If your child custody arrangement assumes that your children are in school during the regular workday, the COVID-19 pandemic could shift that understanding. Whether you are in the middle of a divorce case and are thinking about parenting time in Michigan, or if you have a child custody arrangement in place in which parents share parenting time on a schedule that takes into account regular workday and school hours, the possibility of remote or virtual schooling in the fall could disrupt any existing schedule or any scheduling plans that you have. It is critical for parents in Michigan who are getting divorced and have minor children from the marriage, or who share child custody and have a parenting time schedule in place, to work through the possible scenarios this fall.
It is important for parents to understand what their child’s school district is planning in terms of a physical reopening during the pandemic, and to understand their options if school is virtual and a parenting time schedule or plan assumes that the kids will be at school physically during regular business hours.
What Are Michigan School Districts Doing in the Fall?
Michigan is not currently planning to have “a uniform, statewide K-12 reopening plan this school year for its 544 traditional school districts and nearly 300 public school academies,” according to an article in The Detroit News. As such, “the first day of school for 1.5 million children will look different in every district in Michigan, where hundreds of different reopening plans will soon be underway as educators resume teaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic.” As the article underscores, each school district has control of its reopening plans, and accordingly, each school district is making individual plans for virtual, in-person, or a hybrid plan.
Many school districts have not yet announced their final plans. Michigan is requiring that all school districts have a plan in place that has been approved by August 17. By that date, parents will know for certain what their child’s school district plans to do in terms of in-person or virtual reopening (or a hybrid model that uses both). It will be essential for parents who share custody to determine plans for the school year on August 17 or earlier if their child’s school district finalizes a plan.
Can I Modify Parenting Time Due to My Work Schedule?
If your child’s school is remote in the fall and you have parenting time during the school day (while you will also be working), you should begin thinking now about childcare plans and options to maintain the existing parenting time schedule.
If your job schedule and childcare options are such that you will not be able to maintain a parenting time schedule that has your child with you during the school day if school is virtual or remote, you should speak with a Michigan child custody lawyer about your options. The Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970 does permit modifications in certain circumstances. As the Michigan Supreme Court clarifies, in order to modify child custody (including parenting time), the petitioning party will need to show that there have been “significant changes in the lives of the children or the parents involved. If you can reach an agreement with the child’s other parent, a temporary change might be more feasible.
Contact a Michigan Child Custody Attorney for Assistance
Child custody arrangements and complicated parenting time schedules can get tricky even when there is no global pandemic. For most families in Michigan, these circumstances are extraordinary, and parents across the state (and across the country) are seeking solutions based on virtual schooling and other upended schedules. If you have questions about parenting time while Michigan schools are remote or virtual, or if you need assistance modifying child custody due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the experienced Michigan family law attorneys at our firm can speak with you today about your case. Contact Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC for assistance and to learn more about the services we provide to families in Michigan.