Question: School summer break (no – online classes) is coming up and pursuant to the MSA my daughter has to go to a different state for a month to spend time with her dad. As of now, in California we have a stay at home order due to coronavirus. Can I keep (prevent) my child from going to a different state to visit her father?
Answer. The short answer is “No”, unless you have legitimate grounds for it.
California Governor issued a statewide stay-at-home order, but the order does not prevail over any child custody and visitation orders. Both parents have to follow their current child custody and visitation order.
Why do you think that the child is safer with you?
- Because you don’t like the father’s approach how he raises the child?
- Because you feel you lose control over the child when she is with her father?
- Because you are a better parent?
- Because you don’t like the father’s new wife or girlfriend?
- Because you don’t get along with the father?
- Because due to the current stay-at-home order you think it is not essential for the child to visit her father?
If one of the reasons mentioned above matches your reason then you have to understand that a child custody and visitation orders is not about MOM or DAD or their approaches and ways how to raise a child, it is about THE CHILD and what is in his/her best interest.
If you and the father have different life styles, approaches how to raise the child or simply different people then it does not mean you are a better parent and the child is safer with you. Each child needs to have equal contact (timeshare decided by the judge) with both parents.
Many Judges say that the major reason why parents come to the Court seeking a court order is their lake of communication and non-willingness to cooperate between each other.
Please remember this is not about YOU or the other parent. This is about the child and if the judge made an order stating a specific timeshare/schedule the order was made based on what is in the best interest of the child.
BUT, I also would like to mention, if you have legitimate grounds (for example: the father was diagnosed with COVID-19 or he is a nurse or doctor who is more likely to get infected due to his profession) supporting your concerns about the child’s safety with the father then you can prevent her from going to visit the father, but in order to do so your current child custody and visitation order has to be modified by the Judge or agreed upon by both parents in writing. You cannot change the current order unilaterally.
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