How Do The Courts Handle Disagreements Between Divorced Parents About Whether To Send Their Children To School In-Person In 2021?
Like many issues from the COVID-10 Era, this is something of a new issue. In the earlier days of the pandemic, there wasn’t really a choice to go to school in-person for most students. It was almost all remote. This year (in the 2021/2022 school year), most schools are going back to in-person learning, but there are some exceptions allowed for children who are at-risk.
However, in order to pursue an exception, both parents would normally have to agree. If parents disagree and one parent wants to block the child from attending school in-person, they may pursue their case in court. The parent would then have to show the court that the child has some specific issue or risk factor that would justify keeping them out of school in their own best interest.
Otherwise, if the school has determined that going to in-person education is safe, I think the court would normally defer to that determination. Without proof of why it’s really in the child’s best interest to stay home, the parent trying to stop in-person schooling would probably face an uphill battle. Again, unless the child has a condition which makes them more susceptible to a virus or getting bad effects from a virus.
When It Comes To Determining Other COVID-19 Safety Protocols For Children (Including How Wide Their Social Bubble Should Be Or Whether One Parent Can Travel With The Child) How Can Co-Parents Best Resolve Their Disputes?
It’s always best to try to resolve disputes between yourselves without involving the court, if doing so is at all possible. It’s always important for parents to keep in mind that they should always be thinking first and foremost about the best interest of the child. They should not be looking at who wins or who has the power to make decisions. They should be looking at which decision leaves the child in a better position.
Of course, parents often don’t look at it that way. That’s why they end up in court. However, determining these matters between parents is almost always the best option. If they do end up going to court, then the court’s going to try to decide what’s in the child’s best interest. I don’t think the court wants to get into micro-managing how wide a social circle should be for a child.
The courts do sometimes get involved in travel. For instance, if a country has a particularly bad outbreak of COVID or if there’s some CDC guidelines restricting travel to that country, I have had cases where courts have denied permission to travel to that country. Or, say, prohibiting travel to that country if a child is not vaccinated yet.
If Parents Absolutely Cannot Agree On Decisions Related To COVID-19, What Are The Best Options To Settle Those Disputes Outside Of Litigating?
If parents can’t work it out among themselves, there are limited options outside of the courtroom. Mediation is one of those options. Professional mediators—most of whom are actually attorneys who practice family law or divorce law—can be hired to help you work out an agreement in a non-litigation setting. If an agreement is reached, it is put into writing and signed by the parties.
Mediation agreements are not like orders of the court. They’re not enforceable in that way. However, if one of the parties violates the agreement, the courts would look at that fact if the other parent eventually went to court to try to enforce the agreement.
When parties do go to court, the court can refer the parties to mediation if they both agree. That service is usually free if it is ordered in family court. The mediator in that case will try to work out an agreement between the parties. If an agreement is worked out, it will be sent to the court, and then—with the consent of both parties—would be signed into a court-enforceable order. Those are the two main avenues for mediation between the parties.
Both parties can also hire attorneys and the attorneys can try to work out a written agreement between themselves, and have it signed by the parties. Again, that agreement would be something a court would look seriously at if either party ends up going to court.