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Child Custody & Visitation If a Parent Gets COVID-19?

by | May 12, 2020 | child custody and support, News and Events

The coronavirus pandemic has upended life in New York, and every corner of the state is feeling the effects, including Long Island. How does the pandemic affect your child custody and visitation orders, especially if you or your ex get sick? Here’s what you should know.

Will Visitation Carry On As Normal During the Pandemic?

If you, your ex, and your child are feeling well and do not appear to be sick, there’s no reason to alter your visitation schedule. You should practice social distancing in other ways, such as ordering groceries online and staying home when at all possible. However, if you’re well, you and your ex can — and should — still pick up and drop off your child according to your original child custody court orders.


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I’m Showing Signs of the Coronavirus — Should I Tell My Child’s Other Parent?

If you begin to feel unwell and either currently have visitation with your child or your visitation is upcoming, it’s important that you inform the other parent as soon as possible.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), symptoms of the coronavirus include but are not limited to:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Or at least two of the following symptoms

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Sick with COVID-19? Practice Social Distancing with Visitation

If you have a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus or are isolating at home per doctor’s orders without having had a test, don’t continue to visit with your child in person. Stay at home and quarantine yourself as best you can while you recover to avoid spreading the virus.

Consider creative ways to continue to visit with your child, such as connecting over text and FaceTime or Zoom. Work with your child’s other parent to arrange times that work for everyone while you’re not feeling well.

What If My Child Has the Coronavirus?

If you suspect your child has the coronavirus, they will need medical care as soon as possible. If both you and your ex have legal custody over your child, you’ll both be able to make medical decisions regarding your child. However, if you only have partial physical custody, only the legal guardian will be able to make decisions about medical care.

Typically, an ill child will want or need to be with their primary custodian, which means you may need to forfeit some of your visitation time.

Will I Be at Risk of Violating My Long Island Custody Order If I Don’t Follow the Visitation Schedule?

Technically, any parent who violates a child custody order can be held in contempt of court. This means if you don’t pick up your child at the appropriate time or you keep your child longer than your allotted time, you could end up in legal trouble.

How courts will treat this during COVID-19 is not yet known, however, it’s unlikely that a custody order will be strictly upheld if the virus impedes following it to the letter. The most important thing is to keep yourself and your family healthy and avoid contributing to the spread of the virus.

Is There a Risk of Parental Kidnapping for Custodial Parents Who Deny Visitation to Co-Parents with Coronavirus?

If you’re the primary custodian of your child and the other parent contracts COVID-19 or begins to show symptoms of it, you may need to restrict their access to your child for your child’s safety as well as your own. However, doing so is a legal risk under current laws and is considered parental kidnapping. It’s not likely that a judge will order a penalty if you can prove that you denied visitation due to COVID-19, but you may need to have evidence available if the noncustodial parent reports it.

When to Involve an Experienced Family Law Attorney

It’s always in your best interest to work with a family lawyer to make sure any changes to your visitation or custody orders are within the letter of the law. If you need to temporarily modify your custody order to accommodate coronavirus restrictions, contact Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. today for a free consultation. Call now at 631-923-1910.


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Ann Masten
Ann Masten
17:48 12 May 20
I am a paralegal in an unrelated field of law. I phoned Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. today intending to refer a client to their office. Instead (and despite that we are the midst of the present crisis), Mr. Hornberger himself graciously accommodated my questions over the telephone, and was generous with his time and adroit in his response, saving our client a small fortune in unnecessary legal fees. I have not had any similar experience, in which counsel was so generous with his expertise, in 22+ years of interacting with prominent, local attorneys, and the client is overjoyed. Based on this experience, I would now whole -heartedly recommend this firm as trusted professionals to any client requiring a firm expert in family law and related legal issues.
Everett Roberts
Everett Roberts
14:30 18 Mar 20
Going through a divorce was very challenging and emotional. Searching for an attorney can be challenging as well when you consider everything that is at stake. The choice I made to work with Rob Hornberger was surely the best choice available. His professionalism, expertise, and understanding made him and the entire team perfectly suited to achieve the outcomes I desired. Rob was always available to answer my questions and give me advice and legal considerations that affected my situation. The support I received from his staff was exemplary as well. The staff was courteous, kind, and also very professional. Thank you so much Rob and team for a worry free experience.
Annemarie Cusumano
Annemarie Cusumano
21:41 17 Mar 20
Being in family court especially when your children are on the line is extremely emotional and stressful but working with Robert and Christine put me at ease and made the process as pleasant as a situation like that can be. I have a now 3 year old daughter (who is the most important person in my life) and I've been working with them for over two years since my daughter was 7 months old, the case has been up and down and through it all Rob and Christine have never given up. My original case was due to a neglect charge. Cps is not easy to work with, but Rob and Christine were vigilant and I ended up getting my daughter back within 8 months and did not have to plead guilty to the neglect. Currently I am in family court to figure out a custody agreement. They are professional, empathetic, and patient. They have always explained everything thoroughly, informed me of all my options and advised me of what my best option would be. They always respond quickly when I contact them with questions or concerns and most importantly they fight for me in court and don't give up even when things get rough. Before hiring Rob and Christine I met with other attorneys who did not make me feel confident or comfortable at all about my case, so I am very grateful to have found Rob and Christine and to be represented by such great attorneys. I highly recommend them for any family court matters and will definitely continue to use them in the future if needed.
Steven Frierman
Steven Frierman
02:25 07 Mar 20
After meeting with 3 different lawyers, we felt Robert understood us best and he genuinely had our best interests at heart. This helped us resolve a few minor issues in a timely fashion and make a potentially stressful situation go more smoothly.Thank you
Randi Gottlieb
Randi Gottlieb
18:47 03 Mar 20
Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. - Mr. Robert Hornberger and his staff are beyond professional, they quickly gave me my consultation appointment, and helped me with an after-Divorce issue. Mr. Hornberger was empathetic and explained to me what I should expect. Mr. Hornberger was extremely professional and advised me of my options, he helped me proceed with accurate and smart decisions. I wish I had Mr. Hornberger and his highly recommended staff when I was getting divorced. I would highly recommend Robert and his staff to anyone who is getting a divorce or in need of help with situations after the divorce!


  • I have known Robert for more than 8 eight years. Robert has represented many of my family and friends. Each and every one has raved about Robert’s professionalism and expertise. He is knowledgable, friendly and truly cares about his clients. I would not hesitate to continue to refer Robert and his firm in the future!
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