Your child might get sick when they are supposed to spend time with their other parent, as outlined in your parenting schedule. But if they’re not feeling well, do you still have to send them for visitation?
The answer to that question isn’t straightforward.
Many factors must be considered, such as the severity of the illness, when deciding whether to send your child with their other parent. At this time, communication between you and your child’s other parent is critical. Their other parent needs to know what’s going on and be involved in the decision-making.
You might agree that temporarily changing the visitation schedule is in your child’s best interests. But if their other parent is denied parenting time because of your child’s illness, you may need to plan for them to make up for missed visitation.
When Illness Affects the Visitation Schedule
Your parenting time plan lays down the schedule for when your child will be with you and their other parent. Generally, the arrangement helps avoid conflicts, as each parent knows what’s expected. However, if it doesn’t contain contingencies concerning situations when your child is sick yet they are supposed to be with their other parent, confusion may arise.
You might feel that it would be unfair to your child to make them go somewhere else when they are not feeling well. Although this is a valid concern, deciding on your own to withhold visitation because of an illness may be considered a violation of your visitation schedule.
If the court signed off on your parenting time plan, you must adhere to the terms. That means allowing your child’s other parent to have access to your child on the designated dates and times. Failing to comply with the visitation order can result in legal consequences. If you alone decide to keep your child at your home because of their illness, your child’s other parent may file a motion to enforce parenting time.
That said, you are not without options for temporarily stopping visitation while your child recovers from their illness.
Not All Illnesses Will Warrant Cancelling Parenting Time
Before deciding whether you should temporarily change visitation, you must consider how severe your child’s illness is. A minor condition, such as a cold or sinus infection, might not justify denying parenting time. However, a more severe sickness may be cause to keep them in your home rather than making them change locations.
So how do you know whether your child’s illness is serious enough to affect visitation?
According to the California Courts, one question you can ask is, “Would I send my child to school while they’re feeling this way?” If the answer is yes, your child is also well enough to send them for visitation. Still, as the Courts recognize, applying this question doesn’t always clear things up. It can be difficult to determine whether your child’s illness is severe enough to keep them from going to school.
You may also need to consider other factors, such as:
- Whether your child feels like they are up to going to their other home.
- What the doctor recommends concerning your child’s care.
- What rights and responsibilities your child’s other parent has in caring for your sick child.
Communicating with Your Child’s Other Parent Is Critical
If you don’t feel your child is well enough to send them for visitation, you must discuss the situation with your child’s other parent. They have the right to know about any illness your child is suffering from, especially if it could affect the parenting plan.
By talking to your child’s other parent, you may establish a temporary arrangement where visitation is changed only for the time your child is sick. Your court-ordered plan may allow you to make slight adjustments if you both agree. Your child’s other parent may want to make up for the parenting time they missed. Thus, you may also need to work together to establish different dates for when your child’s other parent can see your child.
If your child’s other parent disagrees with the adjustments, you cannot willfully withhold access without violating the terms of the schedule.
If you do send your child to visitation while they’re sick, you must let their other parent know what medication they’re on (if any) and when it must be taken. Writing this information down will ensure that you and your child’s other parent know what’s needed to care for your child.
Contact an Attorney for Help with Visitation Matters
Your child’s illness can affect your parenting plan. It’s important to consider their health and comfort, as well as their other parent’s rights and obligations, when determining whether to send them for visitation.
For legal counsel in Los Angeles, please call Claery & Hammond, LLP at (310) 817-6904 or submit an online form today.