Having shared custody over children during scenarios such as today’s COVID-19 pandemic can be distressing for any parent. Fear can drive them to make irrational decisions, such as dictating their co-parent’s time with the child.
The other parent does not have the authority to control the time you spend with your child when it is your turn to care for them. Ohio currently does not have any specific laws allowing parents to dictate their co-parent’s behavior during pandemic crises, such as the COVID-19 outbreak that is currently spreading worldwide.
The Ohio Supreme Court stands by the provided by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). They state that separated or divorced parents should comply with their shared custody agreements as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why a Co-Parent Would Try to Control You During a Pandemic
With the spread of the virus and the quarantines happening right now, the other parent may fear for the child’s health. They might be reluctant to hand the child over to you, as it could increase their risk of getting infected.
However, it is also possible that the other parent is simply using the current pandemic as an excuse not to give you time with your child. Whatever the reason may be, refusing you the right to care and spend time with your child is unfair to you. They are making it difficult to uphold the parental responsibilities handed to you by the state.
Penalties for Violating Child Custody Agreements
If a parent is given shared custody over a child with the other parent, they will violate Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3109.04, if they try to impose their own rules on the co-parent. The court should be the one to assign parental rights and duties after considering the child’s best interests. The parent who disobeys their ruling can be charged with contempt of court.
If this is the first time the parent is caught violating child custody agreements, Ohio Revised Codes Chapter 2705.05 states that they may receive a $250 fine and up to 30 days in jail. The penalties increase for repeat offenders. Second-time offenses can get the parent a fine of $500 and a 60-day jail sentence. If the parent has already violated the custody orders three times, they may have to pay $1,000 in fines and go to jail for three months. The court may even remove some of the parent’s custodial rights.
Modifying the Custody Orders is an Option
If you feel that what the other parent is doing is not benefiting your child, it is possible to have the current custody agreement modified. These changes may include a new schedule or removing and adding parental responsibilities. You could propose the changes to your co-parent first, but if they disagree or if you know they will dispute it, you can take your request straight to the court instead. If they can see that your proposal is clearly in the child’s best interests, they will approve the changes.
You may want to consider keeping a journal to record the actual time and activities spent with the child. This is because you will need proof that the co-parent controls how you spend time with your child. The court will also review other factors, such as both parents’ work schedules and overall ability to care for the child. You will have to consider the current pandemic when making your proposal. It would help if you showed that you could follow health protocols and monitor your child for any potential virus symptoms. This can be especially crucial if your line of work puts you at more risk of exposure.
You can consult an Ohio child custody attorney about seeking a modified shared custody agreement for your child. They will help gather evidence of the other parent’s controlling actions, such as eyewitness reports, phone conversations, and posts on social media sites. They can also ensure that your proposal abides with Ohio’s parenting laws.
Do Not Hesitate to Ask for Legal Assistance
Having shared custody over children during scenarios such as today’s COVID-19 pandemic can be distressing for any parent. Fear can drive them to make irrational decisions, such as dictating their co-parent’s time with the child. Still, both parents should work together to provide what is best for their child’s needs in uncertain times such as these.
If you have trouble dealing with a co-parent’s controlling behavior during pandemic crises, you can consult with an attorney. A family law attorney can review the case for any potential violations and help you take legal action, and can assist in revising your child custody order should you decide to do so.