Over the last couple of years after the onset of COVID-19, a lot of the things that used to be considered normal have drastically shifted to give way to health and safety precautions. Among the most affected in the legal community are co-parenting arrangements.
Because of new concerns about putting the children’s safety at risk, many parents have modified co-parenting arrangements such as parenting time and decision-making authority with regard to schools and vaccinations.
Parents who share a certain parenting time setup may have concerns about the safety of their kids. This may be because the other parent has contracted COVID or is not taking health and safety precautions seriously. The initial instinct may be to file a permanent modification of parenting time or seek an emergency restriction.
However, in prior cases, the court ruled that COVID is not a sustained problem that justifies a permanent modification of parenting time. It also decided that seeking a restriction is not warranted because COVID doesn’t present enough danger to children’s physical safety or emotional health, which is the legal standard required to restrict parenting time.
Prior to 2021, the decision of where a child would attend school and whether or not they would attend in person was in the hands of the co-parents. Due to COVID-19, however, Colorado courts have become more involved in school attendance setups and now have the authority to make a decision about where a child will attend school and whether they should do so online or in person.
If co-parents cannot agree on a school attendance setup, they will need to get the Court involved. That means going in front of the judge, attending a hearing, presenting facts, and getting a ruling that the co-parents can rely upon.
Whether or not to vaccinate a child against COVID-19 is a medical decision that co-parents in a joint decision-making setup have to make. If they do not agree, they can seek relief in court by filing a motion to modify medical decision-making.
This is a remedy that asks the judge to give one parent sole medical decision-making authority. However, the parent must prove that getting or not getting the vaccine will pose some sort of harm to the child to warrant a modification of decision-making authority.