With Covid-19 cases on the rise, this year’s holiday season we will likely see more challenges for time- sharing in two-household families, as some parents may try to take advantage of the situation. Since the beginning of the pandemic, attempts have been made by one parent to prevent the other from having time-sharing on the grounds that CDC guidelines are not being strictly adhered to in the second household.
Some courts have reacted by entering Administrative Orders that make it clear to parents that engaging in such behavior will not be tolerated. For example, the Chief Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Jack Tuter, wrote, “[u]nless otherwise prohibited by an existing court order, each parent is prohibited from unreasonably restricting access to the child(ren) to the other parent.” Similarly, Chief Judge of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, Lisa Davidson, filed an Administrative Order which in part states, “[p]arents are strongly cautioned that unreasonable, hurtful, or destructive behavior may be severely sanctioned by the court…”
During these uncertain times, children need extra stability and support. The stress of parental fighting over time-sharing or feeling that they are the cause of additional tension between their parents may have lasting effects on the children.
There are various ways parents can work towards avoiding these scenarios, including referring to guides. One such guide, recently published by AAML, helps divorced parents prepare specifically for this year’s holidays. Other experts have identified key questions to ask co-parents, and have provided suggestions for addressing a variety of responses. Experts encourage parents to come up with this year’s holiday plan together, and present it to their children as a unified team.
If parents are not able to work out these situations themselves, mediation is the perfect place to create a joint holiday plan and avoid the courts. I am here to mediate for you and your clients and help families prepare a holiday plan that meets everyone’s needs.
Click here to read my article which was recently published in The Commentator’s Fall Edition, Family Law Section of the Florida Bar.
RELEVANT COVID-19 ADMINISTRATIVE ORDERS
Supreme Court of Fla. No AOSC20-32 (Oct. 15, 2020) (in response to the COVID pandemic, provides guidelines for transitioning in the Courts from Phase 1 to Phase 4);
Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Fla. Admin. Order 12.510-10/2020.16 (October 13, 2020) (as the County transitions into Phase 2 this AO identifies the type of cases to be heard in-person and those to be heard via remote technology);
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Fla, Admin. Order 2020-30-Temp. (April 2, 2020) (provides guidance to parents in family law matters with regards to parental responsibility and timesharing);
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Fla. Admin. Order 2021-81 Temp. (Oct. 12, 2020) (addresses trial proceedings and remote courthouse facility protocol);
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Fla. Operational Plan for Moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2 (October 15, 2020).
NON-COVID-19 RELATED, CHANGE FOR CASES WITH QDRO
Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Fla. Admin. Order 5.213-11/20 (November 16, 2020) (new procedures for entry of a QDRO and includes a form Motion for Entry of a QDRO).
Citations: Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Fla, Admin. Order 2020-30-Temp. (April 2, 2020).
 Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, Fla, Admin. Order 20-18 Amended (June 16, 2020).
 Marcia Zug, Co-Parenting in the Coronavirus Pandemic: A Family Law Scholar’s Advice (March 24, 2020); https://theconversation.com/us/topics/child-custody-13485
 David Hill, MD & Jann Blackstone, PsyD, Co-Parenting Through COVID-19: Putting Your Children First (June 5, 2020); https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID- 19/Pages/Co-Parenting-Through-COVID-19.aspx