In these stressful times, it may seem easy, or even convenient, to use COVID-19 as an excuse for cancelling or changing parenting time arrangements. DO NOT SUCCUMB TO THIS TEMPTATION.
If you have concerns about letting your child go to the other parent’s house, you need to discuss those concerns with the other parent. Try to get an agreement on steps you both will take to protect your children. It is important to be rational and to try and reach an agreement before deciding to go to court.
If you still don’t think your child should go to the other parent’s house, but the other parent doesn’t agree, you must get a court order. Remember, whoever intentionally “takes, obtains, retains, or fails to return a minor child from or to the parent in violation of a court order, where the action manifests an intent to substantially deprive that parent of rights to parenting time or custody” is guilty of a FELONY. Minn. Stat. § 609.26, subd. 1(3). Therefore, avoid the “self-help” method of dealing with the issue. If you think it’s dangerous for your child to have parenting time with the other parent, you can file an emergency (ex parte) motion with the court. The courts in Minnesota are still open for emergency cases.
If you are the parent who is the victim of the other parent making unilateral changes in your parenting time, you also can seek relief through an emergency motion. You can also contact your local police department to enforce the existing court order. HOWEVER, bringing the police in during parenting time exchanges can be stressful for children. In many instances, the police decline to get involved and will advise that family law matters need to be resolved in court.
Caldecott & Forro, P.L.C. attorneys are well prepared to assist parents with bringing and defending such emergency motions. We offer free initial consultations in-person and via telephone. This article is not a substitute for legal advice in the context of a specific case. Caldecott & Forro, PLC provides free initial consultations to clients and potential clients on all personal injury cases.