parents think that their conduct will not later be reviewed when the courts re-open they are mistaken. The Judge said that in deciding custody the court will look at behavior of the parents while they have a pending case and are under the supervision of a judge compared to how they behave were the case concluded. So if you exhibit bad behavior and improperly withhold the children it will be a major factor in determining custody. One of the most important things a parent can do under normal circumstances is to make sure the children have a good relationship with the other parent. Interference with the relationship can indicate that the custodial parent is not a good custodial parent.

If you have doubts as to what the right thing to do is you should speak with an experienced matrimonial attorney. Likewise, if you are being denied parenting time you should also contact an experienced matrimonial attorney.