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Visitation During Social Distancing

Discussion in 'Child Custody & Visitation' started by Worried Dad, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. Worried Dad

    Worried Dad Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Maryland
    My question involves a child custody case from the State of: Maryland

    Just a quick question, a few details first. I have 100% legal and physical custody of my daughter, we have a court order in place that states my daughter goes for a visit every other Sunday from 9-6 and the grand parents have to be home. Maryland is not on complete lock down right now, we are told to Quarantine and social distance, essential jobs only are open.

    My question, only cause it's happened before in weird times, is if I send my daughter and they don't give her back, with the courts being on skeleton crews and not open to the public right now, what will happen. I have sole custody, so as grandparents and the mom they shouldn't have a right to keep her but how can I enforce that? Just trust her to do the right thing?

    I can see them trying to pull something like, she has a fever she can't leave or saying someone there has a fever and they don't want her leaving and she needs to quarantine in place?

    Thanks
     
  2. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    By producing a copy of the most recent custody order, stamped by the court, to your local law enforcement agency.

    Given the state of things, you likely do not have to send her for visitation at all as this would expose her to additional risks. Your justification for denying visitation during this time of distancing and quarantine would be pretty solid.

    You might contact a local family law attorney for guidance about the custody exchange and whether you must even do it right now.
     
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  3. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Realistically, outside the current situation, the police wouldn't get involved and the OP would end up in court.

    I agree with both points.
     
  4. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    The only person who has any hope of giving you a useful answer to this question is an attorney who practices in the court where the matter would be heard.

    I agree with "mightymoose" that the first thing to do would be to contact local law enforcement with a copy of the order.

    Responses from another site.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  5. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Only if you were unlucky enough to get a lazy cop. Police enforce court orders. The kid goes where the order says. I have had to do this countless times.
     
  6. Worried Dad

    Worried Dad Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Supposedly in Maryland the Police aren't supposed to get involved, they try to help but can't enforce anything. I had to do it once before and must have gotten a good cop because he went above and beyond, it was Easter/Spring Break a few years ago. With having 100% legal and physical, which I didn't have last time I needed to get the cops involved, I think it should be easier but what makes them answer the door if the cop knocks. I wish I could just write it off as people do the right thing, but all I can envision and have extreme anxiety over is them saying she has a fever and not letting her leave and say she has to quarintine in place. Before I always had school to help me, they live in a different county, and therefore not near school so I never had to worry on sunday because they can't keep her from school. Now school is shut down for a month, and probably the rest of the year.

    I am going to call the local county cops in that area today and just explain my unease and the situation and see what they say they can do.
     
  7. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Could be worse than that. Your governor has not yet issued a stay-at-home order but seems to be annoyed that people aren't staying at home. If he does issue the order while your daughter is away, she'll have to stay there and it won't be because anybody's violating your visitation order, it'll be because they are obeying a government order.

    If it was me, I'd keep her home. You'd be violating the visitation order but by the time anybody gets you into court, it's going to be many months and you are likely to be forgiven due to the circumstances.
     
  8. Worried Dad

    Worried Dad Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Yea people here are idiots and just going about their normal day, I live on the very rural Eastern Shore side of the state, which has 4 reported cases in 5 counties, her mom lives on the other side of the chesapake bay and they have 150 cases in her county.

    As for the shut down, her visit is over the weekend only and so far to date, all the press conferences have been Friday at 11, monday at 11 or Wednesday at 11 with things stays open till 5pm the day of if he closes anything. So if he held a press conference Sunday while she was there, technically I'd have 6 hours to get to her and home before that takes effect.

    That being said I really don't want to send her and I know in the circumstances if we went to court a judge would probably say I did the right thing. I just know my daughter hurts and misses her mom and brothers tremendously, and that side of me is pulling at my heart. I mean look how upset I am at the thought of them keeping her, and she lives with me full time, they haven't seen her for two weeks since the last visit and I am sure they feel awful. Maybe I am thinking to much with emotion and need to be more cold hearted with the situation.

    I appreciate you guys listening to me basically think out loud.
     
  9. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    They won't care about your unease. They won't have anything to do until there is an actual violation of the order. Any court order is typically enforceable by any peace officer, although there could be local policy for police to put their head in the sand.

    A better contact for you to make is with a family law attorney who can guide you as to whether or not you should proceed with the custody exchange at all. This should be based on concern for your child's health, not fear of the other parent's possible actions.
     
  10. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Have you discussed this with the other parent? Frame it in the context of your daughter's health, limiting the people she comes into contact with.

    Even patients in the hospital can't have contact with family right now. The more people come and go the more they and everyone around them are at risk.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
  11. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    It is wise to avoid purple...what a ghastly color.

    ;)
     
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  12. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    This would also help with avoiding people eaters.
     
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  13. Worried Dad

    Worried Dad Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I did, her mom comes and goes from her life, from september to november she completely disappeared, missed the party at the grandparents house for my daughters bday. Then comes back around and tries to be mother of the year, and lasts for 6 months then fades away again. She hasn't been to my daughters school in two and a half years, hasn't met her teacher since Kindergarten (now 2nd grade) she bails on her all the time but the one time health is involved she wants her there for a visit.
     
  14. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    I know my local law enforcement is telling people to comply with custody/visitation orders, but that is only because the emergency orders issued by the state/county don't specifically exempt compliance.

    As I've said above, the best guidance for you regarding this will be from a local attorney who can reasonably assess how the court may assess the issue later. I expect the court would be quite understanding when you have legitimate health and safety concerns versus a trivial dispute with the other parent.

    Order or not, my kid would stay home. I would deal with any fallout from that later. The other parent should recognize there is a legitimate health risk involved with a custody exchange, to the child and everyone the child has contact with, and from the others those people have had contact with.

    Lucky for me, my kid is a cat, and he doesn't have outdoor privileges anyway.

    FB_IMG_1585249406201.jpg
     
  15. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I never would have guessed you'd be a cat lover, never.

    I learn something everyday.
     
  16. Worried Dad

    Worried Dad Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I think I have decided I am not going to send her, and offer a make up weekend(s) to make up for it. I'll let her skype as often as she wants and she can do school work with my daughter if she wants over Skype. That puts me at ease for this weekend but then the same circumstance comes into play the next visit which will be Easter weekend, which maybe we will be shut down at that point, who knows.
     
  17. Disabled Vet

    Disabled Vet Active Member

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    Unreal...… So you failed at a relationship with the mother. Now your child is the ping pong ball. What your missing is the COURT ORDER.... Since you and the mother can't be adults to allow each other proper time to see the child a court order was put in place. You should follow that court order. ...
     
  18. Worried Dad

    Worried Dad Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I didn't fail at anything, she is an alcoholic with 4+ DUI's in the last 5 years, she failed herself, she also doesn't show up for normal visits, and has kept her before defying the court order, hence while I am hesitant to send her when the courts are closed and I have no way of getting her back if she keeps her. Never once is my daughter a ping pong ball, she lives with me 100% of the over nights of the year, she has a day visit every other week, that's it.
     
  19. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    There is arguably a very significant change in circumstances that justifies deviating from the order. This same scenario is playing out all across the country.
    What is in the best interest of the child right now? I would argue that staying put and limiting exposure to others is best. Courts will likely be open to that argument down the road.
     
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  20. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Whoa, back up the truck, Vet. I would normally agree with you about how divorced people use their children as weapons. But this is not that. People (and children) are dying from this disease. Governments and medical experts are recommending, and in many places mandating, that people stay home to avoid getting exposed to it. The consensus here is overwhelmingly in favor of Chris keeping his daughter home during the crisis.
     

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