Kevin Qualls Family Law
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What happens to child custody when the child is sick?

Life can throw a wrench into even the most well-crafted parenting plan following a divorce. For example, California parents can expect that their child will get sick from time to time. However, what happens if the child is ill during the child custody exchange, that is, when the child is to go from one parent's home to the other parent's home? Should the parents go ahead with the exchange, or should they wait until the child is better?

Unfortunately, this is not a situation to which there is a clear and straightforward solution. There are many factors to take into account, including how old the child is and how sick he or she is. Also, the geographic distance between the two parents' homes may be factored into determining whether to have the child go to the other parent's home. In addition, parents should keep the child's feelings in mind. Some children when sick are too miserable to want to move, while others benefit from the change of environment.

Keep in mind that, even if they are divorced, each parent has both the right and the obligation, should their child become sick, to take care of the child. One parent should not bear this entire burden alone. However, a parent should also not keep a child from visiting the other parent every time the child has the sniffles.

Whether or not parents decide to go ahead with the child custody exchange when the child is sick, it is important that both parents keep each other informed about the child's health. For example, if the child is taking medication while at one parent's house, when it comes time to go to the other parent's house the other parent should be informed of what medication the child has taken and when his or her last does of it was. Keeping a written log in situations like this can help.

If a child is kept at one parent's home while sick, and misses out on parenting time with the other parent, it may be possible to make up for the missed parenting time. "Illness contingencies" can be made a part of the parents' parenting plan. This way, parents and children still get to spend time together. In the end, when a child gets sick, by focusing on the child's needs, parents can make decisions that are best for the child.

Source:, "Custody & Parenting Time FAQs," accessed Oct. 17, 2016

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