Does Summer Parenting Time Begin if my Child’s Schooling is Shifted to At-Home?
My custody agreement says that we are to go to a week on/week off schedule once school is out of session. The state has canceled all on-campus learning for the remainder of the year, but we are still doing schoolwork at home. Should we go to the one week on/one week off schedule now?
I do not practice law in your state. Therefore, I cannot inform you as to the specific laws of your state, but I can provide you with general tips for this sort of issue.
This issue has come up in Tennessee, as many parents have wanted to begin their summer parenting schedule now that school has been canceled and/or has reverted to remote learning for the duration of the school year. I can only provide context based on what our judges in Tennessee have said.
Judges in Tennessee have laid down a very specific order to address this question. They have ordered that the parents follow the original school calendar to guide them for a;l residential time with the children. If school originally was scheduled to be dismissed for summer vacation in June and the summer parenting plan is ordered to begin upon said dismissal, then the parents are to begin their summer parenting schedule when school originally was determined to be dismissed for summer vacation. The same would apply to other school holidays and/or breaks.
I would encourage all parents to review any and all orders that have been entered by their state and/or local judges, as well as other executive orders entered by governors, mayors, etc. Sometimes, these orders can be difficult to locate, and if you have any problems finding the answers to these questions, please contact an attorney in your area for guidance. Further, it would be a good idea for all parents to print out a copy of their children’s school calendars for the current school year and next school year, as these issues may not have completely subsided by the start of the 2020-21 school year in all states.
It also is a good idea to review the parental exchange provisions in your parenting plan. Many parenting plans dictate that exchanges will occur at school (i.e. receiving parent shall pick up the minor children from school at the beginning of his or her parenting time). Provisions like these, in a perfect world, will have a provision that accommodates exchanges when the children are not at school. However, we do not live in a perfect world, so many times, we will find that there is not language that addresses such issues. In these cases, I would recommend filing a motion with the court to address exchanges if they do become an issue.
If you are having a dispute of when the summer parenting schedule should begin, or any other issues regarding custodial matters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I encourage you to consult an attorney, if you cannot resolve the issue amicably with the other parent. Even if you do have an amicable relationship with the other parent but want some peace of mind, knowing that you are in compliance with court orders, attorneys are more than happy to assist and guide you through these matters.